The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

UFC Predicamications

No in-depth preview this time; I’ll be attending my first live UFC for this one, and will probably be back Monday with comments on the live experience. Format stolen from Wikipedia because I’m lazy.

* Lightweight Championship bout: B.J. Penn (c) vs. Kenny Florian

Ah yes, the Prodigy and the Winner, the Beej and Kenflow, guy-who-hates-the-media vs. guy who works on ESPN’s MMA show, Boston vs. Hawaii, orthodox vs. southpaw, natural heel vs. natural face, awesome talent vs. incredibly hard work. If one of these guys is a Democrat and the other a Republican, I would not be surprised; it’s a good bet one’s a Coke man and one for Pepsi as well. Other than being similarly-sized human beings they come to this fight with little in common and very different stories and styles, which to me is utterly fascinating. I absolutely love this fight, and while I freely acknowledge that Griffin and Silva is the big draw on this show, this is the fight which holds the most interest for me by far.

Stand up wise, it’s an interesting contrast. As a boxer alone, BJ Penn actually is probably the best I’ve seen in MMA; he’s become almost scarily good for a guy who first last and always will be known as a jiujitsuman, skilled at all the little tricks. His chin is excellent, it’s rarely tested as his head movement is so good, his jab has become terrifying of late, and he’s got enough power to hurt even granite-chinned types like Sean Sherk (yes, a knee KO’ed him, but punches set it up). He has a wide variety of punches in his arsenal including a nasty uppercut, and he throws them all in a defensively responsible fashion. His major weakness is simply that he’s just a boxer; there’s few if any kicks in his back of tricks, so he’s somewhat one-dimensional. Florian, meanwhile, is a lefty Muay Thai guy with awesome footwork, and if there’s a striking style out there to beat Penn standing, he’s it- his movement is good enough to keep out of Penn’s grasp and fight going forwards or backwards, he throws sharp elbows and cuts people, and he’s developed a nasty kicking game to legs and body which seems to wear guys out. He comes in at odd angles, and his kicks probably give him a functional reach advantage. Not good news for Penn. If Florian lacks something, it’s power- his official record has him with only 3 wins by KO- one a cut and another a 7 second fluke- and he doesn’t seem to have the ability to really hit and hurt top-level opponents. But his strikes tell over time, and now he’s got 5 rounds to work with.

On the ground, well, one guy’s BJ Penn and if the other isn’t GSP, the result is pretty clear. Penn’s jiujitsu is legendary, and no more need be said. Florian’s very good but if they’re rolling for any length of time the best he can hope to do is survive and either get an escape when BJ tries something, or else stall it out for the standup.

So what happens? The X factor here is as always Penn’s conditioning, and despite the bag of mouth emanating from Penn’s camp I assume the usual BJ Penn will show up: deadly as fuck for 2-3 rounds. To win this fight Florian needs to keep it standing, move, point-strike his way to winning one of those rounds and then hope or cause BJ to gas so he can take the last two. I don’t put much faith at all in Florian winning this fight on any kind of stoppage; Penn doesn’t cut much, he’s got a great chin, all jokes about his heart aside he’s shown the ability to grit his way through even when blown up, and Kenny’s not a megapowerful striker. There’s always the chance he whacks BJ with a head kick unexpectedly or knees him to death when he’s gassed, but I wouldn’t put money on it. For Penn to win, he either needs to be seriously in shape for once or he needs to get it to the ground and keep it there, and in either case he has to be prepared or adjust in the cage to Florian’s movement and odd angles. If it takes him too long to get comfortable, or he expends too much energy chasing Kenflo around, he will be in serious danger of losing the fight by just not being able to do enough to win rounds; he survives when gassed, but often does so by becoming passive, languishing in clinches and failing to move.

In the end, I have to pick BJ- he’s more talented, I think he’s going to have a bit of a chip on his shoulder for this fight given what happened last time out, and at some point in the early rounds I expect them to end up on the ground. My hunch is that Penn draws Florian in and cracks him with a big uppercut, follows him down and eventually gets the RNC while Florian’s still stunned. Call it the 2nd.

