Archive for the UFC Category

UFC 129: ST-PIERRE VS. SHIELDS Recap & Results

Posted in Results & Recap, UFC on May 2, 2011 by jaytan716

UFC 129 Post-Fight Press Conference: http://www.ufc.tv/ufc/video/ufc-129-post-fight-press-conference/459

The biggest live UFC event took place last night at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada, in front of a reported 55,724 fans for a gate of $12.075 million. The show featured a stacked card of competitive title challenges (Georges St-Pierre defending against Jake Shields and Jose Aldo defending against Mark Hominick) and imaginative marquee matches (Lyoto Machida vs. Randy Couture).

By the end of the night, however, the lay of the MMA landscape was largely the same, and anti-climactically so. St-Pierre kept his UFC welterweight title and Jose Aldo kept his UFC featherweight title. Nobody distinguished themselves as title challengers on the rise. Lyoto Machida may have produced the most memorable (and bittersweet) moment on the show in knocking out Randy Couture, who’d declared this to be his retirement match regardless the outcome, with a front kick out of nowhere in round two.

However, even the innovation of that kick is shortchanged, as Black House MMA teammate Anderson Silva finished Vitor Belfort with almost the same strike three months earlier. In fact, Machida’s front kick may be overshadowed by the sad fact that it marked the official end to Randy Couture, MMA’s great folk hero, as an active fighter.

Couture retired once before, in February 2006, after his KO loss to Chuck Liddell at UFC 57. By that point, people were saying that ‘The Natural’ was too old to stay competitive at the top level (much like people said that Ric Flair, whose 2008 retirement match at WrestleMania 24 was the top draw of that show, was too old to draw in 1991). Couture’s first retirement only lasted a year, when he returned to win the UFC heavyweight title from Tim Sylvia at UFC 68. Couture built a 5-3 record in his second UFC tenure.

This time, however, I believe the retirement to stick. Couture and the sport are at different, more established places in their lives than they were in 2006. At that point, Couture was going through a messy divorce, and didn’t have either the Xtreme Couture clothing / fight team franchise nor the acting career that he has now. He’s also older, and by even his own accounts, his reflexes aren’t what they used to be. Likewise, MMA was less evolved and established in the mainstream than it is now. Stars were needed, especially great ambassadors to the sport like Couture. In 2011, however, the Natural has other projects to move onto, and MMA has a new generation of fighters ready to take the sport to the next level.

Excellent homage to ‘The Natural’: Randy Retires

Despite St-Pierre winning by unanimous decision, the victory continues his streak of one-sided performances which I personally think risks triggering an unfortunate backlash against him. Both fans and many in the sport have expressed frustration over GSP’s matches as champion, labeling his fights as boring, and accusing him of fighting to avoid losing, as opposed to trying to finish his challengers. GSP’s last four title defenses were dominant decision wins that nobody questioned. He outwrestled Dan Hardy at UfC 111 and jabbed Josh Koscheck (UFC 124) and Shields (UFC 129) with expert precision after that. Prior to Hardy, GSP went five rounds with Jon Fitch (UFC 87), who never was close to threatening, and before that muted any offense that BJ Penn could think of before doctors ended the match in round four due to a cut on Penn (UFC 94).

Perhaps just as relevant as St-Pierre’s non-finishes is whether any criticism of him is justified. In six title defenses since 2008, GSP has proven to be an indisputable champion. Presumably, all of his challengers want to beat him and are trying their best during the match. And it being a title match, presumably these challengers are very good, such that perhaps GSP is good enough to beat them, but not finish them. If GSP’s challengers are unable to get control or impose their will over the champ isn’t his fault. He’s doing his job in preventing them from doing so. That’s one reality.

The other reality could be that St-Pierre and his camp value not losing the UFC title more than risking potential loss in order to finish their opponents decisively. For any MMA team at the level of GSP and Jackson’s MMA / Tri-Star Gym, mixed martial arts is a business that rewards owning and maintaining championship titles. By definition, sports and competition is about winning and losing, and in striving for the former, most competitors get farther in implementing strategy into their game plan in addition to simply doing that sport better than their opponents. For better or worse, GSP and their team put together successful strategies that have continuously led to victory.

All this said, the only thing that fans of a defending champion want to see more than their fighter retaining the title is him / her finishing their opponent, which is something St-Pierre hasn’t done since the second Penn fight (or winning the title back from Matt Serra at UFC 69, depending on how you look at it). For whatever reason, St-Pierre chooses to not risk ending up in a dangerous position for the sake of catching and finishing his opponent. This approach has often cause fans to turn withdraw their loyalty and fanfare from other fighters, such as Lyoto Machida and Michael Bisping. Of course, GSP has a babyface persona and charm which is equally as effective as his fighting skills, but whether right or not, it’s been proven time and again that it’s better to lose an exciting fight than win a boring one.

Here’s Dana’s opinion about it:

Hosting the UFC in T-Dot for the first time, Canadians can stand proud in going 6-4 over the ten matches in which the were represented. John Makdessi, Jason and Rory MacDonald (no relation), Ivan Menjivar, Claude Patrick, and St-Pierre all emerged victorious. For statistics nerds, it was their best showing on a Canadian event since UFC 97 (Anderson Silva vs. Thales Leites) and UFC 83 (St-Pierre vs. Matt Serra II), respectively, when Canadians went 4-2 over the six matches in which they were represented on each of those cards.

Canadian Jason MacDonald talks about fighting among his countrymen:

Likewise, featherweight challenger Mark Hominick did his countrymen proud in going the distance with champion Jose Aldo. In Aldo’s nine UFC / WEC matches since 2007, the only other person to hang with Aldo to the finish line was Urijah Faber at WEC 48 last year. Hominick, whose wife is due with their first baby in the days after the fight, won a $129,000 Fight of the Night bonus for his efforts.

Bonuses of the same amount also went to Aldo (Fight of the Night), Pablo Garza (Submission of the Night) and Lyoto Machida (Knockout of the Night).

Here’s how my predictions and reality turned out for Event:

145 lbs. – Yves Jaboin (Canadian) x Pablo Garza:
Prediction: Garza via submission (round three)
Result: Garcia via submission (round one)

155 lbs. – John Makdessi (Canadian) x Kyle Watson:
Prediction:  Makdessi via TKO (round one)
Result: Makdessi via KO (round three)

185 lbs. – Jason MacDonald (Canadian) x Ryan Jensen:
Prediction: MacDonald via TKO (round two)
Result: McDonald via submission (round one)

135 lbs. – Charlie Valencia x Ivan Menjivar (Canadian):
Prediction: Valencia via split decision
Result: Menjivar via TKO (round one)

170 lbs. – Daniel Roberts x Claude Patrick (Canadian):
Prediction: Roberts via unanimous decision
Result: Patrick via unanimous decision

170 lbs. – Jake Ellenberger x Sean Pierson (Canadian):
Prediction: Foster via TKO (round one) – EDITORIAL FUCKUP
Result: Ellenberger via KO (round one)

170 lbs. – Nate Diaz vs. Rory MacDonald (Canadian):
Prediction:  Diaz via submission (round one or two)
Result: MacDonald via unanimous decision

155 lbs. – Ben Henderson x Marc Bocek (Canadian):
Prediction: Henderson via unanimous decision
Result: Henderson via unanimous decision

205 lbs. – Randy Couture x Lyoto Machida:
Prediction: Couture via TKO (round three) or unanimous decision
Result: Machida via KO (round two)

205 lbs. – Vladimir Matyushenko vs. Jason Brilz:
Prediction: Matyushenko via unanimous decision
Result: Matyushenko via KO (round one)

145 lbs. UFC Featherweight Title– Jose Aldo x Mark Hominick (Canadian):
Prediction: Aldo via TKO (round one)
Result: Aldo via unanimous decision

170 lbs. UFC Welterweight Title – Georges St-Pierre (Canadian) x Jake Shields:
Prediction: St-Pierre via unanimous decision
Result: St-Pierre via unanimous decision

The Finish

In a sport where the unexpected often happens, huge landmark victories and all-time classic matches can’t be relied upon to show up for key events like this. Walking away from UFC 129, I felt like the event played out like an average show, and that the most significant memories are the huge gate and Couture’s retirement, both announced before the show itself. Credit is due to Mark Hominick, whose stalwart performance to the end, despite a giant lump on his right forehead the size of a baseball, was rewarded with a nice hefty bonus from which to base his impending newborn’s college tuition. However, in the grand scheme of things, the biggest winner of UFC 129 is Zuffa’s bottom line, with everybody else a far distant second.

