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MMA Blog @ MMAPlayground

 

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Blue Skies Burn
 
Posted by mmaplayground 10/31/10
 
Coming into UFC 121: Lesnar vs. Velasquez a lot of people were questioning whether or not Lesnar could be stopped by anyone in the heavyweight division. Since his loss to Mir at UFC 81, he's been on a tear in the division; overwhelming people with sheer size and athleticism. Prior to Velasquez, the biggest test of his young career came against fellow monster heavyweight, Shane Carwin.

On paper Carwin was a dream match-up for someone of Lesnar's size. Both tip the scales at over 265 upon entering the octagon. Both have great collegiate wrestling backgrounds; including two national championships and 3 second place finishes between the two of them. Both have hands the size of those lunch-boxes you used to take to school as a kid. Yes, this was the sporting equivalent of two Mack trucks colliding at full speed for our view pleasure.

Leading into the match-up there were questions surrounding Lesnar's ability to survive a punch from Carwin who won by either KO/TKO in 6 of his last 7 fights. Carwin was viewed as the slower of the two behemoths, but definitely the fighter with better stand-up and knockout power. Brock got Shane down to start the fight, but then Shane got right back up and landed that shot everyone, including Lesnar, knew was coming. Brock immediately staggered back and hit the mat. The crowd began to roar as Carwin smelled blood and went in for the kill, throwing shot after countless shot. No such killshot ever came for Carwin and the round ended with Lesnar bloodied, but not broken. Carwin, on the other hand, looked exhausted, almost bewildered; after all, weren't those the very same shots and positioning that had gotten him a stoppage so many times before?

The second round seemed rather elementary to anyone who saw the hunger in Brock's eyes and the glaze in Carwin's. Brock immediately shot for a takedown and, without practically any resistance, got Carwin onto the mat. Then came something few saw happening. Most figured Lesnar would ground and pound his way to a stoppage over an almost lifeless Carwin, but Lesnar advanced his position and sank in an arm triangle on Carwin ending the fight. Yes, Lesnar had won by submission. Lesnar was showing that not only was he evolving as a mixed martial artist, but that what appeared to be his biggest threat, in terms of sheer size and match-up potiential, was not going to be enough to stop him from running roughshod through the heavyweight division. The athlete known as "The Next Big Thing" in the WWE, was now "The BIGGEST Thing" in the UFC.

Enter Cain Velasquez; a man who had wrestled men Lesnar's size in college, but had come out on the losing end. As a matter of fact, Velasquez lost a national championship match to Lesnar's training partner, Cole Konrad. Yet this match-up posed an interesting dichotomy; would the sheer size of Lesnar prove to be too much for Velasquez? vs. Would the speed and technical superiority of the younger Velasquez prove to be a chink in the armor of the champion?

Speed vs. Size, Technical Prowess vs. Raw Power; how many times has this match-up presented itself in the sporting world? USC vs. Texas, Mayweather vs. Mosley, Cardinals vs. Steelers; the list goes on and on. What were we going to see when these two athletes squared off in the octagon? The "experts" spoke; many fighters picked Velasquez because of his speed and technical striking, writers and contributors picked Lesnar because of his raw power and size, on this very forum most of my camp-mates picked Lesnar because of his size and athleticism. The debate waged on until Saturday night when the two men would finally answer the question Size and Power. vs. Speed and Skill.

As the two men met in the center of the octagon it looked, to me, like Velasquez was in a different much smaller weight class than Lesnar. Lesnar dwarfed him in size, muscularity, and height. The door slammed shut and one of these two men were going to make history. Lesnar was attempting to become the first man in the heavyweight division to successfully defend his title on three consecutive occasions. Velasquez had the opportunity to become the first ever Mexican heavyweight champion in ANY combat sport. What happened next was going to make history of some sort.

Lesnar immediately shot out with a flurry that included overhands and flying knees. He then secured a take-down on Velasquez who used his knowledge of jiu-jitsu to land back on his feet only to be pressed against the cage by Lesnar. Lesnar scored one more quick take-down from which Velasquez popped right back up and what happened next answered the question of the night. Velasquez immediately exploded with series of take-downs technical striking on the champion sending him staggering across the octagon. He finally dropped the champ alongside the cage and used timely shots and vicious ground and pound until Herb Dean called a stop to the bout at 4:12 of round number 1 to become the new UFC heavyweight champion and first ever Mexican heavyweight fighter in combat sports history.

Velasquez reminded of us of a valuable lesson that sometimes gets lost in the sporting world; Sometimes size does not matter. How many times do we forget that as fans of the sporting world? Royce Gracie, a pioneer of this very sport, made a living off of proving that size does not matter. The Boise St. Bronco's proved this when they took down the mighty Oklahoma Soooners in the the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. The Florida Marlins and Arizona Diamond backs proved this when they beat god-like New York Yankees in the World Series in 2003 and 2001 respectively. Size and intimidation through size are no match for fundamentals and a well-rounded skill-set.

Often times as fans we get caught up in the hoopla surrounding a team. We, as fans, experts, and analysts jump on and off hype-trains with such regularity that it would make the hobos of the Great Depression era jealous. We become consumed with the aura and magnitude of the event and few, if any, truly sit down and account for things such as heart, determination, grit, and fundamentals. I'm not suggesting this never happens, it's easier for us to breakdown team sports because most of us are only biased toward one or two teams per league. Combat sports is a different animal because social convention does not dictate that you can only root for one fighter per division. No, we enjoy many fighters in many different divisions.

Velasquez never seemed to get lost in the moment. He remained calmed throughout this entire process and maintained his composure when the biggest athlete the UFC had ever seen came charging at him like a bull in the arena. Velasquez never got lost in the amount of pressure to become the first ever Mexican HW champion in combat sports. Lastly, Velasquez never got lost in the amount of national attention this fight received.

Yes, everything about this fight was huge. Velasquez's opponent, the event itself, and the amount of passion invested by the Mexican community in this event. Velasquez, however, never saw it. He focused on what he needed to do. He focused on his game, his skills, his cardio, his striking, and his will to succeed. Velasquez proved last night, once again, that in the world of sports, size doesn't always matter.
 
A Look Into the Potential Future of the UFC’s Middleweight Division
 
Posted by mmaplayground 10/19/09
 
Submitted by John King

Many months ago, UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva released a statement outlining his intentions to retire from MMA competition after fulfilling the remainder of his contract with the UFC. The perpetually skeptical and always vocal internet fan base driven MMA world buzzed with visceral anger. Accusations of an overall weakness of middleweight MMA ranks flew with abandon, and the sense of impending doom that can only come from an irrelevant division loomed ominously over the daily debates. That ominous presence felt by the hard cores, and even some casual fans, will become known as the ghost of Anderson Silva, and it is destined to haunt any future middleweight title holders.

In the wake of Silva’s retirement will come rankings that have, for the most part, been all but solidified up to this point. Nate Marquardt, Dan Henderson, Yushin Okami, Patrick Cote and a few other veteran middleweights will jostle for position on the middleweight ladder against up and comers like Aaron Simpson, Jake Rosholt, and Dan Miller. Of course, the sorting out of this raucous jostling will be subject to the performances of incoming veterans like Yoshihiro Akiyama, Wanderlei Silva, and Ricardo Almeida. When the ranking picture is viewed in this light, there remains hope for excitement in an irrelevant division destined to be haunted by the ghost of Anderson Silva.

But is the ghost of Anderson Silva truly destined to haunt the middleweight division? Up to this point it has been discussed as a foregone conclusion. There remains the potential that a much more intimidating and capable “Ghost Buster” than Bill Murray or Dan Akroyd will save the UFC’s middleweight division. Vitor Belfort, who is riding a 5 fight win streak littered with names including Matt Lindland and Rich Franklin, may be armed with the proton pack necessary to defeat Anderson Silva’s electron charged ghost. Armed with devastating knockout power and some of the quickest hands in MMA history, at the very least fans can hope Vitor brings the right weapons into his upcoming battle.

Even should Vitor find himself on the losing end of a lopsided battle, all hope is not gone. With 2 more fights remaining on his contract after the bout with Vitor, fans can only hope in desperation that someone (besides Roy Jones Jr.) will step up to defeat Anderson Silva. There was light in the first round of the Dan Henderson fight when Hendo took Silva down and showed some light ground and pound from the side control position. There is also the threat of the most dangerous BJJ competitor in MMA, Demian Maia, making a resurgence to the top of the ladder for a shot at submitting Noguiera black belt Anderson Silva. Speaking of Maia, let us not forget nor overlook the danger of well rounded and seasoned UFC veteran middleweight Nate Marquardt.

With this week’s news of a potential split between consensus top 3 middleweight Dan Henderson and the UFC, fans are left even more curious about the future of a division that is already perceived weak. All hope is not gone, however. By all accounts Dan Henderson has yet to reach an agreement with any promotion, and as a result the average fan can not factor him out of the equation entirely.

Though the ghost of Anderson Silva remains a very real and incredibly likely threat to be faced, the fear of an irrelevant weight class is something which currently should be faced by the UFC brass, not the fans. The potential future of the UFC’s middleweight division paints itself as a dark cloud on the horizon, and though the very top is a dark and commanding figure in the shape of a dark skinned Brazilian, there is silver lining in the form of exciting fights like Marquardt vs. Henderson, Rosholt vs. Simpson, Cote vs. Belcher, Akiyama vs. Almeida, and the rematch we’d all love to see- Belfort vs. Wandy. If indeed the ghost of Anderson Silva does haunt the middleweight division for years to come, at least in the wake of his passing the fans can find comfort in highly competitive fights between fighters desperate for relevance in a once again competitive division.
 
Rampage: Right or Wrong?
 
Posted by mmaplayground 10/5/09
 
Submitted by The Karate Choppin Ninja

I always thought of Quinton "Rampage" Jackson as a fighters fighter. Similar to Couture, Chuck, Wandy, Sakuraba,Hendo, Bas, and Nog. All men who just "are fighters" , instead of being guys " who fight for a living" . I believe that even If they didn't get paid , or they had to fight in abandoned warehouse without a crowd, all those guys would still be looking for a place to throw-down, and consequently will have (or had) a hard time stopping. Other guys like Tito Ortiz and Cung Lee may like fighting, but I think if they could make similar (or more) money doing movies they would prefer to do so. That is not a bad thing and to each their own. But........... it is a different mentality and I take that into account when I am rooting for a fighter, or talking about people I consider to be legends. Now I came from a tough hood like Rampage & Tito, and god knows I have been in way too many fights. All things being equal ,if I could wish I never was put in a situation where I feel I have to fight again, I think I would be happier, so I understand if that's the case . Now that doesn't mean these guys won't fight for what they believe in , or to protect themselves or someone else they think needs it. It could just mean they are sick of the strife and would like to limit it in their lives. I understand as I am the same way, but I didn't try to become a professional fighter either. Now both ( Tito & Rampage ) seem to love the spotlight, so it could be they are happier if they can get it without being punched in the face, and both would probably return to fighting if the money and fame they seek wasn't available to them in that venue anymore. Still, it just knocks them down a smidge in my estimation as fighters, but it's not a big deal. The reason I am going on about this is Quinton's decision to blow off his fight with Rashad Evans to star in the upcoming A-team movie. I understand the arguments for why he would do so. More money for himself and his family, and more fame for his ego , which also may lead to even more money. I understand why the UFC brass is pissed about his decision as well. They made this season of TUF to promote that fight. Rampage asked for it instead of fighting Machida for the belt, and they gave him what he wanted. Now part of that decision was motivated by money as well, and Rampage is always talking about money. I guess I mistakenly thought he was just pissed off about feeling underpaid for his fights in Pride, and that's why it was so important to him. At least thats what he said to me the time I asked him in person. I have even defended him for talking about money so much in the past. I now think I WAS WRONG about Rampage . Money and fame seem far more important to Rampage than fighting, his fans, and his word to me now . I have read many peoples opinions on it ,and they all basically come down to this " Rampage should do whats best for him, screw everyone else" . Paint the picture in prettier words and dress it up however you want, but that's what those people are saying. If his family was so important to him he wouldn't have cheated on his wife, and constantly be talking about what a "pimp he is. Rampage said he was dedicated to Christianity, but "Gods soldier" wouldn't be into adultery and proud of being a pimp. Now he doesn't have to be a religious guy , and it's his business if he is or not, but I respect people who are what the say they are.

The UFC stood by Rampage when he went on a insomnia , energy drink laden , reckless driving spree. The UFC gave him the the rematch with Wandy he so desperately wanted, even when it would have been in their best interest to give Wandy someone he could easily beat to build him back up before making that fight . He turned down a TITLE SHOT so he could make more money with the TUF(guaranteed ratings draw Kimbo Slice included- ie-more attention for the ego) promoted fight with Rashad, and they still stuck by him. Now The UFC has a history of letting fighters go who don't produce, and I don't have a problem with it if they are losing, or at least giving us unexciting fights. Maybe they could have treated some fighters better as well, but they have treated Rampage like a favorite son since he arrived. Does the UFC still have something to gain from Rampage ? You betcha, fighters and promoters are in a symbiotic relationship, and they should both benefit from it . I am not saying the UFC is entirely altruistic in any way, but BOTH sides need to benefit. The UFC had a signed contract. Paper to pen, and a deal is a deal. There is no Thunderdome aspect for Rampage apparently . Where's the " 2 man enter 1 man leave " spirit. Not for Rampage. His idea is more like " We have deal...unless I can get more $ and fame somewhere" else . If this was Thunderdome we would have" you break a deal, you face the wheel ". Not for Rampage so far , but I think he should face the wheel, or at least some serious repercussions for his betrayal. Yeah that's right, I said it, BETRAYAL! He betrayed the UFC, he betrayed Rashad, and he betrayed his fans. I am no longer a fan of Rampages ( and I can't believe I am saying this) but I will be rooting for Rashad when ( or if, you never know now) they fight. Loyalty is a 2 way street, and he has violated it, so I no longer have any allegiance to him. He had a deal. He broke the deal, and now I am done with him. Only a myopian would defend this in my opinion. I don't hug any nutts and I am not going to start now. So Quinton, go ahead and do what you think is best for you, instead of what's right . Seek your fame and money first. I am just sad because I thought better of you.
 
Why There Are No Locks In MMA
 
Posted by mmaplayground 9/26/09
 
Submitted by THE KARATE CHOPPIN NINJA

How many times have you heard or seen it written? "This guys a lock”, ”guy can't lose”, "a sure thing”. Not in MMA. Their really isn't in any sport, but MMA has more variables than other combat sports. Next time someone tells you to bet the farm on a MMA fight, remember these reasons why it can all go to hell in a hand basket quick, and slow your roll.

1. Bad/Inconsistent refereeing - Some refs just outright either miss illegal blows, fence grabbing, glove holding, think a guys in trouble when he's not, and miss attempted taps. Others just don't call the fight by the same rules. One guy stops a fight on flash KO's, while another one wants a fighter to take repeated blows and see if he responds. Another stands up fighter too quick, while his counterpart doesn't believe lay and pray is a problem. Some guys make calls out of position, and others get so close they can't see the frantic tapping happening on the other side of the body. Illegal head butts not only can knock a guy out they can cut you. If the ref doesn't see it can cost you the fight right there, or the cut can ruin your vision, and contribute to a loss. Some judges see the blood as a big score and give it a lot of credence despite its illegal origin. What if Matt Hughes hadn't recovered in time after Frank Trigg landed that nut shot and almost finished him in their second fight? The only damage Matt Serra did till the last minute of the fight in his battle with Hughes was directly correlated to an illegal head butt in the first round. Now it looked unintentional, but so what? It's still the rules, and without time to recover sometimes guys just lose. How bout eye pokes? BJ Penn and Chuck Liddell are famous for accidental eye pokes the ref didn't see. Some refs seem outright biased towards certain fighters even if it’s unconscious. I remember Tony Desouza taking a horrible beating from Thiago Alves, where he was not defending himself for long periods, and still Big John didn't stop the fight. I saw him say in an interview something to the effect of he knew Tony, and knows he can take a lot of punishment. He thought he would give him a chance to get out of trouble. Now whether this is because he knows Desouza well from watching him fight in the past, Tony is a BJJ guy and taking punishment till they pull out a sub is often their plan, or the fact that Big John is a BJJ guy himself is irrelevant. What if the fighter was unknown to Big John or the guy is kick boxer with no known ground game, or the ref isn't Big John the BJJ black belt? It’s not the same for everybody. I have seen Big Jon stop plenty of fights for a lot less. A ref called Steve Steinbess submitted against Ryan Jensen this week, even while Steinbeiss was throwing his thumb up in the air to show he was fine, but the ref just missed it. Are you kidding me? Or how come local boy Jake Ellenberger can unload multiple back of the head shots without the ref making a peep but when Condit grazes the head he gets a warning? Now I am in no way accusing the refs of intentional bias, but they are human and your subconscious is a powerful thing. Also there is noise from the crowd, screaming corner men (sometimes in multiple languages), bright lights, flash bulbs, and adrenaline, all possible distractions. Don't even get me started on fights where there is no athletic commission. Places where the mob holds sway, or promotions where refs seem to favor a particular fighter, or where nationalism comes into play. Does anyone remember the ref dragging a completely destroyed Yoshida to center ring in Pride when Yoshida couldn't do it himself? Trying to help a guy display “warrior spirit" or whatever, that ref almost got Yoshida killed! There needs to be extra refs at cage side and at least one catching it on TV to see as many angles as possible. At the very least some fights could be reversed right away, declared a no contest or, a point could be deducted between rounds, and the judges could be notified when and what took place. That's not they way it is currently though and refs seems to mistakenly decide at least one fight per card these days .This doesn't mean the same fighters wouldn't have won some times. We just don't know what would have happened if the illegalities had been witnessed and enforced by the refs, or never happened at all. What happens when the ref doesn't see a guy grab the cage or shorts, but sees his opponent do it? Their are just too many way for a ref to affect the outcome for any sure things.

