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Posts from — May 2011

Rampage is no Kevin Costner

Only slightly more painful than Saturday’s UFC 130, this Funny or Die clip featuring Quinton “Rampage” Jackson reminds me that his acting career will consist primarily or roles that 50 Cent turned down.

May 30, 2011   No Comments

Trailer: Hamill looks like Rudy-meets-The Miracle Worker

The trailer for Hamill, the movie about deaf UFC fighter Matt Hamill, who faces Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at UFC 130, raises all kinds of red flags. It’s produced by Tapout, which makes shiny commercials for ugly T-shirts, and directed by Oren Kaplan, who previously worked on TV series I <3 Vampires and Electric Spoofaloo. At least the actor playing Hamill, Russell Harvard, is actually deaf, although I’ve no idea if he can actually wrestle.

There’s also no sign of any MMA in the trailer (beyond the Rich Franklin cameo as a wrestling coach), indicating that either the story remains in Hallmark Hall of Fame territory with its Rudy-meets-The Miracle Worker underdog-overcoming-adversity story or they’re hiding the fighting from the family folks they perceive as the film’s audience while ignoring any chance of catching on with MMA fans who might actually care about this movie.

May 18, 2011   No Comments

Chuck Liddell and Al Bundy share some wine, thoughts on fighting

The interesting thing about this interview, besides the laid back restaurant locale and the presence of BJJ black belt Al Bundy, er, Ed O’Neill, comes at the 2:30 mark when Chuck Liddell admits he’d still be fighting if he could still take a punch. This is the first time I recall hearing Liddell admit that he could no longer take a punch, something everybody but Liddell could see going back to his KO loss to Rashad Evans.

May 18, 2011   No Comments

Video: Hector Lombard snipping Falaniko Vitale’s strings at Bellator 44

There’s something about the way Falaniko Vitale reacts to Bellator middleweight champ Hector Lombard’s right hook, the way his body drops, immediately tries to stand and then realizes it better sit down, that is both brutal and comical. Definitely a highlight of last weekend’s Bellator 44.

May 17, 2011   No Comments

UFC Twitter twits

The UFC’s decision to reward fighters for tweeting – upwards of $240,000 a year based on number of followers and quality/creativity of tweets – is a mistake.

Sure, it seems like a good idea to encourage fighters to improve their social media presence and perhaps attract more fans. But if you read the stuff that’s being posted – the current war of words between Jon Jones and Rashad Evans, for example – then you’ll quickly realize there’s very little value in what’s being offered. Of course, the same can be said for Twitter in general. And yes, I’ll admit that there is an audience for this kind of schoolyard sniping just as there is for the latest tweet from Kanye West or Lindsay Lohan.

But what about the more serious ramifications? What if a fighter tweeted his opposition to gay marriage, for example, as a Rogers Sportsnet on-air personality did just last week? Even though Damian Goddard was using his personal account, he was still fired because it reflected badly on his employer.

By offering monetary incentives for tweeting, the UFC is now making tweeting part of the job expectations, just like fighting and just like personal appearances. That means the promotion can no longer wash its hands of a fighter’s comments by saying they have nothing to do with the promotion. In essence, the UFC is setting up an employer-employee relationship that extends beyond whatever fight contract exists. Fighters are now tweeting on behalf of the UFC, which makes the UFC culpable for every “eat a dick” insult that gets crafted in 140 characters.

So unless the UFC’s social media training extends beyond “don’t say stupid things,” and let’s be honest, the UFC loves it when fighters engage in bullshit bravado to hype rivalries, then they could be in for a rude awakening when fans take exception to some of the sexist, racist and homophobic comments that get made. And they will get made.

May 17, 2011   No Comments

Quinton Jackson is finished in MMA

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is done as a professional fighter. He won’t beat Matt Hamill at UFC 130 next week, and he may not win another fight after that. He most certainly won’t contend for the light heavyweight title ever again (unless the division suddenly becomes as injury-plagued as the heavyweight division, in which case Rampage will get a title shot sometime after Tito Ortiz does). How do I know? Just look at what he’s said in recent interviews:

“I’ve always said I’ll retire when I’m 35. I don’t want to fight past 35. There are young guys coming in and doing good. I’ve been fighting for a long time and it’s no secret that I don’t fight the same way I used to.

“I’ve got a lot of injuries, one or two things that bother me. But when I’m fighting, the injuries don’t bother me, it’s the training that gets old. Going through each camp I go through all these pains and think, ‘Man I don’t want to do this anymore’. But after the fight I say, ‘OK, I’ll give it one more’. So who knows?

I’ll tell you who knows, Quentin, you do. You’ve all but thrown in the towel by admitting to weakness and doubt and a desire to retire (and make A-Team sequels and such). That’s not the talk of a champion. That’s not the talk of a winner. That’s not the talk of someone still hungry to fight, still motivated by getting in the cage and pounding the snot out of a fellow human being.

