Hype time for freak show fights aside, this is a strong if shallow card. Once you get past the big names it’s a bit of an anonymous wasteland, but there’s two huge sporting fights and one classic freak show. That’s buys to me.
* Lightweight Championship bout: Frankie Edgar (c) vs. B.J. Penn
Round 6, eh? I have seen a lot of Frankie Edgar and I have enormous respect for him, and I will say that the version of him which fought BJ the first time was easily the best version of him probably ever; but I can’t say that was the best version of BJ I’ve ever seen. I think, as do many if not most people and essentially all of the professional odds makers, that when it comes to pure talent Frankie Edgar is as good as any fighter at 155 other than Penn but that Penn is simply head and shoulders above all others. Here’s the wrinkle though: how does he beat Edgar? Lost sometimes in all the talk about BJ is the fact that other than the Grey Maynard fight in which he was simply out-sized and out-wrestled, there isn’t a blueprint out there on how to beat King Frank despite his being a blown-up featherweight with very limited finishing skills. Edgar is like an entertaining Jon Fitch if such a thing is possible, one of those hardworking relentless grinders who just keeps going and going until the last bell rings- not possessed of enough raw talent to blow through guys but far too tough and too skilled to really be finished. That’s a bad matchup for BJ, who after all these years still by his own admission doesn’t train the way he should and can be out-worked. Likewise Edgar’s quickness, in-and-out style and multi-level attack is a bad matchup for BJ who’s become virtually stationary at times in his fights, fighting downhill almost like a tiny Klitschko in taking advantage of his jab and takedown defense.
I’m still going to pick BJ however, by decision. A lot of the reasons are contextual. I think BJ will train as he should this time, or closer to it, and while his failure to do so in the vast is a historical black mark on his career it doesn’t detract from how deadly he can be when he’s focused. I think the quasi-controversy about the judging from the first fight will play a factor as the judges will, consciously or unconsciously, reevaluate the way they score what is likely to be a second similar fight and probably lean towards the person whose efforts were “underrated” the first time. I also think BJ, who has shown a strong ability to adapt and evolve in his career, will be better prepared for Edgar’s style this time and may integrate takedown attempts back into his gameplan as neither man has a position of advantage stronger than BJ Penn in top position in this fight. Expect another close, competitive fight.
* Heavyweight bout: Randy Couture vs. James Toney
What can you say? If I were a promoter I’d put this on as well, but it’s just not a serious fight in any way shape or form. Leaving aside the boxer vs. wrestler elements of it which we’ll deal with in a bit, James Toney is just all, all, ALL wrong for MMA. His style is based on limited movement, a strong jab, and great defensive movement and technique from the trunk up matched with awesome counter-punching. The entire style operates from the waist up, and there’s simply no way to re-wire it in a few months to take account of everything which happens below that point in an MMA battle from leg kicks to takedowns. The stance required for that makes takedowns impossible to defend and it offers way too many chances for an MMA opponent to clinch and smother the counter in a way that boxers simply aren’t allowed to do, and having those flaws against RANDY COUTURE is pretty much disastrous. Beyond those technical aspects Toney is an old and shot pile of steroids, was never a power puncher of great reputation even in his prime- and in his prime was probably a 168-175 pound fighter when he was in shape. That’s 30 pounds less than Couture at minimum. People say Couture has never been hit the way Toney will hit him; I say he’s been hit by 280 pound Brock Lesnar who is Toney’s match and more for raw power. Randy is old and has his own chin problems so Toney maybe has the ghost of a chance if he can catch him, but Randy would have to be an idiot to even let him try. And when is Randy ever an idiot?
