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

UFC 135 was the “nothing to see here” of MMA events as Jones retains title and some other stuff happened

Boring. That’s how UFC 135 unspooled on Saturday in the thin air of Denver. Not a single shock or surprise. Not an exciting finish. You know it’s a problem when Ben Rothwell’s punch-drunk zombie stagger is the most entertaining moment on a card.

Jon Jones did as expected and held onto his light heavyweight belt. Granted, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson hung with the champ longer than most expected, chasing Jones around the cage throwing haymakers. But it was still a four-round schooling that demonstrated that Jones is indeed a lot like middleweight champ Anderson Silva, for better and for worse, from dynamic striking to ridiculous clowning (what, exactly, was the monkey kung fu stance he used at the beginning of round one?).

As a fighter, his stock has never been higher. I can’t think of anyone at 205 pounds who can beat Jones. But I don’t like his attitude; I don’t like the showboating. We already have one Anderson Silva and one is plenty. In fact, let’s pit Silva against Jones. It’s time. Sure, Jones could use a little more seasoning, a couple of more title defenses, a couple of more four- and -five-round battles, but Silva’s not getting any younger. The time is now to make this fight happen. Forget Silva vs. Georges St. Pierre. Silva vs. Jones is the only superfight we need to see.

In the co-main event, Josh Koscheck showed why Matt Hughes should retire. Koscheck is younger, stronger, faster and more skilled. Hughes is an old dog who hasn’t learned any new tricks, an old dog who got knocked out with one second on the clock in the first round. Further down the card, Mark Hunt beat up a heavily gassed Rothwell for three full rounds in a comical brawl that delivered more laughs than a week of sitcoms. Travis Browne’s decision win over Rob Broughton was unfunny and unmemorable in every sense and Nate Diaz pulled off a slick armbar submission over Takanori Gomi that should’ve impressed any jiu-jitsu fan. But that’s it. No fireworks. No “holy shit” moments. No upsets. At no point did I think, “I need to see that again.”

In the end, UFC 135 will go down as just another card, just another event in a string of too many events without any lasting impact or significance or meaning. Yes, it had Jon Jones defending his title for the first time, and I guess that’s in some small way historic. And it was probably the last time we’ll see Matt Hughes in the octagon, as everyone, including UFC boss Dana White, expects him to retire. But the match, and the loss to Koscheck, will be more of a trivia question than an historic footnote.

What’s really missing, though, is that a day later and I’m at a loss to recall anything particularly memorable about any of the fights (other than Jones’s antics and Rampage being choked out). And I have little desire to rehash them in any way, to analyse what happened, where game plans went awry, or what it will mean for future match=ups.

September 25, 2011   No Comments

The two Jakes take a backseat to the big dick

I’d like to say I’m surprised that Jake Shields lost to Jake Ellenberger on Saturday, that a knee to his face followed by his face on the mat after just 53 seconds wasn’t predictable.

Yes, it was the first time Shields has been stopped in 11 years, but it comes just a month after the death of his father and I’m sure that must have had a devastating effect on his training camp and his emotional state leading up to and during the fight. Yes, Shields chose to fight and that’s admirable, but there’s no way that Shields was 100 percent and the loss will only be a speed bump in his career. Not to take anything away from Ellenberger, who came in, did what he needed to do and is now a win (or so) away from a shot at the welterweight title.

Of course, few people are really talking about Shields’ loss or Saturday’s UFC generally, not when Floyd Mayweather Jr. upstages everybody with a sucker-punch victory POW! over Victor Ortiz to retain his title, his ranking as the best pound-for-pound boxer and his reputation as the biggest dick in the sport.

The display of dickery comes after Ortiz nails Mayweather with an illegal head butt, for which he was docked a point. Ortiz leans in to apologize, and the two seem about to hug it out when Mayweather pops Ortiz with a left and right – you can clearly see Mayweather mouth “Pow” with the first shot – while the referee, who did a piss-poor job restarting the fight, is looking elsewhere. It was clearly retaliation for the head butt, clearly a cheap shot, and he can talk about “protect yourself at all times” all he wants, it doesn’t make him less of a dick. But I guess that’s Chinatown.

September 19, 2011   No Comments

Video: New MMA league will kick UFC in the balls

September 15, 2011   No Comments

Bruce Lee promotes Bellator

This is a pretty compelling promo for Bellator’s fifth season. Of course, it’s all about the Bruce Lee narration. He would make any fight video seem cooler than it actually is. If only the fighters were better. Maybe that’ll change once the promotion moves from MTV2 to Spike TV.

September 8, 2011   No Comments

Nick Diaz makes a mess, leaving Dana White to clean it up

Can anyone say they’re really shocked that Nick Diaz no-showed for several important media obligations to promote his UFC 137 title bout with champ Georges St. Pierre? Can anyone say they’re really shocked that UFC boss Dana White pulled the plug on Diaz as a result, benching him at the eleventh hour and replacing him with (a very deserving) Carlos Condit? Can anyone disagree when I say that Diaz is a punk who deserves what he’s getting?