And he’s right: he doesn’t fight the same way as he used to, with the same ferocity, the same stand-and-bang, take-a-knee-to-deliver-a-slam aggressiveness . The slide started not with his skin-of-his-teeth win over Lyoto Machida, or even with his loss to Rashad Evans, but back in 2008 when he couldn’t get past Forrest Griffin, which led to his infamous hit-and-run driving spree and arrest that was later blamed (at least in part) to his being buzzed out of his skull on energy drinks. He’s literally been out of the game mentally since then, and it doesn’t look like he’ll ever check back in.

May 16, 2011   No Comments

Trailer: Never Back Down 2: Electric Boogaloo

I love martial arts movies, from Bloodsport to Best of the Best to just about anything starring Chuck Norris or Steven Seagal (seriously), and of course, the Chinese triad of Bruce Lee, Jet Li and Donnie Yen. But I really hate MMA movies. Too many gravity-defying wushu and capoeira moves, too many lame Rocky storylines, too many bad actors. That goes for Never Back Down 2: Even Back Downier.

The first movie was The OC-meets-UFC, and I pretty much despised it. Now, the straight-to-shlockbuster sequel brings us more teens with after-school-special attitude problems. And they’re even more forgettable than the kids from the first movie, if that’s possible. And I can’t stand director and star Michael Jai White (I couldn’t be happier that his scenes in Kill Bill volume II were left on the cutting room floor).

Of course, it’s got the requisite legit MMA personalities to try to give it some cred: UFC lug Todd Duffee, Chuck Liddell’s grappling coach Scott Epstein and Lyoto Machida, who appears doing a karate kata (how much you want to bet that Machida is only in that one scene?). Oh yeah, and I’m pretty sure that’s Eddie Bravo as the DJ, if that means anything.

May 16, 2011   4 Comments

Jon Jones won’t need surgery, which is good news for an injury-riddled UFC

I don’t know if newly minted UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones was using his hand injury as an excuse to duck former teammate Rashad Evans. I highly doubt that’s the case (no matter how Evans will spin it).

But there’s something weird about Jones saying he needs surgery to repair chronic tearing in the webbing between his thumb and index finger and then two or three doctors’ opinions later realizing that nope, he won’t need surgery after all and will be ready to fight in a few months (or roughly when he would’ve faced Evans in his first title defense). Could just be miscommunication, could be mismanagement – Bloody Elbow’s Brent Brookhouse makes a good point when he wonders why Team Jones announced he was having surgery before it was even booked. Could be a simple mistake.

But with the likes of Cain Velasquez, Brock Lesnar, Jon Fitch, Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard all in dry dock for repairs, that’s a costly mistake for the UFC. It means a lot of UFC talent not being talented. With so many cards coming up – and the Dana White-driven demand that the promotion always try to top the last one and the last one being the biggest event of the past two years – having Jones (or any of the top fighters) in a phantom zone of can he/can’t he compete is bad for business. It’s especially bad when it’s Jones, though, because he has yet to establish himself as a drawing power and brand among casual UFC watchers. The UFC needs him back in action ASAP and against a top contender with marquee value so he can have a little of it rub off on him.

May 13, 2011   No Comments

Brock Lesnar’s illness throws UFC heavyweight division into turmoil. Again

Let the speculation begin. Now that Brock Lesnar has had a flare-up of diverticulitis, forcing him from his UFC 131 meeting with Junior dos Santos, the heavyweight division has been destabilized. Shane Carwin has stepped up to replace Lesnar against dos Santos, and props to him for taking the fight on 30 days’ notice when he had been expected to have an easy return from his own illness with UFC newcomer Jon Olav Einemo. The winner of dos Santos vs. Carwin still gets a shot at champ Cain Velasquez, who’s sidelined with a shoulder injury until the end of the year. In the meantime, Lesnar’s future is up in the air. Again. Who knows if he’ll ever be back. And the build-up and hype generated from The Ultimate Fighter, what little of it there is, will amount to nothing, a big fat fizzle. As if I need another reason not to catch up on the last couple of episodes of the show.

May 12, 2011   2 Comments

Frankie Edgar vs.Gray Maynard III off due to injuries is a reminder how lucky we’ve been

The cancellation of the Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard lightweight title bout from UFC 130 later this month due to injuries to both fighters is hugely disappointing. It puts much of the lightweight division on hold - Anthony Pettis, who is due a title shot, was offered a chance to replace Edgar until Maynard also got hurt, returning Pettis to his original match-up with Clay Guida at The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale. And now we’re now stuck with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs. Matt Hamill as the main event and the far more fascinating (from an entertainment value perspective) Frank Mir vs. Roy “Big Country” Nelson as the co-headliner.

All of which serves to remind me how lucky we were that UFC 129 remained such a stacked card. At any moment during the weeks and days leading up to the event I expected an injury to wreak havoc with the event. After all, the UFC was tempting fate with two title fights. Instead, everything went off (mostly) as planned and we were treated to one of the best cards in the promotion’s history.

All of which serves to remind me to be thankful for what we’re given. So, Rampage, Hamill, Big Country and Mir… I can live with that.

May 10, 2011   1 Comment

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