Let me tell you this as a once-upon-a-time bad wrestler: if you do not know what you’re doing as a wrestler, and you face someone who maybe even 5% knows what he’s doing, you’re screwed the overwhelming majority of the time. It’s not like a striking sport where who knows, maybe a lucky shot comes; it’s a sport of technique and the imposition of will. Against someone like Brandon Vera- a decent wrestler- Couture had to use all his tricks and all his technique to compensate for his dwindling athleticism and take the fight. Against James Toney- who doesn’t know what the fuck he’s doing- Couture could throw an ankle pick from the dressing room and get the fight down. He could drop and buttscoot over to Toney to grab a single leg and tip him over. He could walk in behind a high guard until he’s close enough to get a body lock on the motionless Toney and heave him over that way. There’s a million safe ways for Couture to get a takedown here which wouldn’t work on a trained wrestler but absolutely will work on what is, let’s face it, the equivalent of a guy who just walked in off of the street in this respect. Toney will have as many chances to hit Randy as Randy wants him to have, which slightly less than none.
Bottom line is, Toney’s doomed. He has a 1% chance maybe and that 1% is based on Randy Couture doing something stupid like standing right in front of Toney and trading with him, which has been a losing bet for a very long time. I think Couture takes him down in the first 15 seconds, passes instantaneously, and wins with either a head and arm triangle or a D’arce choke in under 2 minutes. And what will that mean? It will mean that Couture wins, and nothing more. This result says nothing about boxing, it says nothing about MMA, it says nothing about which sport is stronger or more entertaining or “better” in some vague and general nebulous way. They’re just not the same thing. All this fight can tell us is things we already know: a wider set of rules will always give the advantage to a more well-rounded fighter and a more restricted set will advantage the specialist, and pure strikers always have trouble with pure wrestlers. That’s why Jack Dempsey never fought Strangler Lewis, why Joe Louis never fought Lou Thesz, and why Lennox Lewis pulled out of a nearly-signed match with Brock Lesnar in the early part of the last decade. It’s not a mystery. If anything, maybe this gets a few curious boxing people to watch a UFC which might hook them on the sport; if that happens it’ll be because UFC is good, not because boxing is bad, and certainly not because James Toney loses.
* Middleweight bout: Demian Maia vs. Mario Miranda
This to me is in some respects weirder than the James Toney match. Miranda got KO’d in his UFC debut by Gerald Harris- no great shame there- and got his first UFC win, of sorts, in his next fight by kicking more dirt on the grave of David Loiseau. Great, fine, dandy. How does this get him listed 3rd from the top on a major PPV against a former title challenger, I wonder? The explanation is apparently long and vague and involves like three injuries to other guys and another fight being moved off of this show to an upcoming Fight Night, but whatever- it’s still weird. Anyway, Maia is vastly more talented so far as I can tell so let’s take him by first round choke, assuming that the Anderson Silva fight didn’t do him any lasting physical or psychological damage.
* Lightweight bout: Kenny Florian vs. Gray Maynard
How heavy is Grey Maynard? I know he weighs in at 156 and I know through the miracle of weight cutting he may actually be 300 pounds for all we know, but that’s weight; we’re going to find out how HEAVY he is. Specifically, is he heavy enough to trap Kenny Florian under his bulk for 15 minutes, before Kenny gets up and tears his face off? Maynard has to lay and prey this one- he’s got no other hope. He’s mechanically average and straightforward as a standup fighter with no standout athletic gifts of quickness or power, while Florian is technically superior to nearly everyone at 155. Maynard got more or less out-struck by Nate Diaz; Florian would humiliate him in a kickboxing match, moving off at angles with his jab, working over Maynard’s legs with kicks, generally making him look foolish. Worse still for Maynard, against Clay Guida Florian showed once again his improving ability to create space to get up from the bottom; unless Maynard has dramatically more success than Guida did at holding Florian down and staying chest-to-chest, he’s screwed.
Bottom line is that Maynard has to walk a very, very fine line here, and I’m not betting on him doing it. He’s beaten top-level opposition like Frankie Edgar that way before, but with respect to the champ and his on-paper BJJ credentials, Edgar is a wrestler first and last and no one has ever looked at him and thought “wow, that Frankie Edgar sure does have a dynamic guard- he’s always throwing up submissions and looking to sweep.” People have thought that about Florian, because it’s true, because his first instincts and training and best area of competence is as a grappler, not a wrestler. I have a lot of respect for Maynard’s toughness and I don’t think Florian will be able to stop him, but Kenny is likely to do so much damage while they’re standing that there’s just no way Maynard’s takedowns will be able to balance it. Florian, decision, probably 29-28 in a tense and compelling fight.
