musings on mixed martial arts, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai and all things mano-a-mano
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Posts from — January 2012

Chael Sonnen floats like a butterfly

Chael Sonnen seems to think he’s Muhammad Ali (starting at the 5:30 mark of the video below), and I have to admit I’m amused by it. Of course, it’s a put-on. He’s found a shtick that works for him, that no one else outside of professional wrestling is using, and he’s using it. Here’s hoping he trashes Michael Bisping so we can see how he handles promoting a rematch with Anderson Silva (assuming Silva isn’t too injured to fight him).

January 27, 2012   No Comments

Demian Maia is the underdog against Chris Weidman?

I feel a bit badly for Demian Maia. While Chael Sonnen is carrying around a fake UFC belt and preparing to face Michael Bisping at Saturday’s UFC on Fox card, with the winner slated for a title shot, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace has seen his contender status take a bit of a nosedive as a result.

Originally scheduled to fight Bisping on the card, a bout that would definitely move the winner into the number two slot for a crack at champ Anderson Silva, Maia has to settle for late replacement Chris Weidman. While Weidman is no slouch — he’s a two-time NCAA division I All-American wrestler, an ADCC competitor and owner of a three-fight win streak in the UFC — beating him won’t do much to move Maia toward the belt. And a loss means he’ll probably never get another crack at it.

Still, I have to believe Maia will walk over Weidman, who admitted at Thursday’s press conference that being a late replacement for Bisping means he’s not 100 percent ready. Maia also has infinitely superior jiu-jitsu skills, continually improving striking and he’s been in tougher battles with tougher opponents. So I have no idea why odds makers have Maia as the underdog.

January 27, 2012   No Comments

Is Ronda Rousey right about GSP?

As someone who’s gotten in a few heated exchanges and altercations with movie theatre assholes, I can appreciate Ronda Rousey’s story about confronting an Ugg-wearing seat kicker (4:20 mark of the first video).

Rousey, who’s known just as much for her shoot-from-the-lip Chael Sonnen attitude as her four armbar wins in four minutes, will challenge Strikeforce women’s 135-pound champ Miesha Tate on March 3. I just wish she didn’t sound so much like an entitled high schooler when she talks.

She also brings up an interesting if debatable point at the 5:00 mark of the video below when she argues that Nick Diaz beating Georges St. Pierre would be good for the sport:

“It’s not the Olympics. It’s not about just coming home and bringing home a medal, and just having hardware and getting the win. It’s about pulling more fans in, and being entertaining. I think that fighters that just try to win by points and come away with a win are actually bad for the sport. If you never saw MMA before, and you walked in and you saw GSP and Koscheck, and all this jabbing out the whole time, it looks like a boring boxing match. And I don’t think you gain any fans with a fight like that. And so I really hope that Nick Diaz beats the crap out of him, because Nick Diaz is entertaining, and he’s an entertaining character in general. He might not be popular but I mean I can’t help but watch every video he puts out on YouTube. I think it’s funny as hell. And every single one of his fights is a brawl. It’s not like a pitter-pat match where afterwards he goes ‘Were friends, were all friends, buy Gatorade and let’s go home.’ I think that’s boring. GSP was good for the sport for a while. He brought in some big sponsors like Gatorade and UnderArmor. But I think he’s done everything he can in a positive way and he needs to step aside and let Nick Diaz kick his ass.”

She’s not wrong in that it would excite the welterweight division by levelling the playing field a bit. It would make match-ups in the division far more exciting because no longer would fighters be battling to be the next one to lose to the champ. But GSP does more for the sport in terms of attracting new fans and conveying a sense of civility and respectability that it would hurt the sport if he weren’t champion.

January 26, 2012   No Comments

Carano convinces, even if Haywire’s not the action movie you expected

There’s an old adage in movies: if you introduce a gun, somebody’s going to get shot. Haywire inspires a related question: Why put Gina Carano in handcuffs if you’re not going to then make her fight a swarm of bad guys?

That’s just one of the more puzzling elements of the Steven Soderbergh-helmed spy thriller. Granted, I’m using the term “spy thriller” loosely.

Haywire is not the movie the trailers are trying to sell you, which is The Bourne Identity with boobs. Instead, it’s a soft-focus, low-key jazzy arthouse “fuck you” to quick-cut Michael Bayhem-style ADD action spectacles. It’s the anti-Bourne, a watered-down martini that leaves you neither shaken nor stirred.

And yet there’s something there, something in its ultra-cool ‘70s vibe that makes you forgive the by-the-numbers story, the sluggish pacing, the cheap made-for-cable quality. While the sum of Haywire’s parts adds up to a pilot for a TV series about a hot ass-kicking CIA super-agent, like Alias without all the glitz and glam and Jane Bond shine, it’s that very stripped-down pseudo-realism that provides the biggest punch.

The chases unspool with a determined this-is-what-it-would-really-be-like feel, while the fights deliver a degree of verisimilitude missing from 99 percent of on-screen fisticuffs. Nothing fancy, nothing CGI-enhanced, no wire fu. Just abrupt and brutal, punches, kicks, a couple of chokes. No actress could’ve pulled them off as well as Gina Carano. She is the first female action star you actually believe could beat up her larger, stronger male opponents. She throws a punch the way it should be thrown, and she takes one the same way. Stick Angelina Jolie in there and it would be like watching a stick figure on a string. And for the most part, Soderbergh just stands back and lets her do her thing.

