Posts from — October 2011
The Nick Diaz crazy train has now left the tracks, spilling boxcars across the UFC welterweight division. After beating BJ Penn like a pinata at UFC 137 on Saturday, Diaz – always capable with the words, if not the complete sentences – called out welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre, or as Diaz referred to him, “that motherfucker.”
Diaz claimed GSP was ducking him, that it was GSP who got him kicked from their originally scheduled title fight and that GSP is now faking an injury to avoid having to ever face him. Ludicrous accusations, but it’s par for the course for Diaz, who is used to backing up his words with his fists and not, you know, facts or reasoning or anything resembling rational thought.
In response, GSP has asked to fight Diaz on the February 4 Superbowl weekend card instead of Carlos Condit, having told UFC boss Dana White that Diaz is “the most disrespectful human being I’ve ever met, and I’m going to put the worst beating you’ve ever seen on him in the UFC.” And White has complied: GSP vs. Nick Diaz is now three months away.
While I appreciate GSP’s sentiment — hell, I cheer it like a Spring Break wet T-shirt contest — I’m disappointed that GSP took the bait. What’s worse, it’s cost Condit a title shot, which strikes me as more than merely unfortunate. GSP has taken away a title shot from a deserving fighter, which doesn’t jibe with his usual squeaky clean image of doing what is right and respecting other fighters. Not that I blame him for wanting to face his original opponent and to shut him up. That’s only human, in a male ego-caveman-testosteroney kind of way.
It’s more ridiculous to allow Diaz to dictate through his actions the course of the welterweight division. During the post-fight press conference, Diaz says that he has to be the bad guy just to get a fight, apparently ignoring the fact that he had the fight with GSP until his immaturity and unprofessionalism stripped him of that opportunity. Check out Roy Nelson’s reaction in the video when Diaz says this; you can tell he’s not impressed with Diaz’s attitude and can barely hide his incredulity at the brazenness, arrogance and ignorance on display. But it doesn’t matter in Diaz World.
Let’s get one thing straight: I would love to see GSP face Nick Diaz. After his beatdown of former two-division champ BJ Penn, who really offered nothing in the way of offense (or defense) against Diaz and is now considering retiring (or not), it’s hard to argue that Diaz isn’t a top contender deserving of a title shot. And I look forward to seeing GSP beat Diaz to a bloody pulp, and perhaps, after a string of less-than-spectacular title defenses in which the contenders were still standing at the final bell, this might be precisely what GSP needs to motivate him to not only finish an opponent but obliterate him, to drive him against the cage, to drop him on his ass and to beat on him in a relentless and cruel fashion.
But at what cost? Diaz, who lost his first title shot because he skipped media obligations, was immediately given another fight, against Penn, on the very same card. Now, he has cost Carlos Condit, who was pulled from the Penn fight to replace Diaz, a title shot of his own. Condit will still fight on the February card (against an undetermined opponent), and if he wins he will get the next next title shot. But he’s not happy about it and who can blame him?
Diaz has proven he’s a spoiled brat whose temper tantrums are rewarded by big daddy Dana. Dana sends him to his room only to buy him a treat. It’s ridiculous. Yes, I want to see GSP and Diaz in a cage, but I’d like to see some professionalism among the fighters who represent the sport that White wants to make the biggest in the world. It doesn’t matter to the same degree when athletes in other sports like basketball and football behave unprofessionally because those sports are already well-established in the mainstream. No one’s called the NFL “human cockfighting,” no one thinks of the NBA as a bloodsport, parents aren’t worried about putting their kids in Little League or letting them watch the World Cup. As long as MMA is perceived in this fashion – which, among some people, will be forever — then the athletes of MMA and its largest organization, the UFC, must behave appropriately.
On a smaller scale that fans can relate to, the fighters must be made to uphold a standard and not rewarded for bad behaviour. What Dana White has done, first by giving Diaz the Penn fight instead of giving him a real punishment and then by giving him a second shot at the GSP fight instead of giving him any punishment (or at least ignoring his in-cage call-out and waiting until after the Condit fight to assure him of a tile shot), he’s sent a message to his fighters that’s loud and clear: If you don’t like the fights we offer, act like an asshole on live TV and you’ll get what you want — as long as you win nothing else matters. Except something else should matter. Until it does, the UFC will never compete alongside the big boys in professional sports.
October 31, 2011 No Comments
Quick picks for UFC 137, a card that feels like a letdown due to Georges St. Pierre’s injury and the resultant loss of a title fight. Still it’s a decent card with lots of potential to be great.
I see BJ Penn — if he’s in shape — letting Nick Diaz know that while Diaz may be the king of the Strikeforce castle that’s not quite good enough in the UFC. Penn has better striking. More importantly, he’s got knockout power and a great chin, which will open up weaknesses in Diaz’s little pitter-patter punching style. Penn also has the better ground game, mixing top-level jiu-jitsu and ground-and-pound, something Diaz has not faced a lot of.
I see Matt Mitrione brawling with the more technical striker that is Cheick Kongo and coming away with the win. Kongo can’t easily be counted out — just look at his near-unconscious knockout of Pat Barry — but he doesn’t do well (to put it mildly) on the ground and Mitrione will have no compunction about exploiting that weakness and tackling him to the mat to grind out an ugly decision win.
Lastly, Roy Nelson will end Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic’s UFC career. Cro Cop’s only hope is a knockout and I don’t see him getting it, not against a fighter whom even Junior Dos Santos and Frank Mir couldn’t finish. On the ground, it’s no contest — unless Cro Cop chokes Nelson out with his own beard — and Nelson also appears to have slimmed, ahem, down a bit, which will help his stamina.
