The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

UFC 116 Predictions: Mr. Mention vs. The Upsetter

And after all that BS on the other channel, here’s a goddamn heavyweight title fight. And not much else on this card if we’re being honest, but who cares? HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE FIGHT. And what a fight this is: Brock vs. Carwin! Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla! A Texas Bull against a Wendigo! Thor vs. Paul Bunyan! Super Ape vs. The Return of The Super Ape! Eh, I’m stretching it, but you get the point: enormous angry men who can end a fight at any time, competing to be the very best of the very biggest in the world. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Main card

* Heavyweight Championship bout: Brock Lesnar (c) vs Shane Carwin (ic)

Everything I say here is predicated on two assumptions: Lesnar has recovered from his diverticulitis to be roughly what he was before the illness, and this fight is 51%/49% either way. Either man could easily, easily, win this in as little as a minute.

The way I look at this fight is that each man is a slight variation on the same basic theme. As strikers they’re wrestlerboxers, which is to say wrestlers trying to be boxers with limited technical refinement and a style which revolves around big punches and attempts to use strikes to force people into wrestling situations, as well as strikes from those situations. As grapplers, they’re pure American wrestlers. BJJ is out the window here; if this fight ends by submission it’s a bigger upset than Vai Cavalo over Fedor or Slovakia over Italy. Carwin is a more refined striker in the sense that his strikes from the clinch have more power because of their shortness and accuracy, he throws shorter and more direct shots in general which have a better chance to catch guys without their seeing them coming, and he always seems a lot more confident and controlled in a standup affair. He also likes to use the clinch along the cage more. Lesnar is more reliant on his athletic gifts, his ridiculous speed/power/reach combination to either catch you from an unnatural distance standing and thus make up for his technical deficiencies as a striker (which are massive) or else to put you on your back and pound you out of existence. The second Frank Mir fight was the epitome of Lesnar’s unique style, as he was able to little-brother Mir on the ground with a combination of one-armed control and pounding which is likely literally impossible for someone of normal proportions. Carwin is more comfortable on the feet; Lesnar is more comfortable on top of you. These are slight variations- at the end of the day, both men are going to try to do mostly the same things to each other.

I am picking Brock Lesnar. This is why: on every one of the measureables, Brock is just that little bit better. Regardless of what the scales say, he’s bigger; as a wrestler, he was a DI national champion where Carwin was a DII; he’s more experienced in terms of quality of opposition faced and time in the cage; he’s younger, believe it or not, by 3 full years. In terms of power I honestly believe this fight could end in 20 seconds in either guy’s favor (that’s why this is almost impossible to call), but I know I’ve seen Carwin hurt by a punch while I have not seen Lesnar hurt yet. If Carwin doesn’t kill Lesnar quickly with a one-shotter, I see Lesnar imposing his size and power on Carwin, mashing him into the fence, pulling his base out, grinding him down, controlling him and pounding on him with his odd form of careful brutality. Lesnar’s conditioning is a question after his illness, but so is Carwin’s considering that he’s never seen minute 4 of a fight and has never faced someone who could make him work in a fight as Lesnar did against Randy Couture. In short: If neither man instantly ends it with a massive shot and this becomes a battle of technique, conditioning, athletic gifts and willpower I think Brock has a far better chance of enforcing his will. Carwin’s game beyond his power leaves openings for Brock to reverse things; Brock’s game beyond power does not. If he can get in under Carwin’s hips and drop him consistently, that’s the fight.

The pick is Brock Lesnar KO2, and I can’t lie: this is a pick in hope as much as expectation. I hope Lesnar wins because after all the BS and back-and-forth between him, Fedor, the UFC and Vadim and Vadim’s dogs and the MMA internet and everyone else with something to say about them fighting or not fighting, for Brock to make himself unquestionably The Man in the same week that Fedor loses is too good a story to miss out on. That’s what makes a good story: the facts. If Lesnar wins this, he’s fulfilled the athletic potential to go along with the commercial destiny which always seemed to be in reach from the moment he signed with UFC. If he wins this, for the first time ever the perceived heavyweight champion of the (MMA) world will be the sport’s biggest star, its most talked about fighter, its most recognized face, the straw which stirs the drink- Mr. Mention. MMA has never had that before; the closest was probably Mirko CroCop in the Pride days, but he could never get over the hump against Fedor who was nothing close to that level of a draw. Brock has the chance to be this sport’s Tyson; in some respects he’s already there. Just one more step and it’ll be undeniable. I have great respect for Shane Carwin but he lacks the specialness of Lesnar, a once-in-a-generation type of breakthrough, crossover talent.

A side note about Shane Carwin: it has been generally reported that he got this fight over Cain Velasquez because of the promos he or his management team were cutting on the internet on Brock Lesnar, calling him disrespectful and bad for the sport and not a real champion and on and on. Not only do I not blame Carwin for that, I think it’s cool to see a guy understand how to hype a fight and position himself to draw money. What I do not understand is why, having talked his way into a title shot, he’s chosen for the last few months to turn silent, refuse to do media, and to show up silent and morose for the few interviews he’s done. Presumably Carwin would like to keep doing this for a living, would like to make money at it, and fully believes that he’s going to wake up Sunday morning as the heavyweight champion of the world; why on earth is he not doing all that he can to make himself a draw and secure more money for himself in what is going to be a relatively short career at the top due to his age? Most guys either get this business from the promotional side or they don’t- it’s rare to see a guy get it and forget it.