2. Game plans implemented or just stupid ones - Jorge Gurgel is the king of bad game plans. A BJJ stud who likes to show how tough he is by standing and banging with guys even as his face gets pummeled. How many people expected Couture to clinch Nogueira against the fence, work dirty boxing, and then secure a good take down and work position? I did, and man was I wrong. Who thought Ricco Rodriguez shouldn't have tried to “get that respect" and prove he could stand with Sylvia? Now hindsight is always 20/20, and occasionally a guy will have game plan we don't expect that is either brilliant or just shows he has more than we thought in an area. The first Fedor / Noguiera fight weren't you shocked when Fedor stayed in Big Nog's guard the majority of their fight, He not only avoided the subs easily, but actually beat the crap out of Nog for 20 minutes. Still the majority of the time there is big game plan surprise it’s the loser who pulled them. How bout Pe De Pano trying to outbox Monson for 3 rounds. Hmm... 2 world class grapplers standing for 3 rounds and only one of them has had some pro boxing matches. Pe De Pano needed to keep trying to get that takes down or even pulled guard to have a chance, but he didn't. Hell, Melvin Guillard had the right game plan against Nate Diaz and was implementing it for awhile, but he got stupid for a minute and Bamm! Another loss. How about Dan Henderson fighting Kazuo Misaki. Hendo knew Misaki lacked the power to hurt him, was tired of the “decision Dan" moniker, and thought he would eventually land the big shot. He didn't and the elusive Misaki out pointed him. Does anyone really think Hendo couldn't have taken him down, kept him there, and beat on him for 3 rounds? Hell, Frank Trigg did it right after just to show it could be done, and Trigg's no Hendo in my book.

3. Unknowns- fighters, injury's or training (good and bad) - Most of us just have to take what the fighter or his camp tell us as the truth. A lot of real MMA insiders won't even break a story till after a fight to avoid giving a fighter’s opponent an advantage. If you knew Big Niog was hurt and recovering from Staph infection would you have still thought he was going to win against Mir? Probably not. How many times did Frank Mir tell us he was in shape and %110 and lie about it. At least 3, and then we would later hear that he wasn't even training 3 days a week leading up to the fight, or his leg was still bothering him. Then when Mir really was back few of us suspected it. He cried wolf before so why would we believe him? How about when a guy rapidly improves in an area and plans to use that in his fight. Sherk/Egdar is the perfect example. If you had asked me who had better stand up before the fight I would have sworn it was Sherk. Edgar trains his butt off, has a solid game plan and the fight I thought was lock of the night was an upset. Bonnar against a worn down Coleman. Huge amount of people favored Bonnar. No dice. Wednesday the 3 fights I heard and saw called locks the most all looked a lot different than most of us expected. Cantwell over Stann in their rubber match- in a fight we had every reason to expect (after the first 2 were) was going to at least be a first round slug fest either way. Cantwell was a 3 to 1 favorite for an early KO, and instead a plodding Stann victory (that had many booing) ensued. Mike Pierce over Brock Larson. 95 % of the mmaplaygrounds members picked Larson over the relatively unknown Pierce. Even in the film I could find he didn't look that impressive and he hadn't fought a lot of established competition. How bout Ellenberger? 92% of us favored Condit, and who was this Ellenberger guy anyway. What he never heard of the UFC jitters? Condit may have got the decision but it could have gone either way, especially with the inconsistent refereeing. So 2 out of 3 " locks " were upsets, and the 3rd was hard fought split decision victory. Sure sometimes people make excuses after the fight, but often they are telling he truth and we go in betting blind.

3. Inconsistent, uninformed, obstructed, or just plain bad judging- How many times have you seen a guy slip and go down and a judge rules it a knockdown? That's usually a point in boxing or kickboxing, but it shouldn't be in MMA, so it's even worse if it was a slip and a judge gives them a point lead. It’s not a rule, but there are still some judges who come from those standup fighting backgrounds and automatically use those criteria. It used to be worse, especially if you were a BJJ guy, and the athletic commission appointed a bunch of boxing judges to your fight. Sometimes judges either have a bad angle or are just too far away to judge if a shot really landed, and how much damage it did. Many of the judges who consider themselves MMA aficionados still don't understand the finer points of grappling as well. Does a fighter get points for keeping guard, omaplatas, wrist control, and his ability to avoid shots from his back? Probably not enough with most judges, and too much with others. Some favor top control (all are actually supposed to by UFC rules) and some reward activity, even if it’s largely ineffectual. How about when a guy took one or 2 big shots but got outfought the majority of the fight .One guy landed 2 good blows , but his face is mostly unmarked, and the other guy tooled him , but his eye is swollen nearly shut and he is bleeding from a knot on his forehead. Some promotions, especially those without athletic commissions seem to favor their home grown fighters, or the hometown boy the judge is familiar with sees it differently than other judges. If you saw the Quaryy/Creduer fight Nate looked worse and a judge gave the fight to Tim, even though everyone I saw it with thought Nate won for sure.


4. Anyone can get caught- Punchers chance, high on adrenaline, or overconfident- How many times have you heard a guy just say " Hey, I got caught, it happens”? Sometimes they are right. If they fought he same guy a 100 times they would probably win 95, but since no one does fight a person that many times, it only takes one of the 5 to cost them a win. George St.Pierre's loss against Matt Serra comes to mind. Serra not only rocked him with a shot to the head, but unlike some, Matt has a killer instinct. He didn't lay back and let him recover. He kept rocking him, and smartly stood in his guard and pounded him, instead of working his GNP and giving GSP a chance to tie him up. Now not many welterweights are squatty enough to stand in a fighters guard and dish out punches, but Serra is, and did. GSP dominated and overpowered Serra in the rematch, but I still think if they fought 100 times GSP would at least win 95. Pet Sell vs. Scott Smith. Sell hurts Smith, an instead of coming in smartly and maybe throwing a kick from the outside to finish, he barrels in and gets clocked. Jens Pulver vs. Jou Lauzon. Now in hindsight maybe Jens was just near the end, or lightweights had just gotten too big for him now, but he was jogging around the ring like he was going to a sparring session. He got overwhelmed and finished just like that. There are too many instances of this phenomenon to even go deeply into it.


5. Drug testing and weight cutting- Some times fighters come from a place where drug testing is non existent or a sham. Whether they are using these drugs to enhance performance, dull pain, or cut weight they definitely give a competitive advantage. Maybe Nick Diaz didn't get a advantage from the weed when he fought Gomi, but he sure survived some vicious shots and kept coming .Diaz got dropped and had his orbital bone broken, but kept coming till he finished Gomi .If steroids didn't give some fighters an advantage how come these guys usually win when they test positive, and then sometimes look and fight like a different person when they don’t. There is no refund at the betting window when the fight is overturned (if it’s overturned) days later when it’s discovered a winning fighter failed his drug test. Or you could be fighting a guy who only fought places where they tested before, and now you are fighting in a venue that doesn't test. Whether your opponent is just suddenly huge and gorilla strong ( roids), has boundless energy ( stimulants) ,or suddenly can't be hurt( nerve deadeners and pain killers) ,that directly affects the fighters performance. There are tons of guys many suspect ( rightly or wrongly) that have never tested positive before and while I won't mention any by name, I am sure many share my concerns. Josh Barnett seemed a very different fighter when he passed his test, and couldn't finish (low ranked) Gilbert Yvel till late in the fight. When he has to fight someone like Couture or Fedor he suddenly can't pass a test. Intriguing and raises a lot of questions doesn't it? If you come from a wrestling background weight cutting is a science. Fighters often cut 10 - 15 % of their body weight and are far larger than someone who can’t (or doesn't know how) to cut well. Often a fighter without weight cutting skills is fighting in a weight class above what they could if they had it down better. Others believe weight cutting actually saps their wind and won't do it


6. MMA skills are different than single discipline skills- GSP over Koscheck showed how a decorated amateur wrestler can get out wrestled by a guy who has adapted his wrestling best for MMA. I thought for sure GSP would be trying to keep it standing, but he took KO's down and dominated him. Fitch? Same thing. Matt Hughes? Dominated him on the ground too. Maybe a BJJ guy like BJ Penn could stop him? Nope, took him down and overpowered him as well. How about stand up. Mirko Cro-cops striking for MMA is fundamentally different from his K-1 striking. Different stances and adaptable techniques are necessary to avoid the take down. Then theirs the clinch. You can't grab the back of the head in K-1 and use it to knee a guy out. Anderson Silva is a rarity in MMA because he uses all 8 points to strike with, and is a master of the clinch for striking. If it’s in the octagon there is also a lot more room to maneuver than a K-1 ring has. Would Anderson Silva do as well in K-1? Maybe, but I doubt it. He would need a lot of time to adapt his striking and tone down his repertoire. What if he actually got his dream boxing match with Roy Jones JR.? How long would it take him to get used to not throwing kicks, knees and elbows? If it was the Roy Jones JR from 10 years ago I think Jones would embarrass him, but we will never know. The over the hill Jones still might though. Consequently a K-1 guy needs a fair amount of time to adapt his striking for MMA. Then there is GI vs. no GI jujitsu. There are so many more ways to tie up and submit a guy with a GI that the transition can take years. That's part of the reason many world champion GI BJJ guys don't make it big in MMA. Getting used to getting hit hurts them some too.

7. Styles make fights- A dominant wrestler, with good sub D, and a strong chin can beat anyone anytime in a 3round fight. All they need is to avoid the big shot coming in, get the take down, stay on top, and stay moderately active to grind out a round. Now in a 5 round fight this is usually less noticeable, as often they will eventually get caught coming in, but in a 3 round fight it can mean a decision wins. Or their GNP can wear a guy down, or a cut or injury could happen because they are trapped on the bottom. Styles are important for all types of fighters as well. I was always of the opinion that Chuck would beat Wandy when they finally fought because Chuck had more reach, threw more (still not near enough though) straight punches and Wandy throws a lot of a short armed body hooks. It worked out, but many more technical strikers have given Chuck fits lately. Chuck vs. a wrestler with rudimentary stand up is still a good bet though. What if he fought Arona? Would Chuck just back up and knock him out when Arona shot it in? A better technical striker like Luis Cane would probably have a bad time against Arona. He doesn't have Chucks TD defense and doesn't generally KO people backing up. Randy Couture seems to do great against some good strikers, strikers like Tim Sylvia and Pedro Rizzo, but is over matched against bigger wrestlers. The myth MMA math is easily disproved by certain styles of fighters beating others.



8. Style over substance- Often a guy will land a few early highlight KO's against weaker opposition , talk a good game, or is unknown enough to surprise his opponents, and we start believe in him. There was a time when many people thought Tito Ortiz was the best wrestler in MMA. Why? He was a junior college champ, and NCAA champs and Olympic wrestlers abounded in MMA. The media, the UFC, and Tito related it so often that many started to believe it. Then Tito fought Randy Couture. Out wrestled, and manhandled like a child for 5 rounds, Tito was humbled. Chuck KO'd a lot of wrestlers but Keith Jardine, Rampage, Rashad and Shogun all beat him on the feet. I am not saying his legend is undeserved. He won a lot of big fights against a lot top fighters, but his stand up prowess was exaggerated. He has regressed as a stand up fighter, and rarely uses his jab. Chuck mostly throws power shots now, throws body punches from too far outside, and rarely throws kicks anymore. Not even near the best striker in his weight class, but 3 years ago many thought Chuck the best striker in MMA. How about Sokoudjou? Yes he KO'd Lil Nog and Arona right out of the gate with explosive power. But take him to the ground and he's lost. I jumped on that bandwagon after the Arona fight myself and was sorely disappointed. If you listened to Melvin Guillard talk on TUF 2 you would think Fedor would kneel before him. Josh Burkman was not intimidated by all his brashness and took it to him. Junie Browning is another style over substance guy. Runs his mouth like BJ Penn should just hand him his belt, but Cole Miler finished him quick, and Roli Delgado took him to a decision on TUF.

9. Cuts, freak injuries, good cut men and doctors opinions - Then there is blood How often does a cut make a fighter look worse than he is? Edwin Dewees got cut on an episode of the ultimate fighter, and even though he was leaking like a faucet he was winning clearly. Not only can the judges give to much credence to this, but a doctor could stop the fight. I mean he was bleeding continuously, and some got on the fighter beneath him. What if it gets in his eyes? That's all up to the individual doctor and ref, and some will stop that fight, while others will let it continue. How about the razor sharp elbows of Kenny Florian? It wouldn't matter if he was getting owned by BJ, if he cut him over the eye and BJ couldn't see, and the cut man couldn't control it. Now BJ is one of those guys whose face is either structured to make him hard to cut, or he has thick skin, so this wasn't a problem that time. It was a problem when he fought Alex Karalexis and Chris Leben, with Leben clearly ahead when the fight was stopped. If you’re Nick Diaz or Spencer Fisher your scar tissue or bone structure makes you more susceptible to cuts, and Diaz had surgery to make himself less susceptible to it, but will it last? Then you have Fedor /TK. Fedor is still undefeated in my eyes, and I understand the tournament rules made it mandatory that someone had to be declared the winner, but come on! It was an illegal blow that caused that "loss”. When Vitor threw a blow that resulted in his glove grazing and cutting Randy Couture's eyelid, he became the UFC light heavyweight champ! Talk about anticlimactic. That was the worst main event ever, but Vitor got the win. Randy had finished him before and finished him in the rematch, but Vitor got the victory. Some fighters believe so much in Jacob " Stitch " Duran 's abilities to keep them fighting ,that they won't sign a contract without a guarantee that he is in their corner. A good cut man can alleviate some of the one time shot variables, or make a fight that should be stopped continue longer than it should.

In the end very little in sports is certain, and MMA is far too unpredictable for people to be thinking they know it all. So spread out your bets and don't go chirping to everyone in ear shot about a lock. You’re just as likely to get humbled, eat crow, and have people blaming you for the money they lost.

THE KARATE CHOPPIN NINJA
 
The Changing Of The Guard
 
Posted by mmaplayground 7/1/09
 
Submitted by Danno "Turd" Ferguson

About a decade and a half ago the Gracie family decided to showcase the martial art ,that they had honed and fine tuned into a fighting style, that could lead to a much larger man falling prey to a smaller more skilled fighter. The UFC was born and practitioners of various martial arts tested their mettle as well as their respective arts against one another. After proving on multiple occasions that Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was everything they made it out to be, the Gracies moved on and the age of the wrestler was about to begin in the world of mixed martial arts. Men like Dan Severn, Mark Coleman, and later Randy Couture and Matt Hughes remained at or near the top of their respective weight classes for many years until recently.

Since the inception of the Ultimate Fighter reality show things started to change. Wrestlers were bringing in Thai coaches, boxers were becoming proficient in jujitsu. Henceforth the well rounded fighter, what is in fact the true mixed martial artist ,was born and we all got to see the progression of the sport before our very eyes. There were glimpses of this super athlete before TUF premiered, but they were few and far between ,and never really seemed as comfortable in a bad spot as the fighters we are seeing today. Suddenly a jujitsu black belt became comfortable standing and trading blows with a kickboxer, and the stand up fighter realized that a double leg take down wasn't just for the all American wrestlers anymore.

