musings on mixed martial arts, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai and all things mano-a-mano
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Posts from — August 2011

What to do with Anderson Silva, Shogun Rua and Big Nog?

I’ll get to Anderson Silva closing the book on the middleweight division in a second. First, I want to talk about the other two big fights at UFC 134 on Saturday, namely Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Forrest Griffin and Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira vs. Brendan Schaub.

Shogun is not back, so stop saying it. One win does not mean he’s “back.” He looked good-but-not-great in pounding a very distracted Forrest Griffin senseless (not to make excuses but Griffin found out the day of the fight that his wife back in the U.S. had gone into labour).

I’m sure it was very satisfying to avenge his previous loss to Griffin, itself an embarrassment. It was a solid win for the former champ, who appeared in better shape than he did in his loss to belt-holder Jon Jones. And nobody pounces at the smell of blood quite the way Shogun does. My head hurts just thinking of the way he hammerfisted Griffin’s melon off the mat like a paddle ball. But Forrest Griffin, distracted or not, is not Jon Jones. Or Rashad Evans. Or Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Or Lyoto Machida. Or any of three or four other top contenders at 205. Griffin’s been broken since Silva embarrassed him at UFC 101, making him gunshy and it shows. He admits he fights to put food on the table and diapers on his new kid, but now that he’s earned enough money to not even worry about that any more, what’s left to drive him? A threepeat with Tito Ortiz?

As for Shogun, he needs a win – a decisive win – over one of those aforementioned fighters before any talk of him being “back” should be bandied about. How about Shogun squaring off with Dan Henderson? I know Hendo is likely next for Anderson Silva, but this match-up is more interesting.

If anyone’s back, it might be Big Nog, who at 35 looks like 50 and staved off forced retirement in his 40th fight on Saturday. He overcame an 18-month layoff and multiple surgeries on each knee and one hip to level Brendan Schaub and end his four-fight winning streak and pretty much shock everybody. Nogueira withstood some solid shots and head-bobbed on a few others before backing Schaub against the cage and finishing him. It was Nogueira’s first win since decisioning Randy Couture almost two years ago to the day. The question now, though, is who does Nogueira face next?

Okay, Anderson Silva. Simply put, there is no one better. There has never been anyone better. And his display against Yushin Okami? How to describe it – he goes from hyper Mortal Kombat mode one second to ducking and weaving with his hands at his side Muhammad Ali-style the next. And the scary thing is, when Silva’s hands drop that’s when he’s truly dangerous, that’s when you know he has his opponent solved and that he feels no threat and the ending is as inevitable as a sunrise. Imagine being Okami, a heavy puncher who was supposed to shove Silva against the cage and rough him up, and watching Silva stand in front of you, hands down, chin exposed, daring you to hit him – and then not being able to do it.

Fedor Emelianenko used to be the unequivocal greatest of all time, but not any more. Not even close. Coincidentally, they both have 31-4 records (ignoring Fedor’s one no contest). But Silva hasn’t lost in more than five years (the infamous up-kick DQ against Okami), and hasn’t legitimately lost since Ryo Chonan pulled off a Hail Mary flying scissor heel hook in 2004. And he’s fought more top-calibre fighters as his career goes on, not fewer. And he’s two years older than Fedor.

But Silva’s success, his utter decimation of the 185-pound division, has created a huge problem for the UFC. He has rendered the division the most exciting in all of MMA – but only when Silva is in the cage. The rest of the time it’s just two middleweights battling for the opportunity to be embarrassed by the champ. So what to do? A permanent more up to 205 and an encounter with Jon Jones at some point seems likely (assuming Jones can keep his belt out of Rashard Evans’ hands, which I’m not convinced will happen). Although UFC boss Dana White is now admitting that a super-fight with welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre, the only other fighter with a legitimate claim to being the world’s pound-for-pound best, could happen sooner rather than later. Fans want to see it and White enjoys giving them what they want all the way to the bank.

August 29, 2011   No Comments

New UFC on Fox promo fails to deliver the goods

I’m excited about the UFC’s deal with Fox. And I love this promo – right up until it starts in with the UFC clips. These are the best highlights they could come up with to showcase the sport? I just watched it moments ago and all I recall is a Lyoto Machida front kick, GSP bowing and a whole lot of Brock Lesnar’s glaring mug. I know Lesnar’s still the biggest name in the sport (among non-MMA fans), but come on. How about showing some truly great finishes, some dynamic striking combinations (e.g. light heavyweight champ Jon Jones), maybe a cool (and easy to recognize) submission? Nothing too bloody, nothing to grapply, lest they confuse non-fans and offend their NASCAR-loving homophobic viewers. But something better than this. Because this, this doesn’t show that the UFC deserves to be alongside the Super Bowl in a promo.

August 22, 2011   No Comments

Report: Shawn Tompkins died of a heart attack

MMA trainer and Team Tompkins top dog Shawn Tompkins died of a heart attack, according to his brother-in-law Sam Stout, who confirmed the news with the London Free Press. Tompkins, 37, died in his sleep Sunday. An autopsy was performed Monday although those results have not been made official. Meanwhile, thoughts about Tompkins, both the person and the MMA trainer, have been flooding the internet. For my part, I’ll just direct you to a remembrance piece by “Showdown” Joe Ferraro, who knew “The Coach” pretty well.

August 16, 2011   No Comments

Video: the return of Kimbo Slice

Kimbo Slice may be gone from MMA – for lack of a ground game, takedown defense and other skills – but he’s still fighting. He made his pro boxing debut against 39-year-old (and 0-2) fighter James Wade.

