musings on mixed martial arts, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai and all things mano-a-mano

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Thiago Alves is a light heavyweight

Yesterday, welterweight Thiago Alves weighed in for today’s UFC on FX 2 bout with Martin Kampmann at 170.5 pounds. Three hours later he was 27 pounds heavier. By the time he steps into the cage he’ll probably tip past 200 pounds. That is an insane weight cut, an insane weight rebound (no matter how much of it is water weight). What kind of toll will that have on his body, both in the short term and long term?

March 2, 2012   No Comments

Sorry, but even Ben Henderson can’t make tae kwon do cool

March 2, 2012   No Comments

Video: Ronda Rousey spins out

There’s something kind of mesmerizing about watching judo ace Ronda Rousey twirl beneath a mural of Muhammad Ali while that funky horn music blares. Certainly more entertaining than when she shoots her mouth off, Chael Sonnen style. If I was Strikeforce women’s bantamweight champ Miesha Tate I’d be working my armbar defence 24/7 in advance of Saturday’s title fight. Also worth noting, the undercard of that event will feature a pair of Canadian fighters, as former bantamweight champ Sarah Kaufman takes on Alexis Davis, who lost to Kaufman in her very first pro fight five years ago.

February 27, 2012   No Comments

UFC 144 was harder to sit through than the Oscars

To be the champion, you have to beat the champion. Or so the adage goes. And that might have a lot to do with the Monday morning grumbling over Benson Henderson’s unanimous-decision win over lightweight champ Frankie Edgar at Saturday’s UFC 144 in Japan.

Henderson never put Edgar away, never had him in any trouble, save for the outside possibility of a doctor’s stoppage due to a cut opened up near Edgar’s left eye. Edgar thought he did enough to keep the belt and so did a lot of fans, but it was clear that Henderson got the better of every exchange. Granted, it would be hard to argue if the decision had gone in Edgar’s favour. Minor grumblings, sure, but even UFC boss Dana White saw the fight for Edgar. That doesn’t mean I want to see an immediate rematch, of which there have been plenty the last couple of years, including Edgar’s rematches with his last two opponents. Time to move on.

Except now, Henderson will likely make his first title defense in — you guessed it — a rematch with Anthony Pettis, who unleashed the wall-climbing super-kick in their first encounter. Pettis also used a stunning head kick to introduce Joe Lauzon to unconsciousness to open UFC 144’s main card. This time, though, it’s a rematch I’m interested in seeing, especially since Henderson came out the loser the first time around.

As for the rest of the UFC 144 card, it was a bit of a snore. Tim Boetsch rallied for a ridiculously unexpected third-round TKO of Yushin Okami and Mark Hunt proved once and for all that Cheick Kongo doesn’t belong in the UFC with a first-round TKO, but that was the best the card could offer, and even both of those had a distinct sideshow quality about them. Jake Shields vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama and Ryan Bader vs. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson both went to decisions, although I can’t recall a single memorable moment from either fight. As for the seventh fight on the main card, does anyone even remember who fought? Twelve fights is a lot of fights to consume in one night, never mind actually care about.

February 27, 2012   2 Comments

Jake Ellenberger coulda been a contender

Sports Illustrated’s Loretta Hunt is one of the best journos on the MMA beat, but she’s off her rocker for suggesting Jake Ellenberger deserves a crack at Carlos Condit’s interim welterweight belt after his unconvincing win over Diego Sanchez on Wednesday. (I also don’t think Condit should sit on the bench for nine months waiting for Georges St. Pierre.)

Not that Ellenberger looked horrible in victory. His striking was crisp, his counters accurate, his takedowns effective as he held off a game-but-outmatched Sanchez for two-and-a-half rounds. Then, in the final 90 seconds, Sanchez took advantage of an Ellenberger slip and pounded away from mount while referee Dan Miragliotta hovered. In fact, no one — no one except Ellenberger and his hometown Omaha crowd — would have complained if Miragiotta had stepped in, given Ellenberger was covering up and counting on the clock to save him.