The fighters that were heroes to the early fans of the sport are suddenly seeing the sport pass them by with fewer and fewer of the old guard being the exception to the rule. Matt Hughes has never won with a KO punch, 50 fights and 43 wins while dominating the welterweight division, but he never landed that big shot to end a fight in a heartbeat. Chuck Liddell hasn't even attempted a submission in over 5 years, Wanderlei Silva still doesn't throw straight punches. The game has passed them by. The Aforementioned Chuck & Wandy, the two most feared strikers of the generation, are suddenly being knocked out more often than Glass Joe. Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski, the two men that sat alone atop the UFC's heavyweight division suddenly look like gatekeepers, or worse in Sylvia's case. What is happening to these men that were among the most feared fighters on the planet in their heydays? First off age is a factor. Any athlete will see his career coming to a close when Father Time finally gets the memo that it's time to slow them down. A more decisive factor is the fact that these fighters just weren't able to keep up with the evolution of the sport.

Once in a lifetime a certain athlete comes along and changes the way the game is played. Georges St. Pierre is a shining example of this type of athlete. GSP does everything well, he's athletic, can strike with the best in the world, out wrestles the best amateur wrestlers that move over to the MMA world, and has the slick submission skills of a man that's been practicing BJJ since he was a teenager. Others like Miguel Torres, Anderson Silva, Uriah Faber, and of course Fedor have the skill sets to dictate where the fight goes and win in wherever that place may be. However , these fighters are at or near the top of their weight classes now. What's truly interesting is that the long list of contenders in each weight class are getting to the point that no place in the fight is too dangerous for them to overcome. Hermes Franca, Nate Marquardt, Rampage Jackson, Carlos Condit, and Alistair Overeem are examples from each weight class of fighters that have been around the fight game and have adapted and improved their games to the point that they stay in or near the top ten at any given time. On top of that, fighters that have come out of TUF have shown incredible improvement. Diego Sanchez, Kenny Florian, Mike Swick, Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, and Michael Bisping have displayed the well rounded skills to all be world champions someday. Griffin and Evans already have held the gold , with Florian & Sanchez in line for title shots soon as well. Add to the TUF alums, and fighters that have been around but adapted their games, the next generation of fighters coming into this sport . Toss in an ever increasing popularity ,and the days of seeing a practitioner of strictly karate against a sumo wrestler seem like a tall tale similar to that of Paul Bunyan.

It's sad to see the fighters I've followed for many years get beaten to the point that the on-line world is screaming for their retirement, but this is life in a sport that is still very much in it's infancy here in America. The forward pass changed football. The power hitting slugger ,and pitcher that threw 100 mph changed baseball. The high flier that could slam dunk changed basketball, and now the well rounded fighter, AKA the mixed martial artist, is changing the sport right in front of our eyes. Looking back in 20 years hopefully we will realize the greatness of men like Chuck, Hughes, and Wandy. The old guard , that have been so good at what they do, that they kept the sport afloat until it was able to catch on, should deservedly reap the credit for being the trend-setters they were . But we will also see why they had to step aside for the new breed of fighter that will carry this sport to the next level ,and solidify it as a part of Americana . A standard water cooler talking point like other sports for many years to come. Thanks for the memories guys. Your talents have been as big of a part of this sport's rise as the Fertitas buying the UFC and that's saying a lot.

 
Making the Case for other Organizations
 
Posted by mmaplayground 5/27/09
 
John King

The debate between which was better, PrideFC or the AFC, once reigned dominant on the internet’s mixed martial arts boards. Now, years after the demise of PrideFC, the boards have steadily become more and more quiet. Conversations occasionally spring up about whether or not fighter A or B would do well in the UFC, but the range is not the same as it once was. Barring any conversations involving Fedor Emeline, there is a certain passion markedly absent from the posters involved in the rare debates. Clearly the UFC has won the battle for supremacy within the Mixed Martial Arts market, but is that a good thing? Many would argue to the contrary, but rarely have their reasons been elaborated upon in clear format.

One of those reasons, and quite possibly the one that presents the most danger to MMA, is the threat a monopoly presents to those talented fighters attempting to make their way onto the world stage. Talented fighters like Eddie Alvarez, Josh Barnett, Gesias “JZ” Calvancanti, Josh “The Punk” Thomson, Jake Shields, and many others who, though they may reside in the U.S., remain unknown to the casual U.S. fan. Certainly their skill sets have warranted their presence in the UFC, and yet they remain outside of the organization. Each fighter has their own reasons for not fighting in the UFC, but does that satisfy the craving hardcore fans have to see dream match-ups like GSP vs. Jake Shields, Josh Thomson vs. Frankie Edgar, or many others? Let us not forget, we’ve still left out names of talented fighters who are non-U.S. residents- Shinya Aoki, Joachim Hansen, Alistair Overarm, Gegard Mousasi, Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Fedor Emelianenko, and many others. The potential for dream matches seems limitless, but without these other organizations, the salivating you’re experiencing now when considering your opportunity to view these fights would never happen. These fighters would mean nothing, because they would be lost in a sea of men clamoring to earn their way into the lone organization at the top of a crowded hill- the UFC. Those UFC fans who view this as a good thing would suggest that only the best make it into the UFC as a result of this mosh pit at the bottom of the hill. What they don’t realize is that much like the NFL, the NBA, or MLB it is inevitable, especially in the case of those who grow up in the slums of Brazil or the darkest corners of Europe, that some would fall through the cracks never to be discovered. Besides that, where does the mosh pit take place if there are no other organizations within which to house it? At small shows at your local casino? Talk about widening the cracks. Those cracks are where other organizations like Dream, Affliction, Strikeforce, and even the much despised EliteXC act like safety nets to catch these fighters. Hardcore UFC fans may bash these other organizations and call for their demise, but in doing so they’re ignorantly destroying the very sport they love.

On that note, when does MMA become about a product instead of the actual fighters? We’ve already witnessed the unstoppable UFC promoting machine establish counter programming to Affliction and EliteXC events. (Which, thanks to Tivo have been relatively unsuccessful, and actually more helpful to the fan.) One thing that has been successful for the UFC, however, has been the airing of fights on UFC Unleashed that showcase fighters in other organizations losing to UFC fighters. Though it is an intelligent marketing strategy, all sides are not always equal. That fighter could have been in a slump at that time, but is now riding a 10 fight win streak. In a perfect world, those other events that the UFC counter programs put on good shows and interest is drummed up in the fighters competing. The UFC signs said fighters, and the interested they’ve accrued from the fans in other organizations leads to huge pay per view sales when dream fights like Alistair Overeem vs. Brock Lesnar finally happen in the UFC. Only, in the real world events play out more like this hypothetical situation- Alistair Overeem fights and absolutely destroys Brett Rogers in Strikeforce. Hundreds of thousands of fans watch on Showtime, and interests are created for Overeem vs. Lesnar. UFC attempts to sign Overeem, but Overeem wants better compensation than the UFC is willing to offer. The UFC justifies their low offer because though hundreds of thousands may have seen him compete in Strikeforce, there are still a significantly larger number of millions of UFC fans that have not. Each side weighs their bargaining power vs. the other, and eventually the sides cannot reach an agreement. The dream is killed, and ultimately the fans lose. Those who would disagree with this article may claim that this paragraph actually makes the argument for one lone organization stronger, but those folks should challenge themselves to look at it from a different point of view. As was mentioned earlier- when does it become about the product instead of the actual fighters? If a promoter had all the marketing power, budget, production value, and TV time in the world, the argument can be made that, through pure saturation, a stable of sub par fighters could appear to be superior to all other fighters on the market if the strategy for promoting them is a cut above the other organization’s. This has certainly proven to be the case up to this point by none other than The Last Emperor- Fedor Emelianenko. Holding 8 wins and no losses over 6 former UFC champions, is there really any doubt that Fedor is the greatest heavyweight on the planet? Really? REALLY? Come on now. Yet, due to the UFC’s superior marketing machine, many are shaking their head now while reading this. Holocaust deniers.

The UFC has shown that they’re more than willing to compensate fighters who do well within their organization, but a fighter has to earn his way to that paycheck while making beans. Along with making beans comes eating beans. With that comes eating ramen. Working another job. Time away from training. Poorly funded training camps. The inability to hire a strength and conditioning coach. All of these create a funnel that leaves the current “cream of the crop” at the top. Not always because they’re the cream of the crop, but because they have access to better equipment, better training, better treatment in rehabilitation from injuries, and better nutrition. Simply because they have the funds to support those needs. That dominant champ becomes the face of the organization, and those who have the ability to beat him are left working another job at the bottom instead of honing their abilities to dominate the champ. Unless, of course, you’re BJ Penn- who was raised in a wealthy family capable of supporting your training on their own. Other organizations provide fighters a chance to prove themselves, and while they may not make more money than they would in the UFC, the wins they garner over semi-known competition in those other organizations provide them with that ever-important bargaining power at the contract negotiations. It gives these fighters a chance to create their own destiny, instead of having their fighting abilities limited by the small paycheck they receive for putting their health on the line every day of a sub par training camp.

Though the passionate PrideFC vs. UFC arguments have disappeared, it is now more than ever that fans should be passionately fighting for the existence of these other organizations. If it is the sport of MMA that you love, not the organization of the UFC, it would be wise to consider the arguments made herein. As a fan of the UFC, but more importantly as a fan of Mixed Martial Arts, they should provide reason for you to support all Mixed Martial Arts organizations. This kind of competition creates a better product at all ends of the spectrum, and though we may not always get our way because of the competition, (Fedor in the UFC!) at least we are still provided with the opportunity to see great and talented fighters from all over the world showcasing their skills.

(The opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of this website in general, nor it’s webmaster. They are solely the views of this writer)

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Why Fighters Cant Stop
 
Posted by mmaplayground 5/13/09
 
The Wrestler, starring a suitably haggard-looking Micky Rourke, has just come out on DVD following rave reviews from its theater screening, and upon the recommendation of a good friend and fellow martial artist, I rented it and gave it a shot. This friend said I would draw a lot of parallels to the kinds of things we go through as aging martial artists, and he was spot-on in that, as the life of a broken-down professional wrestler is not dissimilar to that of a fighter or instructor of combat sports. When the knowledge you bring into your field is obtained at the cost of broken body parts, shattered relationships, and social or psychological issues, its not impossible to picture myself and other warrior-types in the same situations. I couldn't help but draw a parallel to UFC 97, and the possible, but not probable, last fight of Chuck Liddell.

While the internet is currently flooded with message board posts, blogs and articles about what Chuck should do with his life after twenty-eight fights and eleven years in the sport of MMA, something is happening that not a lot of people are noticing, and few will compare to Chuck Liddells situation. Don "The Predator" Frye, after twenty-six fights and thirteen years in the sport of MMA, just completed his third return bout under the less-than-famous Shark Fight Promotions banner in Texas. At the age of 43, he is yet again putting on the gloves to test himself against progressively inferior opponents and progressively smaller crowds. Don Frye is hardly the only fighter in MMA that can't stop getting in the cage, as Ken Shamrock, Gary Goodridge, Mark Coleman, Kevin Randleman and a slew of "old school" fighters routinely seek out matches well after their bodies are beyond the ability to compete at previous levels.

What is it about combat sports that doesn't allow fighters to hang up their gloves without dusting them off until injury or sanctioning bodies have to step in and make them stop? I'd like to explore a bit of the psychology involved in combat sports, and shine a ray of light on some issues that people on the other side of the ring ropes might not understand about those guys who actually live and breathe for combat.

As a disclaimer, I myself, am not a professional athlete, but I have fought in every combat sport under the sun as an amateur, and have dedicated myself to combat since I was nine years old. While my general decline in income and popularity, will never touch that of professional fighters, my decline in general health and ability to avoid these activities that oftentimes injure me physically and emotionally, does. I know in my heart-of-hearts, that I can never stop though, because fighters only do one thing.

Fight.

Money and Lack of Options:

I've always been a fanatical history buff, and for a few years, had the notion that I should attend college and earn a degree in the field to show my passion for all that is mankind's triumph and turmoil. Looking at it from a financial stand-point though, I quickly realized there is only one door that is opened with a history degree in the job market. That of a history teacher, who will then teach other people history, so they may either ignore it, or they themselves become history teachers. The cycle repeats.

Combat sports leaves a fighter with the same options after their prime years are long since behind them. The only thing they can do is fight, or teach other fighters. Very few fighters have made this transition with enough success to maintain their standard of living though, and as their time in the spotlight becomes more and more distant, that ability to make money as a teacher starts to fade as well. Long time fights fans might remember when Ken Shamrock's Lions Den and Mark Coleman's Hammer House produced some of the best fighters on Earth. As time moved on, these schools have declined in popularity and output, just like the men who's namesake they bare. This leaves but one option to those men.

Fight.

The Roar of the Crowd:

While I've never been on the receiving end of a heart-felt ovation by more than a handful of people, I have been in a sea of thousands, cheering for my favorite musicians or athletes, and can well imagine the singing of the soul it would produce in the focus of that applause. What must it be like to walk through a curtain and have every eye in a filled-to-capacity stadium and every voice in every throat calling you out to fight? While I'll never find out, I can well imagine it would be a feeling unlike any other, and not something that would be easy to accept as having come to an end, when you decide your last fight, was in fact, your last fight.

When the sport is blowing up more and more every year, and promotions are springing up like mushrooms after a rainstorm, how hard must it be for these aging warriors to answer that phone and say "No thanks, I'm done fighting."? Considering I can't think of a top-level fighter that hasn't stepped back into the cage in the last handful of years, one would think it might be an impossible situation to step away from. When your ears long to hear a thousand voices wordlessly calling for you, what can you do?

Fight.

Relevance and The Immortal Name:

It was a particularly sad day for myself when Evan Tanner died, but there was a moment in time that may have hurt my heart more than his passing. Watching the weigh-ins for UFC 82, as one of my favorite early UFC fighters triumphantly took the stage after years of absence and a having survived a personal hell, he wasn't met with the ovation that a former Middleweight Champion and all-around amazing human being should have been met with. He was met by a burst of polite claps, and utter indifference for a fighter who had spent too long out of the limelight and never found his way into the hearts of new fans. Great men throughout history have gone through tremendous pains to immortalize their name, and it can be no different for the great men who put on the 4oz gloves.

While fighters like Royce Gracie and Randy Couture will always be remembered for what they did in the sport, what about those who had but a brief stay on the top ten lists and only carried the weight of championship gold for a few moments in their life? While every fight fan knows that guys like Tim Sylvia and Matt Hughes were once champions, what about guys like Dave Menne and Maurice Smith, who also held titles in their time? Whats a man to do when your name is forced into obscurity, even among those who follow the sport?

Fight.

To Test Yourself:

I can honestly say, both in congratulations to myself and as reprimand for my stupidity, that I have never attended an open invitation combat event without competing. Despite all my best intentions, I simply can't sit down and watch other people fight, knowing I can do the same, and not get that unquenchable fire in my chest that makes me go out there and prove to myself that I have the will to stand against another man and see who's resolve is stronger. When a man has competed at the absolute pinnacle of his combat profession, it must be utter agony to watch men, who weren't even training when you were on top of the world, go in there and wear the titles that used to adorn your waist, without wanting to prove to yourself, your fans, and that young pup, that you still have what it takes to dominate.

Unfortunately, life is not a movie, and with the sport evolving so fast, the amount of successful MMA comebacks at the top level can be counted on one finger, as Randy Couture is the only man I can think of that has done so. Amazing specimen such as Randy aside, the more time spend away from the sport, the less a fighter's chances of reclaiming his old crown and past glories. Fighters have never been renowned for their level-headed approach to their lifestyles though, and the drive to compete in athletes is something that generally starts at puberty, and ends around the time they drop dead. While the body might have long ago given its best sweat and blood away to the canvas, and every sensibility in your mind tells you its time to stop and find a nice rocking chair to occupy, the drive that made a fighter go through all the hard work that it takes to be the Alpha Male of Alpha Males, is not so easily convinced. What can an old fighter do when he sees young men taking the spotlight and accolades that were once his and his alone?

Fight.

Because Its Who You Are:

In my experience, people have a misunderstanding about certain professions and what they mean to the people that do them. When a computer programmer turns off his monitor, a waitress takes off her apron, or a taxi driver shuts off his ignition, they cease being the aforementioned professionals, and become whoever it is they are when away from their occupations. On the other hand, when a cop takes off his badge, a nurse takes off her scrubs, or a firefighter hangs up his helmet, they're all still cops, nurses and firefighters respectively. When your path in life has to do with giving of yourself, physically, mentally, and emotionally, for the good of others, its no longer an occupation, but a lifestyle. Even if you never take up the tools of your trade again, its what you are. Warriors, both those of battlefields, and those of competition, are the same.

