The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

Weekend Thoughts

– If you want to know what a shot fighter looks like, this was the weekend of fights for you. I watched the boxing first, and Nate Campbell’s performance in the opener against Victor Ortiz was almost definitional of the phrase. He’s still really tough, and as I expected he never really beat himself, but he’s reached an age at which he simply couldn’t get his punches off at all for the second successive fight. There’s no shame in losing to Ortiz, nor was there any in losing to Tim Bradly, but a prime version of Nate- or even the version which beat up on Juan Diaz- would have been far more competitive with either man. I think it’s probably time for Nate to call it a career- he’s got little offense left, a minor name and a warrior’s heart, and that’s a combination which tends to get guys hurt as they get thrown in with prospects who can hit them over and over, and who they’re too damn tough to go down easy against. More on this below.

– Amir Khan looked very good. It was almost exactly the fight I expected, but Khan was quicker and more accurate than in some of his fights and has clearly progressed technically under Freddie Roach. He’s learned to throw much straighter punches which effectively enhances his handspeed, and his balance while throwing has strongly improved which is giving him both a better chance with his defensive footwork and making him more accurate by keeping a proper punching distance. I still want to see him against a puncher again before I’m totally on the bandwagon, but the version of Khan we saw last night looked far, far more likely to be the kind of fighter who can make up for his chin issues than he had. It’s nice to see: boxing can always use more fighters who have entertaining styles and strong fan followings, and I have great respect for anyone who can bounce back from a loss like the one Khan had against Prescott to work so obviously hard at becoming a better fighter.

– Over to the MMA, and back to the theme of shot fighters. I was trying to hold off on saying this about Andrei Arlovski since he hadn’t previously been moving or reacting like a shot fighter, but based on the performance before, during and after the Silva fight- he’s done. That’s three straight losses with each of them worse than the one before. It used to be that Arlovski just couldn’t take a punch, which isn’t good but which at least as Amir Khan seems to be proving is something which can be worked and gameplanned around; against Silva though Arlovski was fighting scared, backing up to the cage, unable to get punches off, unable to change his approach, unable to stop Silva from doing what he wanted, when he wanted. Arlovski looked less fit than he had physically, the few times he hit Silva there didn’t seem to be much on the shots, and after the final bell he apparently spent part of the post-fight press conference talking about how happy he was that he’d proven his chin wasn’t that bad. That’s pretty much the definition of fighting scared, and it’s hard to escape the conclusion that he’s gone in the head. And to cap the night off, the guy who had KO’d Arlovski in 22 seconds in the Belorussian’s previous loss got manhandled and destroyed in the main event. Just an all around atrocious night for the former champion.

The worst thing about it is really that Arlovski is going in the exact opposite direction from Khan. I take it as given that you can’t train a chin; so that being a case, for a fighter with a bad chin to succeed they have to improve their other skills to the point where they can protect their weak area and still be effective offensively. Khan appears to have done that by making the changes listed above, among others; Arlovski managed to survive against a not particularly huge puncher by completely neutering his own offense, in effect conceding a decision loss, and was apparently quite happy with the bargain he’d made. If I’m Strikeforce I probably cut him off of this. He still has a sort-of name but likely costs a lot, has three straight losses, and has apparently made the decision to trade exciting KO defeats for turgid, bad decision losses. He’s already been put in there with just about everyone Strikeforce could want to see him against (possible exception: Bobby Lashley) so the math doesn’t really add up to keep him around. Take his money and offer it to Kimbo.

– The Strikeforce commentary team just have to be done away with. I mind Gus Johnson less than some people (I find him easy to tune out), but Shamrock/Renallo have reached the point at which they’re basically badly describing fights which are taking place only in their own minds, and it’s starting to make it hard to watch these shows. The idea that Jacare/Villasenor was hard to score… crazy talk. Pure crazy talk. Throw in Renallo’s evil clown voice and bafflingly inane references and Shamrock’s goofy fake laughing and it’s just a generally intolerable experience.

– Speaking of Jacare vs. Villasenor, again, not a hard fight to score but a reasonably entertaining one. I can’t say I entirely get where the complaints are about Jacare’s performance; he dominated positionally and held his own in striking with a very solid journeyman, and while his cardio will likely have to be better for a 5 round fight, it’s hard to criticize a guy too much for not having 5 rounds of gas in a 3 round affair. Reports are that Jacare will probably face Robbie Lawler for the middleweight title once Jake Shields formally signs with UFC, which is a reasonably interesting fight. I favor Jacare.

– Roger Gracie is not Rolles Gracie, and there ends the positives of that fight. GUH. Gracie’s an interesting prospect but is two years minimum away from a serious fight even if he dedicates himself to the sport full time now- his lack of head movement in particular is going to get him knocked the screaming fuck out by anyone with decent hands an an OK sprawl. Randleman, well… can he do commentary?

– Feijao looked solid in his fight and it was a good KO win to let him look strong on TV, but he also seemed surprisingly passive at times especially up against the fence. He’ll probably end up in there against King Mo sooner rather than later given the lack of depth in the division, but Mo’s gonna murder him to bloodclaat at this point. If they can hold that one off for 2 or 3 fights it might have more interest.

– And finally, Ubereem. He’s huge, he’s strong, he’s a technically superior striker; all this was known before the Rogers fight, and it’s about all we know afterwards as well about this version of the big guy. This is not a complaint, mind you- there’s any number of fights I would love to see him in, and he’s clearly very, very good. Rogers is really the story here though, I think. He looked awful in this one, physically outmatched and mentally beaten before the bell. What success he’s had in his career has involved moving forward, imposing his size and strength, and using some ground and pound on occasion; in this one he moved backwards, got out-muscled, and tutled up on the ground as Overeem beat on him. Not a good look. I’m not ready to write Rogers off or anything, but he’s clearly got a lot of work to do if he’s going to be anything more than a limited banger in the future. Right now he’s sort of Tim Sylviesque. And what does it say that Fedor had as much trouble as he did with this guy? If anything, the results of Rogers’ last three fights should stand out as a warning not to get either too high or low on a guy off of one performance, and that how a guy wins or loses is at least as important as whether he does for judging how he’s likely to fare in the future.

More on this later. I am FINALLY done with law school hunting, so I will have my brain back in under a week.

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May 17, 2010 - Posted by | Boxing, MMA

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