On the acting side, Carano has charisma, charm and she mostly holds her own opposite heavyweight thesps like Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor and Michael Douglas. Occasionally she appears a bit out of her depth, although her acting never dips to porn-star levels, but she’s also not relied upon to deliver any great depth or emotion. And her voice, which was inexplicably digitally lowered in post-production, is only distracting in the first few moments and then only if you know what she really sounds like.

In the end, Haywire is not the explosive action debut many hoped it would be for Carano. What it is, though, is something smarter, a genre exercise that flexes some pretty big muscles. It’s more interesting than exciting, a diversion that’s both ponderous and worth pondering.

Still, it makes me wonder why the shackled Carano wasn’t called upon to battle her way out of that predicament. I guess that was one more cliché Soderbergh opted to avoid.

January 26, 2012   No Comments

Melvin Guillard puzzles and puckers up

Is posing for photos with fans really the best way to spend the final few seconds before stepping into the octagon? I mean, it’s cool that Melvin Guillard felt comfortable and relaxed enough to do that (7:45 mark), but it seems strange and perhaps distracting. Granted, if he’d beaten Jim Miller at last weekend’s UFC on FX instead of tapping out to a rear-naked choke then I’d feel differently. I also appreciate Guillard’s display of sportsmanship after the loss, even going so far as to kiss Miller on the forehead.

Oh yeah, and I’m sick of Jon Jones. Can he go away until his next fight please?

January 24, 2012   No Comments

Video: Big John McCarthy clarifies what an illegal head strike looks like

Chances are a blow to the back of the head isn’t what you think it is. Even I was surprised by the narrow parameters of what constitutes such an illegal strike (and I’m the first one to cry foul whenever they occur). This video with “Big John” McCarthy certainly clarifies the matter and is mandatory viewing for anyone who’s ever voiced an opinion on the subject. Are you paying attention, Mario Yamasaki?

January 24, 2012   No Comments

Video: Jon Jones kicks his kid

I get that the UFC is trying to break out of the box it’s in, grab some mainstream attention, appeal to sporting Joes and maybe a housewife or two. But I’m not sure this ad, which aired during Sunday’s NFL playoffs on Fox, really works.

You can see that it really really wants to be one of those classic Super Bowl commercials that everybody talks about the day after. And it’s mildly humorous, light heavyweight champ Jon Jones is certainly likable, and who hasn’t wanted to punt a toddler into the stratosphere? But the CGI looks cheap and there’s no footage of fighting or anything to connect this with MMA at all. Nice try, though.

January 23, 2012   No Comments

UFC on FX impresses with KOs and subs aplenty

Eight finishes in 10 fights, six of those in the first round. That’s how you put on a a fight card. So if you wrote off Friday’s UFC on FX debut due to a lack of big names (as I did just a few days ago), you owe it to yourself to check it out. Check out Nick “The Ninja of Love” Denis elbowing Joseph Sandoval unconscious — from a standing Thai clinch, in the centre of the cage, in just 22 seconds.

Check out Jorge Rivera entering retirement on a high note with a second-round TKO (punches) win over Eric Schafer. Check out Josh Neer guillotining Duane Ludwig via submission and Jim Miller surviving a scare against Melvin Guillard to sub him via rear-naked choke. Check out Mike Easton and Jared Papazian putting on a three-round rock ‘em sock ‘em hockey fight that should’ve won Fight of the Night. Or check out the actual Fight of the Night: Pat Barry showing surprising submission defense before putting his fists through Christian Morecraft’s face. Seriously, check it out.

January 21, 2012   No Comments

Melvin Guillard and Jim Miller (and Jim Miller’s mustache) are a couple of pros

It’s strange to see Melvin Guillard and Jim Miller chilling together before the weigh-ins (6:45 in Dana White’s vlog), discussing Miller’s ’stache, and then see them smiling at the weigh-ins. Strange because we often think of the animosity created and fabricated by fighters, either to get in the “destroy him” frame of mind or to hype a fight. But Guillard and Miller, who headline tonight’s UFC on FX card, appear to have none of that. They’re just two professionals out to do a job and put on a show for the fans. It’s kind of refreshing when there’s so much Sonnenesque trash talking going on in MMA.

January 20, 2012   No Comments

Pat Barry is the smiliest fighter in MMA

Pat Barry cracks me up (check out his Techno-Viking). And apparently Christian Morecraft and his jutting alien jaw crack Pat Barry up. Can’t say as I blame him. Morecraft looked ridiculous during Thursday’s weigh-ins for today’s UFC on FX card. Doesn’t help that he has his name tattooed in gangsta script across his belly. I’m automatically inclined to think less of someone who has their own name inked on themselves. It’s like a bad vanity plate, and across the stomach is the worst. Of course, it might come in handy for Morecroft should he find himself knocked out and unable to remember his own name.

January 20, 2012   No Comments

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