Side note: speaking of BJ, it’s past midnight here as I finish this up, and it sounds like two of my neighbors are just finishing something else up in the yard. Good on them.

* Light Heavyweight bout: Anderson Silva vs. Forrest Griffin

Griffin falls into a wheat thresher, dies, the end.

Seriously, this is not a great matchup for him if he fights like a doofus, which he may. People picking him have been saying that Silva is vulnerable to the takedown especially from the clinch, and from top position Griffin can GNP his way to winning rounds and possibly a TKO. Maybe. On the feet those same people are saying that Griffin is MUCH larger, that he’s durable, that he’ll engage a Silva who hasn’t looked great of late and make him exchange with a larger, stronger man. Maybe. They’re throwing in that Silva hasn’t looked impressive in a while, that his last three opponents were respectively a coward, a joke as a challenger at this level, and a junkie, and that he lost the first round to Dan Henderson in their first fight. Arguable. And I would agree that if Griffin decides he wants to win above all, uses his chin to get past the initial flurries and ground Silva and punches steadily but cautiously from that position, he can definitely win this thing. But.

But folks he’s got to fight Anderson Silva for 5 rounds. For a decent portion of that it’s going to be standing- Silva’s not that easy to clinch, he moves well, and if he thinks he needs to dipsy-do dodge and stink the joint out to avoid that takedown he will. And while they’re standing, well: no one’s ever been able to consistently compete favorably with Andy from that position and he’s a counter-striker facing a guy who will come towards him and give him opportunities. Forrest is going to catch an almighty ass-whipping in this one even in the scenarios where he wins, and at the end of the day in 5 losses in his pro career Griffin’s been KO’d three times, including last time out by a naturally smaller man. In a lot of ways Silva offers the same challenges that Keith Jardine did, except that Andy’s bigger, a much better athlete, a more skilled and disciplined striker, and a more naturally vicious finisher. I think Anderson Silva wins this by TKO, I think it’s competitive only in spots, and I think it lasts until the 3rd round only because I suspect Andy’s still going to fuck around a bit out there and Forrest, whatever else you can say about the guy, is insanely physically tough.

* Welterweight bout: Amir Sadollah vs. Johny Hendricks

S’dollah dollah billl y’all! Amir’s so cute you want to put him in your purse and take him home, if you have one, but I do not and frankly I’ve somehow become completely sick of this guy despite the fact that the reason I’m sick of him is that he NEVER FUCKING FIGHTS. It’s been over a year since the last time he’s gotten in there and he’s pulled out of two previous fights, and despite that he’s all over UFC advertisements and such. I recognize this bothers me more than it should, but what can you do?

Anyway, this one is going to turn on how good Amir’s grappling actually is because he’s facing a 2 time national champion wrestler who WILL take him down. What gives me pause is that Hendricks trains with a guy he wrestled with at OSU, Jake “watch the guillotine” Rosholt who’s so far demonstrated exactly zero standing defense, head movement, or meaningful grappling acumen beyond wrestling so far in his short career. I don’t have strong memories of Hendricks from his first two WEC appearances (at least one of which wasn’t shown on TV, and the other may not have been either) so it’s hard for me to judge from him directly, but it’s a worry. On the other hand Amir tapped out CB Dollaway and Matt Brown to make his reputation; Brown’s tapped in 5 of his 7 career losses, and Dollaway’s tapped in his only 2, so all we know for sure is that Amir is death to shitty grapplers from Ohio. Meh. Let’s say Amir hangs around long enough to tap Hendricks with an armbar from the bottom.