* Welterweight bout: Nate Diaz vs. Marcus Davis
Dear God what an unlikeable pair. I mean, the Diazs are the Diazs and are amusing in their awfulness (they’re like MMA’s Hanson Brothers), but Davis is just socially reprehensible, enough so that he’s gonna make me root for Nate. Hard to pick a winner though; Davis is naturally larger, and if he’s slowing down he still has good power and enough skill in avoiding takedowns that he can sit down on his shots and try to take Nate’s head off when he throws that patented Diaz slap-boxing style. Nate can probably eat Davis’ lunch on the ground, but I don’t know if it ever gets there. I’m going to take Nate despite this, partly in hope, partly because at 37 I think Davis is really starting to slow down. I’m thinking Nate gets close enough in one of the exchanges to get Davis down with a throw, then armbars him from the top. 2nd round.
Preliminary card (Spike TV)
* Lightweight bout: Joe Lauzon vs. Gabe Ruediger
Really? I just… really? Lauzon better fuckin’ win, that’s all I have to say. Let’s say he takes a decision, but if he gasses out and loses this he’s dead to me. I worry about him never quite being the same after that knee injury; the way his battery ran down against Sam Stout really made me wonder if he was able to do much cardio training on that wheel.
* Lightweight bout: Andre Winner vs. Nik Lentz
Wrestler vs. British striker is usually a good setup for the wrestler, but TUF finalist vs. Anyone for about the first three fights is usually good for the TUFalumnus. Doesn’t matter much does it? Let’s go with Lentz- Winner has ok wrestling for a Brit but he tends to freeze when guys put it on him, and if Lentz has a decent activity level he should be able to control and grind his way to a boring decision.
* Middleweight bout: Dan Miller vs. John Salter
A pair of very similar guys, with Miller just being that much more talented in all likelihood, more experienced, and desperate as well with three straight losses. Salter should put up a solid fight, but I’m thinking Miller beats him by three rounds of being a bit better.
* Welterweight bout: Nick Osipczak vs. Greg Soto
I have seen Greg Soto and there wasn’t much to see- he’s not a standout athlete, or a standout wrestler, or a standout anything really; he trains with Kurt Pellegrino and fights like a more boring version thereof. Old Ship Shack should just be a lot better in most phases of the game, and if you buy MMAth the Shack mashed up Riddle who beat Soto. Soto could lay n’ pray this one, but the Brit’s good enough off of his back for that to be difficult. Let’s say Osipczak by KO2.
* Welterweight bout: Mike Pierce vs. Amilcar Alves
“Amilcar Alves” is just a fantastic name. I wouldn’t want to fight Amilcar Alves- that’s the name of a great conqueror or dictator or potentate. I know nothing about him beyond what web research can tell, but on a flier I’ll pick him by armbar in the first. A Nova Uniao pedigree plus the semi-unpredictable funkiness of a judo background plus how hard it is to prepare for an unknown plus that name = hey, why not.
Could be the last of these I write, we shall see. Law school is good fun, but ye Gods the time commitment.
Google returns 78,500 results for the phrase “stand and Wang.” This amuses me far more than it should.