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UFC 129: ST-PIERRE VS. SHIELDS Predictions

Posted in Predictions, UFC on April 30, 2011 by jaytan716

UFC 129: ST-PIERRE VS. SHIELDS

After long wait, UFC comes to T-Dot, Canada, one of their biggest pay-per-view markets. As such, it only makes sense to book as much of a “Canada vs. the world” as possible (all but two matches – Matyushenko vs. Brilz and Couture vs. Machida, features a Canadian). And who better to headline that show than the 2008 and 2009 Rogers Sportsnet Canadian Athlete of the Year, Georges St-Pierre?

For the first time in UFC history, every match on the card will be broadcast in one form or another, with five fights airing on the company’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ufc); you must ‘like’ them before being able to access the live video application, two on Spike TV (check local listings, and of course the five matches on pay-per-view.

145 lbs. – Yves Jaboin (Canadian) x Pablo Garza: Garza was a lightweight who failed to win his way onto season 11 of The Ultimate Fighter, but then dropped down to featherweight and is 1-1 in Zuffa cages. His only loss is to Chinese star Tiequan Zhang. Jaboin was on the short end of a barnburner against fellow countryman Mark Hominick in his home country of Canada at WEC 49 (which took place in Edmonton, Alberta), and bounced back with a decision win over Brandon Visher. Garza will have a satirical height and reach advantage on Jaboin, but if Jaboin can stay in the pocket, or attack from the outside, he could possibly do some damage. This match will be broadcast on the company Facebook page.

Prediction: Garza via submission (round three)

155 lbs. – John Makdessi (Canadian) x Kyle Watson:  Makdessi puts his undefeated record on the line against the eight-year, 20-fight veteran Kyle Watson. Makdessi is a solid all-around fighter, with Muay Thai experience and a black belt in jiu-jitsu. He handled Pat Audinwood solidly in his last fight, blocking attacks and striking with unconventional kicks. Watson trains with Matt Hughes’ H.I.T. Squad. He was one of the more experienced fighters on the most recent season of The Ultimate Fighter (GSP vs. Koscheck), and went to the semi-finals before facing teammate (and eventual winner) Jonathan Brookins. He’s slowed down in recent years, with one fight in 2008 and two in the first five weeks of 2009, before joining the TUF cast in the last half of 2010. My gut feeling is that Watson, though riding a wave, is peaking at this point in his career, while Makdessi is on a rise that won’t stop on this night. This match will be broadcast on the company Facebook page.

Prediction:  Makdessi via TKO (round one)

185 lbs. – Jason MacDonald (Canadian) vs. Ryan Jensen: Both have submission losses to Wilson Gouveia, Jensen via armbar and MacDonald due to elbows. MacDonald has the reach advantage, and always brings a competitive fight. He’s coming off a nasty broken leg from last year. Jensen is a bit of a  journeyman who’s been alternating between wins and losses since 2008. At another point, Jensen was more competitive, with six finishing wins in 2006-2007, but since then, has struggled to recapture the momentum. MacDonald notched up three wins before his broken leg. This match will be broadcast on the company Facebook page.

Prediction: MacDonald via TKO (round two)

135 lbs. – Charlie Valencia x Ivan Menjivar (Canadian): Both men made their pro debuts over a decade ago. In his heyday, Menjivar was the more traveled of the two, first competing in the UFC in 2004, then fighting in Pancrase, K-1, and the IFL, before taking a three-and-a-half year hiatus from the sport in 2007. He went 1-1 in 2010, with a first-round submission win in his first match back and losing a competitive split decision to Brad Pickett in December. Valencia was inactive in 2005, but is 5-4 in the WEC since then. This match won’t necessarily answer whether either man has what it takes to be a champion in 2011, but it could be a competitive match to gauge where each is in their respective careers. This match will be broadcast on the company Facebook page.

Prediction: Valencia via split decision

170 lbs. – Daniel Roberts x Claude Patrick (Canadian): Look for this battle of welterweight jiu-jitsu experts to stay on the feet. Patrick’s only loss took place back in 2002. He’s stayed competitive since 2005 (except for 2007), with six guillotine choke wins over 10 matches. Roberts has nine submissions over his 12 wins, and his only loss coming from a John Howard KO almost a year ago. Patrick trains with Mark Bocek and Sean Pierson, who fight right after him. Of the three teammates, I think Patrick has the best chance of winning. This match will be broadcast on the company Facebook page.

Prediction: Roberts via unanimous decision

170 lbs. – Jake Ellenberger x Sean Pierson (Canadian): Ellenberger replaces Brian Foster, who withdrew due to injury. Ellenberger . . . . Pierson is on a six-match winning streak.   This match will be broadcast in the US on Spike TV.

Prediction: Foster via TKO (round one)

170 lbs. – Nate Diaz vs. Rory MacDonald (Canadian):  MacDonald dominated King of the Cage Canada over the past several years, going undefeated until losing via TKO in the third round against Carlos Condit. Diaz, the younger brother of Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz, won season five of The Ultimate Fighter at lightweight. He moved up to welterweight at UFC 111, and has since gone 2-1 at that weight class. Generally, Diaz has stayed competitive / victorious at welterweight at tougher competition than MacDonald. Likewise, MacDonald has only gone into the third round twice in 12 matches, whereas decisions are nothing new to Diaz. In the irrelevant trivia department, the always dangerous Diaz has lost via decision every January for the past three years. This match will be broadcast in the US on Spike TV.

Prediction:  Diaz via submission (round one or two)

155 lbs. – Ben Henderson x Marc Bocek (Canadian): Bocek introduces Henderson to “The Show” in this battle of jiu-jitsu experts. Henderson of course was on the receiving end of 2010’s infamous “Showtime Kick” in the last round of the last match of the last WEC ever. What gets overshadowed is that Pettis-Henderson was a back-and-forth match that was a challenge to call even going into that last round. In Pettis, Cerrone, Varner, and Shane Roller, Henderson’s opponents have been a level above Bocek’s (notwithstanding Jim Miller). Donald Cerrone was the first to address the question of whether WEC lightweights could hang in the UFC. Expect Henderson to confirm Cerrone’s answer. This match will be on pay-per-view.

Prediction: Henderson via unanimous decision.

205 lbs. – Randy Couture x Lyoto Machida: If Machida was fighting someone other than Couture, I’d say the story here was two fighters at crossroads in their careers. However, Couture has been at these crossroads for the past four years, and now very confidently states that win, lose, or draw, this is his last hurrah. Machida won the UFC light heavyweight title from Rashad Evans almost two years ago and everybody said “Karate is back,” but he didn’t have the long-term reign that people expected. He won a unanimous decision over Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua which was close enough that UFC decided to book a rematch – which Rua snatched emphatically with a first-round KO. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Machida lost a close split decision to Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson that even Jackson thought Machida won. Subsequently, Machida looks bad in some ways that he doesn’t deserve (Jackson), and better in other ways that he also doesn’t deserve (the first Rua match). But more than any of this, Machida’s style hasn’t evolved since he got to the UFC (or to America, for that matter). Couture is a master strategist of deconstructing a fighter’s style and finding the backdoors and loopholes. The worst thing for Machida is to fight the same fight he’s done since 2006. Clearly, Machida has knockout power (ask Rashad Evans). And at Couture’s age, a chin isn’t something that gets better with time. But if Couture can push Machida into the later rounds, that’s where Couture will be better and Machida will be weaker. This match will be on pay-per-view.

Prediction: Couture via TKO (round three) or unanimous decision.

205 lbs. – Vladimir Matyushenko vs. Jason Brilz: Brilz comes off almost a year-long layoff after his impressive-but-denied effort against Antonio Rogerio ‘Minotoro’ Nogueira. Most felt the Nebraska wrestling coach won that fight. At 25-5, Matyushenko is a veteran whose rep is largely unknown by modern fans. He’s in his third stint in the UFC, with a current 3-1 record to show for it. Both fighters have impressive college wrestling pedigrees. Against someone of Matyushenko’s experience and current streak, the time off is a very real factor in Brilz’ come back. As the wrestling somewhat cancels itself out, we could see an awkward, unconventional striking match. This match will be on pay-per-view.