Our good friend Chuck Liddell, who has fought at the top of the world for years, and become the most recognizable man in combat sports, is a fighter, and that can't change. You can take off his gloves, but hes still a fighter.

So, to Chuck Liddell, I say, enjoy your rest my friend. But that spark in your heart will never go out, and the winds of time will fan it into a blaze once again. Though your body may be broken and your mind screaming at you to leave it all behind, we all know we'll be seeing you again somewhere down the road, because fighter do one thing.

Fight.
(The opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of this website in general, nor it’s webmaster. They are solely the views of this writer)
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IS ANDERSON SILVA LOOKING UP TO THE WRONG GUY?
 
Posted by mmaplayground 4/26/09
 
Submitted by The Karate Choppin Ninja

Pound for pound champ? Best stand up in MMA of any top fighter? Serious Killer instinct? Well rounded? Brutal in the clinch? Cleaned out a division? So good he could move up a weight class and take that title? All these claims were made by MMA fans on a regular basis about Anderson Silva, before his lackluster victory over Patrick Cote. Now I can't say these things aloud without a questioning tone in my voice. The only one of these that seemed to previously be in serious doubt with any significant number of MMA fans ,was Pound for pound, and that's a debate that can never truly be won by anyone anyway. Then came the inexplicable performance against Cote. Was it because he was bored with MMA? Was he mad at the UFC for not letting him box? Did he fear Cotes punching power? Was he just getting too full of himself, and now showing off? Was Anderson trying to protect, or hide, a pre-existing injury? Did he break a hand on Cote's noggin, in one of the few brief exchanges early in the fight? Was he afraid to chase (an obviously hoping to counter) Cote? I have seen all these theories floated out since the Cote fight. All could have been forgotten with a dominant victory over Thales Leites. A fighter many thought hadn't even earned the right to fight Anderson for the title. Yes, I believe the lack of action was even more the fault of Leites, but I also believe Anderson had many chances to finish this fight and that his aggression has been blunted lately. Instead, more theories are added to the previous ones, and a previous theory seemed to gain more weight. Maybe he really is bored with MMA? He did mention retiring when his current contract expired with the UFC in a highly publicized article. Want some of the new theories making the rounds? Is he more afraid of losing than winning? He hasn't shown the same killer instinct he had in earlier fights. Has idolizing Roy Jones boxing made him into a style over substance fighter? He does seem to be doing a lot more of what some people might call showboating. Is he now afraid of injury, and just wants to fight more cautiously? It's hard to blame a guy for wanting to protect his health & longevity, but no one is going to be clamoring for him as a PPV draw if this continues. Heres why I think Anderson's previously aggressive nature has taken a wrong turn. Could it actually be that the impetus of Anderson Silvas current fighting style is....... LYOTO MACHIDA!

Yep, the guy some of us love, a lot of us love to hate, and all of us know is a very hard man to beat. Machida, the man who can win a 3 round fight, landing 15 counters, and never be hit with a serious blow. They do train together, and maybe he even gives Anderson fits when they do so, but this is not what most of us want to see. If anybody in his camp could give Anderson fits, I would bet Lyoto's the guy. People who train especially admire Machida's ability to avoid damage while winning a round, but not many people are clamoring for him to be pound for pound champ are they? How many people want to see Machida headline cards? Not a lot from what I see, hear, and read. Those of us who are also a fan of boxing will see the Winky Wright comparison immediately. Great defensive fighter, and technically proficient, but kinda boring as well to most. Yes some purist of "the sweet science" will rave about Winky. However most people want to see a hardcore showdown, not a non violent chess match. No cerebral slap fight is going to make fans brim over with anticipation for a card. Machida has shown a willingness to finish more lately, so maybe they are rubbing off on each other. That killer instinct that Anderson seems to be missing lately is what put him in the pound for pound conversation, and what made him a top PPV draw. So if this is the problem, it seems Lyoto is getting the better end of the deal. Lets be honest with ourselves. How many of us are praying Rashad Evans demolishes Machida? If Evans wins we won't be subjected to the years of safe, carefully instituted matches, that would probably happen in a extended Machida title reign. Do we admire the ability Machida has shown? We absolutely should. He is undefeated and to my knowledge has never backed away from a opponent. Nor should he. The Machidas and Winky Wright's of the world are the guys that champions, with a reputation for putting on a good show, don't want to fight. No champ wants to spend a entire contest chasing someone until they get frustratingly outpointed, or even worse, get so frustrated chasing someone you leave yourself open to a fight-ending mistake. Isn't aggression and Octagon control a fight judging criteria? Somehow I just feel Machida makes a mockery of this rule.

This is mixed martial arts, not a gentleman's Marquess of Queensbury match. The reason behind it is to simulate a street fight as closely as possible, without anyone actually getting maimed or killed. We don't want a standing 8 count, we don't want to see a guy let up on his opponent, and inquire after his state of well being. We want to see a fighter finish when his opponent is hurt. We want to see a fighter immediately follow his opponent to the ground after he scores a knock down, and finish him until the ref pulls him off, he's submits, or we know he's unconscious. I don't know about you, but when I've gotten in fights there was only 3 ways to get me to stop hurting the other guy. He needed to be unconscious, begging me to stop, or running away with there being no chance of me catching him. Some may call me bloodthirsty or barbaric. Some may say I am one of those who really wants "human cockfighting". I don't care what those who don't know me think. I admire the honor with which most professional fighters treat their fallen foes, but AFTER the fight is over. I want to see a fight, and I want to believe in my mind that there is a clear victor. I want to see the "warrior spirit" on display. I am not talking about a brawl like Frye vs Takayama, although it's still a blast to see. I'm talking little Nog vs Shogun, Griffin vs Edgar, Big Nog vs Barnett, Fedor vs Crocop, Hughes vs Penn 2, Couture vs Rizzo 1, Melendez vs Kawajiri . A lot of skill shown? Absolutely, but in all of these fight both participants came with the mentality of a warrior. I have heard many arguments against Chuck Liddel and Wanderlei Silva as fighters lately. The game has passed them by some say. They haven't evolved others trumpet. Maybe, but they always came to fight. You never doubted they were not only trying to win, but finish. That's why their long anticipated fight actually lived up to the hype. I believe Anderson far outshines either as a technical fighter, but who would you rather see fight now? 6 months ago I would have said Anderson, and I am a big fan of Chuck and Wandy's fights. Now, I would take Chuck or Wandy any day, win or lose. Anderson has showed that warrior spirit, killer instinct, and the amazing skill to be a legend, in the recent past. Now i just see a lot of skill and too much caution for my taste. Never forget it was the first Forrest Griffin vs Stepen Bonnar fight that launched MMA into the mainstream in most of the world. Both nice fighters, and both have improved technically since. However neither was anywhere near Andersons skill level on that night, and probably never will be. What did they bring to the fight? Heart, will and a desire to honorably give it everything they had to finish their opponent. What is that called? To me it's the definition of the warrior spirit. I would rather see that fight, than any fight Machida has ever had.


Maybe I am just grasping at straws to explain Anderson's new attitude in the cage, and no, I have no inside information to prove this theory. Just my own eyes, and a bewildered sense of being cheated by the new Anderson. So this goes out to you Anderson, in the hopes that if enough of us keep talking about it, you will actually return to being the beast we all believed you to be. Don't pattern yourself after Machida. He is a truly talented and gifted fighter, but very few MMA fans actually love watching him fight. If you want to pattern yourself after a fighter who shows not only skill, but combines that skill with the warrior spirit we all had come to expect from you, try Fedor. Better yet lets see the guy who finished Franklin, Marquardt, and Henderson. All inside of 2 rounds: back-to-back-to back.Lets see you be the guy you used to be-again.
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The Top Ten Myth
 
Posted by mmaplayground 3/25/09
 
Submitted by Shawn Rafferty

In 1967, Murray Woroner wanted to run a program on the radio, pitting the greatest heavyweight boxers of all time against each other to see who would win if they'd done battle in their respective primes. Considering gloved boxing had been around for 100 years, in varied states of popularity and legality, this was an impossible feat to accomplish, as some of these championship fighters were dead by the time others were born. But, with the aid of a state-of-the-art computer and 250 boxing experts, they selected 16 boxers to "compete" in this event, and decided there were 128 variables in boxing in which to build statistics for each boxer. Things like punching power, heart, footwork, and resistance to cutting were all factored in and when the virtual dust cleared, Rocky Marciano was declared the greatest boxer of all time. The problem was, basically no one, including the boxing experts involved in the project, agreed with it.

What does all this have to do with MMA? If you look at any MMA website on the net, be it fantasy games or forums, there will always be discussions of Top Tens, Top Fives, Pound for Pound, Greatest Of All Time, etc and no one can seem to agree on anything, and I, for one, disagree that a Top Ten can even be done. In a sport whose greatest moments involve underdogs defying odds to crush their opponents in spectacular fashion, how is it possible to make a cookie-cutter chart and put all the worlds talent in definitive order? If the aforementioned 250 boxing experts decided there were 128 variables to a boxer, how many variables would there be to an MMA fighter? The fact of the matter is, most of the greatest sports upsets have occurred in combat sports because of the completely unpredictable nature of a strike landing on a chin. With the amount of variables involved in this sport, it’s not impossible to find fighters well outside of the standard Top Ten list that could potentially destroy those on top.

What I've done here is made a list of fights between "Top Ten" fighters and lesser known or much less regarded fighters, to illustrate this point. Granted, most of these fights will probably never happen, and I'm not saying that Fighter A would definitely lose to Fighter B, but I feel they're interesting match-ups that show the versatility and unpredictability of our favorite sport.

Lightweights:

BJ Penn (#1 Lightweight, #4 P4P) vs. Donald Cerrone:

Granted, both fighters are coming off of loses, but the nature of those losses are vastly different; BJ Penn having thrown in the towel in the 4th against George St. Pierre and Donald Cerrone losing a split decision after Jamie Varner broke a hand and a foot on the side of his face. Undeniably these fighters are both tough as nails at their home of lightweight, and while Penn has long been the king of lightweight in the minds of fans, Cerrone is only now starting to turn heads.

So, what would happen if these two met in the cage? While BJ Penn has arguably some of the best boxing and hardest chin at LW, Cerrone is no slouch either, as a former US Muay Thai champion and possessing an ironclad chin of his own. Considering the reach Cerrone would have with his vicious leg strikes, the amount of space between BJs punch and Cerrones chin, and Cerrones never-say die attitude, this could be a surprisingly competitive fight. On the ground Cerrone has one of the most dangerous guards in the game, and while I have no doubt BJ Penn could unravel it in time, I also have no doubt it would take more time and more energy than it would be worth to the Top Ten favorite. While the odds would say BJ wins this via take downs and a sub from top position, I wouldn't count out the Jackson Submission fighter to have a solid game plan that took this into deep water and tested the Hawaiian's chin and fortitude.

Eddie Alvarez (#5 Lightweight) vs. Joe Stevenson:

Again, both fighters are coming off loses, with Alvarez losing to Shinya Aoki's submission madness early in their fight, and Stevenson dropping a decision to newly minted LW contender Diego Sanchez. Neither had great showings in their last bout, although Stevenson had more time to try and shine, but he's nowhere near the Top Ten in most people’s eyes after dropping three straight to Penn, Florian and Sanchez.

Scratching the surface, one would see this as being a very solid match for Stevenson though. Although Alvarez has a nuclear one-two punch and solid wrestling and conditioning, Stevenson has an all-around solid game, with the submission grappling skills to make this match a lose-lose situation for Alvarez. Between his crisper strikes and formidable defensive boxing skills, Stevenson could easily out-point Alvarez on the feet, and on the ground, Alvarez could very well find himself in trouble against someone with such a well-rounded grappling game.

Welterweights:

George St. Pierre (#1 Welterweight, #3 P4P) vs. Brock Larson

GSP is coming off of one of the most dominant performances of his life after grinding down BJ Penn in his attempt to usurp a second belt, while Brock Larsons last fight was a one punch demolition of Carlos Prater. GSP is one of the most well-rounded, and well-respected fighters on the planet, some of the greatest WW fighters of all time having lost to him, while Larsons career has mostly entailed crushing mid-tier fighters in record time with his uncanny speed and raw BJJ talent, but it's these things that would make him a threat to GSP.

The only question mark concerning GSP is his ability to take a punch, and Larson is one of the few guys who packs enough muscle to deliver a crushing blow, yet has enough speed in his massive WW frame to land that strike. For sheer physical presence, Larson is almost unmatched at WW, being almost too big for the weight class, and having issues with endurance later in the fights. While the pure technical and athletic factor would clearly be in GSPs favor in this fight, Larson has the brutish power and aggression to deal nearly anyone a one-hit KO or lock on a "Gorilla Jiu-Jitsu" submission in under a minute.

Thiago Alves (#2 Welterweight) vs. Anthony Johnson

Thiago Alves is a rising start and #1 contender in the most competitive division in UFC, having recently beaten Josh Koscheck for a lopsided decision win after negating Koschecks world-class take downs and battering him on the feet. Anthony Johnson has had ups and downs in his UFC career, but has notched two solid victories with a third round KO against Kevin Burns in a rematch of their controversial fight, and against Luigi Fioravanti with a first round stoppage. While Alves has the bigger wins and better fundamental striking in his favor, Johnson is an up-and-coming fighter with tons of pure athletic potential, and is one of the few fighters at this weight that can match Alves for size.

A fight between the two would assuredly be a stand-up affair, with Johnson lacking the ability, and Alves lacking the desire, to take this to the ground. On the feet though, this would be an interesting match, as Johnson can match Alves for size, power, and hand speed. While his is striking might not be as refined, he has shown a decent amount of diversity in his combination's, and most importantly when fighting Alves, a very solid chin. While Alves would potentially take Johnson's legs out from underneath him early in the fight and finish him late, he'd have more than a few opportunities to drop Alves in exchanges with the ATT fighter.

Middleweights:

Anderson Silva (#1 Middleweight, #1 P4P) vs. Frank Shamrock

Yeah, I said it. Coming off a bizarre win over Patrick Cote, in which Cotes knee came apart mid-ring, Silva has gone through nearly every worthy opponent in the UFC MW division. Oddly enough, Frank Shamrock had much the same problem in his title run, stepping away after 5 victories, as there was no one left to fight at that time.

Anderson Silva has been on a tear since entering the UFC, while Frank Shamrocks last few fights haven't been nearly as dominant, coming off a 3rd round TKO loss to Cung Le after having his forearm broken while blocking a head kick. While most people wound consider this a gross miss-match, there is something to consider here.

Frank Shamrock is one of the few professional fighters in the US from a catch wrestling background, which has proven to be the bane of BJJ fighters time and again in Japan. While this art is seldom put to the test in MMA stateside, the fact remains it has proven to be the undoing of Anderson Silva on two occasions, against Ryo Chonan and Daiju Takase. Shamrock is also one of the most physically gifted athletes in combat sports today, having an almost inhuman ability to balance from top position and having an economy of motion seldom seen in this sport. All that, combined with his cerebral fighting style, excellent striking form, and iron jaw, make him a stern test for anyone at MW, including the reigning champion. How a fight between the two would proceed would be difficult to predict, as both fighters are tremendously patient, with Silva having an advantage on the feet with his world class muay thai, but Shamrock having the ability to take the champ down as few have, and being able to finish the fight on the mat or work from top to earn a decision. While the fight would be stacked in Silvas favor in terms of striking and his dangerous guard game, this would be no easy contest.

Dan Henderson (#2 Middleweight, #10 P4P) vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama

Dan Henderson has long been one of the most dangerous two-division fighters in the sport, coming off a split decision win over Rich Franklin at LHW, and while age and battle scars are beginning to catch up with him, he shows no signs of slowing down, having landed a coaching spot on TUF 9 and a fight with Michael Bisping. Yoshihiro Akiyama has had his share of battles in the ring himself and while he's had moments of controversy, he's also been able to destroy top level contenders in spectacular fashion. Interestingly, both fighters have international experience in their respective disciplines, with Henderson having competed in Greco-Roman wrestling in the Olympics, and Akiyama having competed for and won several medals in Judo the world over. Both also have naturally heavy-handed striking ability, which both picked up late in their careers and have used to great effect.

