Sunday, August 2, 2015

UFC 190: The Rousey Edition Of "Mike Tyson's Punch-Out"!

Rousey's "Verbal Bully Beatdown" of Bethe Correia was probably the most exciting round in WMMA history, and it only lasted 34 seconds!  Her "face-plant knockout" of Correia redeemed a PPV that had waaaaaaaaaaaaay too many fights.  Aside from the Rousey bout and two other matches, UFC 190 was like watching a first-degree black belt sweep the floor of a dojo.  Here are my thoughts on each fight of the card:

Gadelha vs. Aguilar:  Aside from a brief rally in Round 3 (which was prompted ended by a Gadelha spear), Aguilar was completely dominated both on the feet and on the ground.  Gadelha not only brutalized Aguilar's face with boxing combos, but she also planted Aguilar on her back with four double-leg takedowns that made Edge's spears in WWE look tame in comparison.  These included one which rammed Aguilar into the cage in Round 2.  Suffice it to say that Gadelha's rematch with Joanna Jedrzejczyk has been well-earned.

Winner: Claudia Gadelha (Unanimous decision)

Silva vs. Palelei: Palelei may have come out wearing the hands of the Incredible Hulk, but it was Bigfoot who did the smashing in Round 2 of their match.  Palelei took Round 1 with a whizzer and finished with some ground-and-pound.  However, in Round 2, Silva turned the tide with a right-uppercut, left knee, two straight rights, and finally another right uppercut that dropped "The Hulk" by the cage before finishing him on the ground.  Bigfoot may never get the title, but it seems that he can hang out in the UFC heavyweight division's mid-card for at least a year or two longer.

Winner: Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva (TKO)

Struve vs. Minotauro: This was when the PPV started to go downhill.  The match began with a weird "Octagon Ballroom Dancing" competition with Minotauro and Struve taking turns spinning each other around and pressing each other against the cage.  Later in the fight, Struve was trying the keep the distance with sporadic striking, whereas Minotauro looked like he was trying to hug "Skyscraper" to death.  It is really disappointing to have this snoozefest allegedly be Minotauro's last UFC match.

Winner: Stefan "Skyscraper" Struve (Unanimous decision)

Vieira vs. Lopes: There were more guillotines used in this fight than during The French Revolution!  Other than the main event, this was easily the most exciting fight of the night.  It began with both men pulling jumping guards and getting guillotines in the first round.  Both refused to tap when they were caught in the submission.  Then Vieira got a standing guillotine (Lopes slipped out).  Round 2 was a back-and-forth technical striking battle until Lopes got a takedown.  Then in Round 3, after another 4 minutes of back-and-forth striking, Lopes charged forward and swung for the fences, and later, got another guillotine after spearing Vieira.  Vieira refused to tap, even though he was bleeding all over the place.  In fact, when he slipped out, he did some ground-and-pound from Lopes' guard before time ran out.  I personally thought Lopes was robbed in this Ultimate Fighter Brazil finale match by the judges, but these two guys still put on a show which indicated that they are exactly the shot-in-the-arm that the bantamweight division needs.

The Ultimate Fighter Brazil Season 4 Bantamweight Winner: Reginaldo Vieira (Unanimous decision).

Bruno vs. Franca: Whatever momentum that UFC 190 regained from Vieira vs. Lopes was lost in this bout.  Franca got the submission by rear naked choke after grinding out Bruno for nearly three rounds.  Was it effective?  Yes.  Was it fun to watch?  No, and I'm one of the few UFC fans who actually enjoys grappling.  Congratulations to Franca for winning a UFC contract, but he's going to have to step it up if he wants to survive in the shark tank that's UFC's lightweight division.