Prediction: Matyushenko via unanimous decision

145 lbs. UFC Featherweight Title– Jose Aldo x Mark Hominick (Canadian): As a part of Team Thompkins, Hominick had a great first-round TKO win against George Roop. He hasn’t lost since 2008. That said, Aldo hasn’t lost since 2005, and has finished all eight of his matches from 2008 to now. I’d like to say this is Aldo’s time, although it’s time (i.e. ring rust) that could be the single determining factor in this match. Aldo has been on the shelf since a neck injury in November 2010 sidelined him off UFC 125. In the end, I expect Aldo to show up ready. This match will be on pay-per-view.

Prediction: Aldo via TKO (round one)

170 lbs. UFC Welterweight Title – Georges St-Pierre (Canadian) x Jake Shields: In interviews, GSP has chastised MMA media for writing Shields off. Nicely promoted, Champ. Indeed, this is Shields’ last kingdom to conquer, and his own personal mix of wrestling and jiu-jitsu is unique and effective. Moreover, when it comes to examples of fighters keeping their tunnel-vision focus on a goal, you couldn’t find many better examples than Shields. However, Team GSP knows how to build a strategy to ensure not losing. Georges prevented Josh Koscheck from shooting in by closing his eye early in the match, and although GSP may not land the same shot on Shields, I think the only way this match goes to the ground is if GSP decides to take it there. If Shields is able to get GSP to the ground, I wouldn’t expect it to be for long. This match will be on pay-per-view.


Prediction: St-Pierre via unanimous decision

The Finish

I picked these matches one by one, without thinking about home field advantage. In that I’m predicting only three wins for the Great White North out of 10 matches, I apparently don’t have much faith in the Canadians. In my defense, they have won fewer matches in recent events, but this being Toronto’s UFC debut, things could be different.

Past Canadian UFC events:

UFC 58: USA vs. Canada (in Las Vegas) (Canadians went 4-for-8 in eight matches)

UFC 83: Serra vs. St-Pierre 2 (in Montreal) (Canadians went 4-for-6 in 11 matches)

UFC 97: Redemption (Anderson Silva x Thales Leites) (in Montreal) (Canadians went 4-for-6 in 12 matches)

UFC 113: Machida vs. Shogun (Montreal) (Canadians went 1-for-7 in 11 matches)

UFC 115: Liddell vs. Franklin (Vancouver) (Canadians went 1-for-3 in 11 matches)

UFC 124: St-Pierre vs. Koscheck 2 (Montreal) (Canadians went 4-for-7 in 11 matches)

Canadian fans love their MMA, and, more impressively, they KNOW their MMA. Coupling this with the fact that this is the UFC’s debut in Toronto, expect the crowd heat to only bolster this already stacked show. With two fiercely strong champions defending and an imaginative match like Couture-Machida, there’s a little something for everybody here. Between the matches and the crowd excitement, expect this to be one of the UFC’s most historical nights.

UFC FIGHT NIGHT 24: NOGUEIRA VS. DAVIS Recap & Results

Posted in Results & Recap, UFC on March 24, 2011 by jaytan716

The UFC continued its christening of new U.S. markets with their first foray into Seattle, WA, Ultimate Fight Night 24, and on that night, fans continued to see the rise of a new generation of fighters: tall, lean, muscular wrestler with long limbs that lend to a longer striking reach and grappling abilities.

On the heels of Jon Jones’ historic capture of the UFC light heavyweight title, collegiate wrestling champions Phil ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Davis and Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson executed dominant performances against their respective opponents, demonstrating the adage that striking and submissions are crucial skills to finish an opponent, but wrestling is the key to controlling where the fight takes place.

Fans were also treated to a particular surprise with the rematch of Leonard Garcia vs. Chan Sung Jung (more popularly known as the ‘Korean Zombie’). Many were expecting a barnburner of fists, as the two demonstrated in their first match, though rematches rarely play out similar to the first encounter (pardoning Brian Bowles vs. Damacio Page). Zombie succeeded in giving us another historic moment, however, winning by submission via Twister, a spinal lock popularized by 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu founder Eddie Bravo, for the first time ever in the UFC.

Unfortunately, Zombie’s Twister finish was likely lost on casual fans who surely didn’t recognize the move, but it also likely reminded those same fans who their favorite Korean fighter is (as if they really know any others), and also gave them something new to like about him.

One undercard match in particular, Michael McDonald x Edwin Figueroa, is absolutely worth going out of your way to watch. This battle of UFC debuts (McDonald has one WEC fight from November last year) was broadcast on the UFC Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/ufc) and was a fantastic display of ground skill on McDonald’s part, defense on Figueroa’s part, and heart and sportsmanship on both men’s part. McDonald really had the advantages on paper, but Figueroa took the bout on a week’s notice and did a fantastic job in surviving (and even transitioning out of) some very close submissions. Announcer Joe Rogan interviewed both men after the fight, with fans cheering Figueroa very audibly. Keep your eye out for these two young guns.

Here’s how my predictions and reality turned out for Ultimate Fight Night 24:

155 lbs. – Nik Lentz x Waylon Lowe:
Prediction: Lowe via TKO (round one)
Result: Lentz via submission (round three)

To watch the match for free, click here: http://www.ufc.tv/ufc/video/ufc-fight-night-nogueira-vs-davis-prelim-waylon-lowe-vs-nik-lentz/375

185 lbs. – Aaron Simpson x Mario Miranda:
Prediction: Miranda via (surprising, out-of-nowhere) submission (round two)
Result: Simpson via unanimous decision (30-27,30-27, 30-26)

170 lbs. – Johny Hendricks x Anthony “TJ” Waldburger:
Prediction: Hendricks via TKO (round one)
Result: Hendricks via TKO (round one)

265 lbs. – Christian Morecraft x Sean McCorkle:
Prediction: Morecraft via TKO (round two)
Result: Morecraft via submission (round two)

135 lbs. – Michael McDonald x Edwin Figueroa:
Prediction: McDonald via TKO or submission (round one)
Result: McDonald via unanimous decision (30-27 across the board)

170 lbs. – John Hathaway x Kris McCray:
Prediction: Hathaway via TKO (round two)
Result: Hathwaway via split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

145 lbs. – Alex Caceres x Mackens Semerzier:
Prediction: Caceres via TKO (round one)
Result: Semerzier via submission (round one)

265 lbs. – Mike Russow x Jon Madsen:
Prediction: Madsen via submission (round three)
Result: Russo via TKO / doctor’s stoppage (round two)

145 lbs. – Leonard Garcia x Chan Sung Jung:
Prediction: Jung via unanimous decision
Result: Jung via submission (round two)

170 lbs. – Amir Sadollah x DeMarques Johnson:
Prediction: Sadollah via TKO (round two)
Result: Sadollah via submission due to elbows (round two)

170 lbs. – Dan Hardy x Anthony Johnson:
Prediction: Hardy via submission (round two)
Result: Johnson via unanimous decision (30-27 on all cards)

205 lbs. – Antonio Rogerio Nogueira x Phil Davis:
Prediction:
Davis via decision
Result: Davis via unanimous decision (30-27 across the board)

UFN 24 Winners Press Conference: Davis and Johnson

UFN 24 Winners Press Conference: Sadollah and Jung

The Finish

On TV, the Key Arena audience was one of the more vocal and opinionated televised crowds that I’ve heard in a long time. And to no surprise, as Seattle is continually among the top pay-per-view buy markets for the UFC. Moreover, Washington State has one of the longest histories of MMA in the U.S., having produced early pioneers and veterans of the sport like Matt Hume, Maurice Smith, Dennis Hallman, Ivan Salaverry, and the ever-outspoken Strikeforce heavyweight Josh Barnett.

UFN 24 felt very much like a night of young stars of tomorrow showcasing their continued evolution. Amir Sadollah’s striking was on point against Demarques Johnson. Anthony Johnson and Phil Davis’ grappling control of Dan Hardy and Antonio Rogerio Norgueira, respectively, demonstrated the biggest factor (wrestling) in the UFC’s next big main event, George St-Pierre vs. Jake Shields, as most see the Shields, the self-proclaimed ‘American Jiu Jitsu’ specialist, giving St-Pierre, a wrestling late-starter but fast-learner, a run for his money on the ground.

Kudos to UFC for showing five matches on Facebook, giving fans the chance to see newcomers (like McDonald vs. Figueroa) to the promotion.

