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UFC 149 adds up to less than zero

I haven’t written for this site in weeks, months even, and Saturday night’s UFC 149 was a perfect example of why. Everybody who paid to see that card, whether in person at the Calgary Saddledome or home on pay-per-view, should get a full refund. And it should come out of the pockets of UFC boss Dana White and the fighters and the officials, (almost) all of whom failed to deliver. White is right to be embarrassed and angry, although he should be pointing the finger at himself and matchmaker Joe Silva before looking anywhere else.

Yes, the Calgary card has been cursed almost from the beginning, with more match-up changes than any card in recent memory. Among the scratches were Jose Aldo, Michael Bisping, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Thiago Alves, Thiago Silva, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Bibiano Fernandes, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Claude Patrick and on and on and on. And I have to assume that White and Silva did their best to find replacements, but the result amounted to little more than plugging a few holes in the Titanic.

Sure, the preliminary card did its job, warming up the crowd with a series of entertaining fights. Ryan Jimmo’s record-tying seven-second knockout of Anthony Perosh, leaving Perosh with the silliest KO expression since Rashad Evans, will be a part of highlight reels for years to come. Likewise Jimmo’s post-fight robot moves. And there were two other knockouts and a submission before the main card began.

And that’s when the wheels came off. Or the iceberg struck. Or whatever disaster analogy you care to envision took place. Dull, boring, dull, dull fight after fight between fighters who were more interested in hugging out their differences than actually hitting each other (I’m looking at you, Cheick Kongo and Shawn Jordan). There were referees who allowed the fighters to wall stall and referees who saw phantom groin kicks. And the heavily hyped UFC debut of Hector Lombard, a beast with heavy hands and a Rousimar Palhares-like penchant for snapping femurs, he stood there in front of Tim Boetsch, flat-footed and stupid, for three full rounds and deserved to lose the decision.

And Renan Barao? Wipe that lunatic grin off your face. You should be happy you won, but not that happy, not after that performance. Sure, you beat Urijah Faber in a highly technical match-up to claim the interim bantamweight title, but calling a fight “highly technical” is another way of saying “safe” and “safe” means dull. And I don’t pay for dull. The Canadian fans who booed throughout the main card didn’t pay for dull. Think about that — Canadian fans booed. That should tell you something right there.

And that is why I’ve not written about the UFC much lately. The cards haven’t lived up to the hype, if only because there are too many cards and there’s no way they could. Too many cards, too many fighters I care nothing about, all being promoted like it’s UFC 100. I had zero expectations for UFC 149. I mean, Cheick Kongo was on the main card, so how good could it be? But in the back of my mind I believed it likely that even the worst card could exceed my expectations. Didn’t happen. Because you know what’s less than zero? UFC 149.

July 22, 2012   No Comments

Rory MacDonald and Mark Bocek impress, Hominick misses the mark and Jon Jones does what Jon Jones does

So what did we learn? When it comes to UFC 145’s main event between light heavyweight champ Jon Jones and former champ Rashad Evans, not a whole lot.

The long-awaited grudge match between the two former teammates proved a lot less “grudgy” than expected. Evans, who gave up five inches in height and almost 10 inches in reach, was able to stay with the champ through all five rounds, which in itself was impressive if not exactly exciting. That said, he was wobbled often and had his head snapped back more than a Pez dispenser thanks to quick, short elbows and the occasional shoulder from the clinch. Still, Jones couldn’t put him away and even ate a few punches in the early frames when both fighters were still fresh. And the champ’s much-yapped-about wrestling abilities never played much of a role, something that won’t be the case when he faces Dan Henderson, who, if he shows up like he did against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, should make Jones’ life a bit miserable.

The co-main event taught us that Rory MacDonald just might deserve the hype as “the next Georges St. Pierre.” He destroyed Che Mills in under two rounds with ground-and-pound that was Freddy Krueger scary. Yet when the fight was over he was like the kid next door, which at just 22 he still is. Give him a couple of more fights – including a rematch with interim welterweight champ Carlos Condit to avenge his only loss – and MacDonald just might have a showdown with teammate GSP to consider.