Bad judging, bad refereeing, bad fights, bad commentating, bad hairdos, bad production values, bad ticket sales, bad atmosphere, the ending of two (and defeat of a third) of the very, very, veryvery few semi-stars Strikeforce has by talented but anonymous journeymen- this promotion is double-ding-dong-doomed. Thoughts:
– Griggs vs. Lashley was semi-salvaged only by Griggs coming across as the nicest man in five states. Lashley is just… blah. His skills are still years away (and don’t seem to be improving) and now there’s real questions about his conditioning, AND he’s on the far side of 30. This fight goes a long way towards shuffling him into the “busted prospect” category as a serious fighter, and probably even hurts his value- such as it is- as a non-serious fighter against the Dave Batista’s and Kimbo Slice’s of the world. I doubt the result of this is enough to sway CBS one way or another for giving Strikeforce one last shot at network primetime, but it can’t have helped. Maybe they can do Griggs vs. Arlovski? Maybe a serious promotion shouldn’t be asking questions like that? And yes Lashley did get semi-screwed by the fight being stood up from mount, but let’s be honest: he was blown the fuck up badly by then and was likely going to be toast in the third round regardless. Overall he has the same problem in MMA that he had in pro wrestling: he’s got all the physical tools in the world, but his technical skills lag far behind and he has the square root of zero personality. I feel like I’ve been watching this guy for 5+ years now in one venue or another and I still don’t have a clue who he is as a person; if I don’t know who he is as a person and he’s not that great of a fighter, why should I care? I can’t come up with a reason, so I don’t care, so moving on.
– Noons vs. Gurgel was a joke, booked to be a squash match and yet somehow made everyone involved look worse and less professional than they did before it started. Noons probably should have had a point deducted at the end of the first for a late punch; Gurgel’s corner definitely should not have let him out for the second after he had already been KO’d once (and the broadcasters noted that he didn’t remember having been knocked down in the corner, which is a clear sign of brain trauma); the illegal knee which may or may not have come after the fight was ended should probably merit Noons some kind of suspension for being blatantly illegal, probably after the stoppage and likely to cause injury. And will that happen? Of course not. And the refereeing- it’s hard to know where to start with the catalog of errors here, but let’s pick one basic point: if you’re going to stop a fight, STOP THE FUCKING FIGHT, don’t leap in like it’s over, then back off, then decide it’s over a second time without actually telling anyone. Inexcusable. The fighters should not have to guess whether or not the fight is still happening.
– I would give you my score for Kennedy vs. Jacare, but I don’t have one; I watched 4 rounds and fast-forwarded through the fifth because I could feel things like my hope for the future, faith in humanity and will to live ebbing away with each passionless, motionless, fruitless minute of nothingness. That fight was the concept of “ennui” in performance art form, the kind of low to no action staring contest which gets both guys under. From the standpoint of skill and talent, it’s clear that Jacare is a world-class fighter; from a promotional standpoint, let’s be honest: he’s got little charisma, no name, and can’t do English-language promos. His most natural fight- Mayhem Miller based on their feud- is hard to promote given that all the backstory for it happened years ago in another promotion. Hardcore fans will always be excited to watch De Souza; hardcore fans will never be enough to sustain a serious #2 promotion. Strikeforce better hope their contender’s tournament throws up something special.
– The main event, hey, nice job by Feijao and the 10-20 pounds of muscle he made friends with in the last couple months without outgrowing the weight class. Funny how that works. He seems a nice enough guy and he’s kind of good looking in a not-quite-Vitor-Belfort kind of way so maybe he’ll catch on, but eeeehhhhhhh wouldn’t bet on it. And what’s the next fight for him? Maybe Mousasi, except Mousasi is scheduled for DREAM upcoming and it’s anyone’s guess when or if he’ll next be available. And even if he is you’re back to two charismaless guys who appeal only to hardcores. He could rematch Mike Kyle, but despite the backstory that’s still a matchup of near-unknowns. He could fight Babalu, but that’s an unknown vs. a UFC washout. And in the meantime what do you do with Mo? If Strikeforce had shown the least part of clue one in the months and months they’ve had Mo and done things like give him major interview time and show his entrances- you know, things that might get him over as a star- then this would be bad but not a disaster as a star can survive a loss in MMA, even a KO loss. But they didn’t. So they’re left with what looks like a flash-in-the-pan ex-champ who got knocked the screaming fuck out in his first title defense and whose only televised wins were over the bloated remnants of Mike Whitehead and Gegard Mousasi- which a lot of people, unfairly, are now going to look at as saying more about Mousasi than about Mo. So yeah this was no buys.