UFC Fight Night 24 Predictions

Posted in Predictions, UFC on March 24, 2011 by jaytan716

UFC Fight Night 24

The storyline of Ultimate Fight Night 24 is that a young, talented, undefeated, fast-rising African-American wrestler with impressive striking and creative grappling skills replaces a former UFC champion and to battle a Brazilian legend who made his name in the heyday of Japan’s PRIDE Fighting Championships.

Wait, didn’t this just happen last weekend?

Indeed, the coincidences are uncanny, albeit coincidental. The UFC’s first foray into the Seattle market was originally headlined by Tito Ortiz vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (aka ‘Little Nog’), but when Ortiz was cut during training and forced to withdraw, the former Penn State wrestling champion Phil ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Davis took his place. Admittedly, the main event loses quite a bit of mainstream luster, but that’s as much due to Ortiz’ immense star power as it is the general public’s unawareness of the man they call ‘Mr. Wonderful.’

However, Nogueira-Davis is likely to make for a more entertaining fight, as Davis is an exciting prospect who’s largely flown under casual fans’ radar due to fighting in dark matches and prelims. His wrestling is far better than Ortiz’s, and he has a rep for catching opponents in very unconventional submission holds. He won his June 2009 match at Rumble on the Rivers using a rear naked choke that most, including Joe Rogan, described as a camel clutch. In Nogueira’s last two matches, he squeaked out a controversial split decision against Jason Brilz at UFC 114, then lost a unanimous decision to Ryan Bader at UFC 119. Davis is going to be an important gauge for Little Nog, as another bad performance will have people questioning how much gas the Brazilian twin has left in his MMA career tank.

Gimmick Infringement: Mr. Wonderful hits the camel clutch:

Seattle fans are serious about their MMA, and given that this is the city’s first UFC event, the crowd should be particularly hot, which will enhance the event’s TV broadcast. Seattle fans are serious about MMA. I once covered an amateur event in nearby Shoreline, and the only thing fans booed was the announcement for an intermission. No joke.

Additionally, fans will be treated to a rematch of Leonard Garcia and Chan Sung Jung, aka ‘The Korean Zombie.’ The two had a match of the year candidate in mid-2010 at WEC 48, the prelims of which, including Garcia-Jung, aired on Spike TV. Garcia won by split decision. The two fighters are very aware of the legacy fans will expect them to live up to, if not exceed. Rematches don’t usually live up to the magic of the original fight, but I’d expect this to be entertaining and competitive regardless. If nothing else, we’re likely to see ‘Zombie’ come out of his shell a bit, as evidenced by this English tutorial lesson with the California Kid, Urijah Faber:

155 lbs. – Nik Lentz x Waylon Lowe:  Both men are accomplished wrestlers with Lentz having NCAA Division I credentials at University of Minnesota. Lowe wrestled for the lesser-known University of Finley (Ohio), but won Division II championship honors in 2004 and 2006. Lendz is 4-0-1 in the UFC, with all matches, including the controversial split decision with Tyson Griffin, go to the judges. Lentz is surely looking to put that match, labeled as one of the most boring bouts in UFC history, behind him. Lowe, 2-1 in the UFC, has his fair share of decision wins, and will need to prove himself here. In a battle of two wrestlers from the Midwest, I’d expect this to be a battle of ground control. That said, here’s hoping both teams second-guess each other and make it a nice stand-up slobberknocker.

Prediction: Lowe by TKO (round one)

185 lbs. – Aaron Simpson x Mario Miranda: Simpson is an NCAA All-American wrestler from Arizona State University who ran a string of six TKO / KO wins. He’s part of the Power MMA team, with fellow wrestlers Ryan Bader and C.B. Dollaway. Miranda is a BJJ black belt who spends his time between Anderson Silva’s Black House clique and Matt Hume’s AMC in Kirkland, WA, so he’ll have the hometown advantage. Miranda went the distance with Maia, but was taken down regularly throughout the match. Miranda will need some clever defenses against Simpson’s takedowns. That said, Hume-coached fighters always come with a smart strategy. Simpson suffered back-to-back losses against Chris Leben and Mark Munoz in the last half of 2010, so this match is a gut-check for the ASU wrestler.

Prediction: Miranda via (surprising, out-of-nowhere) submission (round two)

170 lbs. – Johny Hendricks x Anthony “TJ” Waldburger: Hendricks, of the wrestling-based Team Takedown, replaces Dennis Hallman, who was injured three weeks. Waldburger has an impressive win four-fight win streak, starting mid-2009, and marred David Mitchell’s undefeated record when both debuted in the UFC in September. Despite Waldburger’s experience advantage over Hendricks, I would expect the Oklahoma wrestler to push the action and grind him down until Hendricks can catch him with punches.

Prediction: Hendricks via TKO (round one)

265 lbs. – Christian Morecraft x Sean McCorkle: Both fighters are looking to redeem themselves from being finished by Stefan Struve. Morecraft gave Struve a run for his money in round one of their fight, but was caught at the beginning of round two. Two thousand ten was a rebirth for the entertaining and outspoken McCorkle, who was 6-0 through 2007 before taking a two-and-a-half year hiatus from fighting. In 2010, he beat several local opponents before meeting, and finishing) PRIDE FC veteran Mark Hunt in both men’s UFC debuts. Using Struve as a gauge, Morecraft showed more craft (pun intended) than McCorkle, whose pre-UFC opponents weren’t exactly top competition. I expect both men to be at their sharpest for their first fight in 2011, though I’d expect Morecraft’s grappling to be the difference-maker here.

Prediction: Morecraft by TKO (round two)

135 lbs. – Michael McDonald vs. Edwin Figueroa: This match should be a fistfest, as both men are making their UFC debut and neither has gone to the halfway mark of a 3 x 5 min match. Figueroa replaces Nick Pace, making this a debut UFC match for both Figueroa and McDonald. Also in common is McDonald is a Central California product with fast, heavy hands. He’s never gone to the third round, and has seven TKO / KO finishes out of his 11 victories. His last three matches were victories over legit names like Manny Tapia, Cole Escovedo, and Clint Godfrey. Figueroa is undefeated, with his last match a TKO victory over respectable journeyman Johnny Bedford. McDonald has faced tougher competition of late, which I think will make the difference in performance here.

Prediction: McDonald via TKO or submission (round one)

170 lbs. – John Hathaway x Kris McCray: McCray came into MMA on a hot streak and went to the finals of the most recent season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), but was submitted by Court McCray in the TUF finals and Carlos Eduardo Rocha, a jiu-jitsu black belt import from Fortaleza, Brazil. Hathaway has the experience factor on his side, undefeated through his previous match, against Mike Pyle, who used takedowns to secure a unanimous decision. McCray would best be served recreating Pyle’s strategy, if possible, but Hathaway proved what his ability to control a match when he faced Diego Sanchez.

Prediction: Hathaway via TKO (round two)

265 lbs. – Mike Russow x Jon Madsen: On paper, this match is ironically even – two heavyweight wrestlers who are also (at least) part-time members of Brock Lesnar’s Deathclutch team. Undefeated in seven bouts, Madsen also trains at Matt Hughes H.I.T. Squad. Russow is a Division 1 wrestler and Chicago police officer. Madsen TKO’ed Dutch kickboxer Gilbert Yvel last October, something Josh Barnett couldn’t do in 2009, and used takedowns to grind out decisions against Karlos Vemola and Mostapha Al-Turk prior to that. Russow has the distinction of unexpectedly KO’ing company pariah Todd Duffee in a one-sided match that Duffee had all but closed. Russow will hopefully be tighter and in better shape than his Duffee match.

Prediction: Madsen via submission (round three)

145 lbs. – Alex Caceres x Mackens Semerzier: The man they call ‘Bruce Leeroy’ was the flashy and polarizing youngbuck from season 11 of TUF. Semerzier was on a four-match first-round submission streak when he entered WEC, and extended that streak to five, choking out Wagnney Fabiano, before dropping three in a row in 2010. Caceres has flashy kicks, but also four submissions, including his TUF matches. In this battle of submission artists, this match could take place on the feet.

Prediction: Caceres via TKO (round one)

145 lbs. – Leonard Garcia x Chan Sung Jung: One rematch gets replaced with another, as Jung (aka “The Korean Zombie”) fills in for Garcia’s original opponent the injured Nam Phan. Garcia-Phan II was made after Garcia was given a split decision win that everybody except the judges themselves though Phan won. The first Garcia-Jung bout was one of the best bouts of 2010, a slugfest for the ages that Garcia also won by split decision. I personally thought Jung won with his aggression and damage, but calls for a rematch faded when George Roop knocked Jung out cleanly with a head kick. With this upcoming rematch, obviously Jung will be hungry for revenge, though many say a fighter is never the same after a knockout like the Korean Zombie fared. That said, Garcia will likely need to fight at a stronger, fiercer pace than he has in the past three bouts to really secure a convincing win.