The Ultimate Fighter Brazil Season 4 Lightweight Winner: Glaico Franca (Submission)

Shogun vs. Little Nog: This is the second time in a row that the worst fight on the PPV got "Fight of the Night" honors from the UFC.  Me and my friends were seriously hoping it would be brief so we could finally watch Rousey fight and, as you can guess, it didn't turn out that way.  The end of Round 1 had some action, with Little Nog getting an uppercut and teeing off  on Shogun against the cage with punches before getting knocked back with a phantom punch.  He also got a standing guillotine and tried to swarm him again later that round.  However, neither legend did much for the rest of the fight.  It was mostly them throwing a punch or kick every thirty seconds with some clinch work and the occasional takedown thrown in.  I was so bored that I was booing the flatscreen at the sports bar.  Not to mention that the judges robbed Little Nog at the end, giving the fight to Shogun.  I was positive that Little Nog deserved the win, especially after that guillotine in Round 3 which had Shogun bleeding out onto the canvas.  To be honest, though, this fight exposed both men as over-the-hill legends desperately trying to reclaim their former glory and failing miserably.

Winner: Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (Unanimous decision)

Rousey vs. Correia: This fight is WMMA's "Hearns vs. Hagler I"!  It was a brutal, 34-second slugfest that resulted in Correia flipping backward after a failed takedown attempt by Rousey.  Then Rousey swarmed her against the cage with a knee and punches.  Rousey shut up and shut down Bethe "Loudmouth" Correia with a straight right that knocked her out cold and sent her face first into the canvas.  I could no longer tell if I was at UFC 190 or watching someone demo a re-release of "Mike Tyson's Punch-Out" with Rousey as a secret character!  Both "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and Rousey's dad would be proud.                      

Winner by KO (and still UFC Women's bantamweight champion): Ronda "Rowdy" Rousey!


Saturday, August 1, 2015

UFC 190: My Predictions

Thank goodness Ronda Rousey did not get injured, because she is basically the only selling point of an otherwise weak PPV.  Besides her "Trash-talker beatdown" match with Bethe Correia and what appears to be a tuneup fight for strawweight contender Claudia Gadelha, this event is mostly made up of, to borrow a phrase from Conor McGregor, "rookies and has-beens."  I'm not trying to be disrespectful, since Shogun, the man who got me hooked on UFC to begin with, is fighting tonight.  Nonetheless, even his best days are well behind him.  Suffice it to say that a blockbuster card this ain't...

Here are my predictions for tonight's PPV:     

Gadelha vs. Aguilar: I'm not that familiar with either fighter, but I find it very difficult to pick against someone who managed to go the distance with UFC strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk.  For that reason, I expect Gadelha to win by decision. 

Winner: Claudia Gadelha

Silva vs. Palelei: This is easy.  Palelei wins by KO.  Without trt, "Bigfoot" can't seem to hang with the elite of the heavyweight division without getting crushed anymore.  Even with trt, his biggest claim to fame was a come-from-behind upset over Alistair Overeem, whom, as Travis Browne and Ben Rothwell proved with subsequent KOs of their own, was seriously over-hyped to begin with.

Winner: Soa "The Hulk" Palelei

Struve vs. Noguiera: From a medical standpoint, Struve really needs to hang up the gloves.  No sport is worth your life and with his heart condition, I strongly believe that that is what he is risking every time he steps into the cage.  I see a submission victory for Minotauro here, although that may be more due to the health condition of his opponent than the skills of the Brazilian legend.

Winner: Minotauro Noguiera

Vieira vs. Lopes:  I know nothing about either fighter so I will follow my gut and pick Vieira.  Take it for what it's worth.

Winner: Reginaldo Vieira

Franca vs. Bruno:  Another fight, another gut prediction.  In this case, I pick Bruno.  I probably should have tried harder to watch "The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 4."  Oh well...

Winner: Fernando "Acougeiro" Bruno

Shogun vs. Little Nog:  Shogun is the reason why I started watching the UFC, and rest assured, I will be rooting for him during this bout.  That being said, Little Nog has been more successful as of late, beating Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans before getting smashed by Anthony "Rumble" Johnson.  In contrast, Shogun has been KO'd by Dan Henderson and Ovince St. Preux after defeating James Te Huna, so as much as I hate to admit it, I believe "Little Nog" will take it via decision.

