The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

Thoughts On The Evening

I am having the bestest ever weekend ever (the new Doctor Who is awesome and law school in the fall is confirmed, and yes I am excited in that order), and tonight’s fights did nothing but add to it. Just a great night of entertainment overall, marred by a bit of stupidity at the end of the Strikeforce show, but still- good fun. Thoughts:

– First and foremost, three guys shot their stock to the moon tonight and should be recognized before anything else is said: King Mo did a fantastic job of using wrestling and sheer bloody-minded persistence to notch a huge win; Sergio Martinez showed heart and great skill in defeating Kelly Pavlik to become world champion; and Jake Shields made me look like an asshole AGAIN. If I keep picking against him he may beat Fedor by the time all is said and done. Seriously, that was a monumental performance from Shields- to recover from that early right hand, to take down Hendo just about at will, and to dominate rounds like that was amazing. I doubt even people who picked him to win saw THAT coming. Much respect to him.

– The brawl at the end may have been the final blow to Strikeforce’s time on CBS. The show ran long (again), the lack of starpower probably means the ratings are going to be mediocre at best, and the brawl is the sort of thing which makes network executives think “why are we letting this embarrassing crap on our air for so little return?” If Strikeforce was going gangbusters in the ratings, this wouldn’t be a huge deal; if this happened on Showtime to build to a PPV or CBS match, it wouldn’t be a big deal; but doing it on CBS at the end of a night which was good for fights but bad for business is likely a very, very bad deal. Keep in mind, CBS ditched MMA the first time not because Kimbo lost, but because of Seth Petruzelli’s post-fight comments about being paid to stand; they don’t care about MMA as programming nearly enough to accept being associated with, for lack of a more precise word, fuckery. Right now you have to assume they’re sitting around thinking “every time we put this crap on, something stupid happens- why do we keep giving these guys chances?”

– There are two possibilities for what happened. 1, which is far less likely, is that this was a planned angle; if so, everyone involved is an idiot especially since the potential match at the end (Shields vs. Miller) is a boring, shitty no-buys rematch of an awful fight. 2, which is far more likely, is that was Miller going into business for himself. In that case, he gets 60% of the blame for being a fucking toolbox and butting in on the biggest moment of the career of a guy who already beat him, to demand a rematch which no one wants to see, against a guy who is probably leaving the promotion. This is stupid on every level. The Diazs and the rest of the cretins who jumped Miller get the rest of the blame for escalating “some pointless shoving” into “a near-riot”. Either way, this is bad news for Strikeforce.

– How bad? Dunno. Some people want Team Cesar Gracie prosecuted and suspended for at least a year, and that to me all but guts the promotion. That would deprive them of their lightweight champion (a minor star), their welterweight champion (a star), their middleweight champion (a minor star, who may be leaving anyway) and would make it incredibly hard for them to even find the talent to fill out shows on the same schedule. It’s not like they’d go out of business, but to lose those guys for a while and CBS permanently would put a massive hurting on them. And if charges are filed out of this, it’s a hundred to one against CBS running another show. All this, to make exactly zero dollars for everyone involved.

– And bear in mind, this is the second time the Diaz boys have been involved with a post-fight fracas. I love those two as fighters, but if I were a promoter I would be very wary of using them between this history and the other crap (missed drug tests, positive drug tests, etc.) that goes with them.

– On the Aoki/Melendez thing…yeah. As I’ve said, I think the lightweight division is all but unrankable right now which makes “who’s #1?” a largely pointless exercise. If anything, this fight should have underlined that: Aoki is a star in Japan, but in the US- in a cage, without grappling pants, etc.- he’s not much. For all I know, the great US lightweights facing Aoki in a ring in Japan with the grappling pants, on short notice, under different drug testing rules etc. would be just as badly screwed. The two different kinds of MMA remain so different in so many ways that trying to analyze them together, in my mind, conceals more than it reveals. Dave Meltzer calls Japanese MMA and American MMA almost different sports; more than ever, I think he’s right.

– Lucian Bute is going to get buried a bit by the other events of the evening, but man- what an uppercut. I thought Edison Miranda looked solid and not shot (if perhaps a bit faded) before the punch landed, so this to me was a very, very impressive win. Bute has as good a claim as anyone to be the most talented (if not on-paper #1) guy at 168 pounds these days. What a great division that is.

– King Mo vs. Mousasi. What can you say? Fights like that are why I have a bias towards wrestlers. That said, Mo was exactly what I thought he was in that one; Mousasi, however, was not. I don’t know what happened, probably no one but Mousasi and his camp do, but he has never looked that bad before even in the fights which he lost. Listless, slow, unwilling to let his hands go but also unable to stop the takedowns even after Mo gassed, motionless on the bottom not because his sweeps were getting stuffed but because he wasn’t even trying to set any up… a truly awful performance by his standards especially from the third round on. I don’t believe for a moment that he’s really that bad, but it’s up to him to prove that this was a fluke. Here’s the trouble though: what do you do with either of these guys now? Mo has no strong opponents lined up; you can’t rematch this given how boring it will have been to casual fans (though to be clear, I personally enjoyed it); and no one’s going to want to watch Dan Henderson move up to face a bigger wrestler after what Shields did to him. You can still do Hendo vs. Mousasi although the bloom is somewhat off the rose for that one, but then what? And what does Mo do in the meantime? This is the problem with a shallow roster. Maybe Babalu will resurface, but it’s not like that’s a mainstream marketable fight.

– And they STILL only showed maybe 5 seconds of Mo’s entrance from a far shot as they were going to commercial. And now he’s their champion. Do these people hate money? Mo should be twice the star now that he is, and it’s not his fault that he’s not.

– Could anyone have been happier with the Strikeforce brawl than Mauro Renallo? He finally got his chance to be Gordon Solie.

– Well, Dana White could be. Regardless of when you read this, he may still be laughing.

– Jake Shields was covered in acne. Make of that what you will.

– Pavlik/Martinez ended up as almost exactly the fight I expected it to be. Pavlik needs a new trainer so badly it hurts; at times Jack Loew was actually giving him advice which directly contradicted itself in the corner, and Pavlik had no answers to Martinez’s style other than using his jab better in the middle of the fight. Beyond that, his level of success had an exact inverse relationship to Martinez’s energy level, a clear sign that Martinez was dictating and controlling the fight. Pavlik is too good a fighter, and has had too many fights, to still have this many technical flaws and to be this limited. He’s 28 and a 37 fight veteran who’s been in some wars; he probably doesn’t have more than 3-4 years left at the top level. He owes it to himself to bring in someone who knows their shit better to give him the chance to reach his full potential, especially if he plans to eventually go swimming with the sharks at 168. I’m not saying Loew should be fired, but there needs to be another voice in the corner to balance Loew’s motivation with some technical insight and to help Pavlik develop his skills. A well-trained Pavlik is a better fighter at 160 than Sergio Martinez, and Pavlik absolutely CAN win a rematch- but not by being more of the same guy who lost the first fight. I have great admiration for persistence as an attribute for a fighter, but persistence alone is not enough to make someone great.

More on all this later, especially if this Strikeforce thing really does blow up.

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April 18, 2010 - Posted by | Boxing, MMA

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