While Henderson certainly has the experience against top-level fighters, this is one of the few fights where he might not be the better fighter out of the clinch, as Akiyama could work his judo technique to avoid Hendersons heavy ground and pound, and possibly gain top position himself. In a striking exchange, both guys have deceptively solid hands, while Akiyama has shown diversity and fluidity to his striking that Henderson lacks, and which could give the Team Quest fighter problems. While a fight between the two would likely go to decision, I doubt either fighter would make it there unscathed.

Light Heavyweights:

Rashad Evans (#1 Light Heavyweight, #6 P4P) vs. Renato Sobral

Rashad Evans is currently at the height of his career as an undefeated fighter, scoring a highlight-reel knock out over Chuck Liddell and defeating Forrest Griffin for the title. Renato Sobral, since being fired by the UFC after choking a blood-soaked David Heath unconscious, has also been on a tear with wins over Mike Whitehead, Sokoudjou, and Bobby Southworth, the latter gaining him a title of his own as the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion. While Sobral's level of opponent has been a cut below that of Evans, he’s been in there with some of the toughest fighters of the mid-nineties and has international wrestling and submission grappling experience. While it’s doubtful the two would meet in the UFC after Sobrals dismissal, a fight between the two would be intriguing.

While Evans boxing has been coming along fantastically over the last year, the same can be said of Sobral, not in the KO sense, but the defensive striking sense, which was his main issue with fighters like Chuck Liddell and Jason Lambert. On the ground, Evans would be facing someone who has a comparable level of wrestling experience as himself, but also a BJJ black belt to make him equally as dangerous off his back, which would be a threat Evans has never faced before. While Evans would have the definite advantage in hand speed and knockout power, you couldn't sleep on Sobral getting the fight down and possibly scoring the submission or decision.

Lyoto Machida (#2 Light Heavyweight, #7 P4P) vs. Jon Jones

Lyoto Machida is coming off of one of his most dominant performances, knocking out Thiago Silva on the ground, three seconds shy of the end of the first round, and cementing his place as a potential contender for the title. Jon Jones is coming off an impressive victory of his own in a handy greco-roman clinic put on against the rugged Stephen Bonnar, which also highlighted his incredibly unorthodox striking style. While the disparity in experience if vast, in that Machida has cracked the heads of some of the toughest fighters of all time, while Jones has been in MMA for all of a year, this match would be a true test of what Machida is capable of.

Machidas greatest strength is his epic elusiveness, making him almost impossible to land clean punches on. But, how would his ability to evade damage fare against someone like Jones, who throws the oddest assortment of spinning elbows, jump kicks, and flying knees, and seems to land them with frightening regularity? It would be a stern test to Machida's ability to read body movements, and would make it very difficult to land counter strikes against Jones. Another thing to consider would be that the only area Machida has ever looked uncomfortable when being clinched against the cage, where he can't use his footwork, sumo and judo backgrounds to throw or move opponents. Jones has one of the most functional greco-roman games ever seen in MMA in his ability to execute innovative suplexes and throws against very difficult opponents. It would be interesting to see how Machida could handle that if Jones could get inside on his lethal right straight and use his clinch work to take Machida out of his element. In the long run, I feel Machidas counter punching and raw striking talents would eventually cost Jones the fight, but it would have the potential to be an amazing display.

Heavyweights:

Fedor Emelianenko (#1 Heavyweight, #2 P4P) vs. Cheick Kongo

Fedor is considered by most to be the greatest heavyweight of all time, having convincingly beaten every top-tier opponent he's fought, and showing no signs of weakness under a variety of situations. He has some of the heaviest hands in the HW division, utter calm under pressure, and a grappling game inescapable as a black hole. When dealing with someone the caliber of Fedor, it’s nearly impossible to find an opponent that brings something to the table he hasn't faced, but Cheick Kongo might be that man. Coming off convincing wins over Dan Evensen and Mustapha Al-Turk, Kongo is slowly making his way up the HW ladder in the UFC, but developing a formidable fighting style along the way.

While he doesn't have anything Fedor hasn't faced before singularly, he does have two skillets that make him dangerous to the wrong types of opponents. While his stand-up might not be at the level of some fighters populating the HW divisions, like Antonio Hardonk or Andrei Arlovski, he has a fast developing knack for out wrestling his opponents from clinch and making them fight in his world, a nightmare for the majority of the division, who have shorter reaches and less developed hands. In a fight between the two, Fedor might find himself on the end of Kongos jab, and unable to maneuver the larger Kongo to the mat without pulling guard, which could leave him open for punishment from top, courtesy of Kongo's ground and pound. While Fedor has the power to test any chin, anywhere, anytime, and the ability to end the fight the moment his opponent touches the mat, Kongo could potentially draw a fight into deep water and test the WAMMA Heavyweight Champion's cardio, which hasn't happened since his fight with Mirko Cro-cop. It’s a fight we'll likely never see, but one that would showcase a new test for the Last Emperor.

Frank Mir (#2 Heavyweight) vs. Gabriel Gonzaga

Frank Mir looked like a re focused fighter after his colossal upset victory over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, which saw him win the UFC Interm Heavyweight Title, and a rematch with Brock Lesnar. Gabrial Gonzaga isn't new to the heavyweight division, but after a recent KO loss to Shane Carwin, he has fallen off of the Top Ten lists across the cyber world. His size, lightning speed and world-class BJJ game still make him a difficult match for virtually every HW in the world though, and Frank Mir is certainly not an exception.

In a match between the two, Frank would be universally out-classed by the former top ten fighter. While Mir's striking has come a long way in the last two years, Gonzaga has an unnatural speed at HW, combined with solid muay thai and vicious leg and head kicks that can knock out or cripple the vast majority of heavyweights out there. In terms of grappling, while Mir might have a dangerous guard and solid all-around grappling skills, Gonzaga is a multi-time world champion and a larger man to boot, so Mir's go-to game plan of boxing to set-up takedowns would be a moot point, in that he'd be out-classed and ultimately defeated at any given moment.

I wanted to use Mir vs. Gonzaga as the keystone of my argument here, as it truly illustrates the fickle world of the Top Ten, where a man knocked off the totem pole Saturday could conceivably be on top on Sunday, if he fought the right person. Granted, while none of these fights are guaranteed wins or losses for anyone involved, I feel they're justifiably exciting and competitive fights between world champions and members of the Top Ten, and lower-tier, yet no less dangerous fighters. The entire reason this sport exists is because when two men step into a ring or cage, you never truly know what’s going to happen, and fights like this just illustrate the fallacy of ranking fighters in regards to each other. In a world where fighters fight injured all the time and where one-punch knockouts are a common occurrence, no man can safely claim to be the best on any given day.

(The opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of this website in general, nor it’s webmaster. They are solely the views of this writer)

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Ten Fighters I'd like to See in the UFC/WEC
 
Posted by mmaplayground 3/11/09
 
Submitted By Andrew D

This is a list of the fighters that I think would bring the most to the table from the UFC’s standpoint. It is NOT a list of the ten best fighters fighting for other promotions, although there is definitely some overlap. I’ve tried to focus on the weight classes that the UFC lacks star power in and on fighters who have styles that would distinguish them from the majority of fighters the UFC already has under contract. This means no Jake Shields who is a great fighter, but would be yet another well-rounded wrestler in a division that contains may great fighters with that style already. I’ve also omitted anyone who has previously fought for the UFC so names like Barnett, Lawler and Arlovski won’t be on here either. With that disclaimer, here is a list of ten guys that would be great additions for the UFC:

1. Fedor Emelianenko: Fedor is the obvious first choice on the list. He is the best fighter in the world in the weight class that contains the fewest number of great fighters, both overall and in the UFC. His absence from the UFC is the most conspicuous counter-argument to the UFC claim to be the undisputed top promotion in the world. If Fedor retired today he would be remembered as the greatest HW MMA has seen to date. It would be a shame if that legacy didn’t include fights in the UFC promotion as well.

2. Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto: One of those fighters you have to “see to believe”, Kid is the GSP of the lighter weights. A guy who can wrestle with an Olympians and strike with K-1 champions, he seems too fast, too strong and too aggressive to make fighting MMA at his best weight of 135 pounds seem fair. As a matter of fact, 145 doesn’t seem fair either and so much of his career has been spent beating up bigger lightweights. Already a superstar in Japan, his looks, fighting style and American roots could make him an American star as well. Not sure if he’s big enough for the wrestler-heavy UFC LWs, but he would be an instant title contender against whoever is unlucky enough to fight him in the WEC. A great story would be to have him fight for titles at 135, 145 and, provided he wins those two, 155 in consecutive fights.

3. Alistair Overeem: It always seemed like a bit of a squeeze for a muscular guy who was 6’ 5” tall to make LHW and as soon as Overeem moved up in weight his body seemed to expand in relief. Now he’s a 255 pound fighter who can strike like a K-1 contender (ask Badr Hari) and who can submit people with a guillotine who shouldn’t be submitted that way (ask Igor Vovchanchin). Overeem is definitely the best HW in the world not fighting for either the UFC or Affliction, but that leaves him with few credible opponents. His physical gifts and fight experience would make him a threat to any HW in the world, including champions Mir and Lesnar.

4. Cung Le: A fighter unlike any other in MMA because of his background and athletic ability, Cung Le is already a superstar in northern California and he’s well known in the kickboxing world. A top juco wrestler, a good K-1 kick boxer and one of the world’s best in the thin talent pool of San Shou, Cung offers a very interesting style match-up for any MW out there, including that one guy nobody can beat. His dynamic kicking makes him deadly on his feet and his wrestling makes him tough to take to the ground. Le also has charisma and a track record as a successful ticket-seller for Strikeforce. In other words, he’s a fighter people want to see.

5. Antonio Silva: Antonio Silva is a talented athlete who cuts weight to make the 265 pound HW limit and yet fights like a LHW. He can wrestle, strike and do submissions all with a fluidity and speed that very few men his size possess. I would love to see him matched up with the other big, athletic HWs like Lesnar, Gonzaga and Overeem, but issues over possible steroid use may make this impossible.

6. Shinya Aoki: Aoki will be an exception to my general rule of avoiding fighters in the UFC’s strongest weight classes. Although the UFC has enough talent at lightweight already, Aoki is a unique fighter. He’s one of the few modern fighters who can win consistently from his guard and the way that he does so makes him a guy who fans immediately notice, and most often root against. He would be a great asset if the UFC wanted to put on shows in Japan.

7. Gegard Mousasi: Mousasi edges out Jacare and Manhoef on this list because of his wins over them in Dream last year. He would add needed depth and a new face in the UFC’s MW division, a division that is running out of marketable matchups for champion Anderson Silva. Twenty four MMA wins for a guy twenty three years of age makes Mousasi the kind of fighter to make an investment in.

8. Ricardo Arona: A boring style, but one that is hard to beat, Arona is simply too talented not to be on the list. He is maybe the best LHW in history to never hold either the Pride or UFC title. He is an ADCC Absolute Division champion and he has big MMA wins over Wanderlei Silva, Alistair Overeem and Dan Henderson while in Pride and his top control submission wrestling style was nearly enough to beat Fedor Emelianenko early in both of their careers.

9. Roger Gracie: I’m not sure how dedicated the biggest and best of the new generation of Gracie fighters is to MMA, but if he wants to make a career of it, he has the talent to do so and it would be a great story to watch him fight his way up the ranks to try to revive the family glory in the UFC. He’s an ADCC absolute champion who is generally considered to be one of the top three BJJ stylists in the world (along with Garcia and Jacare). He may be a bit small for a heavyweight, but he’s young and may fill out his frame more. Plus, does anyone really want to take this guy down? His presence would bring a sense of legacy to the UFC which is one thing this new sport has trouble garnering.

10. Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson: I’m sure this will be a controversial pick and I can understand why. Kimbo has not had the type of accomplishment in the sport that guys like Manhoef, Akiyama and Shields have. But what he does bring to the table is star power. He is a proven headliner who became the biggest non-UFC star in American MMA. Any fight with him is sure to be a big, well-covered event and—like it or not—that’s what makes a promotion successful. Did Royce Gracie deserve a shot at Matt Hughes? Did Brock Lesnar deserve top billing for his 2nd MMA fight against Frank Mir? The answers are “no” based on accomplishment but those events were big successes and I think any fight featuring Kimbo Slice would be as well. Plus, much like with the other two examples, the lucky UFC fighter who gets to fight him will probably get a lot of press and a likely victory to boot.

All these fighters have something that the UFC should value. While some may eventually end up here, I think now would be the best time for all of them.

(The opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of this website in general, nor it’s webmaster. They are solely the views of this writer)

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The Peril of Dream Matches
 
Posted by mmaplayground 3/5/09
 
Submitted by Turd Ferguson

Everybody loves an underdog. Everybody loves seeing a little guy get the better of a bigger man. Everybody loves a good story about people making good on their chances to rise to the top and do something never done before. Unfortunately for BJ Penn, and maybe the rest of the MMA fans around the world, Georges St. Pierre isn't a fan of the great American underdog story, and why would he be, he is after all a Canadian, and a French Canadian at that.

UFC 94 was anchored by a main event pitting two fighters that were in just about everyone's top 5 pound for pound lists against each other, those fighters being the aforementioned Penn and GSP. GSP was the reigning UFC welterweight champ, and Penn was the lightweight champ moving up in weight for what seemed like the umpteenth time in his career. Both fighters had dominated the former champions in their respected and talent rich divisions, and this rematch(St. Pierre won a razor thin decision in their first meeting almost 3 years prior that many fans disputed) was to be a fight for the ages. Although most were not surprised by the outcome, the fighters were seen as very evenly matched by most fans and pundits alike, the way the fight went was a shocker to almost all who watched, St. Pierre grape-danglers aside. GSP dominated the fight from the opening bell until Penn's cornerman, and brother/manager, decided he had seen enough.

This leads me to the question: Will UFC president Dana White allow any more of these "dream matches" involving two of his organization's champions again?

The pay per view buy rates were high, speculated at about 1.3 million by White himself, so there is money to be made, but will seeing his title holders get dismantled the way GSP did Penn discourage him from putting on these fights anymore because it might expose his champions as "not as good as people thought they were". BJ has hinted to retiring since the fight and although he said that he was considering it before the match even happened, one has to wonder if he is at home in Hilo questioning his ability due to the crushing nature of the defeat.(personally i think he will want to come back and prove himself again, but as many fans know anything can happen with BJ). Will this turn of events lead to a vacancy for the 155 pound belt that no one has even looked remotely close to being able to take from him(although ever improving Kenny Florian is on the horizon)? Would Dana allow one of the most marketable men in all of sports, never mind just mixed martial arts, GSP to move up in weight class to fight Anderson Silva in a dream fight that has been talked about among internet fans for over a year now, or not allow it due to fear that the sports "golden boy" could just as easily be destroyed by the larger Silva?

The UFC has to not only make money on it's PPV's but it also has to make sure it isn't leaving it's stars hanging out to dry by moving them from one weight class to another. This is still truly a fledgling sport as demonstrated by the fact that its not even legal in all 50 states yet, and sullying one of the few household name's record for the sake of PPV buys for one night only may end up doing more harm than good in the long run. Those of us that consider ourselves in the know will give a fighter a pass, or at least a little more slack, when he moves up in weight and loses, but the vast majority of new, or casual fans will only see a loss as a loss and that will inevitably take away from a fighters drawing power.

I love the fact that a guy like BJ Penn wants to test himself against bigger men, it shows that he has the "warrior's spirit", a term that gets tossed around a little too much for my tastes these days but is truly deserved in BJ's case. When all things are considered equal though, the bigger man will almost always come out on top, size does in fact matter(sorry fellas). Does a fight between GSP and Anderson really do more bad than good in the end? If GSP wins he moves up the pound for pound rankings ahead of Silva, and cements himself as THE GUY in the UFC, but what if Silva wins? Is there a way that Silva can somehow end up looking better after this fight? Sure he will have beaten a guy that is also a top 5 P4P fighter, but he was the bigger man and should be expected to win if all other things are considered equal, not to mention GSP's stock will drop in the eyes of many fans and that's just not good business. Neither is the fact that if one fighters holds titles in two different weight classes both divisions contenders will have to wait longer in between title shots, and less title fights = less PPV buys, more fans shell out the dough when a strap is on the line.