Winner: Antonio Rogerio "Little Nog" Nogueira

Rousey vs. Correia: A lot of people seem to believe that Bethe "Pitbull" Correia will pull a "Matt Serra vs. GSP" KO upset over "Rowdy."  I commend Correia for her confidence and do believe she will throw everything including the kitchen sink at Rousey.  But the facts just don't point to her winning the belt.  Rousey has demolished the "Murderer's Row" of the women's bantamweight division: Cat Zingano, Alexis Davis, Sarah Kaufman, Sara McMann, and Miesha Tate (twice).  Out of the bantamweight's elite, only Tate has taken her outside of the first round and that was on her second try.  In contrast, Correia's best wins are a razor-thin division over Jessamyn Duke (who's 1-3 in the UFC against mediocre competition) and a lopsided beatdown of WMMA pioneer Shayna Baszler, whose time passed long ago.  That, combined with a lengthy layoff due to eye surgery, makes a victory for the challenger seem rather difficult...

In my opinion, how this fight will play out depends on Rousey's strategy.  If she sticks with the "Rousey smash!", go-for-the-kill-in-the-first-round tactic that has taken her to the top, then Correia will be just another name on her highlight reel.  However, if Rousey decides to stick with her current plan to drag out the fight with Correia and, in her own words "make her suffer", that will probably backfire.  In that case, we will end up seeing the female version of "Silva-Sonnen I", where Rousey gets brutalized for the majority of the fight before winning via a "Hail Mary" submission in Round 5 (most likely an armbar).  Either way, when Rousey leaves the cage, she will be taking the belt with her. 

On a side note, although Correia apologized and asked for forgiveness for her "suicide remark" taunt of Rousey, that was still a horrible thing to say to somebody.  That's been compounded by the fact that Rousey's father took his own life when she was a child (Correia claimed that she was unaware of this).  In my opinion, this definitely makes Correia the heel in this feud and I hope that Rousey does teach her a lesson, regardless of how long (or short) it takes.  The forgiveness can come afterwards. 

Winner: Ronda "Rowdy" Rousey


Sunday, July 12, 2015

UFC 189: Rise Of The Celtic Warrior

Who needs takedown defense when you are the most dynamic and hardest hitting striker in your featherweight division?  Not Conor McGregor, apparently.  Here is my take on the PPV which saw the crowning of the UFC's first Irish interim champion.

Almeida vs. Pickett: The first round was a draw, with Pickett dropping Almeida twice with right hands and Almeida almost catching Pickett with a heel hook.  He also dropped Pickett with a right of his own.  However, an explosive flying knee by Almeida in the second round put a quick end to Pickett and made this a "changing of the guard" match for the bantamweight division.

Winner: Almeida (KO)

Nelson vs. Thatch:  After a left hook-right hook combo, Nelson put on a "BJJ 101" class for the fans.  Side control.  Transition to mount.  Take your opponent's back.  Get a body triangle.  Soften up your opponent with strikes before getting the rear naked choke and just wait for the tap.  The end.

Winner: Nelson (submission)

Bermudez vs. Stephens: The true fight of the night!  In spite of getting cut open and completely handled in Round 1, Stephens rallied in a back-and-forth brawl in Round 2 where he hit Bermudez so hard with a left that Dennis "The Menace" actually spun around like a top!  That being said, Bermudez was still winning the fight in Round 3 when, out of nowhere, Stephens dropped him with a flying knee when his own back was against the cage and swarmed him on the ground to finish the fight.

Winner: Stephens (TKO)

MacDonald vs. Lawler: Lawler's straight left in Round 5, which caused MacDonald to put his hands on his head and fold backward into a fetal position in the first slomo knockout I've ever seen, was exciting.  The rest of the fight was a total snoozefest, with about a minute and 15 seconds of action and almost twenty minutes of them playing octagon pattycake.  "Fight of the Night" this was not...

Winner (and still UFC welterweight champion): Lawler (KO)

Mendes vs. McGregor: In spite of absorbing a spinning back kick to the body which seemed to knock the wind out of him, Mendes dominated the fight at first, taking McGregor down 4 times in two rounds and smothering him a la Silva-Sonnen I.  Then he went for a guillotine and gave McGregor just barely enough space to escape and pop back to his fight.  A one-two combo was all it took for McGregor to knock Mendes out become the interim UFC featherweight champion.

"I was going to prove to the people that I was the true fighter." McGregor said afterwards, acknowledging that he was protected from guys like Mendes on his path to a title shot.

Indeed, the Celtic Warrior has proven that, and I believe that at this point, his fight with Aldo will just be a formality. 