Further down the card we learned that Ben Rothwell is taking training seriously. A slightly more svelte Rothwell stunned Brendan Schaub with a 70-second Knockout of the Night, while Michael McDonald deepened Miguel Angel Torres’ downward spiral (sure, Torres won his previous fight, but he’s been on a rollercoaster since he lost the WEC bantamweight crown three years ago and there’s no end in sight).

Mark Hominick needed a big win to erase the embarrassment of his seven-second KO loss in his last outing, but failed big time and has me wondering whether he has a future in the UFC. Hominick wasknocked down and almost out on a couple of occasions by the wild-swinging Eddie Yagin, a fighter he should’ve dominated. It wasn’t until the third round that he finally settled into a crisp, controlled punching rhythm that turned Yagin’s face into pizza but it was too little too late. This was Hominick’s third straight loss, which makes me believe that Hominick’s much-celebrated near-upset of featherweight champ Jose Aldo at UFC 129 was merely an aberration, a case of Hominick’s game being improbably on (or as on as it could be given he did take a pretty severe beating for four of five rounds against Aldo) and Aldo’s being horribly off (Aldo was apparently sick heading into the fight).I certainly don’t expect to see him on a main card any time soon. Rounding out the main card, Mark Bocek brought his lunch pail and worked John Alessio for three rounds with a grinding top game that earned him the unanimous decision.

April 22, 2012   No Comments

Overeem out, Mir in and Dana White owes us an apology – and a free UFC 146

Right around the time Eddie Alvarez was pounding out jiu-jitsu ankle-biter Shinya Aoki at Bellator 66, and shortly after somebody beat somebody else in the latest episode of The Ultimate Fighter that I rarely watch because life’s too short to watch bad fights, UFC boss Dana White tweeted that Frank Mir will replace Alistair Overeem against heavyweight champ Junior dos Santos at UFC 146.

There was no follow-up tweet, no “Sorry, guys. I fucked up and trusted that juice freak when I knew better and now I’ve screwed us all into a corner so we’re stuck with Mir.” Instead, it was a stealth tweet late on a Friday evening, sent out prior to White boarding a plane from Las Vegas to Atlanta for Saturday’s UFC 145, meaning White would be in the air and unreachable when the news spread and fans started screaming for somebody’s head on a spike Ned Stark-style. And they should be screaming.

Overeem failed his drug test, which surprised no one. Doesn’t matter whether it was “just” elevated testosterone levels (more than twice the allowable limit and 14 times that of the average adult male). Doesn’t matter that he’ll have his day in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commission to plead his case. He’s out. Too bad it took White two weeks to make it official, two weeks that saw him deny that he would break up UFC 146’s Mir vs. Cain Velasquez match-up, that gave rise to a bizarre fan-driven Mark Hunt-as-replacement campaign and rumours of Fedor Emelianenko finally signing with the UFC to step in against JDS (pure fanboy wishmaking, that).

No, instead we have midnight announcements of Mir getting another title shot. Not a bad choice given the options. He’s a former champ with a three-fight winning streak and he openly vied for the bout. Never mind that it leaves JDS a month to reconfigure his training camp to prepare for such a vastly different opponent than Overeem — Mir couples solid striking with great grappling, while Overeem is a pure striker. Comparatively, Mir’s adjustment from Velasquez to dos Santos should be significantly less. Of course, this leaves Velasquez without a dance partner.

And what about Overeem? Regardless of the outcome of his NSAC showdown he should be fired. Should have been fired the moment the failed drug test was revealed. And White is no less culpable, keeping one of the biggest fights of 2012 in limbo for two weeks. How about making UFC 146 a free-per-view, just to make things up to the fans?

April 21, 2012   No Comments

Hot doc Fightville hits Toronto theatres Friday

Fightville, which is not only the best MMA documentary I’ve ever seen but also one of the best sports documentaries, will finally hit Toronto theatres on April 6, making the date one very, very good Friday. I first saw the film at Hot Docs a year ago and was blown away:

Fightville is a gritty and brilliantly gripping bruises-and-all documentary about small town fighters with UFC dreams… No hyperbole here, this is a sharply observed and richly told drama about what it means to be a fighter. Not the big-money contracts and sponsorship deals and pay-per-view bonuses, not the ring card girls and cage fighter groupies, not the glamour and the glory and spectacle of arena-filling action heroes like Anderson Silva or Georges St. Pierre. This isn’t some glorified Tapout commercial.”