BJ Penn is really a different case story than many other fighters because hes made the move up and down in weight many times, and is the type of fighter that the UFC brass has to handle with kid gloves from time to time because he is a big draw, and is the type of guy that will take a walk if he doesn't get to do the things he wants to do in this sport like take on bigger men, or attempt to hold 2 belts at once. The match against GSP was basically forced upon the UFC by BJ and they knew if they didn't give him his shot he was a risk to fly the coop, and lets face it, it was a rematch that the fans wanted to see and would shell out cold hard cash for even in these bleak economic times.

So as much as I would love to see the champions in the different weight classes clash and see who comes out on top, I fear that we may not get the chance to see this happen in light of what occurred at UFC 94. My money is on Dana White putting an end to these kind of fights, and making a fighter like Anderson Silva move up to fight at light heavyweight permanently or until another force emerges at middleweight or stay put at middleweight and finish the job of cleaning out the division rather than having his fighters go up and down in weight class on a regular basis. I think we have seen the last fight between two current UFC title holders, at least until another champion decides it's his turn to pull rank and demand that he gets a shot to prove to himself and the world that he is without a doubt the best fighter on the planet period......not named Fedor that is.

(The opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of this website in general, nor it’s webmaster. They are solely the views of this writer)

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Pride Failure?
 
Posted by mmaplayground 2/23/09
 
Submitted by Shawn Rafferty

With UFC in full swing and with no sign of the dark days ahead, a new organization arose in the Land of the Rising Sun in 1997, boasting odd round and scoring structures, a truly international roster and including the vicious rules that were quickly being removed from the legally-embattled UFC. Pride FC held its first event on October 11th of that year with a showcase of old UFC fighters and combat sport veterans and legends from the world over, and running with that momentum, soon turned themselves into a premier fight organization with one of the most competitive rosters on the planet. Their fighters were second to none in all aspects of combat sports, conditioning, and ippon, or will to finish the fight, making Pride FC THE place for any fighter who wanted to be the absolute best. Or, at least that's what they would have had us believe. When watching such early Pride greats as Wanderlei Silva, Kazushi Sakuraba, and Igor Vovchanchyn destroy their competition, it was difficult to imagine these warriors could possibly be sub-par to the fighters in other promotions around the globe, and the proof was in the pay. How could someone who's paid $250,000 a fight, lose to guys making a tenth of that stateside? How could someone who battles in front of 60,000 fans at the Sitama Super Arena possibly be bested by someone fighting in a place called Casino Magic in some forgotten city in Mississippi? Three years into Pride FCs reign of supremacy though, we started to see cracks in the organizations armor. With Wanderlei Silva dropping a close decision to Tito Ortiz in Prides own homeland, and in other pivotal bouts along the way. What was perhaps the greatest upset in the organizations smoke and mirrors show came at their own event, Pride 33, which was held in the USA.

The invincible Japanese warrior, Takanori "The Fireball Kid" Gomi, a man who had crushed the competition time and again with is ferocious assault, wrestling and submission savvy and a nuclear left hand, went against Nick Diaz, who was 14-6 as a professional with a UFC record of 6-4. While most agreed he was a tough-as-nails fighter, it was a forgone conclusion that Gomi would knock him into sleepyland within the first round. Yet, try as he might, Gomi couldn't put Diaz down for the count and was, in fact, on the wrong side of the scorecard at the end of round one, and didn't fare much better in round two. Recreational drug-related shenanigans aside, Diaz locked up an ultra rare Gogoplata finish in the second round for a tremendous upset over Prides lightweight dynamo. Shortly thereafter, Pride FC dissolved as a company and its fighters were cast into the wind to seed destruction in the fight leagues of the world. But, what happened was far from the carnage one would anticipate from the worlds greatest fighters landing in smaller organizations. One after another, Pride greats were being crushed by mid-ranked opponents, who years before we would have bet our houses against, and it was happening all to often to be a fluke. What happened to the fighters of Pride? How could someone be an utter wrecking machine on one side of the Pacific, and be a laughing stock on the other? This is my personal theory on the situation which is still unfolding before us, I believe it to be, maybe not the whole story, but a good part of why Pride fighters fail outside their home turf.

No athletic commision = No weight classes:

While the NSAC and CSAC might cause trouble from time to time with split decisions and not overturning fights that really should be stricken from the records, they do a fine job of keeping the playing field even in the world of fighting where size, and occasionally skill, is involved. Japan, and Pride by proxy, have no such officiating body and were able to create loose weight classes, that were mere suggestions for the people fighting in them. While fight organizations in Japan occasionally have "weigh-ins" they're closed door affairs where the weights aren't even posted, and is used more as a photo shoot than an actual leveling device for relative size of fighters. While the Japanese attitude might be "Its not about the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog", what happens with a beagle and a bull mastiff have the same amount of fight in them? The bull mastiff has a beagle-sized snack. While there are no weight classes on the streets, there certainly need to be in professional combat sports. Not only to avoid grievous injuries, but to allow fighters to work and train within their own weight. Watch a season of TUF, where guys are dropping 23lbs to make weight, or eating sandwiches on the scale to show how undersized they are, and see what kind of difference 15 or 20lbs makes in a fight. There are certain techniques that don't work particularly well against larger or smaller opponents, and its difficult for a fighter to know what these are until they train against said opponents, and it isn't fair for fighters to be training for huge disparities in weight. As professionals, Pride fighters were never subjected to this, and the two times they were, fighting under the NSAC banner, it was mayhem. Looking at the weigh-in numbers for the two US events, of the 13 non-heavyweight fights, 5 of those featured guys fighting at three or more pounds difference with their opponents, which shows not only how difficult it was for some to make weight, but how some don't even have to try, as they fight at their walking weights. Not only may this have harmed them professionally in their growth, but this was certainly something that harmed them when moving into other markets.

Making the weight:

As Pride fighters were never required to make a standardized weight like other fighters, the art of "weight cutting", where an opponent sheds fat and water weights to make sure they're as large as they can possibly be at their weight class, is something that was never learned by a majority of fighters. Weight cutting is something from wrestling and Western boxing, which are sports that never took off in Japan as they have in the US, and cutting weight never developed in the Japanese fight culture. Most Pride fighters fought at their walking weight, putting them at a tremendous disadvantage to fighters who drop sometimes as much as 40lbs from the time they take a fight to the time they weigh in, and replace 20lbs of that in the 24 hours before the fight. Several Pride fighters, once leaving their organization, dropped one, and sometimes two entire weight classes in the new markets, as they simply couldn't compete with their larger opponents. Even the prime fighters of Pride in Wanderlei Silva, Mirko "Cro-cop" Filipovic, and Kazuo Misaki were, or currently are, finding they're unable to hang with the larger breed of fighters in the larger world of MMA.

Levels of competition:

Wanderlei Silva was arguably the greatest champion in MMA for the 6 years he held the Pride Middleweight Title, although not all fights were at his weight and not all were title affaris. A six year run is almost unheard of in this sport and is an amazing feat, but with Silva, and all Pride champions and contenders, there was a large amount of cannon fodder thrown against him in his career. Being very generous with the skill level of his opponents, it can be said that, in 28 bouts under the Pride banner, Wanderlei only fought 9 opponents (Mezger, Henderson, Sakuraba, Tamura, Filipovic, Jackson, Kondo, Arona, Fujita) in 15 bouts all told, that were anywhere near his skill level. Of those 15 bouts, he was 11-3-1. Being less generous, only two of those nine fighters (Henderson and Jackson) were able to crack the upper crust of the divisions outside of Pride. His record against those two, 3-2. This same experiment can be repeated with every champion pride ever had and shows that a large percentage of championship level fights were against inferior opponents, which is not the case outside of the Pride mold. Its the time in the gym and the battles in the ring that make a fighter great, and I can't imagine guys like Silva, Gomi, Nogueria and Emelienenko trained very hard when fighting professional wrestlers and circus sideshows like Alexander Otsuka and Hong Man Choi. Paying someone for easy fights is hardly a way to forge an unbeatable champion, and this was painfully obvious when these champions have fought outside of Pride, with the notable exception of Fedor Emelienenko, who remains well-tested and undefeated.

Non-specific opponents:

Whether for the sake of excitement, or a bizarre lack of planning, fights in Pride were often thrown together in the last week or even day before the events, and this gave fighters precious little time to train specifically for an opponent and work out a gameplan. While this is commonplace in the lower levels of fighting, where regional promoters go through three or four opponents and have replacements on a few hours notice, this is not acceptable in the upper tiers of combat sports. When elite fighters go against elite fighters, they need to be able to train to fight that particular person, and not train to fight anyone that might be thrown in with them. This is where supreme conditioning, trainers and fight camps come together to mold champions, and this is a concept that never developed in Pride. A perfect example would be the utter destruction of Mirko Cro-cop by Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 70, where it was painfully obvious, that while Gonzaga had trained to destroy Cro-cop, Cro-cop had trained the same way he had his entire career. Gonzaga implemented a perfect game plan of fast footwork, excellent hand speed, take downs off the left kicks, ground and pound assault, and finally, a spectacular right high kick that signaled the end of a dominant heavyweight in MMA. It was Mirko Cro-cops athleticism and skill level that brought him through his fights in Pride, but when he went stateside, he was outmatched in two of three fights by fighters who were possibly less skilled, but definitely better prepared for the Croatian heavyweight.

One-dimensional MMA:

The first several UFCs were not so much a test of the fighters, but a test of the martial arts they represented. Sumo, kickboxing, BJJ, Karate, Muay Thai, wrestling, and every major combative system under the sun came together in the first dozen UFC events to see what system worked the best in the largest variety of circumstances, and in the formative portion of MMA, it was the grappler who ruled the octagon. Around the time of UFC 10 and onward though, there was a sort of awakening in the UFC, and the term "Mixed Martial Artist" was coined, to describe fighters that went beyond their disciplines to iron out their games and become complete fighters. Fast foward to the present age, and you'll be hard-pressed to find a fighter at the upper levels of MMA that isn't at least versed in striking, submissions and wrestling with varied emphasis on one or more aspects. In Pride, and still in the whole of Japanese MMA, there seem to be a large number of purists who are almost exclusively one style, even to this day. In Pride 1, there was a particularly embarrassing fight between Dan Severn and Kimo Leopold, in which neither guy could take the fight to the ground on their own terms, and instead engaged in a stand-up battle that bordered on a slap fight. It was one of the worst displays of stand-up fighting ever seen in professional MMA, and Pride fighters like Masakazu Imanari and Shinya Aoki, while amazing at their disciplines, are still entirely one dimensional fighters. A great deal of upper level Pride fighters spent a majority of their careers fighting people who specialized in one area and dabbled in the rest, as opposed to the average MMA fighter of abroad, who is often just as at home on the mat as on his feet. This approach to combat sports caused stylistic nightmares in the ring of Pride, which became full-fledge night terrors on the international market. Mirko Cro-cop, for all this great fighters in Pride, was still merely a very good kick boxer with a little take down defense when entering the world stage, and that lack of overall skill proved to be his undoing the time that he fougtht a man that wasn't forced to stand with him. My hopes were revitalized in the first round in his fight with Kongo, but one good shot to the ribs set him back again. In a world where fighters weren't forced to stand with Cro-cop, he was beaten, and this has repeated itself over and over again outside the Pride ring.

Performance Enhancement:

Who used, or what was used, might always remain a mystery, but Pride fighters were allowed to use performance enhancers that would be illegal in combat sports, and this had to have had an effect on their fights. This might be a touchy subject, but Mark Kerrs documentary "Smashing Machine" clearly shows him using pain killers while training to fight in Pride, and the fact remains that Pride held 66 events in Japan without a single person failing a drug test, while a combined three fighters failed drug tests in the two shows they held under NSAC and CSAC drug test guidelines. Without naming names, some fighters have looked like bad impressions of themselves since coming to the US and while their excuses are many, there seems to be certain individuals and fight camps that have changed completely since Pride dissolved. Obviously spending your entire fight career on the influence of steroids, pain killers and other various performance enhancers would have a tremendous effect on your ability to compete once you were forced to function without them, and strong cases could be made for several fighters fighting abroad concerning this.
As a fan of the organization, and MMA in general, it saddened me to see Pride FC come to an end after its long and successful run, and watching some of its greatest stars fall from the rankings, As of this writing, with the exception of Fedor Emelienenko, no former Pride title holder is in possession of a title in any weight class. That's not to say that their former alumni have had no success. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson held the UFC light heavyweight title for a brief while, and may do so again in the future; Anderson Silva is a very dominant and heavily tested middleweight champion in the same organization, and Josh Barnett has been successful stateside in his fighting career. However, Quinton and Anderson became completely different fighters from the time they left Pride ,and joined the UFC. Their technical proficeincy grew by leaps and bounds ,and both had fights in other organizations between their joining the UFC ans exiting Pride . As a whole though, Pride fighters, for the reasons stated above, have not done well abroad, and as a sports fan, there's something painful about watching the greats fall to the way-side. In most athletics, that is due to the ravages of time and injury, and with Pride fighters, its especially odd because of the image I held for years that their fighters were beyond comparison, but as the sport moves on and leave the Pride FC roster behind, you can't help but think they were just big fish in a small pond, and how cruel the ocean can be.

(The opinions in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of this website in general, nor it’s webmaster. They are solely the views of this writer)
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New feature alert and a friendly reminder
 
Posted by DoTheMMAth 2/6/09
 
For those of us who are familiar with MMA forums, "avatar bets" are a commonplace thing. To help expedite the process of avatar betting, and to make sure that people stick to their end of the bargain, we've added a new feature. You guessed it... an Avatar Bet page. From here you can propose and accept avatar bets with other forum members and let us worry about the details. Also, by way of friendly reminder, please do not forget that making secondary accounts is against the rules here on MMA Playground. To ensure a smooth, community gaming experience, it might behoove some of us to review the Code of Condut found in the website rules. Thanks for your continued support, and good luck with this Saturday's UFC card!

MMAPlayground Administration
 
Calling All MMA Historians!
 
Posted by DoTheMMAth 10/1/08
 
Do you have an interest in MMA records, fighter backgrounds, or the various martial arts that have been blended into modern MMA? Are you familiar with Wikipedia and their open content, community powered encyclopedia project?

If you've answered yes to these questions, then our partner website MMAWiki.com is the right outlet for you. MMAWiki is looking for some dedicated editors who are passionate about mixed martial arts to help them compile the most useful mixed martial arts database on the web.

Click here to create an account and join in!
 
New feature alert
 
Posted by DoTheMMAth 9/9/08
 
Thanks to the continual input of our dedicated fanbase of educated fight fans we now have an historical fighter ranking archive at our disposal!

Application 1: Check out the new option to view rankings by date in our Top 10 Fighters section. Ahhh it seemed like only yesterday that my man Chuckwagon was sitting happily atop the light heavyweight division.

Application 2: All fighters now have a profile page on MMAPlayground that shows their ranking information (when applicable) among other things. Here's some examples: Forrest Griffin's meteoric rise (ugh, I completely hate that Goldie-ism... sorry to use it), the ups and downs of Wandy in the LHW division, the slow decline of beloved CroCop, and "Cheech" Kongo's brief visit to top 10 heavyweight stardom (Tim Sylvia reference... sorry again!).

In other site update news, we're working on integrating an avatar bet interface to become an official part of our forums and wagering game. There's no actual game score to be gained, but the pride and fun of giving someone a silly avatar for a time is fun enough as many of the users in our MMA forums have discovered already.

As always, thank you for your support, ideas, input, and participation!

MMAPlayground Administration
 
Secondary League Bankrolls Are Now Reset - UFC 88 on Saturday!
 
Posted by DoTheMMAth 9/1/08
 
Now that Season 4 of our Secondary League has come to a conclusion the bankrolls have been reset in preparation for Season 5. Please make sure that you double-check to make sure your wagers are locked in for WEC 36 so that you can get off to a strong start!

Also, Saturday is UFC 88 - make sure you've got your picks and wagers in place and ready for the big show!
 
UFC 87: Seek and Destroy Preview & Picks
 
Posted by DoTheMMAth 8/2/08
 
UFC 87: Seek and Destroy Preview & Picks By Matthew Brothers

The UFC is back with their August offering, UFC 87: Seek and Destroy, and we’re back with an info-filled preview to help you make up your mind on who to pick for your high-dollar fantasy wagers. This time around we’ve got a welterweight championship bout between the champ Georges St.Pierre, and the challenger Jon Fitch, who is currently undefeated in the UFC. Brock Lesnar makes his return to the octagon in front of his hometown Minnesota crowd to take on Heath Herring, and the #1 contender for BJ Penn’s 155lb. title will be decided when Massachusetts native and “TUF” season 1 alumni Kenny Florian takes on Roger Huerta, who is also undefeated in the UFC. As folks sometimes say, the “O” must go, and by the end of this preview, I’ll try to convince you why I think a few “O’s” are going to go on August 9th, when the UFC comes to the Target Center in Minnesota. Let’s get started.

