musings on mixed martial arts, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai and all things mano-a-mano
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Posts from — August 2009

Glover’s travels

Sounds like a pretty fun way to live life, walking the earth like Caine from Kung Fu, except doing Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

August 31, 2009   No Comments

MMA gets a mamby-pamby NIMBY attitude from Vancouver

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As I noted a couple days ago, the UFC expects to hold its first-ever fight card in Vancouver in June of next year with Montreal’s Georges St. Pierre, the current welterweight champion, as the headliner. MMA is not currently sanctioned in Vancouver, or B.C. for that matter, but UFC president Dana White is confident it will happen in the next four months.

The promoter already has the support of Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson and the Aquilini family, which owns the 19,000-seat GM Place and the NHL franchise Canucks. And while White was in Portland, Oregon, prepping for the Couture vs. Nogueira card, UFC executive vp Lawrence Epstein, UFC regulation czar Marc Ratner, the former Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director, and a crew of lawyers were in Vancouver to meet with BC Attorney General Michael de Jong, the Vancouver Athletics Commission and other city officials to help smooth the way. UFC officials will also be taking their case before federal politicians in Ottawa.

Their case is pretty simple. The sport’s gone mainstream and it’s a license to print money for anyone involved. Roughly 15-20 percent of the company’s business comes from Canada, making the Great White North the biggest per capita consumer of MMA.

The UFC’s two Montreal events, UFC 83 and UFC 97, were both record-setting in terms of attendance, gate and economic spinoffs (estimated at close to $50 million for a single UFC weekend), and it’s easy to imagine a similar reception from Canada’s third-largest city. Add to that the possibility of the UFC holding a fan expo to coincide with the card. The UFC’s inaugural expo – held over the UFC 100 weekend in Las Vegas – drew 40,000 fans and required 150,000 square feet of convention space.

So, what city wouldn’t want to reap those kinds of benefits? We already know about the stonewalling in Ontario, despite the Rogers Communications giant being on board and the fact that underground fights are already being held on Indian reserves.

And Vancouver is similarly aligned. How else to explain a ridiculously one-sided story in Monday’s The Province newspaper with the inflammatory headline No to MMA: ‘It was the most uncivilized thing I have ever seen’.

Here the first gems from the story:

“From politicians to seniors to teachers, those opposed to the combat sport say it’s barbaric and ultra-violent, sending children the wrong message and glorifying violence at a time when Vancouver is trying to stop the growth of gangs.”

I won’t even go into the lame-brained implication the story makes by connecting MMA to gangs. I will say that the very next paragraph of the piece is a quote from one of those very critics, a random 80-year-old North Vancouver resident, who supplies the latter half of the story’s headline. I’m not sure the senior set is exactly the UFC’s demographic unless there’s a cage match involving Matlock and the old doll from Murder She Wrote.

Then, the writer looked around for someone in the martial arts community to comment and decides an aikido instructor would provide the right context and tone (namely to slam MMA). Aikido is one of the gentlest of all martial arts, with very little in terms of offensive techniques or competitive applications. It’s an art, in the truest sense. And the aikido instructor, Joel Posluns, says MMA has none of the honour emphasized in traditional martial arts and “reinforces the absolute worst part of our nature.”

I’m quite familiar with aikido and certainly it’s vastly different from any of the martial arts incorporated into MMA. But he’s a bit delusional, shortsighted, forgetful or ill-informed if he thinks that aikido or any other martial art wasn’t borne out of a need to beat up another person, whether in self defence or not. It’s quite easy to throw around glowing terms like honour when discussing the measured and rigid traditions of an art that is studied strictly within the confines of the modern dojo. Honour is not about the art but the artist, and the meeting of two warriors, whether on a 17th century Japanese battlefield or a 21st century octagon, is little different. A code exists and is adhered to and is respected.

And besides, has Posluns never watched a Steven Seagal movie? He’s responsible for popularizing aikido by using the “gentle” techniques in the most violent, limb-bending manner possible. People who train in glass dojos shouldn’t throw stones, especially if they’re stones they don’t really possess. Just a though.