Well, here we are a year later, I’ve seen the film twice since and not only is it still fantastic, it’s actually gotten better. That’s because one of the fighters profiled is Dustin Poirier, an up-and-comer when the film was shot who’s since become a featherweight title contender. Poirier faces the Korean Zombie, Chan Sung Jung, at UFC on Fuel 3 in May. It’s the kind of story that filmmakers would give their eye teeth to discover.

I caught up with Fightville co-director Michael Tucker by phone a couple of days ago. Tucker was in Lafayette, Louisiana, where Poirier trains under Tim Credeur, for a screening of Fightville.

“Three years ago when I started this project, who would’ve known that this is where we’d all end up?” says Tucker. “Dustin was just a kid — he’s only 23 now — and I knew nothing about mixed martial arts. But here we are, he’s firmly established himself within the UFC and I’ve found myself watching fights, especially Dustin’s, although it’s hard; I don’t want to see him get hurt. I’m fascinated by the people who are fighters, that they’re often not  the kinds of people you would expect to be fighters, and that it takes a lot of talent, skills, dedication and luck to make it.”

If you’re reading this, then you owe it to yourself to see Fightville.

April 4, 2012   No Comments

Video: Chael Sonnen apologizes to Anderson Silva

Chael Sonnen isn’t a very good actor. He’s not convincing at all. Except for perhaps the laugh, which reminds me of one of the Cobra Kai from The Karate Kid, the one who says, “Get him a body bag.”

March 7, 2012   No Comments

Video: Gruesome leg break

March 6, 2012   No Comments

Ronda Rousey is pretty cute. That’s all

March 6, 2012   No Comments

Video: Ronday Rousey rips off another arm, takes Strikeforce title

Ronda Rousey is the new Brock Lesnar. In just five professional fights, the mouthy and arrogant Olympic judoka has a championship belt. Rousey needed just 4:27, or twice as long as her four previous fights combined, to back up her trash talking and submit Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champ Miesha Tate on Saturday night. It was also Rousey’s eighth consecutive armbar win (including three amateur bouts). Now, Rousey will likely face former champ Sarah Kaufman, who scored a majority decision over Alexis Davis on Saturday’s card.

And Rousey may be exactly what women’s MMA needs at a time when it’s still recovering from the loss of Gina Carano to Hollywood and Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos to a steroid suspension. She’s tough, she’s pretty, and she knows how to hype a fight. Her penchant for talking smack had made her the heir apparent to Chael Sonnen, but no more. Sonnen’s belt is fake; Rousey’s is very very real. Like Brock Lesnar, though, Rousey is still a one-dimensional fighter (granted it’s a hell of a dimension), but at least she doesn’t cower like a girl when she gets punched.

March 4, 2012   No Comments

The 125-pounders make some noise in the UFC

March 2, 2012   No Comments

Edgar’s whining, Rampage’s prowess and gay porn. What more could you want on a Friday afternoon?

It’s Friday, and there’s a mixed bag of MMA goings-on worth mentioning. Frankie Edgar is begging for a rematch with Ben Henderson after losing a close unanimous decision at UFC 144. While a replay of the fight shows that Edgar has a good case for believing he won, that’s not how the judges saw it and, as FW contributing editor Jesse Katz says, “if I need the judges to tell me who won I might as well be watching figure skating.” Regardless, Edgar likely won’t be getting a rematch as everyone seems intent on pushing him to drop to 145 and challenge Jose Aldo.

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson has admitted he’s on testosterone replacement therapy that allows him to screw five times a night, but it didn’t stop him from losing to Ryan Bader and probably won’t prevent him from losing a rematch with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Rua is pushing heavily for the fight, although the rematch he should be after is with Dan Henderson.

Oh yeah, and one of the fighters on the new season of The Ultimate Fighter used to do gay porn. So what? He was young and stupid and in college and he needed the money and he’s not gay or anything. Granted, he still has a porn-sounding name (Dakota Cochrane).

March 2, 2012   1 Comment

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