Ryan Thomas (8-1) vs. Ben Saunders (5-0-2)

Saunders is long and lean and will need to keep this fight standing to deal with the awesome wrestling ability of Ryan Thomas. The ground advantage goes to Thomas so Saunders should avoid grappling with him, although don’t count out a submission from the guard position for Saunders. Saunders needs to use his reach and stay on the outside to successfully strike with Thomas on the feet. In the end, I don’t see Saunders being able to stop the takedowns but I think he’s tough enough not to get ground and pounded. Expect a long grinding fight ending in with a decision.

Ryan Thomas def. Ben Saunders via Unanimous Decision

Steve Bruno (11-3) vs. Chris Wilson (15-5)

Chris Wilson was supposed to be dominated by Jon Fitch when they fought in March, instead what happened was Wilson pushed Fitch to a decision, and although he lost, Wilson certainly raised some eyebrows in the process. At one point in the fight, it even looked as though Wilson had Fitch pretty rocked with a head kick. Steve Bruno has some dangerous stand-up as well, with 5 of his last 6 wins coming via T/KO. The American Top Team trained Bruno is currently the Spirit MC Middleweight Champion, although he will be fighting at welterweight in his UFC debut against Wilson. This has all the makings of a war, with both fighters being well rounded and well trained. Although he looked great against Fitch, I’m going with the new kid on this one.

Steve Bruno def. Chris Wilson via T/KO in Round 3.

Jon Jones (6-0) vs. Andre Gusmao (5-0_

Both men will be making their UFC debuts in this war of 205lb. warriors. Gusmao comes from the IFL and has used his capoeira and gracie jiu-jitsu to remain undefeated. Jon Jones would be smart to stand with the Brazilian, who currently holds a brown belt in BJJ. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the former Iowa State wrestler and current USKBA light-heavyweight champ Jon Jones fight live, and believe me when I say that this kid is a beast. Vegas will probably give him long odds, but if you’ve got kids to out through college invest some money in Jones. I think he’s going to shake things up in the UFC’s LHW division when he takes a T/KO victory in this fight.

Jon Jones def. Andre Gusmao via T/KO in Round 2.

Dan Evensen (10-2) vs. Cheick Kongo (11-4-1)

It’s a battle of the big men when Norwegian Dan Evensen takes on one of the most impressive physical specimens the UFC has ever seen (ring girls not included), Cheick Kongo. Kongo is coming off a decision loss to Heath Herring that disappointed the many MMA fans who had pegged Kongo as a legitimate threat to the heavyweight throne. Joe Rogan summed it up when he said, “Somebody needs to kidnap Kongo and take him to wrestling school.” He’ll look to get back on the path to gold when he battles the UFC newcomer Evensen. As a kickboxer, Evensen will look to stand and bang with Kongo. I seem to remember another great kickboxer named Mirko something or other trying that as well, it didn’t work out for him. Although his ground game needs vast improvement, the Frenchman Kongo does have the skills on the feet to stand and bang with just about anyone in the UFC’s heavyweight division. This might actually be a decent fight in the heavyweight division for a change. I’m going with genetics on this one.

Cheick Kongo def. Dan Evensen via Unanimous Decision

Luke Cummo (6-5) vs. Tamdan McCrory (8-1)

Cummo will be the smaller man when these two lock it up on Aug. 9th. McCrory is long and lean and likes to bounce his feet off of other guys’ faces. Cummo is a fairly crisp striker who enhances his training by eating freshly harvested stem-cells. Okay, so that might be an exaggeration, but have you seen what that dude eats? It’s going to go like this, Cummo will come out and start to kick the hell out of McCrory’s legs, but he’ll get too close and McCrory will make him pay. If the fight ends up on the ground, I see McCrory locking up an arm or securing a triangle. Either way, expect “the barn cat” to win this fight.

Tamdan McCrory def. Luke Cummo via Submission in Round 3

Jason MacDonald (20-9) vs. Demian Maia (7-0)

I am 100% riding the Demain Maia war wagon and I can’t wait for this fight. MacDonald will have the advantage standing up but is no slouch on the ground either. Expect the submission machine Maia to want to take this fight to the ground asap. Although he is the “athlete”, MacDonald is going to be severely outclassed on the ground and he doesn’t have the takedown defense needed to keep this fight standing for 15 minutes. Maia will eventually catch him in a submission. I’d say late in the second round.

Demain Maia def. Jason MacDonald via Submission in Round 2

Rob Emerson (7-6) vs. Manny Gamburyan (8-2)

Although Vegas has the line on this fight set incredibly lop-sided in Gamburyan’s favor, I see this fight as being a little more competitive than you might think. Manny’s game is to take you down and beat you up, Emerson would prefer to stand and bang with his reach advantage. This will be a classic match-up of striker vs. grappler. I’m definitely picking Manny to walk away with the win, but I don’t think this will be a murder. I think Manny will exploit the long legs of Emerson and possibly finish him with a foot or leg lock. Contrary to popular belief I could also see this fight going deep. Manny is a monster and Emerson doesn’t have any quit in him either.

Manny Gamburyan def. Rob Emerson via Submission in Round 2

Kenny Florian (9-3) vs. Roger Huerta (25-1-1)

How can you not love the 155lb. division? Kenny Florian and Roger Huerta are both unbelievable athletes and incredible mixed martial artists. Huerta looked like the “terminator” against Clay Guida, who no matter what he threw at Huerta, the man just kept on coming. Kenny Florian is a MMA machine who is excellent on the feet and very dangerous on the ground. Just ask Joe Lauzon’s skull if Kenny has a mean ground game. This is a very tough fight to call. Kenny has fought for the belt before and been pushed to the limits and never gassed out. Huerta has only lost one fight in nearly 30 pro bouts. Kenny’s got the jiu-jitsu, but Huerta has great jiu-jitsu defense. I don’t see either man getting finished in this fight. I am absolutely expecting a decision. As great as Huerta looked against Guida, Crane, and Garcia, I have to go with Florian on this one. He’s just a little more technically skilled than Huerta is and that will be the deciding factor in this fight.

Kenny Florian def. Roger Huerta via Unanimous Decision

Heath Herring (28-13) vs. Brock Lesnar (1-1)

I will admit that I was as giddy as a school girl to learn that Brock Lesnar was coming to the UFC. I’m not a pro wrestling fan at all, but I knew of Lesnar from his college wrestling days and anyone who looks at the man can clearly tell he is a freak of nature. I picked him to win against Mir, and I was wrong. I stupidly let my heart make the pick instead of my brain. In Lesnar’s fight against veteran Heath Herring, I’ll be using my brain. That’s exactly why I am once again picking Brock Lesnar to win. He’s just too big and too fast! Mir was only able to neutralize him because of his ridiculous jiu-jitsu skills that not all big men have, and certainly not Heath Herring. I like Heath, but I see him getting brutalized in this match. I may very well be sitting in my chair in disbelief when the ref raises Herring’s hand, but I just can’t imagine that happening. Is he the “next big thing” or is he the “next big disappointment”? We’ll know on August 9th.

Brock Lesnar def. Heath Herring via T/KO (mauling) in Round 1

Jon Fitch (19-2) vs. Georges St. Pierre (16-2)

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that I think this will be a great fight because I don’t. I think GSP is going to out-strike and out-wrestle Jon Fitch on his way to victory. Yes, that’s right; I said GSP would outwrestle Jon Fitch. If you have any doubts about St. Pierre’s wrestling prowess, I kindly suggest you go rent a copy of UFC 74. On that night he fought Fitch’s training partner Josh Koscheck, who is a wrestling powerhouse. In that fight GSP had his way with Koscheck on his way to a unanimous decision victory. I see this fight being very similar. I’m not saying that Jon Fitch is a bum, because he certainly isn’t, I just think that St. Pierre is a bad match-up for him. Breaking it down piece by piece, the striking goes to St. Pierre, the jiu-jitsu goes to St. Pierre, and the wrestling might not be as one-sided as the striking, but there’s no way Fitch will manhandle GSP in the manner in which he would need to win this fight. This fight will most likely end by decision, if not a TKO for your winner and still champion, Georges “Rush” St. Pierre.

My Big Money Parlay Pick:

Tamdan McCrory (-120)

Steve Bruno (+245)

Demain Maia (-120)

If You’re Feeling Tough (and I am):

Jon Jones (+390)
 
Season 4 incoming!
 
Posted by DoTheMMAth 7/15/08
 
A freshly baked season of play begins here on the Playground this Saturday with the "anti-Affliction" UFC fight night card. For Season 4 we have overhauled the fight camp ranking system. Among other changes, roster moves are no longer applied retroactively. Some new data view screens will also be available to help the camp vs camp competition be a little more tangible.

Other changes include parlay bets are being limited to 3 bouts per card and the recent forum interface Accolades changes. There are no changes being made to the Hot Bout, Underdog Bonus, or the scoring system values for this season.

Regarding all prize winners from last season: sit tight, we will be in touch with you by the week's end!

We do not have a final name selected yet! You still have another day or two to get your submissions emailed to us... so get on it!

Best of luck to you all in Season 4!
 
UFC 86 - Preview & Picks
 
Posted by DoTheMMAth 7/1/08
 
UFC 86 Preview & Picks

By Matthew Brothers

Now that we’ve crowned our 7th “Ultimate Fighter” in Amir Sadollah, it’s time for the coaches to lace up the gloves and go to battle. The UFC light-heavyweight championship of the world will be on the line when the champ, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson meets the original “Ultimate Fighter”, Forrest Griffin. The 205lb. title has been on the shelf since last September, when Jackson defeated his long-time friend from his days in the PRIDE FC organization, Dan Henderson. Griffin also hasn’t fought since September, when he shocked the world with his submission victory over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, a man many consider to be the best fighter in the world at 205. Also, on the card we’ll have a match-up for middleweight title contender status as “The Predator” Patrick Cote takes on the very dangerous submission specialist Ricardo Almeida. Along with these two bouts we’ll see some great lightweight battles, as well as some familiar faces from “TUF”. All in all, the July PPV offering from the UFC will surely excite, as well as clear up some questions for the light-heavyweight and middleweight title picture.

After a very dismal night of picks for UFC 85, I hope to rebound back to psychic status with at least an 8/10. Only time will tell, enjoy the show!

Justin Buchholz (7-2) vs. Corey Hill (2-0)

After getting choked out in the first round by Matt Wiman back in January, Justin Buchholz looks to impress with his sophomore effort inside the UFC’s octagon. Standing in his way will be “TUF” season 5 stand-out Corey Hill. Hill is a very tall lightweight standing 6’4” and having a body that looks more like a topographic map of Colorado than that of a human being. Buchholz does have the edge in experience, but he’ll need more than that to defeat the Pat Miletich trained Hill. Buchholz did look impressive in his four fights before the Wiman loss, winning all of them well inside the first round, three of them by T/KO and one by triangle choke. Most UFC fans will jump to pick Hill as the favorite because they saw him on “TUF”, but I wouldn’t be so quick to count out Buchholz.
Pick: Justin Buchholz def. Corey Hill via T/KO in the 2nd round.

Melvin Guillard (21-7-2) vs. Dennis Siver (11-5)

After taking one fight out of the UFC to tighten up his game, the once impressive Melvin Guillard faces Germany’s Dennis Siver in what will probably be a loser leaves the UFC match. I had the good fortune to be in the beautiful city of Phoenix back in March when Guillard fought Eric “Shortbus” Regan for “Rage in the Cage” in a fight that went to the scorecards. Guillard may have won the fight, but he looked less than stellar in victory. Siver on the other hand has also lost two out of his last three fights in the UFC, dropping his last fight to the up-and-coming Gray Maynard by decision. Guillard brings more of a striking game to the octagon while Siver is more of a grappler. Tough to call because both guys have the ability to be flakey come fight night, but I’m going to err on the side of the ground game.
Pick: Dennis Siver def. Melvin Guillard via Submission in the 2nd round.

Jorge Gurgel (12-3) vs. Cole Miller (13-3)

In his fight against Jeremy Stephens, Cole Miller was admittedly lackadaisical and off of his game. He is now refocused and reenergized and ready to go to war with BJJ black-belt and fearless brawler Jorge Gurgel. Miller will have a significant height and reach advantage over the smaller Gurgel. The long limbs and striking power of Miller are going to have to be neutralized by Gurgel, which is going to mean taking Miller down. Unfortunately for Gurgel, Miller also knows a thing or two about grappling. Until the last moments of the second round when Stephens scored the TKO victory over him, Miller looked very impressive on the ground, utilizing both a heel hook, a d’arce choke, and also an inverted triangle choke before Stephens was saved by the bell. Gurgel is a very talented grappler and has as much heart and determination as anyone else, but mathematics and logic lead me to pick Miller. Expect this fight to be a battle to the bitter end.
Pick: Cole Miller def. Jorge Gurgel via Unanimous Decision

Gabriel Gonzaga (8-3) vs. Justin McCully (8-3)

Gabriel Gonzaga is a star. Sure, he’s lost his last two fights in the UFC, but his head kick knockout of Mirko Cro Cop is basically played on a continuous loop whenever a UFC highlight is shown. That one moment in his career made him not only a household name among MMA fans the world over, but ensured him a spot on the UFC’s sorely lacking heavyweight roster as long as he can make weight and show up to fight. I see this match with Justin McCully as a tune-up fight, and an opportunity for the UFC to get Gonzaga a win and remain relevant in the heavyweight title picture. McCully is not to be taken lightly by any means, but if you’re comparing resumes, Gonzaga is the obvious pick to win.
Pick: Gabriel Gonzaga def. Justin McCully via Submission in the 1st round.

Marcus Aurelio (16-5) vs. Tyson Griffin (11-1)

My early-bird pick for fight of the night easily. Both of these guys are dangerous grapplers with Griffin getting the wrestling edge and Aurelio getting the edge in submissions. This is going to be a fast-paced fight with a lot of scrambles and a lot of friction. Aurelio has more to lose on the feet so look for him to be the initiator of takedowns. Griffin, although a tremendous wrestler, can also throw some heavy leather and holds the distinction of being the only man ever to beat Urijah Faber. Aurelio submitted Ryan Roberts so fast he probably sweat more during the ring-walk than the actual fight. This is going to be an exciting fight and I’m picking the winner more on instinct than a technical analysis being that these guys are both so talented.
Pick: Tyson Griffin def. Marcus Aurelio via Unanimous Decision.

Joe Stevenson (28-8) vs. Gleison Tibau (15-5)

I might be the only one, but I really thought Joe Stevenson had a better chance against B.J. Penn than people were giving him credit for. One has to wonder how the fight would’ve turned out had Joe not been so badly cut early on. Joe is a great wrestler, has amazing cardio, and has a guillotine that would make Louis XVI proud. He is a compact and muscular lightweight with a lot of experience in MMA. Gleison Tibau is a submission fighter out of American Top Team in Florida. Tibau and Stevenson both bring dangerous ground games into this fight, so it makes one wonder will the fight be a battle of who is the better grappler, or will it be decided on the feet? I think this will be a 15-minute battle with the winner coming via decision. I just can’t logically pick either guy to be knocked out or submitted.
Pick: Joe Stevenson def. Gleison Tibau via Unanimous Decision.

Josh Koscheck (10-2) vs. Chris Lytle (25-15-5)

If there was ever a fight that Chris Lytle could win that would kill his status as welterweight “gatekeeper”, this is the one. Both Lytle and Koscheck are coming off of impressive wins, Lytle went through Kyle Bradley like a hot axe through warm butter and Koscheck defeated a very game Dustin Hazelett. Koscheck has been working on his striking of late and showed off some of his new skills against Hazelett. “Kos” is an amazing wrestler who could just as easily grind you out on the ground as knock you out standing. Lytle, a former boxer, has a great deal of wrestling skills himself. I give “Kos” the wrestling advantage over just about anyone, and if he’s improved on the feet as much as is rumored, then Lytle might be in trouble there as well. Lytle definitely has the experience factor but will it be enough to put out the shooting star that is Josh Koscheck? I doubt it.
Pick: Josh Koscheck def. Chris Lytle via T/KO in the 3rd round.