Prediction: Jung via unanimous decision

170 lbs. – Amir Sadollah x Demarques Johnson: Johnson marks third opponent and second replacement opponent for Sadollah, who was originally scheduled to fight Duane ‘Bang’ Ludwig. When Ludwig had to withdraw due to injury, James ‘Lightning’ Wilks, stepped in. And when Wilks had to withdraw due to injury, Johnson filled in the spot. Wilks-to-Johnson shouldn’t affect Sadollah’s strategy as much as Ludwig-to-Wilks did, as Ludwig’s striking pedigree is far above Wilks or Johnson, who have more submission wins that KO / TKO’s. Johnson fights to fight, and is equally dangerous (and susceptible) in striking and grappling, having won and lost both ways almost equal times. Sadollah’s last four matches have gone to decision. I’d expect Johnson to keep the pressure on Sadollah, but for Sadollah to catch him with punches.

Prediction: Sadollah by TKO (round two)

170 lbs. – Dan Hardy x Anthony Johnson: Johnson will be coming off a year-plus hiatus due to a meniscus injury, while Hardy looks to shake off a loss to GSP (bad strategy) and KO (got caught) from Carlos Condit. Ring rust could play a factor against Johnson, but then again, his six-inch reach advantage will be a benefit. That said, Hardy can take a shot (notwithstanding Condit hitting the button), and has competed more recently against tougher competition. Johnson will have the size advantage in height and surely weight, as he’s claimed he drops as much as 55 lbs. (starting from a fight announcement) to make 170. Hardy is one of those submission experts who loves to show off his striking skills, but in this case, even despite Johnson’s wrestling credentials (NJCAA champion in 2004), Hardy may be best suited in this match on the ground.

The calmer, real side of Dan Hardy:

Anthony Johnson’s thoughts on the fight:

Prediction: Hardy via submission (round two)

205 lbs. – Antonio Rogerio Nogueira x Phil Davis:

As mentioned before, Davis replacing Ortiz in many ways means a more dangerous opponent for Nogueira. Davis is an NCAA Division I national wrestling champion, and is undefeated not just in the UFC but in his MMA career. He’s not only slick with submissions, but inventive as well, being one of the few fighters on record to get a submission with what by all accounts looked like a modified camel clutch. His kimura-hammerlock combination on Tim Boetsch at UFC 123 had Joe Rogan popping like a Hulkamaniac. His Alliance MMA team includes Brandon Vera, UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, and heavy hitters like Travis Browne and Joey Beltran, so he also gets solid training in the striking department. All this said, ‘Lil’ Nog,’ as some call him is a BJJ black belt with impressive amateur boxing credentials in Brazil from 2006 and 2007. In MMA, Nogueira was a star in PRIDE FC from 2002 to 2007. He was more competitive several years ago, finishing four out of five matches between his PRIDE and UFC contracts, but that was against lesser competition. He’s 2-1 in the UFC, but one of those wins was an unpopular split decision against Jason Brilz. Nogueira has the skills and can be dangerous, but Davis is from a younger, fresher generation of fighters who’ve been weaned on the sport at a point when fighters don’t cross-train disciplines but simply all the elements of MMA at once. Nogueira of course has the experienced advantage, but in this case, Davis’ explosive speed and ability to adapt, improvise, and overcome may turn him into an overnight star with this match (like we haven’t seen that recently).

Phil Davis Video Blog:

Prediction: Davis via decision

The Finish

For the past three years, the spring UFC Fight Nights has showcased what for me was a very intriguing main event, usually moreso than throughout the rest of the year. At UFN 18 in 2009, Martin Kampmann bested Carlos Condit by split decision in a fantastic three-round war of dogged, skilled fighters. Last year, at UFN 21, top lightweight Kenny Florian welcomed PRIDE FC star Takanori Gomi to the octagon with a third-round rear naked choke. This year, we see another clash of veteran star against fast-rising prospect. And even though we just saw this dynamic a few days ago, I’m still intrigued by the possibilities.

Not to mention that fans get a sequel to one of the most popular matches from last year in Garcia-Jung, as well as appearances from the always-entertaining likes of Dan Hardy, Anthony Johnson,  the polarizing Alex ‘Bruce Leroy’ Caceres, and the irreverent Amir Sadollah.

Very often, these Fight Nights are generally forgettable affairs, but if there’s one time that you stay home and watch TV on a Saturday night, this would be the weekend for it.

UFC Fight Night 24 Predictions

Posted in Predictions, UFC on March 23, 2011 by jaytan716

The original poster for UFC Fight Night 24, before Phil Davis replaced Tito Ortiz due to injury.

The storyline of Ultimate Fight Night 24 is that a young, talented, undefeated, fast-rising African-American wrestler with impressive striking and creative grappling skills replaces a former UFC champion and to battle a Brazilian legend who made his name in the heyday of Japan’s PRIDE Fighting Championships.

Wait, didn’t this just happen last weekend?

Indeed, the coincidences are uncanny, albeit coincidental. The UFC’s first foray into the Seattle market was originally headlined by Tito Ortiz vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (aka ‘Little Nog’), but when Ortiz was cut during training and forced to withdraw, the former Penn State wrestling champion Phil ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Davis took his place. Admittedly, the main event loses quite a bit of mainstream luster, but that’s as much due to Ortiz’ immense star power as it is the general public’s unawareness of the man they call ‘Mr. Wonderful.’

However, Nogueira-Davis is likely to make for a more entertaining fight, as Davis is an exciting prospect who’s largely flown under casual fans’ radar due to fighting in dark matches and prelims. His wrestling is far better than Ortiz’s, and he has a rep for catching opponents in very unconventional submission holds. He won his June 2009 match at Rumble on the Rivers using a rear naked choke that most, including Joe Rogan, described as a camel clutch. In Nogueira’s last two matches, he squeaked out a controversial split decision against Jason Brilz at UFC 114, then lost a unanimous decision to Ryan Bader at UFC 119. Davis is going to be an important gauge for Little Nog, as another bad performance will have people questioning how much gas the Brazilian twin has left in his MMA career tank.

Gimmick Infringement: Mr. Wonderful hits the camel clutch:

Seattle fans are serious about their MMA, and given that this is the city’s first UFC event, the crowd should be particularly hot, which will enhance the event’s TV broadcast. Seattle fans are serious about MMA. I once covered an amateur event in nearby Shoreline, and the only thing fans booed was the announcement for an intermission. No joke.

Additionally, fans will be treated to a rematch of Leonard Garcia and Chan Sung Jung, aka ‘The Korean Zombie.’ The two had a match of the year candidate in mid-2010 at WEC 48, the prelims of which, including Garcia-Jung, aired on Spike TV. Garcia won by split decision. The two fighters are very aware of the legacy fans will expect them to live up to, if not exceed. Rematches don’t usually live up to the magic of the original fight, but I’d expect this to be entertaining and competitive regardless. If nothing else, we’re likely to see ‘Zombie’ come out of his shell a bit, as evidenced by this English tutorial lesson with the California Kid, Urijah Faber:

155 lbs. – Nik Lentz x Waylon Lowe: Both men are accomplished wrestlers with Lentz having NCAA Division I credentials at University of Minnesota. Lowe wrestled for the lesser-known University of Finley (Ohio), but won Division II championship honors in 2004 and 2006. Lendz is 4-0-1 in the UFC, with all matches, including the controversial split decision with Tyson Griffin, go to the judges. Lentz is surely looking to put that match, labeled as one of the most boring bouts in UFC history, behind him. Lowe, 2-1 in the UFC, has his fair share of decision wins, and will need to prove himself here. In a battle of two wrestlers from the Midwest, I’d expect this to be a battle of ground control. That said, here’s hoping both teams second-guess each other and make it a nice stand-up slobberknocker.