August 31, 2009   No Comments

Marquardt is the Opie of MMA

A couple of vids with middleweight contender Nate Marquardt, including his pre-fight video blog and a post-fight interview from Saturday’s UFC 102. The post-fight one is especially interesting – he knocked out Demian Maia in 21 seconds just a few moments before in the biggest fight of his career, so you know the adrenaline and endorphins have have him jacked to the rafters, But you can’t tell from they way he talks, about as low key as you can get. Who knows, maybe he’s got a bong in the dressing room.

Oh, yeah. One other thing. I hate Mike Straka. He’s the Fox sports reporter conducting the interview. He asks dumb questions, seems easily distracted, and he’s always chewing gum. It makes him look like a skeezoid goombah Joe Pesci wannabe. Or a gameshow host.

August 31, 2009   No Comments

Silva sends a message and other UFC 102 results

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It didn’t look like much – a short left hook – but it was enough to drop Keith Jardine just 95 seconds into Saturday’s UFC 102 bout with Thiago Silva.

Jardine, awkward and ugly, was the early aggressor, until Silva seemed to figure out his opponent’s rhythm and land the kill shot for the TKO.

Silva moves to 14-1 with 12 wins via strikes. He’s also 5-1 in the UFC and now firmly back in the title picture despite just coming off a loss to light heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida in January. Jardine, meanwhile, suffered the first back-to-back losses of his career and owns a record of 14-6-1 (6-5 in the UFC) and will have to be content with being a gatekeeper to the crown and not a contender.

In other main card action, middleweight Chris Leben, who looks like Rorschach from the Watchmen, was choked unconscious mid-tap by three-time NCAA Division I wrestling champion and former WEC fighter Jake Rosholt in the third round. Rosholt won Submission of the Night and moves to 6-1 (1-1 in the UFC), while Leben, who was returning from a nine-month steroid suspension following UFC 89, is now 18-6 (8-5 in the UFC).

It was a Polish Experiment gone wrong as Krzysztof Soszynski lost a unanimous decision to light heavyweight Brandon Vera. The mostly stand-up affair favored Vera, a Muay Thai practitioner who picked apart his opponent from range and from within the clinch.

Vera, a former top heavyweight contender, is now 3-1 since dropping to light heavyweight in 2008. Vera’s overall record is 11-3 (7-3 in the UFC). Soszynski drops to 18-9-1 (3-1 in the UFC).

Undercard results:

Among the preliminary bouts, Todd Duffee scored the fastest knockout in UFC history, flattening heavyweight Tim Hague in just seven seconds. A knee injury gave Aaron Simpson the advantage as he beat Ed Herman via second-round TKO. Gabriel Gonzaga tried to punt Chris Tuchscherer’s goal post through the uprights to open the fight and when the fight restarted five minutes later Gonzaga finished what he started with an ugly beating that ended with a TKO half-way through the first stanza. Evan Dunham earned a split decision over Marcus Aurelio and Mark Munoz took a split decision from Nick Catone. Mike Russow pounded Justin McCully for three rounds to pick up the unanimous decision.

August 30, 2009   No Comments

Marquardt clowns Maia, wants title shot

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I feel badly for Demian Maia. He looked like a kid with a lost puppy after Nate Marquardt knocked him out just 21 seconds into Saturday’s UFC 102 showdown between the top middleweight contenders. The blast earned Marquardt the $60,000 Knockout of the Night bonus.

Maia is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu master who was 10-0 (5-0 in the UFC) prior to the bout. Getting the fight to the ground was his entire game plan, it just wasn’t supposed to be face first.

Marquardt only threw one punch and he timed his right hand perfectly, catching Maia in the face mid-kick and off-balance and sending the grappler airborne and spinning 180 degrees before crashing to the mat. Respect to Marquardt for recognizing that Maia was dazed and defenseless and not firing any more punches even before the referee stepped in.

While Maia heads back to the drawing board – some more striking classes are definitely in order – Marquardt looks ahead. Marquardt (29-8-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC) lost to middleweight champ Anderson Silva at UFC 73, so does the impressive defeat of Maia earn him a rematch or will UFC president Dana White have him fight Dan Henderson to determine who gets a shot at the title? I say make him fight Henderson next and let Silva play around at 205 pounds for another fight.

August 30, 2009   No Comments

Nogueira and Couture stage a classic battle

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Three rounds, 15 minutes, dozens of punches to the face and Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira’s expression changed only twice.