Ricardo Almeida (9-2) vs. Patrick Cote (12-4)

I sure do like Patrick Cote, but I’m not sold on him yet as a middleweight contender. He does have KO power, but I see holes in his ground game that someone like Almeida can and will exploit. Cote’s last two victories have been over Kendall Grove and Drew McFedries. We all know Grove has a glass jaw, and McFedries can punch like a mule can kick, but does a win over these two guys terribly impress anyone? I’ll say it again; I’m a fan of Patrick Cote. I love Quebec and I’m crazy about poutine (look it up), but I just don’t see Cote ever being a force at 185. Contrarily, Almeida has the ability to submit anyone, and has only been defeated by strikes once in his career. Sure, he’s only had 11 pro fights, and only one in the last four years, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Almeida might be the UFC’s best chance of dethroning Anderson Silva at 185.
Pick: Ricardo Almeida def. Patrick Cote via Submission in the 2nd round.

Quinton Jackson (28-6) vs. Forrest Griffin (15-4)

You just gotta love Forrest. He’s the original “Ultimate Fighter” for cryin’ out loud. His first fight with Stephan Bonnar put MMA on the map. I don’t care what was going on in Japan, or how cool Royce Gracie was back in the early days, Forrest and Stephan put MMA on the map. Most fans, me included, may have never given the UFC a first or in my case, second look had it not been for the “TUF” show, and a slugfest between two guys fighting for a six-figure contract live on cable. Phones everywhere were ringing off the hook as Griffin and Bonnar traded blows and dripped blood in what Dana White himself calls “the most important fight in UFC history.”

Right about that time in ’05, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson was defeated by Mauricio Rua, a man Forrest would later beat in ’07. I’m no believer in MMA math, but it does raise ones eyebrow to know that even though Jackson is the heavy favorite to win this fight, Griffin has beat man that “Rampage” never could.

Technically, neither one of these guys is going to get a jiu-jitsu award anytime soon. On the feet, Jackson, who has two TKO victories over Chuck Liddell among others, has the clear advantage. I’d also give the wrestling advantage to Quinton. Striking and wrestling aside, Forrest has the factor that you can’t learn in a gym, you can’t get it my doing drills, and you won’t find it by hitting pads. I’m talking of course about the “X” factor, and Griffin has it. He has never once been submitted in his career. I personally think Forrest would rather get his arm broken or lose consciousness than tapout. He’s not afraid to get punched, and can typically absorb a lot of punishment before breaking down. Forrest has already said that he’s not going to stand in the pocket and trade with Quinton. After all, he might be crazy but he’s not a moron. The key for Forrest to win this fight is to get in and get out. Throw a leg kick then a punch combination and retreat. If Quinton barrels in, then you go for the takedown, and pray Quinton doesn’t land on top. I’m not even going to tell you what Quinton needs to do because we should already know. He needs to bide his time, and when Forrest comes in with a flurry, time it right, and counter-punch him out of his shoes just like he did to Liddell. I’d love to see Forrest win this fight, but I wouldn’t bet a dollar on it at 100 to 1. If I’m right, then Jackson leaves with his belt and we wait for the next challenger. If I’m wrong, and Forrest exercise his “X” factor, well then maybe I should’ve made that dollar bet.

Pick: Quinton Jackson def. Forrest Griffin via T/KO in the 3rd round.

Parlay Picks:
Cole Miller (-115)
Ricardo Almeida (-125)
Quinton Jackson (-275)
Feeling Lucky?
Tyson Griffin (-240)
Upset Pick:
Justin Buchholz (+390)

*All betting lines obtained by MMAPlayground.com
 
Quick note for our forum users!
 
Posted by DoTheMMAth 6/26/08
 
Forum avatar maximum dimensions are now 120x120 pixels rather than 100x100 pixels. We aren't Mac users, so if the adjusted poster profile column on the forum is misbehaving for you, please drop us a line.
 
Ultimate Fighter 7 Finale Preview
 
Posted by DoTheMMAth 6/21/08
 
Ultimate Fighter 7 Finale Preview

Submitted By Matthew Brothers

Welcome to MMAPlayground’s newest feature, a match-by-match preview to help you make up your mind on who you think will win, how they’ll finish the fight, and in what round. By no means do I have a crystal ball, and most of you who are here in the first place already have your minds made up, but for the rest of you, don’t come looking to triangle choke me because you blew all your fantasy money on a long shot underdog parlay pick that I just knew was a lock.

This should be a great night of fights as we have former “Ultimate Fighter” winner Kendall Grove taking on former UFC middleweight champ Evan Tanner in the main event. Both men need a win to stay relevant in the UFC as Grove is coming off of two straight losses, and Tanner looks to rise from the ashes and prove he still has gas left in the tank. Diego Sanchez looks to cement his spot in the title picture when he faces Luigi Fioravanti in the co-main event. We’ll also crown the new “Ultimate Fighter”, in a rematch from this season that has the potential to be another Griffin-Bonnar war of attrition.

Matt Arroyo (3-1) vs. Matt Brown (6-6)

Arroyo and Brown are not strangers to each other. They met in November of ’06 with Brown leaving the victor via TKO in the 2nd round, giving Arroyo his first and only loss thus far in his career. Since then, both men have enjoyed a stint on “TUF”, training with elite level coaches, and perfecting their craft. Arroyo, a jiu-jitsu practitioner, will look to take Brown down and work his submission game to get his revenge. Contrarily, Brown will want to stand and bang and repeat history. Although Brown displayed a bundle of heart with a dash of viciousness in his “TUF” fights, 5 of his 6 career losses have come via submission, and I see this fight ending the same way.

Pick: Matt Arroyo def. Matt Brown via Submission in the 1st round.

Rob Kimmons (20-3) vs. Rob Yundt (6-1)

Rob Yundt had a tough initiation into the UFC being choked out by Ricardo Almeida early in the 1st round. He’ll be looking to erase that loss and dish out some hazing of his own against UFC newcomer Rob Kimmons. Although Kimmons may be new to the UFC, he is certainly not new to the sport, he boasts a 20-3 record with his only losses coming from UFC veterans Marvin Eastman, Ryan Jensen, and Joe Riggs. I would give the stand-up advantage to Yundt and the ground advantage to Kimmons. Neither man has lost via T/KO in their career, so deduction tells me this fight will be won by submission. Octagon jitters aside, I see Kimmons as the favorite in this bout.

Pick: Rob Kimmons def. Rob Yundt via Submission in the 2nd round.

Marvin Eastman (15-7-1) vs. Drew McFedries (6-3)

If you’re at all familiar with either of these fighters, it will come as no surprise to you that I’m calling this a pick’em slugfest ala James Irvin/Houston Alexander. These guys like to come out and throw heavy leather and damn the consequences. McFedries is the more proficient striker, whereas Eastman has a better chance of victory should the fight hit the ground or go the distance, however, don’t expect a technical grappling battle. Although my heart says “Beastman” Eastman, my brain and money say McFedries.

Pick: Drew McFedries def. Marvin Eastman via T/KO in the 2nd round.

Josh Burkman (9-5) vs. Dustin Hazelett (10-4)

Although Dustin Hazelett may have lost his last fight against welterweight juggernaut Josh Koscheck, in defeat he impressed MMA fans with his improved striking and his near finish of Koscheck early in the 1st round. Burkman is coming off of a lackluster performance against Mike Swick in a match he lost by decision. Burkman is extremely explosive and has made life changes of late that he claims have focused him. I see Hazelett as the clear favorite if the fight hits the ground as he has a long and lean body, not to mention he’s a brown belt in BJJ under Jorge Gurgel. Before Hazelett’s last fight, I would’ve said Burkman had the advantage on the feet, but after seeing Hazelett throw some nasty punches and high kicks against Kos, all bets are off for the stand-up advantage. In the end, Hazelett’s superior ground game will carry him to a submission victory.

Pick: Dustin Hazelett def. Josh Burkman via Submission in the 3rd round.

Matthew Riddle (0-0) vs. Dante Rivera (10-2)

Renzo Gracie trained Dante Rivera should make quick work of MMA newcomer Matthew Riddle. Sure, Riddle impressed everyone with his devastating KO of Dan Simmler on the “TUF” season premiere this year, but don’t look for history to repeat itself. Rivera is a veteran of the sport with a 10-2 record and some slick submission skills. Look for Riddle to come out swinging for the fences and shortly thereafter getting taken down and submitted.

Pick: Dante Rivera def. Matthew Riddle via Submission in the 1st round.

Jeremy Horn (79-17-5) vs. Dean Lister (10-5)

Jeremy Horn has had over 100 pro MMA fights, with 49 of his 79 wins coming via submission, and holds notable victories over Josh Burkman, Forrest Griffin, and Chuck Liddell. Needless to say, experience will be on his side in almost any fight. Dean Lister has met Jeremy Horn before, he lost a majority decision to him back in December of ’03. To his credit, Lister has a black belt in BJJ and was a two-time national sambo champion. Sometimes when great grapplers face each other their ground skills cancel each other out, leaving the superior striker to claim victory. I’m not going to lie to you, this is a great match and I’m very unsure of who will emerge the victor. I’m going to pick Jeremy Horn, but only on the merit of experience.

Pick: Jeremy Horn def. Dean Lister via Unanimous Decision.

Spencer Fisher (20-4) vs. Jeremy Stephens (13-2)

In his last bout, Fisher was forced into a wrestling match with Frankie Edgar that had many fans snoozing. Don’t get me wrong, I love a great ground battle, and I have all the respect in the world for Edgar, but I’m sure that in Fisher’s mind he wants to come out this time around and remind everyone why he’s “the king”. Stephens is coming into this match fresh off a win against rising star Cole Miller, in a fight where Miller dominated him until the end of the second round when Stephens turned on the after burners and punched and elbowed a hole in Cole’s head. Both of these men are scrappers and very dangerous strikers. I’d be surprised if this fight didn’t take place standing and I wouldn’t be surprised if these guys had a 15 minute war. I give the ground edge to Fisher should the fight end up there. Stephens is tough enough to walk into 3 or 4 punches just to land a big one of his own, but that might not work with a veteran like Fisher.

Pick: Spencer Fisher def. Jeremy Stephens via Unanimous Decision.

Tim Credeur (9-2) vs. Cale Yarbrough (0-0)

After watching this season of “TUF”, the word that comes to your mind when you think of Tim Credeur should be heart. In his losses to Jesse Taylor and C.B. Dollaway, Credeur displayed a concrete chin and a never say die attitude. Technically speaking, he had impressive striking and great grappling skills. He’ll be squaring off against MMA rookie Cale Yarbrough. Hard to scout Yarbrough having only seen him on the show, although what we did see of him was less than stellar. Credeur needs to soften him up with strikes, take him down and tap him out, in fact, that’s exactly what I think will happen.

Pick: Tim Credeur def. Cale Yarbrough via Submission in the 1st round.

Amir Sadollah (0-0) vs. C.B. Dollaway (6-0)

After watching this season of “TUF”, I’m an Amir Sadollah fan for life. Here is a guy with no pro MMA fights, who gets in the ring with guys with way more experience than him, and beats them up, knocks them down, and taps them out. His victory over Dollaway in the final episode placed him firmly in the category of guys that you can never count out. He has vicious kicking ability and an overall awkward striking style that made it hard for his opponent to stand with him. He clearly has submission skills, as shown in his triangle choke win over Matt Brown, and his armbar victory over Dollaway, who before his fight with Amir was the heavy favorite to take home the contract. Dollaway is an all-American wrestler from Arizona with great takedowns and a smothering ground attack. In his fight against Tim Credeur, he showed he’s not afraid to stand and bang either. This is a tough fight for me to pick, but in the end, as much as I want to believe Amir can do it again, I just can’t pick against C.B. I see Dollaway trying to stand for the first minute or two, before barreling in and taking Amir down. From there, Amir will have to pull another crazy submission out of his hat or he’ll be eating more fists and elbows like he did in their first match. Nothing against C.B., but I hope I’m wrong on this one.

Pick: C.B. Dollaway def. Amir Sadollah via T/KO in the 2nd round.

Diego Sanchez (18-2) vs. Luigi Fioravanti (12-3)

In his last match against David Bielkheden, Sanchez needed a win to get back on track after losing two in a row to nemesis Josh Koscheck and his teammate Jon Fitch. Those two losses were the first of his career, and a fighter as visceral as Sanchez was feeling the sting of defeat. An avid meditator and yoga practitioner, Diego is refocused and ready to make another run at welterweight gold. Luigi Fioravanti knows that Vegas has it in for him on this fight, but the American Top Team standout believes he has what it takes to neutralize Diego’s ground attack and get his third straight win. I definitely give Diego the advantage wherever this fight should go. Luigi would be smartest to keep this fight standing as long as possible, but when it comes to takedowns, Diego usually gets what he wants.

Pick: Diego Sanchez def. Luigi Fioravanti via T/KO in the 1st round.

Kendall Grove (8-5) vs. Evan Tanner (32-7)

What can be said about Evan Tanner that hasn’t already been said? He’s one of MMA’s most mystical personalities for sure. He’s had well documented personal issues and recently returned to MMA after a two year absence with a brutal KO loss to Yushin Okami at UFC 82. However, shortcomings aside, he is the former UFC middleweight champion and holds victories over names like Heath Herring, David Terrell, and Robbie Lawler. He claims to be refocused and back to his old ways. Also having some troubles of late, is Tanner’s opponent, “Ultimate Fighter” winner Kendall Grove. His last two matches have ended with him on his back looking up to the rafters and counting stars. No one ever needs a loss, but this is a perfect case of two guys that NEED a win. The talent pool in the UFC is getting thicker and deeper, and two or three losses in a row and you’re looking at a trip back to the minor leagues for a tune up. Technically speaking both men have both proven stand-up and ground skills, with Tanner being a ground’n’pound guru, and the long and lean grove being able to throw submissions up with his freakishly long limbs. Logic and principals forbid me on betting against Tanner in this fight, he says he’s back in fighting shape and I believe him. Grove has a severely suspect chin and I think Evan can expose him once again. I see this fight being up and down, with Tanner getting the T/KO victory sometime late in the second round.

Pick: Evan Tanner def. Kendall Grove via T/KO in the 2nd round.

Parlay Wager Picks Of The Night:

Rob Kimmons (-125)

Matt Arroyo (-115)

Evan Tanner (-180)

If you’re feeling brave, Dustin Hazelett (-120)

*All fight odds obtained from MMAPlayground
 
Secondary League Season 3 Coming to a Finish
 
Posted by DoTheMMAth 5/16/08
 
Just a quick reminder folks, World Victory Road - SenGoku 2 will complete Season 3 in the Secondary League this weekend. Player bankrolls are reset at the beginning of each season; this will occur early next week. Season 4: In the Groove will then kick off May 31st with EliteXC on CBS, including fighters like Robbie Lawler, Gina Carano, Phil Baroni, and Kevin Ferguson.
 
UFC 83 goodies and a couple other items of note
 
Posted by DoTheMMAth 4/18/08
 
To celebrate the UFC's debut in Canada we'll be giving away some T-shirts in addition to the usual per-event cash prizes. The top 5 earners and top 5 point totals will receive a free T-shirt to mix things up a bit. (This applies to US and Canada addressees only!)

We'd also like to take a moment to put the spotlight on our MMA Training forum. In recent months the conversation seems to have really picked up, and we have a solid group of knowledgeable, experienced trainers and fighters that have doled out quite a good bit of information and advice. Some of the aforementioned can be noted by their special "Top Trainer" badge. If you've ever been interested in learning one or more of the martial arts, or just have a desire to get in better physical shape, stop by and chime in.

As a final note, if you've enjoyed the wagers game here on The Playground and would like to show your support, then consider signing up to bet some real money! Every signup helps keep the Playground open, and having a vested interest in a fight adds to the excitement and anticipation we all get when the big show is coming up! Sign up today!
 
PLEASE NOTE: Bankrolls for the Secondary League are now reset
 
Posted by DoTheMMAth 2/21/08
 
Any wagers you may have placed in between the time the last season of play in the Secondary League ended and today have been cleared out during the bankroll reset and the corresponding activation of the new parlay features.
 
Secondary League Season 2 rolls to a finish
 
Posted by DoTheMMAth 2/20/08
 
A big congrats to SilentOutlaw and LR for their first place finishes in the points and earnings games respectively! Nicely done guys!

Our next season of play in the Secondary League kicks off with the STACKED March 5th World Victory Road card. If you'd like to get in on a new season from the ground floor, here's your chance! Speaking of which, we need your help in picking a name for Season 3. Please visit the poll on our forums and cast your vote! Those of you who have enjoyed parlay wagering in our primary league will be happy to know that we will have parlay wagering available for the Secondary League before the first event of this new season locks out.
 
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