Winner (and new UFC interim featherweight champion): Conor McGregor.     

Saturday, July 11, 2015

UFC 189: My Predictions

Even though Aldo had to pull out due to a fractured rib, this should still be a pretty good PPV.  Here are my predictions for each match:

Pickett vs. Almeida:  I love the British, so I will be rooting for Pickett.  Unfortunately, Pickett is 36 years old, and fighters of that age tend to become shark meat for younger, hungrier fighters like Almeida.  I see Almeida giving this veteran his first KO loss in the UFC.

Winner: Thomas Almeida

Nelson vs. Thatch: After Thatch got finished by Benson Henderson (who's a lightweight, by the way), I am very comfortable picking Nelson for this one.  I see a submission by Nelson in Round 2 at the latest.

Winner: Gunnar Nelson

Bermudez vs. Stephens: This is a no-brainer.  Dennis "The Menace" was the first man to ever finish Clay Guida in the octagon and was on a 7-fight tear before experiencing his first setback against the monster known as Ricardo Lamas.  Bermudez will crush Stephens via submission late in Round 1.

Winner: Dennis Bermudez.

Lawler vs. MacDonald II: I personally believe this will be the fight of the night, and whoever wins depends on MacDonald's strategy.  If MacDonald plays it too safe, Lawler will storm him out of the gate and pull another upset like he did in their last fight.  However, if MacDonald combines his technical finesse with the "Canadian Psycho" tenacity that he used to squish Che Mills, then I see him dominating Lawler for five rounds en route to finally becoming the king of the welterweight division.  Personally, I think the latter will happen and that "Red King" will finally rule in place of his mentor, Georges St-Pierre.

Winner: Rory MacDonald

Mendes vs. McGregor: I am a huge McGregor fan.  He is basically an Irish ninja version of Muhammad Ali.  That being said, although his striking is off the charts, his takedown defense is suspect.  Dennis Siver was able to put him on his back with relative ease, although he had no idea what to do with McGregor once that happened (hence the thrashing that the German striker received afterwards).  Mendes won't have that problem, so I see "Money" grinding out a five-round decision en route to becoming the interim featherweight champion.

Winner: Chad Mendes.  

Sunday, May 24, 2015

UFC 187: Age Is Just A Number (For D.C.)

"Jon Jones, get your sh*t together!  I'm waiting for you!"

That's what Daniel Cormier shouted before storming out of the cage as the new UFC light heavyweight champion.  His win may not have been the most exciting one last night, but it was the most inspiring, since he managed to climb the top of the mountain at 36, which is when most fighters are either retiring or getting clobbered by the next generation of mixed martial artists.  Here are my thoughts on this awesome card:

Benavidez vs. Moraga: Moraga put up a valiant effort against Benavidez, including a belly-to-belly suplex in Round 1 and a surge at the beginning of Round 3 to try to seize the victory by KO.  Unfortunately, Benavidez's wrestling, chin, boxing, and top control were simply too much for him in the end.

Winner:  Joseph Benavidez (unanimous decision)

Browne vs. Arlovski: This freaking awesome match is MMA's equivalent of the first round of Marvin Hagler vs. Thomas "Hitman" Hearns!  In spite of taking Browne to striking school early with punches, knees, overhand rights, straight rights, and a reverse forearm strike after a missed right hook, Arlovski looked like he was finished when Browne dropped him with a thunderous right hook.  Nonetheless, Arlovski rallied and swarmed Browne against the cage, leaving "Hapa" out on his feet with a right uppercut and a straight right that caused the ref to stop the match.

Winner:  Andrei Arlovski (TKO)

Cerrone vs. Makdessi: This fight was actually pretty even up until Makdessi cried uncle with a "timeout" gesture after his jaw was separated by one of "Cowboy's" left high kicks.  I know why Cerrone shrugged dismissively afterwards: he himself went three rounds with Nate Diaz in the past in spite of suffering a broken jaw of his own.  That being said, I've never had a broken jaw myself, so I can't judge "The Bull" for wanting to call it quits.

Winner: Donald Cerrone (TKO)

Weidman vs. Belfort: "Stop doubting me!  Stop doubting me!  Join the team!  I love you!"