Fight I’m most looking forward to among the rest: Donald Cerrone vs. Denis Siver. Expect a wild striking melee before Cerrone chokes Siver out.
October 29, 2011 No Comments
What a menagerie of fighters for UFC 137. Check out Roy Nelson in a suit and tie and a monster beard that looks like he stapled a goat to his chin. And a surprisingly good-natured Nick Diaz. I’m thinking it’s no coincidence that the pre-fight press conference was held at the New York, New York Hotel in Vegas, a not so subtle reminder that New York still hasn’t legalized MMA. You also have to give Dana White a hand for being the “people’s owner.” No other boss of a major sports organization has the kind of rapport with the fans as he does. He’s like an MMA Make A Wish Foundation.
October 28, 2011 No Comments
Looking for a fight to care about on Saturday’s UFC 137 preliminary card? Might I suggest Danny Downes vs. Ramsey Nijem. Both are 0-1 in the UFC and I don’t recall either of their fights. Nor do I recall Downes from his WEC days or Nijem from his stint on The Ultimate Fighter 13. But this video diary by Downes has me in his corner. He’s a dorky everydude with a sense of humour (e.g. his concern about getting beat up by high school wrestlers) who looks like he should be working for the Best Buy geek squad. I’d love to see him out-Chael Sonnen Chaoel Sonnen in a post-victory interview.
October 27, 2011 No Comments
I’m hearing from media colleagues covering Saturday’s UFC 137 that Nick Diaz is blowing off at least some of the interviews he’s obligated to do to promote his headliner against BJ Penn. You know what that means? A few less awesomely awkward interviews with Diaz, like the one he did yesterday with Ariel Helwani that is as painful as it is mesmerizing, especially in the final minute when Helwani asks if he can come to Stockton to train with the former Strikeforce champ.
Of course, it’s not surprising that Diaz would skip/miss/avoid/forget about an interview or two. It’s not like anybody believed Diaz had smartened up and changed his ways no matter what his coach, Cesar Gracie, says.
October 27, 2011 No Comments
Forget a super fight between welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre and middleweight champ Anderson Silva. If GSP’s trainer, Firas Zahabi, has his way, we’ll see his fighter drop down to 155 pounds before he packs on a single ounce to face Silva.
“I have recommended to Georges – the only reason I don’t recommend it now is because Frankie Edgar is the champion, but I’d want him to move down to 155 if Frankie was not the champion,” Zahabi said during an interview on Sherdog Radio yesterday. “I’d rather him go down to 155 because Georges is not a very big welterweight…and him making 170 is extremely easy for him.”
Cue the “ducking Silva” accusations. Okay, got that out of your system? Now, my gut reaction? This makes no sense. Not because GSP would be ducking Silva, which is a bullshit call. Just because we want to see two fighters in two entirely different weight classes fight, and just because we talk about it and write about it and read about it and speculate about it, doesn’t mean it should happen and it doesn’t mean that if it doesn’t happen one fighter is ducking the other (unless it’s Floyd Mayweather Jr.).
Yes, I want to see the best fighters face each other. I want to see GSP and Anderson Silva settle once and for all the pound-for-pound debate, even if it’s only to shut up all the backseat matchmakers who insist they know exactly how that fight will go and even though I know for a fact that it will end with the French Canadian suffering his second knockout loss at the hands of a bigger, stronger, faster, more athletic and more dynamic fighter.
Of course, with Jon Jones shredding the light heavyweight division and earning comparisons to Silva, there’s a new debate that’s far more intriguing and far more likely to happen considering Silva has already fought and won at 205 pounds and has expressed an interest in going back up to that division. It’s inevitable. UFC boss Dana White is already licking his chops at the prospect of promoting Silva vs. Jones while also seeing his most-valued commodity, GSP, protected.
And if I was GSP I’d want nothing to do with Silva, and not just because I think I’d lose. I don’t need to be the welterweight and middleweight champ to cement my legacy. Being the undisputed and long-reigning champion of one division is enough.
Sure, there’s not much left to do at 170 pounds, a little mopping up, a date with Carlos Condit and maybe Jake Ellenberger. So obviously GSP is looking for other challenges. And a drop to 155 would be a challenge. That’s an insane amount of weight to cut but Zahabi says it’s definitely attainable. What’s another 15 pounds when you’re already cutting 20 or 25, right? He wouldn’t be the only lightweight to amputate a leg to make weight — Gray Maynard cuts from 200 pounds to 155. Then again, GSP would be a huge lightweight. A huge, gaunt, giant-headed lightweight with chimpanzee strength and an orangutan reach. If I was a UFC lightweight, I’d start thinking about dropping to 145.
October 26, 2011 No Comments
Another great behind-the-scenes vlog from UFC boss Dana White, this time backstage at UFC 136. Melvin Guillard goes from anger to inconsolable. Kenny Florian looks like his dog died. Good stuff, better than anything the UFC countdown shows or The Ultimate Fighter delivers. I’d like to see more of these.
October 26, 2011 No Comments
This is without doubt one of the best – if not the best – vlog that UFC boss Dana White has done, and it’s got nothing to do with the fact that White’s barely in it. Being in the locker rooms after the fights at UFC 135, with the fighters out of breadth, cut, bleeding, getting stitched up, getting their once-over by the doctor, pumped up from winning, in shock from losing, or yet to realize what the actual outcome of their bout was, it’s fascinating stuff. I could’ve watched 20 more minutes of this kind of behind-the-scenes footage.
October 4, 2011 1 Comment