Yet here is my favourite slice of Kimbo:

August 16, 2011   No Comments

Video: Injuries happen, but do we need to watch the replay?

A couple of weeks ago I witnessed a cringe-inducing limb-mangling at the Copa Ontario jiu-jitsu tournament hosted by my club, Toronto BJJ. It was entirely unintentional and a complete fluke. I don’t recall ever seeing anyone win a match simply by pulling guard but it happened. I know that the competitor who caused the injury, FW’s Jesse Katz, felt horrible afterward.

I happened to catch the match with my iPhone and posted the video on Toronto BJJ’s Facebook pages, which sparked a bit of a debate among a few from the club, to wit: posting the video puts BJJ (and by extension Toronto BJJ) in a poor light and misrepresents the beauty of the martial art.

I say it’s no big deal, that these kinds of “man gets hit in groin with football” type videos are a dime a dozen and we all watch them, that if the video had been from another tournament no one would be complaining, that sure BJJ is a beautiful martial art but it is a martial art and injuries happen and you have to expect that so nut up or shut up. I mean, how many times have you been injured playing sports, and how many times have you turned that injury – a black eye, broken nose, dislocated shoulder – into a war story, something that you’re actually sheepishly proud of? So, what do you think? Was posting the video a bad idea?

And in an effort to erase that injury from your mind, I give you this. Just skip ahead to the 1:18 mark and turn the volume up.

August 16, 2011   No Comments

Video: Inside Stefan Struve’s and Pat Barry’s training camps

August 10, 2011   No Comments

Fedor Emelianenko could learn something from Matt Hamill

A lot of fighters could learn a lesson from Matt Hamill. No, not how to take a beating. I’m pretty sure that’s not something that can be taught. Following his second-round TKO loss to Alexander Gustaffson on Saturday’s UFC 133 undercard, Hamill announced he was hanging up the gloves. His body just couldn’t take the punishment after 14 pro MMA bouts, and I’m sure the realization that he was never going to get a title shot, that his toolbox is limited and that getting punched just isn’t a fun way to earn a living also played a part in his decision.

If only Fedor Emelianenko would bow out as gracefully instead of clinging to the cage after his most-recent loss and subsequent dismissal from Strikeforce. He’s accomplished far more than Hamill, fought in more than twice as many battles and taken an immeasurable amount of damage. He’s also earned worldwide acclaim (within MMA circles) and banked enough cash to buy half of Russia. Isn’t it time he step away, with a little class, and not embarrass himself further?

August 10, 2011   No Comments

Fedor Emelianenko joins the unemployment line with Alistair Overeem

It’s no surprise that Strikeforce has cut Fedor Emelianenko following his third straight loss. UFC boss (and confirmed Fedor hater) Dana White made the announcement during today’s UFC 133 press conference while declaring once again that he thought the former pound-for-pound greatest has been over-rated for years.

I’m not sure Fedor was ever over-rated, although it’s clear he’s not the fighter he used to be and his legend has certainly been tarnished. Or rather, he’s exactly the fighter he used to be while everyone else has evolved. Still, you can’t tell me that he doesn’t deserve a place on the Strikeforce roster, even if it’s on the undercard or better yet, as part of some crazy old school super fight. It’s not like the promotion has a lot of big names with fan recognition. Of course, this is just the latest step towards Strikeforce’s demise, which I alluded to yesterday.

August 4, 2011   No Comments

UFC 133 set to rock you like a hurricane

UFC 133 leaves me in the uncomfortable spot of rooting for Rashad Evans, whose smugness grates like nails on a chalkboard, or Tito Ortiz, about whom enough vitriol has been spewed already. So I’ll just pretend that the card culminates with the co-main event, featuring Antonio Banderas and Chia Hui Liu, er, Vitor Belfort and Yoshihiro Akiyama. Then again, if the card can live up to the hype of this promo video – created as a Zuffa in-house joke before being released to go viral – then I will be pleasantly surprised. Nice to see somebody over there has a sense of humour about these things.

August 3, 2011   No Comments

The death knell for women’s MMA? For Strikeforce?

How much longer will women’s MMA have a home in Strikeforce? How much longer will Strikeforce even exist? The writing’s on the wall.

Just look at the recent cuts the promotion has made, most notably former 135-pound champ Marloes Coenen, who lost her belt to Miesha Tate on Saturday, and Alistair Overeem, the promotion’s heavyweight champ (who gets the boot over a contract dispute of some kind and thus makes a mockery of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix). Those are big fish in a very small Strikeforce sea. Add to that the loss of welterweight champ Nick Diaz, who’s off to the UFC to challenge Georges St. Pierre, and Cung Le, who says he’s only interested in fighting for the UFC if he ever fights again. Really, how can we take Strikeforce seriously any more?

And the biggest loss when Dana White finally does take Strikeforce out behind the barn to shoot it is to women’s MMA, which currently doesn’t have a high-profile home. And with White adamantly against bringing women into the UFC unless they’re wearing booty shorts and carrying a numbered card, that doesn’t leave too many options or much of a future. Which is too bad, considering that women’s MMA has delivered some of the most-exciting fights in the sport in the last 12 months and is only now really starting to come into its own in terms of depth and breadth of talent and personality. Just when it’s starting to gain some traction among fans who never would have taken “girl fighting” seriously, it looks like it won’t have a promotion to stand on.

August 3, 2011   No Comments

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