– Why was I staring at the referee’s back for half of the evening? Why do they insist on using that crane camera which makes everything look tiny and which makes it harder to follow the action? Why are they giving crowd shots of a crowd where there were patches of empty seats 20 feet from the cage? Why Gus Johnson?
– Mauro Renallo is still a hideous evil clown. Most of Strikeforce’s production staff should just be fired; getting rid of him is probably going to require an exorcism.
In short, this promotion has no idea what they’re doing or where they’re going. They cannot build stars, and now the guys they had who had the best chance of becoming stars are starting to get knocked off and damaged before they’d reached the level they needed to to be insulated from the losses that everyone in this sport eventually picks up. You look up and down the Strikeforce roster now and there’s legitimately probably only one fight they could put on which would have any kind of serious interest to it- Fedor vs. Overeem- and that fight by all accounts isn’t going to happen because Fedor’s people for one reason or another don’t want it. What is the plan for this group? Do they accept just being Showtime’s every-so-often small time MMA promotion which has one, two, maybe three interesting fighters per division and can’t draw independently of their TV contract as many boxing promoters accept, or do they have some sort of desire to build themselves into being a legitimate #2 promotion which can draw revenue from PPV and make more than a pittance from live ticket sales? If it’s #1 then fine, but they can stand to do some major cost-cutting of guys like Fedor; if it’s #2 then they need an entirely new plan of how to go about it. Rinky-dink production showcasing anonymous dudes is not going to draw serious attention. Most of the time I enjoy Strikeforce’s shows (tonight’s being a major exception) but I don’t know what they’re for, exactly; and the more time passes with this the state of affairs the more I bracket them mentally with Shine Fights, Shark Fights, War On The Mainland and King Of The Cage than I do with UFC. Tonight felt minor league- that’s not what you’re looking for.
Lawal KO2 Cavalcante and Kennedy KO4 De Souza tonight, and Noons UDEC Gurgel and Lashley UDEC T. Can. I’d write more, but I still have 200 pages to read for Monday and 3 more miles of running I owe myself tonight. Good times.
Home of GIANT MAN-TITS. I recognize Bellator is run on a frayed shoestring, but I will fucking send them money to get Cole Konrad and that Bennet dude some shirts and some shirts and some more shirts. Those dudes should fight in wetsuits or something- that was heinous.
– Give me Cruz over Benavidez on top. I don’t count Benavidez out at all, but Cruz has such an awkward striking style that he’s hard to deal with hand to hand AND hard to shoot on, and that combined with his major height and reach advantages should allow him to force a repeat of their first fight. Caveat: Cruz’s style requires a ton of movement and a ton of energy, and he’s not a banger or a finisher the way Benavidez is; if it turns out that Cruz can’t go 5 rounds at his best pace then Benavidez- who can be a brutal finisher- may have a chance to get a hold of a tired man late and tear him up. Something to keep an eye on.
– I love Roller vs. Pettis; it’s just a great matchup and could be a strong fight. Roller to me proved against Anthony Njokuani that he’s got the brain for his game: he’s a ground fighter, he knows it, and he’s not going to fuck around doing bad kickboxing anymore against guys who can take his head off. I expect him to go out there, throw a few feints, take Pettis down and control him, probably for all three rounds but with a chance of getting Pettis to give up his back for a tap in the first two.
– Cub Swanson A/K/A Jeep Swenson isn’t really very good, and his fight with Chad Mendes is basically a showcase for the next loathsome, neckless mutant from the Urijah Faber camp. Mendes guillotine 1.
-I’ll take Scott Jorgensen over Brad Pickett. He’s stronger, maybe a bit bigger, a better wrestler and a more fluid striker. There’s no major stylistic clash or technical breakdown really, Jorgensen is likely to just be that little bit better in most areas. Decision, though Jorgensen has that brutal GNP which might end it late.