Would Sanchez have won if it had been a five-round fight, as UFC boss Dana White admits should have been the case? Hard to say. The momentum had clearly shifted, however, taking much of the shine off of Ellenberger’s performance. A rematch with Condit would make for great pre-fight drama, but it hasn’t been earned. Ellenberger should have to face the winner of Josh Koscheck vs. Johny Hendricks or perhaps Martin Kampmann vs. Thiago Alves.

February 16, 2012   No Comments

Stephan Struve: “Take your stinking paws off me you damn dirty ape”

Rolling and wrestling with Cornelius-level ape-men is gross. It’s that simple. It comes with the territory of you grapple, but it doesn’t make it any less unpleasant. Some judicious trimming, if not outright waxing or shaving, is really appreciated by your training partners and opponents. And it looks and feels cleaner.

So if I was fighting in the UFC, with cameras and close-ups and hot octagon girls watching me, as Dave Herman is tonight against a bulked-up Stefan Struve, I would certainly be doing some serious manscaping. And if I was Struve, I’d want to avoid grappling against the cage or getting caught in his guard. Or taking side control. Or his back. Or grappling with him in any way, shape or form. Maybe a flying triangle is okay.

I get that maybe — maybe — that the gross-out factor of grabbing Struve in a big wet bear hug might be part of his game plan, but come on, even Burt Reynolds showed some common sense  in his “sexiest-man-of-the-’70s” Cosmo porn spread by clear-cutting the shoulder and back forest. If UFC boss Dana White had a problem with Dennis Hallman’s manties, he should have a problem with Sasquatch here.

February 15, 2012   No Comments

With Nick Diaz out of the picture, who should Carlos Condit face next?

Nick Diaz testing positive for marijuana metabolites makes any further debate over his fight with Carlos Condit pointless. In fact, it’s a good thing he didn’t win or there would be an even greater outcry because Condit would’ve been awarded the welterweight interim title as a result. And I don’t have much to say about Diaz’s positive test. It’s not the first time he’s tested positive for marijuana, I don’t care what he puts in his body, he’s got a medical card that allows him to smoke it legally, and it’s still a banned substance no matter whether it’s performance-enhancing or not.

But with the rematch definitely off (and Diaz still likely retired no matter what the Nevada State Athletic Commission say about the drug test), it opens up the welterweight division a bit while we await the return of Georges St. Pierre. Condit will likely no wait until November to face GSP — Condit only fought once in 2011 and he was willing to take the Diaz rematch, so I expect he’ll defend his interim title this summer.

The two most-probable contenders for that title shot have to be Jake Ellenberger and Johny Hendricks, with Ellenberger having the edge should he get past Diego Sanchez on Wednesday’s UFC on Fuel TV card. Ellenberger is 5-1 in the UFC (26-5 overall), knocked out Jakes Shields in 53 seconds in hist last bout and has been on a five-fight winning streak stretching back to a 2009 split-decision loss to, you guessed it, Carlos Condit. That’s as easy a welterweight fight to sell as the UFC is going to get until GSP returns.

Then there’s Hendricks, a two-time NCAA Division I wrestling champ whose 13-second KO of Jon Fitch put the entire division on notice. Hendricks is 7-1 in the UFC  and would be an obvious backup if Ellenberger loses to Sanchez.

February 10, 2012   No Comments

How many can you identify?

February 10, 2012   No Comments

Do you really want to see Condit vs Diaz II?

I understand why UFC boss Dana White would consider booking a rematch between interim welterweight champ Carlos Condit and Nick Diaz. It’s one of the most argued-about fights in recent memory. But I have no clue why fans would want to see it. Condit eked out a narrow but clear victory and has nothing to prove by giving Diaz the opportunity to make the adjustments he failed to do through five rounds at UFC 143. It’s not as though this was Lyoto Machida and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and an obvious failure in judging.