Prediction: Lowe by TKO (round one)

185 lbs. – Aaron Simpson x Mario Miranda: Simpson is an NCAA All-American wrestler from Arizona State University who ran a string of six TKO / KO wins. He’s part of the Power MMA team, with fellow wrestlers Ryan Bader and C.B. Dollaway. Miranda is a BJJ black belt who spends his time between Anderson Silva’s Black House clique and Matt Hume’s AMC in Kirkland, WA, so he’ll have the hometown advantage. Miranda went the distance with Maia, but was taken down regularly throughout the match. Miranda will need some clever defenses against Simpson’s takedowns. That said, Hume-coached fighters always come with a smart strategy. Simpson suffered back-to-back losses against Chris Leben and Mark Munoz in the last half of 2010, so this match is a gut-check for the ASU wrestler.

Prediction: Miranda via (surprising, out-of-nowhere) submission (round two)

170 lbs. – Johny Hendricks x Anthony “TJ” Waldburger: Hendricks, of the wrestling-based Team Takedown, replaces Dennis Hallman, who was injured three weeks. Waldburger has an impressive win four-fight win streak, starting mid-2009, and marred David Mitchell’s undefeated record when both debuted in the UFC in September. Despite Waldburger’s experience advantage over Hendricks, I would expect the Oklahoma wrestler to push the action and grind him down until Hendricks can catch him with punches.

Prediction: Hendricks via TKO (round one)

265 lbs. – Christian Morecraft x Sean McCorkle: Both fighters are looking to redeem themselves from being finished by Stefan Struve. Morecraft gave Struve a run for his money in round one of their fight, but was caught at the beginning of round two. Two thousand ten was a rebirth for the entertaining and outspoken McCorkle, who was 6-0 through 2007 before taking a two-and-a-half year hiatus from fighting. In 2010, he beat several local opponents before meeting, and finishing) PRIDE FC veteran Mark Hunt in both men’s UFC debuts. Using Struve as a gauge, Morecraft showed more craft (pun intended) than McCorkle, whose pre-UFC opponents weren’t exactly top competition. I expect both men to be at their sharpest for their first fight in 2011, though I’d expect Morecraft’s grappling to be the difference-maker here.

Prediction: Morecraft by TKO (round two)

135 lbs. – Michael McDonald vs. Edwin Figueroa: This match should be a fistfest, as both men are making their UFC debut and neither has gone to the halfway mark of a 3 x 5 min match. Figueroa replaces Nick Pace, making this a debut UFC match for both Figueroa and McDonald. Also in common is McDonald is a Central California product with fast, heavy hands. He’s never gone to the third round, and has seven TKO / KO finishes out of his 11 victories. His last three matches were victories over legit names like Manny Tapia, Cole Escovedo, and Clint Godfrey. Figueroa is undefeated, with his last match a TKO victory over respectable journeyman Johnny Bedford. McDonald has faced tougher competition of late, which I think will make the difference in performance here.

Prediction: McDonald via TKO or submission (round one)

170 lbs. – John Hathaway x Kris McCray: McCray came into MMA on a hot streak and went to the finals of the most recent season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF), but was submitted by Court McCray in the TUF finals and Carlos Eduardo Rocha, a jiu-jitsu black belt import from Fortaleza, Brazil. Hathaway has the experience factor on his side, undefeated through his previous match, against Mike Pyle, who used takedowns to secure a unanimous decision. McCray would best be served recreating Pyle’s strategy, if possible, but Hathaway proved what his ability to control a match when he faced Diego Sanchez.

Prediction: Hathaway via TKO (round two)

265 lbs. – Mike Russow x Jon Madsen: On paper, this match is ironically even – two heavyweight wrestlers who are also (at least) part-time members of Brock Lesnar’s Deathclutch team. Undefeated in seven bouts, Madsen also trains at Matt Hughes H.I.T. Squad. Russow is a Division 1 wrestler and Chicago police officer. Madsen TKO’ed Dutch kickboxer Gilbert Yvel last October, something Josh Barnett couldn’t do in 2009, and used takedowns to grind out decisions against Karlos Vemola and Mostapha Al-Turk prior to that. Russow has the distinction of unexpectedly KO’ing company pariah Todd Duffee in a one-sided match that Duffee had all but closed. Russow will hopefully be tighter and in better shape than his Duffee match.

Prediction: Madsen via submission (round three)

145 lbs. – Alex Caceres x Mackens Semerzier: The man they call ‘Bruce Leeroy’ was the flashy and polarizing youngbuck from season 11 of TUF. Semerzier was on a four-match first-round submission streak when he entered WEC, and extended that streak to five, choking out Wagnney Fabiano, before dropping three in a row in 2010. Caceres has flashy kicks, but also four submissions, including his TUF matches. In this battle of submission artists, this match could take place on the feet.

Prediction: Caceres via TKO (round one)

145 lbs. – Leonard Garcia x Chan Sung Jung: One rematch gets replaced with another, as Jung (aka “The Korean Zombie”) fills in for Garcia’s original opponent the injured Nam Phan. Garcia-Phan II was made after Garcia was given a split decision win that everybody except the judges themselves though Phan won. The first Garcia-Jung bout was one of the best bouts of 2010, a slugfest for the ages that Garcia also won by split decision. I personally thought Jung won with his aggression and damage, but calls for a rematch faded when George Roop knocked Jung out cleanly with a head kick. With this upcoming rematch, obviously Jung will be hungry for revenge, though many say a fighter is never the same after a knockout like the Korean Zombie fared. That said, Garcia will likely need to fight at a stronger, fiercer pace than he has in the past three bouts to really secure a convincing win.

Prediction: Jung via unanimous decision

170 lbs. – Amir Sadollah x Demarques Johnson: Johnson marks third opponent and second replacement opponent for Sadollah, who was originally scheduled to fight Duane ‘Bang’ Ludwig. When Ludwig had to withdraw due to injury, James ‘Lightning’ Wilks, stepped in. And when Wilks had to withdraw due to injury, Johnson filled in the spot. Wilks-to-Johnson shouldn’t affect Sadollah’s strategy as much as Ludwig-to-Wilks did, as Ludwig’s striking pedigree is far above Wilks or Johnson, who have more submission wins that KO / TKO’s. Johnson fights to fight, and is equally dangerous (and susceptible) in striking and grappling, having won and lost both ways almost equal times. Sadollah’s last four matches have gone to decision. I’d expect Johnson to keep the pressure on Sadollah, but for Sadollah to catch him with punches.

Prediction: Sadollah by TKO (round two)

170 lbs. – Dan Hardy x Anthony Johnson: Johnson will be coming off a year-plus hiatus due to a meniscus injury, while Hardy looks to shake off a loss to GSP (bad strategy) and KO (got caught) from Carlos Condit. Ring rust could play a factor against Johnson, but then again, his six-inch reach advantage will be a benefit. That said, Hardy can take a shot (notwithstanding Condit hitting the button), and has competed more recently against tougher competition. Johnson will have the size advantage in height and surely weight, as he’s claimed he drops as much as 55 lbs. (starting from a fight announcement) to make 170. Hardy is one of those submission experts who loves to show off his striking skills, but in this case, even despite Johnson’s wrestling credentials (NJCAA champion in 2004), Hardy may be best suited in this match on the ground.

The calmer, real side of Dan Hardy:

Anthony Johnson’s thoughts on the fight:

Prediction: Hardy via submission (round two)

205 lbs. – Antonio Rogerio Nogueira x Phil Davis:

As mentioned before, Davis replacing Ortiz in many ways means a more dangerous opponent for Nogueira. Davis is an NCAA Division I national wrestling champion, and is undefeated not just in the UFC but in his MMA career. He’s not only slick with submissions, but inventive as well, being one of the few fighters on record to get a submission with what by all accounts looked like a modified camel clutch. His kimura-hammerlock combination on Tim Boetsch at UFC 123 had Joe Rogan popping like a Hulkamaniac. His Alliance MMA team includes Brandon Vera, UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, and heavy hitters like Travis Browne and Joey Beltran, so he also gets solid training in the striking department. All this said, ‘Lil’ Nog,’ as some call him is a BJJ black belt with impressive amateur boxing credentials in Brazil from 2006 and 2007. In MMA, Nogueira was a star in PRIDE FC from 2002 to 2007. He was more competitive several years ago, finishing four out of five matches between his PRIDE and UFC contracts, but that was against lesser competition. He’s 2-1 in the UFC, but one of those wins was an unpopular split decision against Jason Brilz. Nogueira has the skills and can be dangerous, but Davis is from a younger, fresher generation of fighters who’ve been weaned on the sport at a point when fighters don’t cross-train disciplines but simply all the elements of MMA at once. Nogueira of course has the experienced advantage, but in this case, Davis’ explosive speed and ability to adapt, improvise, and overcome may turn him into an overnight star with this match (like we haven’t seen that recently).