Just listen to his on-the-fly “apology” for not making it to the “beauty pageant.” He hardly sounds contrite. And he has the temerity to say that he’ll fight anybody anywhere. Umm, how about GSP at UFC 137? Oh, right, you couldn’t be bothered to get on a plane for a couple of press conferences to promote the bout. So instead you’re going to go off and box, where you’ll cash a few paychecks and crush a few cans but that’s about it. Or maybe White will light him fight again, eventually; he hasn’t decided.

Meanwhile, GSP has to adjust his training for a new opponent, one who also happens to have a coach named Greg Jackson. GSP says that Jackson won’t be cornering him on fight night, apparently. Condit, who destroyed both Dong Hyun Kim and Dan Hardy, whom GSP couldn’t finish, will have to do some adjusting as well. And then there’s the matter of letting BJ Penn know he’ll no longer be fighting Condit, resulting in one “seriously pissed off Hawaiian.”

It’s a welterweight clusterfuck, plain and simple. But hey, that’s cool, Nick. You do what you wanna do.

September 8, 2011   No Comments

Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem set for 5-round main event Dec. 30

I’d hope to see Brock Lesnar face Alistair Overeem as the headliner for December’s UFC 140 in Toronto. Or perhaps as the main event on the first Fox card, but that’ll be another monster match-up with Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos. So I’ll settle for Lesnar and Overeem on December 30 in Vegas.

Of course with Lesnar’s health issues, including having 12 inches removed from his colon, it’s a surprise to see him back in the cage at all. Rather, it will be a surprise; he’s not in there just yet. Likewise, given Overeem’s falling out with Zuffa brass over his Strikeforce contract it’s a bit of a shock to see him on a UFC card so soon. Rather, it will be.

Now the armchair coaching begins: How will the fight between Lesnar, a wrestler who hates to get hit, and Overeem, one of the world’s best strikers, play out?

September 6, 2011   No Comments

A plea to see Warrior

I fear over-praising this movie might result in either too-high expectations or a complete dismissal of my opinion as mere hyperbole. Regardless, Warrior is a muscular testosterone-driven drama that’s as fist-pumpingly satisfying as the original Rocky. I’d go so far as to say that it’s deeper and more heartfelt than Rocky and it deftly avoids the cliches and cartoonishness of the sequels (and of the entire underdog sports genre altogether).

Warrior is emotionally raw and visceral and utterly alive with conflict and pathos and suffering on an all-too-human level. It is also a fight film par excellence and contains the most brutally realistic teeth-loosening, rib-cracking fights ever seen in a Hollywood movie. Not surprisingly, all of the body blows exchanged by the characters, by stars Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy, are 100 percent real and you can tell when they land and how hard. The clip above, which is a slightly shortened version of the full fight scene, shows Hardy in action, a hand grenade with a singular purpose – to go off before the other guy. The story – two estranged brothers and their even more estranged alcoholic father, all with a penchant for punching and kicking – grabs you in a plum clinch and doesn’t let go until the closing credits.

Dammit, I just wish the trailer didn’t use the line about the two men in the final of the tournament being brothers – not because it gives away a major plot point because it’s pretty much a given that the two brothers will face each other and besides, it’s how that fight plays out that matters; I hate that line in the trailer because it reinforces the perception that this is a cheesy predictable and unbelievable underdog sports movie when nothing could be further from the truth. This isn’t like any other MMA movie. It’s not Never Back Down, it’s not those horrible Hector Echavarria-produced crapfests. This is a fight movie with an arthouse feel. It has substance and character and emotional depth and it digs into the story in a very real and intimate way. In 1977, Warrior would have won the Academy Award, not Rocky. And I love Rocky.

Here’s what I wrote on Facebook an hour after seeing the film two weeks ago:

“Just saw Warrior and I am pumped. This is the real deal, folks. An MMA movie worth the price of admission. Better than The Fighter. Almost as good as the original Rocky. Maybe as good [Ed. note: having just rewatched Rocky recently for the billionth time I can state with certainty that Warrior is the better film, in terms of story, in terms of fight scenes, in terms of depth and emotion and the way it grabs the audience, but Rocky got there first and that counts for a lot]. It’s not just about fighting (although it delivers the most-realistic MMA fight scenes this side of a real fight).

This isn’t Never Back Down. This isn’t some spiffed-up Channing Tatum vehicle. This isn’t a straight-to-Netflix cheapo cage fighting flick starring Rampage Jackson and BJ Penn and GSP. This is not like any MMA movie you’ve ever seen. In fact, it’s not really an MMA movie at all – don’t worry, there’s plenty of MMA in the movie, and it’s brutal and unHollywood, and it is ostensibly about two brothers competing in a major tournament.

But the story isn’t really about MMA and isn’t about sports, although it’s very much about fighting, the kind of fighting we do with those closest to us, the kind we do within ourselves. It’s about brotherly love, and brotherly hate, and bad parents and old wounds and responsibility and family and a lousy economy. Tom Hardy gives a clenched fist of a performance, a wounded animal that evokes young Brando in On the Waterfront; Joel Edgerton, who looks like the lovechild of Matt Hughes and Conan O’Brien, is real and truthful and subtle and easily holds his own, as his is the tougher, less-flashy role; and Nick Nolte, well I just love Nick (ask me sometime about being in bed with Nick). Sure, there’s some improbabilities, but when aren’t there in sports movies? Thankfully, the cliches are few, the predictability is low, and everything just works. I cannot wait to see it again.”

September 1, 2011   No Comments

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