A win by Diaz in a rematch would not prove he’s the better fighter, only that he was able to learn from his mistakes. He couldn’t get Condit against the cage, got frustrated when Condit wouldn’t just stand there and let him hit him, and then failed completely to cut off the cage as Condit circled away and returned fire. Plain and simple. Very plain and simple. So simple, in fact, that I’d be surprised if Diaz didn’t win a rematch simply because the holes in his game the first time were so glaringly obvious to everyone except him. That doesn’t mean he deserves another shot, never mind that he probably doesn’t even want one.

Sure, Condit vs. Diaz II would give the UFC something to hype why we wait until Georges St. Pierre is healthy. But I’d rather see Condit take an extended vacation than watch a rematch. Besides, there are a handful of 170-pounders who would probably like a crack at that interim belt in the meantime, such as the winner of Thiago Alves vs. Martin Kampmann (slated for March 3).

February 6, 2012   No Comments

Nick Diaz wasn’t robbed so get over it

I don’t understand the shock and outrage people are expressing over Carlos Condit’s unanimous-decision win to claim the interim welterweight belt at Saturday’s UFC 143.

Sure, I’ll admit to being mildly surprised, not because I thought Nick Diaz won, but because you never know what’s going to happen when a fight is left in the hands of the judges. And certainly Diaz vs. Condit is one of the closest five-rounders in UFC history. The fighters’ differing styles only made things murkier.

Diaz’s tendency to walk opponents down and pin them against the cage to pepper them with punches often gives the appearance that he’s dominating fights even if he’s not. And Condit’s strategy of not standing toe-to-toe with him, of being evasive and using lateral movements, backing away and resetting, gave naysayers the impression he was running away. I’ve heard Kalib Starnes‘ name invoked more than once in relation to Condit’s performance, which speaks to the ignorance many MMA fans have when it comes to the finer points of the striking game.

It was clear from the outset that Condit had a gameplan, one that he was able to execute with workmanlike if unflashy efficiency. You don’t beat a grappler by going to the mat, you don’t beat a striker by standing in the pocket and exchanging fire, and you don’t beat Diaz by doing either. If he’d stood in front of Diaz, allowed himself to be phoneboothed against the cage and beaten on (like BJ Penn), Diaz would’ve won and Condit would’ve been criticized for not circling out of the way. Instead, Condit stayed inside his own head, remained calm and picked his moments, while Diaz trash-talked and taunted and put on a show that suckered many into believing he was winning when really he was just a frustrated and angry little boy.

But only one of the fighters was doing any significant damage, thanks to a record-setting diet of thigh-numbing leg kicks and sharp 1-2 combinations. FightMetric credits Condit with landing 68 total kicks, helping him earn the overall striking advantage 151-105. Granted, Condit landed many of those strikes while moving away, but they still landed. He picked his shots and then got the hell out of the way; that’s called smart tactical striking. It wasn’t pretty, but it was pretty effective, and if his name was Lyoto Machida no one would be arguing he didn’t win.

Pro-Diaz pundits also point to Diaz’s octagon control, as if merely standing in the middle of the cage is enough to warrant a win. I don’t think anyone wants to watch fights where that’s a deciding factor. And yes, Diaz did finally take Condit down in the last two minutes of the fight, but he failed to really threaten with a submission, certainly not enough to overcome the damage Condit had already inflicted.

What it comes down to is that Condit refused to play in Diaz’s sandbox and Diaz behaved like a two-year-old suck afterward. He says he’s going to retire, which, if true, is disappointing. He still brings an energy and attitude — and divisiveness — to every fight. For example, consider how exciting the buildup to the Diaz vs. Georges St. Pierre welterweight unification bout would have been compared to Condit vs. GSP. UFC boss Dana White might say he’s not upset that Condit won, but I’m sure, marketing-wise, he’d much rather be hyping Diaz vs. GSP.

February 5, 2012   4 Comments

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