Phil Davis Video Blog:

Prediction: Davis via decision

The Finish

For the past three years, the spring UFC Fight Nights has showcased what for me was a very intriguing main event, usually moreso than throughout the rest of the year. At UFN 18 in 2009, Martin Kampmann bested Carlos Condit by split decision in a fantastic three-round war of dogged, skilled fighters. Last year, at UFN 21, top lightweight Kenny Florian welcomed PRIDE FC star Takanori Gomi to the octagon with a third-round rear naked choke. This year, we see another clash of veteran star against fast-rising prospect. And even though we just saw this dynamic a few days ago, I’m still intrigued by the possibilities.

Not to mention that fans get a sequel to one of the most popular matches from last year in Garcia-Jung, as well as appearances from the always-entertaining likes of Dan Hardy, Anthony Johnson,  the polarizing Alex ‘Bruce Leroy’ Caceres, and the irreverent Amir Sadollah.

Very often, these Fight Nights are generally forgettable affairs, but if there’s one time that you stay home and watch TV on a Saturday night, this would be the weekend for it.

UFC 128 Recap & Results

Posted in TV Reports, UFC on March 21, 2011 by jaytan716

There aren’t a lot of high-profile notes to come out of UFC 128, but the one angle that fans and the fight community will be talking about for the next few months, Jon Jones’ winning the UFC light heavyweight title from Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua and the ramifications of Jones’ first title defense, is as layered and complicated as if Quentin Tarantino wrote a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book.

With Jones, a member of Greg Jackson’s MMA team in Albuquerque, NM, now the 205 lb. champion, he is scheduled to face ‘Sugar’ Rashad Evans in his first UFC title defense. Evans is / was a friend and teammate of Jones at Jackson’s (see related videos below), and has seniority both in terms of team membership as well as title ownership (Evans won the light heavyweight championship from Forrest Griffin at UFC 92). Evans did say to MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani that he would be leaving Jackson’s in order to prepare for his challenge against Jones, though Jackson noted that some things said in the heat of the moment don’t always stand the test of time.

Ariel Helwani (MMAFighting.com) interviews Rashad Evans here:

http://video.aol.com/aolvideo/aol-sports/rashad-evans-ufc-128-post-fight-interview/841794798001

Ariel Helwani (MMAFighting.com) interviews Greg Jackson here:

http://video.aol.com/aolvideo/aol-sports/greg-jackson-ufc-128-post-fight-interview/841876053001

Needless to say, the ‘training triangle’ storyline has its characters. Evans was the heel in the build-up for his match against Quentin ‘Rampage’ Jackson, largely by default, as Rampage was too comedic and fun-loving to hate. Ironically, Evans was also the perennial underdog throughout his rise to the top.

Jones is a fresh face, a young wunderkind fighter, and all-around nice boy, accentuated by his infamous crime-stopping incident in the hours before the fight. If you haven’t already heard the story, here’s the play-by-play by Jones himself:

http://video.aol.com/aolvideo/aol-sports/jon-jones-ufc-128-press-conference/841977182001

With all these roles (which fans will force on Jones and Evans anyway) played right, coupled with the mixed emotions of team allegiance, friendship, and proving oneself the best in the world, Jones-Evans could end up being a more powerful ‘storylines-to-Fight-Night’ than even Evans-Jackson (which was one of the UFC’s biggest pay-per-view events of all-time). Where does Evans go to train? Do fans cast him as the heel (my guess is yes), and how does that affect him? Does Greg Jackson truly stay out of this match, and what will all fight teams take away from this experience of having teammates square off for not just a championship, but ‘The Championship?’

Jones-Evans also points to a developing issue regarding fighters’ careers and team allegiances. As fights get more competitive, fighters seek out higher-level training partners in the same weight classes, some of whom are in the same promotion and perhaps on track for title shots. As gyms / team gather more high-level fighters and form larger teams, the more competitive, reputable schools grow bigger and the smaller ones fall off. Moreover, teammate vs. teammate crossroads become more frequent.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this happen, and in fact not even the first time Jackson’s MMA has faced it. In late 2007, then-welterweight Diego Sanchez left the team and relocated to San Diego, CA after reigning welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre joined the Jackson team. In several interviews, Sanchez noted in several interviews that part of his motivation was that St-Pierre’s addition both came at the detriment of Sanchez’ training, and also was forced encouragement for Sanchez to drop down to lightweight (155 lbs.).

Likewise, when Tito Ortiz was the UFC light heavyweight champ and Chuck Liddell’s star was on the rise, Ortiz claimed that they had an agreement that they’d never fight each other for the title. Liddell always denied that such an agreement ever existed.

Team alliances in a one-on-one sport like boxing or MMA are difficult. The team benefits financially from its fighters winning championships, but teammates don’t directly benefit from each others’ victories. For fighters at any level, whether the Jones-Evans-St-Pierre-Sanchez stratus or among the young aspiring fighters who take their team and training environment seriously, it’s a choice that everyone makes at some point. Some will forego their Big Shot and some will eschew team alliances for the opportunity for their own individual success. Both choices are right.

There’s little else to note about UFC 128. Brendan Schaub, a former AFL and NFL football player who transitioned into MMA via season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter, defeated aging legend Mirko Cro Cop with a third round TKO. Cro Cop is 3-3 since his return to the UFC, not wholly embarrassing, but certainly not the record for which he’d want to be known. The bigger and more relevant knock is that his unbeatable aura is very much a thing of the past. Combined with what is surely a hefty price tag, this is likely Cro Cop’s last hurrah in the UFC (at least for the time being). For Schaub, it continues to build his name as a future title contender.

Urijah Faber defeated Eddie Wineland by unanimous decision, which is a win that needed to happen for the UFC’s plans with Faber to go forward. The promotion is greatly behind Faber’s star potential, and understandably so. The guy is a tremendous athlete with an easygoing, polite charm and poster boy good looks. His was the only name that popped WEC ratings on the Versus network, and he was a great straight-man to Kenny Fucking Powers in the K-Swiss Tubes commercials. Moreover, there’s been talk of Faber and UFC 135 lb. champion Dominick Cruz coaching season 14 of The Ultimate Fighter (though Dana White denied that to Ariel Helwani in their post-fight interview). Had Wineland won, Cruz vs. Wineland would have been a tougher season to promote.


However, Faber didn’t look dominant in this match, having difficulty landing takedowns and, for much of the match, being stuck in Wineland’s clinch. Watching the match, part of me truly wondered if Faber hasn’t already hit his athletic prime. He’s been fighting since 2003, and went on a 13-fight win streak from 2005 to 2008, with only one of those victories going to decision (his one-sided domination of Jens Pulver at WEC 34). Streaks like that aren’t typically repeatable, and although the Wineland match marked his second win at 135 lbs., I question whether we’ll see Faber’s MMA career dominance coincide with his newfound exposure as an official UFC star.

Here’s how my predictions and reality turned out for Event:

145 lbs. – Raphael Assuncao x Erik Koch:
Prediction: Assuncao via decision
Result: Koch via KO (round one)

185 lbs. – Constantinos Philippou x Nick Catone:
Prediction: Catone via TKO (round one)
Result: Catone via unanimous decision (30-27 across the board)

135 lbs. – Joseph Benavidez x Ian Loveland:
Prediction: Benavidez via submission (round two)
Result: Benavidez via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

155 lbs. – Kurt Pellegrino x Gleison Tibau:
Prediction: Pellegrino via unanimous decision
Result: Tibau via split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

170 lbs. – Mike Pyle x Ricardo Almeida:
Prediction: Almeida via submission (round three)
Result: Pyle via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27) though apparently scores were 29-28 across the board

155 lbs. – Anthony Njokuani x Edson Barboza, Jr.:
Prediction: Barboza via KO (round two)
Result: Barboza via unanimous decision (29-28 across the board)

205 lbs. – Elliot Marshall x Luiz Cane:
Prediction: Marshall via decision
Result: Cane via TKO (round one)

265 lbs. – Brendan Schaub x Mirko Cro Cop:
Prediction: Schaub via TKO (round three)
Result: Schaub via TKO (round three)

185 lbs. – Nate Marquardt x Dan Miller:
Prediction: Marquardt by TKO (round one)
Result: Marquardt via unanimous decision (30-27 across the board)

155 lbs. – Kamal Shalorus x Jim Miller:
Prediction: Shalorus via unanimous decision
Result: Miller via TKO (round three)

135 lbs. – Urijah ‘The California Kid’ Faber x Eddie Wineland:
Prediction: Faber via submission (round one or two)
Result: Faber via unanimous decision (29-28 across the board)

205 lbs. (UFC Light Heavyweight Title) – Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua x Jon ‘Bones’ Jones:
Prediction: Jones via TKO (round three or four)
Result: Jones via TKO (round three)

The Finish

Not every UFC event is going to be remembered as one for the ages. If anything, UFC 128 will be marked as the night when an amazing young talent got his chance to reign supreme and start his path to potential crossover superstardom. Of course, in fighting his friend, Jon Jones first challenge will be a personal and physical test.

