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Posts from — April 2012

Rory MacDonald and Mark Bocek impress, Hominick misses the mark and Jon Jones does what Jon Jones does

So what did we learn? When it comes to UFC 145’s main event between light heavyweight champ Jon Jones and former champ Rashad Evans, not a whole lot.

The long-awaited grudge match between the two former teammates proved a lot less “grudgy” than expected. Evans, who gave up five inches in height and almost 10 inches in reach, was able to stay with the champ through all five rounds, which in itself was impressive if not exactly exciting. That said, he was wobbled often and had his head snapped back more than a Pez dispenser thanks to quick, short elbows and the occasional shoulder from the clinch. Still, Jones couldn’t put him away and even ate a few punches in the early frames when both fighters were still fresh. And the champ’s much-yapped-about wrestling abilities never played much of a role, something that won’t be the case when he faces Dan Henderson, who, if he shows up like he did against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, should make Jones’ life a bit miserable.

The co-main event taught us that Rory MacDonald just might deserve the hype as “the next Georges St. Pierre.” He destroyed Che Mills in under two rounds with ground-and-pound that was Freddy Krueger scary. Yet when the fight was over he was like the kid next door, which at just 22 he still is. Give him a couple of more fights – including a rematch with interim welterweight champ Carlos Condit to avenge his only loss – and MacDonald just might have a showdown with teammate GSP to consider.

Further down the card we learned that Ben Rothwell is taking training seriously. A slightly more svelte Rothwell stunned Brendan Schaub with a 70-second Knockout of the Night, while Michael McDonald deepened Miguel Angel Torres’ downward spiral (sure, Torres won his previous fight, but he’s been on a rollercoaster since he lost the WEC bantamweight crown three years ago and there’s no end in sight).

Mark Hominick needed a big win to erase the embarrassment of his seven-second KO loss in his last outing, but failed big time and has me wondering whether he has a future in the UFC. Hominick wasknocked down and almost out on a couple of occasions by the wild-swinging Eddie Yagin, a fighter he should’ve dominated. It wasn’t until the third round that he finally settled into a crisp, controlled punching rhythm that turned Yagin’s face into pizza but it was too little too late. This was Hominick’s third straight loss, which makes me believe that Hominick’s much-celebrated near-upset of featherweight champ Jose Aldo at UFC 129 was merely an aberration, a case of Hominick’s game being improbably on (or as on as it could be given he did take a pretty severe beating for four of five rounds against Aldo) and Aldo’s being horribly off (Aldo was apparently sick heading into the fight).I certainly don’t expect to see him on a main card any time soon. Rounding out the main card, Mark Bocek brought his lunch pail and worked John Alessio for three rounds with a grinding top game that earned him the unanimous decision.

April 22, 2012   No Comments

Overeem out, Mir in and Dana White owes us an apology – and a free UFC 146

Right around the time Eddie Alvarez was pounding out jiu-jitsu ankle-biter Shinya Aoki at Bellator 66, and shortly after somebody beat somebody else in the latest episode of The Ultimate Fighter that I rarely watch because life’s too short to watch bad fights, UFC boss Dana White tweeted that Frank Mir will replace Alistair Overeem against heavyweight champ Junior dos Santos at UFC 146.

There was no follow-up tweet, no “Sorry, guys. I fucked up and trusted that juice freak when I knew better and now I’ve screwed us all into a corner so we’re stuck with Mir.” Instead, it was a stealth tweet late on a Friday evening, sent out prior to White boarding a plane from Las Vegas to Atlanta for Saturday’s UFC 145, meaning White would be in the air and unreachable when the news spread and fans started screaming for somebody’s head on a spike Ned Stark-style. And they should be screaming.

Overeem failed his drug test, which surprised no one. Doesn’t matter whether it was “just” elevated testosterone levels (more than twice the allowable limit and 14 times that of the average adult male). Doesn’t matter that he’ll have his day in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commission to plead his case. He’s out. Too bad it took White two weeks to make it official, two weeks that saw him deny that he would break up UFC 146’s Mir vs. Cain Velasquez match-up, that gave rise to a bizarre fan-driven Mark Hunt-as-replacement campaign and rumours of Fedor Emelianenko finally signing with the UFC to step in against JDS (pure fanboy wishmaking, that).

No, instead we have midnight announcements of Mir getting another title shot. Not a bad choice given the options. He’s a former champ with a three-fight winning streak and he openly vied for the bout. Never mind that it leaves JDS a month to reconfigure his training camp to prepare for such a vastly different opponent than Overeem — Mir couples solid striking with great grappling, while Overeem is a pure striker. Comparatively, Mir’s adjustment from Velasquez to dos Santos should be significantly less. Of course, this leaves Velasquez without a dance partner.

And what about Overeem? Regardless of the outcome of his NSAC showdown he should be fired. Should have been fired the moment the failed drug test was revealed. And White is no less culpable, keeping one of the biggest fights of 2012 in limbo for two weeks. How about making UFC 146 a free-per-view, just to make things up to the fans?

April 21, 2012   No Comments

Hot doc Fightville hits Toronto theatres Friday

Fightville, which is not only the best MMA documentary I’ve ever seen but also one of the best sports documentaries, will finally hit Toronto theatres on April 6, making the date one very, very good Friday. I first saw the film at Hot Docs a year ago and was blown away:

Fightville is a gritty and brilliantly gripping bruises-and-all documentary about small town fighters with UFC dreams… No hyperbole here, this is a sharply observed and richly told drama about what it means to be a fighter. Not the big-money contracts and sponsorship deals and pay-per-view bonuses, not the ring card girls and cage fighter groupies, not the glamour and the glory and spectacle of arena-filling action heroes like Anderson Silva or Georges St. Pierre. This isn’t some glorified Tapout commercial.”

Well, here we are a year later, I’ve seen the film twice since and not only is it still fantastic, it’s actually gotten better. That’s because one of the fighters profiled is Dustin Poirier, an up-and-comer when the film was shot who’s since become a featherweight title contender. Poirier faces the Korean Zombie, Chan Sung Jung, at UFC on Fuel 3 in May. It’s the kind of story that filmmakers would give their eye teeth to discover.

I caught up with Fightville co-director Michael Tucker by phone a couple of days ago. Tucker was in Lafayette, Louisiana, where Poirier trains under Tim Credeur, for a screening of Fightville.

“Three years ago when I started this project, who would’ve known that this is where we’d all end up?” says Tucker. “Dustin was just a kid — he’s only 23 now — and I knew nothing about mixed martial arts. But here we are, he’s firmly established himself within the UFC and I’ve found myself watching fights, especially Dustin’s, although it’s hard; I don’t want to see him get hurt. I’m fascinated by the people who are fighters, that they’re often not  the kinds of people you would expect to be fighters, and that it takes a lot of talent, skills, dedication and luck to make it.”

If you’re reading this, then you owe it to yourself to see Fightville.

April 4, 2012   No Comments

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