That’s what I have to have read by Monday, give or take. When does formal Law School start? Monday. Could be another slow week here, unless I go completely bugnuts and start writing about the evolution of warrenty liability in the 19th century.
Bad week for posting or paying attention to sports with classes starting Sunday of all things; may have to work a permanent solution to this. Popping up to note three things:
1. Hard Knocks is a fun show and all, but whoever decided to show the Jets’ coaching staff reading ESPN.com comments on them is out of his or her mind. DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS. If they read youtube comments sections next week, I give up. Also, the amount of product placement on that show is out of hand. It’s like watching “The Nike Swoosh Hour (Featuring Rex Ryan & His Orchestra).”
2. Give me Chad Dawson over Jean Pascal this weekend. Jab, jab, jabjabjabjab, jab, jabbity-jab-jab-jab, Jab Judah, jab, jab. UDEC12. Jab. Hopefully more than the 10,000+ Pascal supporters in the building actually watch this fight, because for a fighter as good as Dawson to have so little fan support is just tragic. A lot of it is mis-promotion and some of it is that he has a paint-drying style for anyone but a boxing purist; only one of those may be curable, but hopefully this fight raises his name recognition if nothing else.
3. Buyrates. Sonnen/Silva did approximately 800,000-1M, which shows you the value of a great talker; Marquez-Diaz did 150,000-200,000. Now, a reasonable person looks at that second number and sees several things which are likely to be feeding into it: that Marquez as the preeminent Mexican fighter of the moment is a bigger draw than realized; that a loaded undercard (of sorts) can help drive buys; and that in a summer where even vaguely respectable boxing cards have been conspicuously thin on the ground, pent-up demand can carry even a mediocre card to unexpected heights. Boxing’s response to this so far is: try to feed Marquez to Amir Khan, a nothing draw in America who has the wrong style for and a ton of size and age on the older fighter; no loaded undercard shows scheduled upcoming; and a return to HBO PPV with Shane Mosley vs. Sergio Mora, one of the worst PPV headliners of recent times and one which is guaranteed to hobble the market. Nobody learns anything in this sport. And don’t even get me started on Dirrell/Ward being postponed indefinitely and possibly canceled, Alfredo Angulo following Kelly Pavlik in turning down a shot at middleweight world champion Sergio Martinez, Alexander Povetkin fleeing into the night in terror of the Klitschkos, Luis Fucking CoFuckingLazzo demanding more money when he can’t even get a fight lined up, the sport-wide freeze-out of Celestino Caballero….
These things matter because even with relative hardcores, they affect how much you can really care about a sport. Right now I have last night’s Bellator on my DVR which I will watch, time permitting, along with tonight’s Strikeforce Challengers show; there’s also a ton of boxing on tonight on various channels featuring solid fights with under-the-radar guys, but I’m skipping all of that because it’s impossible to get emotionally invested in the careers of guys in a sport where the only guarantee is that most of the best fights won’t get made. 5 or 10 years ago I’d have been eagerly anticipating ShoBox and Friday Night Fights and I would actually know what number Telefutura was on my cable system; now, meh, whatever. I have studying to do and I should go for a run. It’s not an accident that my interest in MMA has reached the point where I can correctly preview and actually care about the results of fights like, say, Rickipedia Story vs. Dustin Hazlett but could not possibly care about the boxing equivalent thereof; and those buyrate numbers listen above should tell you that I am hardly alone on this. The biggest boxing fights are bigger than the biggest UFCs (for now) but the population of fans who care enough to pay out month by month and carry the sport isn’t even close anymore, and that is not an accident. Something needs to be done.
Instead, we get the return of Michael Grant to PPV headliners in a couple of weeks. Go read Dan Rafael’s chat and compare the number of questions about actual made fights to the questions about what-if fights which will never happen; it’s a fucking tragedy.