Once, in the first frame, he grimaced with exertion as he tried to submit five-time UFC champ and hall-of-famer Randy Couture with a darce choke. He couldn‘t. A round later, Big Nog’s face was again contorted as he tried to lock in an arm-in triangle choke. Again, he couldn’t. Except for those moments when he was close to putting Couture to sleep, Nog looked completely relaxed, even numb to the effects of the rock ‘em sock ‘em exchanges he and Couture engaged in on their feet.

There was no title on the line, but Saturday’s UFC 102 main event was one of the most-exciting, edge-of-your-seat heavyweight match-ups in years. Both came out swinging, the 33-year-old former Pride FC champion and the 46-year-old former UFC champion, warhorses showing everyone what it means to be a heavyweight chanpion, trading punches like baseball cards.

Any doubt about Nogueira’s chin after his (injury and illness-affected) loss to Frank Mir was erased as he absorbed the best of Couture’s dirty boxing and still kept pressing forward. Any doubt about Couture’s conditioning and the effects of Father Time were erased as he took everything Nogueira threw at him and fired right back and occasionally seemed to wobble his opponent. And while Nog dominated throughout the entire three rounds, at any moment I expected him to buckle from a Couture cross or uppercut. That didn’t happen, either.

Nogueira took the unanimous decision, reminding everybody he’s still a force in the heavyweight division (although I don’t see him being a threat to hulking champ Brock Lesnar). And Couture proved that he’s still got  fight left in him, announcing afterward his new six-fight, 28-month UFC contract.

Nogueira moved to 32-5-1 (3-1 in the UFC) with the win. Couture now stands at 16-10 (13-7 UFC), which includes a staggering 13 title fights in his past 15 bouts.

Deservedly, Nogueira and Couture each took home $60,000 for the Fight of the Night bonus. Definitely a classic, one for the ages.

August 30, 2009   No Comments

Fedor, Mousasi and King Mo make a disappointing Breakthrough

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Friday’s M-1 Global: Breakthrough card was a non-event top to bottom as the only firewoks of the HDNet broadcast was when they cut away to the launch of the space shuttle Discovery between bouts.

Sure, the headliner between heavyweights Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal and former Pride FC and UFC veteran Mark Kerr (a late replacement for MMA legend Don Frye) lasted just 25 seconds. But it was a dull and unimpressive 25 seconds.

Lawal, a former NCAA Division I All-American wrestler, shot for a single-leg takedown and – despite being outweighed by 44 pounds – slammed Kerr to the canvas. Kerr immediately turtled like a frightened schoolgirl and Lawal pounded away until the referee intervened. Lawal, now 5-0, showed me nothing more than speed and brute strength, and there’s plenty of that at every level of MMA, and had reason to slouch arrogantly against the ropes before the bout. Besides, Kerr isn’t exactly in his prime.

As for the exhibition match between training buddies Fedor Emelianenko and Strikeforce light heavyweight champ Gegard Mousasi, it was less entertaining than the average sparring session. Fedor tossed the Dutch-Armenian to the mat a few times and finally ended it with an armbar late in the first round.

The only other fight on the card (barely) of note was Karl Amoussou’s first-round submission of John Doyle. Amoussou’s only worth mentioning because he’s the fighter Wanderlei Silva once referred to as the “future of mixed martial arts.” If so, the future looks a little bleak.

August 29, 2009   No Comments

Mir offers less cock when it comes to Anderson Silva

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A couple of weeks ago it came out that UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva is interested in fighting Frank Mir at heavyweight. It’s a half-crazy “what if?” kind of scenarios that may never happen. Too bad, too, because Mir says he’d be happy to oblige Silva.

In an interview with Mir over on Sherdog, the heavyweight – who last lost to Brock Lesnar and next faces Cheick Kongo – says, “It would be a pleasure. It would be like saying you get to go in there and hit Tom Brady.”

That’s only the first of several entertaing things Mir has to say about the hypothetical match-up and how it might play out. And he’s surprisingly less cocky than he usually is, even tacitly acknowledging that he is one of the easier targets for Silva at heavyweight, in particular because Mir has “one of the weaker shots in the heavyweight division.”