UFC 128 Recap & Results

Posted in Results & Recap, UFC on March 21, 2011 by jaytan716

There aren’t a lot of high-profile notes to come out of UFC 128, but the one angle that fans and the fight community will be talking about for the next few months, Jon Jones’ winning the UFC light heavyweight title from Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua and the ramifications of Jones’ first title defense, is as layered and complicated as if Quentin Tarantino wrote a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book.

With Jones, a member of Greg Jackson’s MMA team in Albuquerque, NM, now the 205 lb. champion, he is scheduled to face ‘Sugar’ Rashad Evans in his first UFC title defense. Evans is / was a friend and teammate of Jones at Jackson’s (see related videos below), and has seniority both in terms of team membership as well as title ownership (Evans won the light heavyweight championship from Forrest Griffin at UFC 92). Evans did say to MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani that he would be leaving Jackson’s in order to prepare for his challenge against Jones, though Jackson noted that some things said in the heat of the moment don’t always stand the test of time.

Needless to say, the ‘training triangle’ storyline has its characters. Evans was the heel in the build-up for his match against Quentin ‘Rampage’ Jackson, largely by default, as Rampage was too comedic and fun-loving to hate. Ironically, Evans was also the perennial underdog throughout his rise to the top.

Jones is a fresh face, a young wunderkind fighter, and all-around nice boy, accentuated by his infamous crime-stopping incident in the hours before the fight. If you haven’t already heard the story, here’s the play-by-play by Jones himself:

With all these roles (which fans will force on Jones and Evans anyway) played right, coupled with the mixed emotions of team allegiance, friendship, and proving oneself the best in the world, Jones-Evans could end up being a more powerful ‘storylines-to-Fight-Night’ than even Evans-Jackson (which was one of the UFC’s biggest pay-per-view events of all-time). Where does Evans go to train? Do fans cast him as the heel (my guess is yes), and how does that affect him? Does Greg Jackson truly stay out of this match, and what will all fight teams take away from this experience of having teammates square off for not just a championship, but ‘The Championship?’

Jones-Evans also points to a developing issue regarding fighters’ careers and team allegiances. As fights get more competitive, fighters seek out higher-level training partners in the same weight classes, some of whom are in the same promotion and perhaps on track for title shots. As gyms / team gather more high-level fighters and form larger teams, the more competitive, reputable schools grow bigger and the smaller ones fall off. Moreover, teammate vs. teammate crossroads become more frequent.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this happen, and in fact not even the first time Jackson’s MMA has faced it. In late 2007, then-welterweight Diego Sanchez left the team and relocated to San Diego, CA after reigning welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre joined the Jackson team. In several interviews, Sanchez noted in several interviews that part of his motivation was that St-Pierre’s addition both came at the detriment of Sanchez’ training, and also was forced encouragement for Sanchez to drop down to lightweight (155 lbs.).

Likewise, when Tito Ortiz was the UFC light heavyweight champ and Chuck Liddell’s star was on the rise, Ortiz claimed that they had an agreement that they’d never fight each other for the title. Liddell always denied that such an agreement ever existed.

Team alliances in a one-on-one sport like boxing or MMA are difficult. The team benefits financially from its fighters winning championships, but teammates don’t directly benefit from each others’ victories. For fighters at any level, whether the Jones-Evans-St-Pierre-Sanchez stratus or among the young aspiring fighters who take their team and training environment seriously, it’s a choice that everyone makes at some point. Some will forego their Big Shot and some will eschew team alliances for the opportunity for their own individual success. Both choices are right.

There’s little else to note about UFC 128. Brendan Schaub, a former AFL and NFL football player who transitioned into MMA via season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter, defeated aging legend Mirko Cro Cop with a third round TKO. Cro Cop is 3-3 since his return to the UFC, not wholly embarrassing, but certainly not the record for which he’d want to be known. The bigger and more relevant knock is that his unbeatable aura is very much a thing of the past. Combined with what is surely a hefty price tag, this is likely Cro Cop’s last hurrah in the UFC (at least for the time being). For Schaub, it continues to build his name as a future title contender.

Urijah Faber defeated Eddie Wineland by unanimous decision, which is a win that needed to happen for the UFC’s plans with Faber to go forward. The promotion is greatly behind Faber’s star potential, and understandably so. The guy is a tremendous athlete with an easygoing, polite charm and poster boy good looks. His was the only name that popped WEC ratings on the Versus network, and he was a great straight-man to Kenny Fucking Powers in the K-Swiss Tubes commercials. Moreover, there’s been talk of Faber and UFC 135 lb. champion Dominick Cruz coaching season 14 of The Ultimate Fighter (though Dana White denied that to Ariel Helwani in their post-fight interview). Had Wineland won, Cruz vs. Wineland would have been a tougher season to promote.

However, Faber didn’t look dominant in this match, having difficulty landing takedowns and, for much of the match, being stuck in Wineland’s clinch. Watching the match, part of me truly wondered if Faber hasn’t already hit his athletic prime. He’s been fighting since 2003, and went on a 13-fight win streak from 2005 to 2008, with only one of those victories going to decision (his one-sided domination of Jens Pulver at WEC 34). Streaks like that aren’t typically repeatable, and although the Wineland match marked his second win at 135 lbs., I question whether we’ll see Faber’s MMA career dominance coincide with his newfound exposure as an official UFC star.

Here’s how my predictions and reality turned out for Event:

145 lbs. – Raphael Assuncao x Erik Koch:
Prediction: Assuncao via decision
Result: Koch via KO (round one)

185 lbs. – Constantinos Philippou x Nick Catone:
Prediction:  Catone via TKO (round one)
Result: Catone via unanimous decision (30-27 across the board)

135 lbs. – Joseph Benavidez x Ian Loveland:
Prediction:  Benavidez via submission (round two)
Result: Benavidez via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

155 lbs. – Kurt Pellegrino x Gleison Tibau:
Prediction:  Pellegrino via unanimous decision
Result: Tibau via split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

170 lbs. – Mike Pyle x Ricardo Almeida:
Prediction: Almeida via submission (round three)
Result: Pyle via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27) though apparently scores were 29-28 across the board

155 lbs. – Anthony Njokuani x Edson Barboza, Jr.:
Prediction:  Barboza via KO (round two)
Result: Barboza via unanimous decision (29-28 across the board)

205 lbs. – Elliot Marshall x Luiz Cane:
Prediction:  Marshall via decision
Result: Cane via TKO (round one)

265 lbs. – Brendan Schaub x Mirko Cro Cop:
Prediction: Schaub via TKO (round three)
Result: Schaub via TKO (round three)

185 lbs. – Nate Marquardt x Dan Miller:
Prediction:  Marquardt by TKO (round one)
Result: Marquardt via unanimous decision (30-27 across the board)

155 lbs. – Kamal Shalorus x Jim Miller:
Prediction:  Shalorus via unanimous decision
Result: Miller via TKO (round three)

135 lbs. – Urijah ‘The California Kid’ Faber x Eddie Wineland:
Prediction:  Faber via submission (round one or two)
Result: Faber via unanimous decision (29-28 across the board)

205 lbs. (UFC Light Heavyweight Title) – Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua x Jon ‘Bones’ Jones:
Prediction: Jones via TKO (round three or four)
Result: Jones via TKO (round three)

The Finish

Not every UFC event is going to be remembered as one for the ages. If anything, UFC 128 will be marked as the night when an amazing young talent got his chance to reign supreme and start his path to potential crossover superstardom. Of course, in fighting his friend, Jon Jones first challenge will be a personal and physical test.