I don’t give a fuck, that was fight of the year. An amazing, amazing spectacle which proves many things, among them that MMA at its best really can equal boxing for the greatness of an epic fight. Thoughts:
– Thanks to both guys for keeping the fuckery to a minimum. It was one of those deals where they had to go either over the top and create a ridiculous spectacle or else settle down and try to have a real fight, and they ended up going with option 2 and having an all-time classic. No one who bought this will be disappointed I think.
– Both guys are going to be bigger stars after tonight. A rematch is a potential million buy show.
– Anderson Silva answered a lot of questions tonight about his long-term place in the sport. As difficult as it was, in the end he defeated an elite wrestler who really used his wrestling for the first time; he also battled through 4 rounds of ass-kicking to come from behind after being hurt and finish a great challenger. He didn’t gas out totally, he didn’t mentally break, he didn’t quit and go home, he didn’t embarrass himself with histrionics- he was simply great. In many ways this is his best ever victory.
– That said, Andy ain’t what he was. He came thisclose to Roy Jones land in the first and his reactions look markedly slower. Time catches everyone eventually, and tonight the only thing which stopped Silva from being beaten like an old man was Chael Sonnen’s lapses of concentration from the top and Silva possessing the heart of a champion. Both Vitor and Chael in a rematch have a real chance against him, and It makes him a more interesting champion in my book. I cannot fucking wait for his next fight.
– At least Chael admitted he tapped… eventually.
– I feel semi-vindicated on my pick and on my analysis. That ended up being a mix of several listed possibilities: 5 round chess match, Chael falling asleep in top position, Andy looking old and Roy-esque and nearly getting beheaded early…. combine that with being 9-2 overall on my picks for the show and yeah, I’m pleased with myself. Ultimately both guys are in the they-are-who-we-thought-they-were pile: Sonnen is an awesome wrestler and a tough guy who after all this time still has lapses of concentration in top position and panics when threatened, and Silva is a great champion whose biggest- but not insurmountable- weakness is to high-level wrestlers. We’ve learned more about Silva’s mental strength and how much age has affected him, but the general outlines of this are as predicted by most people.
Thoughts on the rest of the show:
– I’ve turned the corner on Jon Fitch. At some point his Jon Fitchness becomes so predictable that it’s actually hilarious, especially against someone like Thiago Alves whose regular failures to make weight tend to paint him as the villain in most of his fights. In short: wrestling, goddammit.
– Speaking of Thiago Alves, what is up with him and weight? He looked to have dropped significant size for this fight and actually has a smaller frame than Fitch, yet he once again couldn’t make it all the way down to welter. He’s at the point where, after two missed weights and a test failure for a banned diuretic, he needs to either completely reevaluate his training and cutting process or else give in and admit that he’s aged out of 170 and into middleweight. Something has to give because it’s simply not fair to his opponents to keep booking him at a weight that he’s hit or miss to actually show up at.
– Matt Hughes is a million, million years old but he sure does keep winning, this time impressively with a rare and difficult submission to pull off. Three options for him now: first, you put him in there with a relatively top guy to try to maybe see if you can get him into a contender’s slot; second, if Matt Serra wins you make that rematch; and third… if he’s going to keep doing the semi-official seniors tour deal, fuck it- Hughes/Hallman III. Who can be opposed to this? All you need for the countdown special is to show the first two fights in their entirety, a short clip of Hughes saying “I’ll beat this man if it’s the last thing I do” and a clip of Hallman saying “nah”.
– I missed the first round of JDS/Nelson, but what I saw looked damn good. JDS continues to show solid takedown defense and he puts his strikes together expertly, but he’s got to work on his cardio if he’s really going to pose a threat to the Brock/Velasquez winner. I think Dos Santos, given his age and development level, is actually more likely to end up as champion in his second shot at the belt; right now I’m seeing him losing a competitive decision fight to superior wrestling next time out.
– Every time I look at Roy Nelson, I think: I wish I could be watching the light heavyweight career this guy should be having. At 260 he’s a fun gimmick performer; at 205, he might be a real contender.
Much more on this later, plus maybe boxing thoughts.