* Middleweight bout: Kendall Grove vs. Ricardo Almeida

I don’t buy Kendall Grove. Don’t even rent him, frankly. But Big Dog hasn’t looked all that great since his comeback and had no real business losing to Patrick Co-fucking-te by decision last year. On the other hand, he just lost his way and then a decision in that one- Grove got KO’d by the same guy about a year previously. The MMAth here doesn’t really add up for either guy. I throw up my hands. In their respective primes on their best day Almeida taps Grove quicker than instantly, but the Brazillian’s now 32, his two comeback wins are over a guy who never won a fight outside of Alaska and another guy who’s lost 3 of his last 4 on his way out of the UFC, and he just hasn’t looked that good. An 8 year age gap. I’m taking Almeida- that’s how little I buy Kendall Grove. Taps him in the 2nd, say RNC.

* Lightweight bout: Josh Neer vs. Kurt Pellegrino

Another bout which invites MMAth-type analysis. Both fought Nate Diaz, both lost, Neer by split decision and Pellegrino by triangle. Both fought Mac Danzig and won, although at radically different points of their and Danzig’s career. Both fought Joe Stevenson, Pellegrino losing a decision and Neer winning one. Both will be having their 9th (!) UFC fight on this show, but Neer’s piled those up in a year’s less overall experience and somehow has nearly twice as many fights listed on the records I’m working from as Pellegrino- despite being 4 years younger. Pellegrino’s 5-3 in the UFC; Neer is 4-4. It’s actually quite good matchmaking in that both guys have an all-actions rep and there’s nothing obvious to pick a winner off of, and whoever takes it will start to get some steam on them as a result. I’ll take Neer, just because he seems meaner and more determined, seems to believe in himself more and is younger; he’s been doing some stupid stuff recently though, so if his attention is divided he could easy lose this. Should be one of the better fights on the show.

Preliminary card

* Lightweight bout: Shane Nelson vs. Aaron Riley

A rematch of an apparently infamously crap stoppage which went untelevised at UFC 96 (“the forgotten show”) and won by Nelson. Meh. I’ll say Riley is motivated and takes it on the rematch. Decision.

* Welterweight bout: Tamdan McCrory vs. John Howard

For no better reason than that he seems intensely creepy I’m not a McCrory fan, but I’ll still pick him here since he’s probably more talented and gihugic for the weight. Decision.

* Middleweight bout: Thales Leites vs. Alessio Sakara

Christ. This one pisses me off. Tallest Ladies puts on one of the most shamefully reticent performances in recent UFC history because he’s afraid to engage with a striker, so here he is selected as an injury replacement to face… a pure striker. Blah. My hope is that he redeems himself with a (vastly) more aggressive performance, because there’s absolutely zero reason he shouldn’t choke Legionarius out here. Let’s say second round, arm triangle. If this is 3 more rounds of his last performance I’m going to be furious.

* Welterweight bout: Matt Riddle vs. Dan “Non-Dairy” Cramer

Riddle. He’s a goofy muppet, but he’s a big, strong goofy muppet. 3rd round KO?

* Lightweight bout: George Sotiropoulos vs. George Roop

Give me Sotiropoulos in this one. RNC, 2nd.

* Welterweight bout: Jesse Lennox vs. Danillo Villefort

Two guys, 22 fights listed on the records I’m working off of, 1 decision result between them. Should be fun at any rate- I’ll take Villefort simply on suspicion that he’s more skilled and has a better pedigree. Let’s say triangle from the bottom.

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August 7, 2009 - Posted by | MMA | , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. I got BJ by first round stoppage over KenFLo.

    Anderson by second round stoppage over Forrest.

    And the other prediction, which I am guaranteeing, is that Johnny Hendricks beats Sadollah…I’ll go with unanimous decision.

    Enjoy the fights live! It’s a great experience and the card moves along a lot quicker than boxing cards.

    Comment by Tony M | August 7, 2009 | Reply

  2. My prediction is that Florian wins. And my definition of a win in that fight is him lasting more than 2 rounds.

    I want to see the weigh in before I make any sort of prediction on the Silva Griffin fight.

    Have a great time man. I really wish I made it out there for this card.

    Comment by kenonbass | August 7, 2009 | Reply


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