That's what Weidman said after retaining his belt and praising Jesus for getting him through his hardships in life.  Although not quite as exciting as "Browne vs. Arlovski", this match was also brief and awesome.  In spite of being bloodied by "The Phenom's" trademark blitz, Weidman weathered the storm, got a double leg takedown, moved to mount and punished the Brazilian legend with ground-and-pound.  Belfort at first tried to punch back, but finally got overwhelmed and stopped defending himself.  I was actually yelling at the screen for the ref to stop the match before it was finally stopped.

I also like how Belfort praised Jesus, too, in spite of his defeat.  I have faith that, since Weidman said "yes" when Rogan asked if he could put the beef between Belfort and himself behind him, and Belfort praised Weidman after the match, that these rivals can move forward as brothers in Christ.

Winner (and still UFC middleweight champion): Chris Weidman (TKO)

Johnson vs. Cormier: In spite of eating an overhand right that would have decapitated an elephant, D.C. managed to survive the rest of Round 1, and turned the tide with a massive slam in Round 2.  He then maintained top control and attempted a kimura before cutting "Rumble" open with slicing elbows at the end of Round 2.  In spite of showing fantastic takedown defense throughout the fight (including punching D.C. in the face while standing on one leg during the latter's single-leg attempt in Round 3), Johnson finally got worn out and finished with a rear naked choke in the third round.  While I still don't think he'd be able to win a rematch with Jon Jones (assuming he still has the belt upon the latter's return), D.C. certainly proved me wrong for doubting him tonight with his gritty, hard-fought victory.

Winner (and new UFC light heavyweight champion): Daniel Cormier (submission)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

No "Bones" About It: My Thoughts On The Jon Jones Fiasco And UFC 187 Predictions

Before I make my UFC 187 predictions, this is my reaction to Jon Jones getting stripped of the title and suspended indefinitely: FINALLY!

I don't know Jon Jones personally, but his public image is almost as bad as Samson's from the Bible.  The media reports of the greatest MMA fighter of our generation (and possibly ever) paint the portrait of a young man with a character that fails to live up to his talent.  The alleged hit-and-run disaster in Albuquerque is simply the latest in a string of high-profile debacles, some of which are detailed by Adam Guillen Jr. at MMAMania:

In my personal opinion, Jones should have been stripped of the belt after he refused to defend his title in a "gimme fight" at UFC 151 against a late-replacement, much smaller and older Chael Sonnen (no offense to the "Gangster of West Linn").  His decision (which I still don't understand) put the final nail in the coffin for that PPV and led to its cancellation by Dana White.  At least Jones' title should have been taken away after he failed a drug test for cocaine metabolites after beating Daniel Cormier.  Unfortunately, when you are a world-famous athlete, you get a free pass to do whatever you want unless you ROYALLY screw up.  That being said, it doesn't get much more screwed up than allegedly:

A) Running a red light
B) Hitting a car driven by a 25-year-old PREGNANT woman (whose arm and wrist were broken in the crash.  Thank goodness she and her baby weren't killed!)
C) Fleeing the scene on foot, only to return to grab a bag full of cash
D) Oh, and to top it off, having weed in your rental car.

The whole scenario sounds like the plot of a Kevin Hart movie.

At any rate, I am glad that Dana White has finally taken disciplinary action against Jones by stripping him of the title and suspending him indefinitely.  If White hadn't done that, I wouldn't watch UFC events anymore. Will I watch Jones fight again if he gets his act together? Sure.  But I will continue to root for his opponents if he does come back.

Anyway, here are my predictions for tonight's PPV!

Benavidez vs. Moraga: My gut tells me to go with Benavidez via decision.

Winner: Joseph Benavidez

Browne vs. Arlovski: Other than a fluke loss against Bigfoot Silva (due to a torn hamstring) and a surprising upset to Werdum, Browne has been virtually unstoppable.  I see him knocking out Arlovski in Round 1 to finally earn a title shot.

Winner: Travis Browne

Cerrone vs. Makdessi: This is a no-brainer.  Cerrone is an elite lightweight on a 7-fight win streak and Makdessi is a replacement for an injured Khabib Nurmagomedov.  I believe that "Cowboy" will make quick work of  "The Bull" with a first-round submission.