I especially like that Mir wants to do it for the challenge, for the honour of stepping in against one of the best, the same as if they resurrected Bruce Lee and offered Mir a fight with him. “What if I lose? Who cares, man? Go to war, go to battle and get something out of it. Going into a fight with Anderson, I will gain things on a personal level.”

I have little interest in seeing Silva fight at heavyweight. There’s too much to settle and middleweight and light heavyweight for him to make yet another division jump. But Mir makes the hypothetical fight sound pretty entertaining.

August 29, 2009   No Comments

Maia needs to channel Wanderlei

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The most significant fight on Saturday’s UFC 102 card, the one with the biggest payoff for the winner and the most ramifications for its respective weight class, is the middleweight match-up between Demian Maia and Nate Marquardt.

While Dan Henderson would appear to be next in line to face champ Anderson Silva, UFC president Dana White isn’t ruling out either Maia or Marquardt getting a shot. Or perhaps the winner will fight Henderson to decide who gets a crack at Silva (which is what Silva says should happen).

And purely from a fan perspective, the opportunity to see Maia test his mondo jiu-jitsu mojo against his first truly top-class opponent is worth the price of admission.

Maia is the true heir to Royce Gracie, a pure Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner who’s garnished his world-class skill-set with a little striking (courtesy of Wanderlei Silva) and a touch of wrestling. Maia is a sport jiu-jitsu master – three-time World Cup champion, two-time World Champion, 2006 Pan-American champion, 2007 ADCC Submission Wrestling world champion – whose jiu-jitsu is just as lethal in MMA.

His record is 10-0 as a pro while his current 5-0 run in the UFC includes submission wins over Ryan Jensen, Ed Herman, Jason MacDonald, Nate Quarry and Chael Sonnen – all by either a triangle or rear-naked choke. Maia gets fights to the ground and from there it’s like watching a cat play with a mouse.

But he’s never faced anyone as well-rounded as Marquardt. The Greg Jackson-trained BJJ black belt and record seven-time King of Pancrase is 28-8-2 in MMA and 7-2 in the UFC. Among his UFC wins are Ivan Sallaverry, Martin Kampmann and Wilson Gouveia. Grappling champs Thales Leites and Dean Lister couldn’t submit him; neither could Joe Doerksen or Jeremy Horn, who have 82 submission victories between them. His only octagon losses were to Anderson Silva at UFC 73 (no shame there) and Leites at UFC 85, who eked out a split decision after Marquardt was deducted two points for a controversial illegal strike.

Marquardt has strong stand-up – he ran through Kampmann like he had a cab waiting for him and dispatched Gouveia with some serious Mortal Kombat moves – and he’s also significantly larger than the rather ordinary-sized Maia.

I’d love for Maia to win – I almost always root for the jiu-jitsu fighter over the striker – but so far he’s proven to be very one-dimensional in the cage. And Marquardt is very, very three-dimensional.

The thing that worries me is whether or not Maia possesses the killer instinct, the shark-smelling-blood attack mode needed to finish big fights. He’s even said he doesn’t want to hurt people, which is why he loves jiu-jitsu. He can make opponents tap or nap without making them bleed. I respect that, but can he win fights at the top of the food chain if he’s not willing to bare his fangs?

With Marquardt using his size, strength and superior striking to dictate where the fight takes place, Maia is going to have to summon his inner Wanderlei, eat some punches, throw some punches, get this fight to the mat. And if he can do that, if he can weather the early storm Marquardt is sure to throw at him, then he can start to play his game, work in is dimension and tap out another win.

August 28, 2009   No Comments

Mighty Morphin MMA fighter

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Another lighthearted post on this Friday afternoon. So lighthearted I can’t believe I’m actually writing it. Ah well…MMA Weekly has a story on Jason David Frank trying to break into mixed martial arts. Frank played the Green Ranger in the manga-inspired chop-socky kids show Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

He’s added a BJJ blue belt to his arsenal of fancy kicks and he’s training with UFC lightweight Melvin Guillard. He doesn’t have a fight lined up yet and blah blah blah. The story plays it straight and I can’t think of a decent joke or smart-ass comment (although I know one is staring me straight in the face).

August 28, 2009   No Comments

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