The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

I Love Fighting Sports

What a tremendous night of fights. A few random thoughts:

– Paul Daley may have just been fired, and leaving aside the morality of this, ask yourself why. Now go to ESPN.com, take note of the fact that UFC 113- not a particularly big show- is their lead story, and put the dots together. ESPN has always covered MMA and UFC more in the past when they were close on a TV deal with Zuffa, and for Daley to be fired now in the context of this media coverage suggests that UFC don’t need bad PR when a deal is close. It also doesn’t help him that this happened only a few weeks after Strikeforce made themselves look bush league with the Nashville brawl. Sucks to be him to be caught in this situation, but them’s the breaks.

– That said, Daley’s an idiot. He may not have “deserved” to be fired over this but he certainly deserved to be suspended, and if firing him is necessary for UFC to get on ESPN right now and I were in Dana White’s shoes I’d shitcan him instantaneously. What he did was blatant and dumb and unsportsmanlike, and as boring as Koscheck’s performance was Daley is the guy in the best position to deal with it if he was frustrated: by LEARNING TO WRESTLE. He did what he could and I respect that, but the bottom line is you can’t be a pure kickboxer at 170 in the UFC- Koscheck or Fitch or GSP or Johnny Hendricks or Jake Shields or X amount of other guys will put you on your back and hold you there. Daley is a very good fighter, but he got found out. Again.

– Josh Koscheck is my hero in an odd way. His strategy was boring-as but intelligent, and the heel promo he cut after the fight was goddamn magnificent. He gets it, more than 99% of people in this sport. He may be as big a prick as people think and say he is and he may be the guy you love to hate, but he may also have talked his fight with GSP into being a million buys show on the back of that interview and if he can keep it up for a season of TUF. That folks, is how you salvage a disastrous fight; he took a boring athletic contest and turned it into heated human drama which is the alchemy that turns bad fights into gold. Fans were apparently throwing things at him as he left the arena- that is money, my friends. Money. GSP is going to kill him, and two nations will pay to watch it happen.

– Here’s what some hardcore fans don’t get about Kos, BTW: they keep saying something like “Did anyone see anything from Kos’ game that gave confidence he can do enough to defeat the current champ? I certainly didn’t.” without understanding that from a business perspective, it doesn’t matter. If anything, that one-sidedness of GSP/Kos is a positive. Of course GSP will beat Koscheck: he’s already done it once, and since then he’s improved and Koscheck really hasn’t. He’s quicker, stronger, bigger, a better athlete, younger, more experienced, smarter and more versatile than Kos is. But people will pay good money to watch the fight, because they want to see Koscheck get beaten and humiliated and they’re sure that GSP is the man to do it. It’s the easiest booking in the world, the dominant champion who everyone likes against the underhanded slimy cheating challenger who people want to see beaten up. The only difference between this and what Bruno Sammartino was doing in the 70’s is that this is a real fight; from a business perspective the promotion is all but identical. The fight matters much less in this instance than the personality clash does, and so long as you can say that the challenger has done enough to merit a title shot- and Koscheck has- it’s absolutely a good move for business.

– That said, Koscheck completely strikes me as the kind of guy who would take off his own mask and throw it to his opponent behind the referee’s back in order to get him DQ’d. Koscheck is a heel, sure, but even more than that- he’s a rudo. He should be facing Dos Caras Jr. in his next fight after GSP, and in the meantime the ref for the GSP fight should be given a full briefing on all of Kos’ dirty tricks.

– In future, if this is not the case, I think instant replay should be available upon request of the referee and he or she should be empowered to dock a point for attempts to con the official. Consider it the MMA equivalent of a yellow card or 2 minutes for diving.

Kimbo is cut. I STRONGLY disagree with this. No, he’s not any good, and serious fans know this- I picked Mitrione (who’s awful) to beat him and I’m not surprised by what went down. But nevertheless, Kimbo still draws reactions, he’s still a star, he still has entertaining fights, and Strikeforce is still there to sign him and try to leverage him into a rating or a buyrate. I don’t know what Kimbo is making, but unless it’s goofy ridiculous money I would have held onto him.