Winner: Donald Cerrone

Weidman vs. Belfort: If these guys were the same age, I would consider it an even fight.  However, Belfort is 38-years-old, hasn't fought since 2013, and isn't on TRT anymore.  In contrast, Weidman is in his prime and excels at all three aspects of MMA: striking, wrestling, and jiu-jitsu, as we have seen from his destruction of Anderson Silva and his five-round war with Lyoto Machida.  Weidman will probably weather Belfort's opening blitz and submit him in Round 4 after "The Phenom" gasses, retaining his title in this "changing of the guard" match.

Winner: Chris Weidman

Johnson vs. Cormier: Again, age is the deciding factor here.  If D.C. was about six years younger, he would probably have gone "suplex city" on Johnson for all five rounds with his Olympic-level wrestling.  However, at 36, I see him losing his second bid for the light heavyweight by title to Father Time and "Rumble's" brutal knockout power.  I don't see this going past Round 2, sadly.

Winner: Anthony Johnson


Sunday, April 19, 2015

UFC on Fox 15: The Rise of Sir Rockhold, The Dragon Slayer

"Look, I did my part.  Weidman, you go do your part.  We're going to take this across the way.  Madison Square Garden.  Let's make history!"

That's what Luke Rockhold yelled during his post-fight interview, after a lopsided beatdown of Machida that would make Jon Jones envious. 

UFC Fight Night: Machida vs Rockhold

Rockhold may as well have worn a suit of armor to the octagon, because he brutally slew "The Dragon" known as Lyoto Machida to become only the third man to ever finish him.  Photo from Ryan McKinnell at Yahoo!Sports (Cagewriter): 

Here are my thoughts on each fight of UFC on Fox 15:

VanZant vs. Herrig: I honestly thought this was over when, after getting tossed with a headlock throw, Herrig took VanZant's back and almost got a rear naked choke in Round 1.  Fortunately, "12 Gauge" proved me wrong.  Not only did she escape, but she spent the rest of the fight either out-grappling Herrig to maintain top control or using ground-and-pound to neutralize her offensive guard before earning a clear-cut unanimous decision.  I don't feel that "12 Gauge" has earned a title shot just yet, but she has definitely proven herself worthy of a top-five opponent in her next outing.

Winner: Paige VanZant (unanimous decision)

Swanson vs. Holloway: Yeah, I think I should just move on from the whole "Lawrence vs. Holloway nutshot" controversy since Holloway not only demolished Swanson fair-and-square, but he also showed a lot of class after the fight.  Holloway picked Swanson apart with an excellent "stick-and-move" strategy, while also mixing it up with a spinning back kick, multiple body kicks, and a couple of flying knees.  He then put an exclamation point on his victory by grabbing Swanson and hurling him to the ground to make him tap with a guillotine from the mount.  Afterwards, he showed respect by checking on Swanson while he was recovering and, during his post-fight interview, thanked the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (who is also my Lord, by the way), for his victory.  I'm not ashamed to say that I will root for this young lion in the future, which I am very certain will involve a title shot in the shark tank which is the featherweight division.

Winner: Max Holloway (submission)

Souza vs. Camozzi: Another Round 1 submission (via armbar this time) and easy payday for Jacare.  Other than a "thank you" to Camozzi for stepping up on short notice, nothing else needs to be said.

Winner: Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza (submission)

Rockhold vs. Machida:  If this victory didn't earn Rockhold a title shot, I don't know what will.  During the first round, Rockhold rocked Machida with a right hand and took him down, keeping back control for most of the round and going for a rear naked choke.  When the round was over, Machida looked like he was out on his feet as he wobbled over to his corner.  In Round 2, Rockhold softened Machida up some more with left jabs and body kicks.  Then he simply pushed him to the ground, pounded him with some elbows, and then flattened him out face-first on the canvas with double leg hooks before making him tap with a rear naked choke.  This pretty much crushed my hopes for the return of the Machida Era.  Whoever wins "Weidman vs. Belfort" better have been paying attention because Rockhold has once again proven that the loss he suffered in his UFC debut was a major fluke.

Winner: Luke Rockhold (submission)