* Middleweight bout: Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Chris Leben

One of these days I’ll learn to stop underrating Chris Leben, and thanks to a quick turnaround after his impressive win over Aaron Simpson perhaps today will be that day. I think Chris Leben is going to kill Akiyama, KO2, by being bigger and better and meaner and more determined and a hell of a lot more powerful. Akiyama’s judo looks awesome on paper (if you ignore the greasing accusations) and invisible in the cage, he seems mentally beaten already given his whinging about the UFC (shock! Horror!) actually providing an injury replacement for Wanderlei Silva, he’s another in a long line of Japanese fighters who does not cut weight and then gets thrown around by Americans, he looked really, really weak in his UFC debut in a fight he really lost to Alan Belcher, and he’s coming off of a year of inactivity due to injury against a guy who last fought two weeks ago. Bad juju. Oh, and he’s 5 years older than Leben and in his mid-30’s.

* Welterweight bout: Chris Lytle vs. Matt Brown

Does it matter much? Nah. Is it awesome? IT IS AWESOME. I love this fight. It’s a fight which makes so much sense on paper that UFC is rather pointedly breaking their own booking guidelines, sending a guy with two wins on the bounce (Lytle) in there with a guy who was beaten soundly last time out (Brown). Lytle’s probably the better guy on paper with a ludicrous experience advantage (50 fights to 19, not counting Lytle’s pro boxing career), more disciplined striking and, well, a previous win over Brown in 2007 (submission- guillotine), and if Brown’s going to be be able to reverse that it’s probably going to come down to the passage of time. At 29 Brown is in his athletic prime; at 35, Lytle is not. I don’t ultimately think that’s going to matter given how strong Lytle looked in his last fight, but guys do sometimes just show up old. I’ll take Lytle by RNC2. Fun fact: of Lytle’s last 8 UFC fights, 7 have won submission of the night, KO of the night or fight of the night honors.

* Light Heavyweight bout: Krzysztof Soszynski vs. Stephan Bonnar

I dunno. I think I remember Bonner coming on late when the first fight was stopped, but it’s Stephan Bonner for God’s sake. I guess Soszynski by decision. I know why this fight is happening, but… why is this fight happening? If it has to happen it really should be on the Spike TV portion given the TUF pedigree of both guys. Grove vs. Reljic is a better PPV fight.

* Lightweight bout: George Sotiropoulos vs. Kurt Pellegrino

Not a Bat-fan, personally; guy just bores me to tears. This is basically a heat check fight on Sotiropoulos, who looked like a world-beater against Joe Stevenson but has never looked that good before. If he’s really that guy then he should turn over Pellegrino easily with superior BJJ in what’s likely to be a ground battle; if not, Pellegrino can probably keep it standing and out-strike him or do enough smothering from the top to grind out a decision. Batman may be next on my list of guys I need to stop underrating, but I’ll take Sotiropoulos here by RNC2. Could be a very fun ground battle, could suck monstrously if they negate and just sit there.

Preliminary card (Spike TV)

* Heavyweight bout: Brendan Schaub vs. Chris Tuchscherer

The hilarious thing about this to me is that Schaub’s biggest claim to fame other than TUF is his time as a football player… and he’s on the undercard of a guy who was probably a better football player than he was despite not even playing in college. It’s ironicalicious. Jokes aside, I think I’ll take him; he’s shown himself a better striker than Tuck Sheer so far, and he does have a surprisingly strong ability to scramble from the bottom and get up which is probably the key tool against a wrestler like Tuchscherer. Decision.

* Light Heavyweight bout: Seth Petruzelli vs. Ricardo Romero

Is it legal if Romero hits him with his reputation? Seriously, Petruzelli is a recognizable name for the obvious reasons but he’s back in UFC for this one largely as a veteran trial horse to gate-keep Romero. At 30, with losses to Matt Hamill and Wilson Gouveia on his record, Petruzelli is what he is. Romero RNC1.

Preliminary card

* Middleweight bout: Kendall Grove vs. Goran Reljic

I’ll say this for Kendall Grove: for all the negative things you can say about him (and I’ve said my share) I do like watching the man fight. It’s been a good long while since he was in a boring match (probably the Evan Tanner fight in ’08) and some of his recent efforts, like the Mark Munoz fight, have been spectacular. I also like Goran Reljic, or at least I I liked the version of him which fought pre-back injury in 2008 and had a notable victory over Wilson Gouveia. Since then he’s only fought once and predictably lost to CB Dalloway by decision. It’s a hard pick given that I have no idea where Reljic’s back is; ultimately that’s the reason I’ll take Grove here. Decision.

* Middleweight bout: Gerald Harris vs. Dave Branch

If Wikipedia is to be believed (if if if if if), Branch is apparently Sechew Powell’s brother, which is mind-boggling on a variety of levels if true. Partially on that basis (“The Edson Berto Doctrine”) and partially on his own beastly strength, power and wrestling credentials I’ll take Harris by KO2.

* Welterweight bout: Daniel Roberts vs. Forrest Petz

On paper Roberts should run away with this having a much better set of credentials, 5 year age advantage and a reputation as a prospect where Petz is kind of a definitional well-traveled journeyman. The question is: how is Roberts mentally after losing both his “0” and consciousness after suffering one of the scarier recent KOs in a loss to John Howard? I’ll still pick Roberts by RNC2 on the theory that it’s easier for a grappler to recover from a KO than a striker- he can get it down and worry less about people winging shots at his melon.

* Heavyweight bout: Jon Madsen vs. Karlos Vemola

Well, we’ll learn if prospect Vemola can wrestle. Not going to bet on it. Madsen by… ugh… decision. Sweaty, smelly, motionless, sedentary decision.


July 3, 2010 - Posted by | MMA

1 Comment »

  1. We’re pretty much on the same page w/ this one!

    Comment by ken | July 3, 2010 | Reply

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