– Shogun.

– Shogun.

– Shogun is awesome. That was just a towering performance by the man, a champion’s performance, and to me it secured Shogun’s status as a hall of famer already at age 28 even if he never fights again. I said to the people I was watching with beforehand that we were going to learn a lot about Machida in this fight, whether he was going to be able to adjust his style and fight differently, and what we learned was that so far he is absolutely unable to do so. He looked spooked by Shogun’s leg kicks, spooked to stand with the man, spooked to trade shots with him, his stance and weight distribution were very different from what they had been and seemed the product of nervousness, and he ended up being drawn into exchanges- something which for him in his style is unprecedented. It turns out that he doesn’t have the chin to throw hands at the highest level, and while I’m not ready to write him off entirely… Shogun showed us the blueprint to beat Machida in their first fight, he exploited it to the full in their second fight, and until Machida proves he’s adapted that gameplan is still out there for others to use. Once you solve Machida’s timing he’s really good, but hardly unbeatable; and now Machida is 31 and just suffered his first career loss by brutal and devastating first round KO. That’s a lot to come back from and a limited time to do it in if he wants to be a title contender again before he gets too old. Where he goes from here is going to be interesting. A Forrest Griffin fight?

– Shogun vs. the Rampage/Evans winner is going to be a tremendous fight as well. With Jackson there’s history, with Evans it’s an exciting new matchup; either way it’s a great main event especially with Shogun likely putting himself over the top tonight as a star in North America. I could see that fight doing 600,000+. If Forrest Griffin can get some wins, I could see him and Shogun in a rematch doing gigantomassivemonstrohugic business.

– Additionally, many fans seem to be beating the war drums for Shogun vs. Andy. if Andy vs. GSP can’t happen… that’s an acceptable substitute to me. I have no idea who wins that fight.

– Hilarious random fact: UFC’s new light heavyweight champion has two first round KO wins over Strikeforce’s current heavyweight champion. You can say it’s a long time ago, but… Shogun’s actually younger than Overeem is. In related news, Shogun’s the man.

– I don’t know what Alan Belcher hit Patrick Cote with to lead to the finish, but it was tremendous. I thought it was closer to HHH’s Pedigree; Sean said it was more like Bobby Lashley’s Dominator. Either way it was f’n fantastic, completely legal (hint: landing face first is not a head spike) and the kind of thing which people will remember in the future. Belcher did himself a real favor tonight with that win and the way he got it.

– Speaking of… anyone strongly suspect that Lashley vs. Kimbo is a go if Kimbo really does end up cut? If I were Strikeforce and the price was reasonable, that’s what I would do. You can’t convince hardcore fans on Lashley right now for good reason, so you may as well go down the freakshow/mainstream appeal route with him.

– And finally, Williams vs. Cintron. What a mess that was. I do NOT need to see a rematch, let me tell you. I may feel bad about this if it turns out Cintron was really hurt, but to me… well, that looked a lot like the Josh Koscheck fight, let’s put it that way. He seemed to land on the table in good order… then suddenly ended up on the floor motionless and dead… then ended up yelling and waving his arms on the stretcher once he realized they were going to the cards instead of a DQ finish or a no contest. It’s easy to say you want to continue after you’ve already said what it takes to get a doctor to stop a fight. Cintron has always had a rep as mentally weak; there’s a real question here as to whether he saw his chance to quit and took it. Only he knows. One thing I do know though is that the ridiculous whining from Cintron’s people about going to a decision under California rules is just that- ridiculous. You sign up for a fight, you know the rules which will be employed. Whining about them now is just sad sour grapes which make an already questionable fighter and a questionable team look even worse. Suck it up and move on, gents.

All in all, a highly, highly enjoyable night of fights. Probably more on this later, as there’s a lot to say. Mostly about Shogun- what a man he is. It came out just as I was wrapping this up that he’d actually had major abdominal surgery less than two months before the fight, and was so doubtful for this one that UFC had a replacement opponent lined up. And he STILL fought through rough knees to the body to win by KO. Amazing.

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May 9, 2010 - Posted by | Boxing, MMA

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