Sunday, November 15, 2015

UFC 193: The Preacher's Daughter Rises!

David has defeated Goliath!  I am still amazed by Holly Holm's performance.  Not only did she beat the pound-for-pound best WMMA fighter of all time, but she crushed her in two rounds!

Down Goes Rousey!  Holly Holm Pulls Off The Biggest Upset In MMA History At UFC 193.  Photo From Yahoo!Sports

Humble pie never tasted so good!  Here are my thoughts on each fight of this awesome PPV:

Struve vs. Rosholt: As expected, Rosholt beat Struve.  As expected, it was terrible.  Rosholt won by taking Struve down and lying in side control for most of the fight.  Rosholt would be better off changing his name to "The Big Slow", to quote the Rock.  In contrast, if all Struve has in his fighting prime is "hit-and-stop" striking, then he needs to retire before he gets himself seriously hurt.

Winner: Jared "Big Show" Rosholt (unanimous decision)

Hall vs. Whitaker: The New Zealand workhorse looked great in this fight.  He was aggressive from the opening bell and kept Hall on the defensive with boxing combos in the first two rounds.  Even though Whitaker lost momentum in the second when the ref mistook a straight left that caught Hall in the eye for an eyepoke, he quickly regained it.  Whitaker was particularly dominant in Round 3, swarming Hall at the start and causing "Prime Time" to cover up and turn his back.  Other than a failed spinning attack in Round 1 that led to him falling on his back, Hall didn't do very much.  Let's just say that I am off the "Prime Time" hype train for good after another timid performance.

Winner: Robert Whitaker (unanimous decision)

Hunt vs. Silva: "Super Samoan" proved me wrong with a first round knockout of "Bigfoot." All Hunt needed was a straight right that glanced off Bigfoot's head and another right on the ground to claim the victory in this rematch.  On top of that, he thanked Jesus for his win, which I really appreciate.  Will he challenge for gold again?  Doubtful.  But I would like to see him fight one more time before riding off into the sunset.

Winner: Mark "Super Samoan" Hunt (KO)

Jedrzejczyk vs. Letourneau: Instead of the lopsided beatdown I expected, we got a competitive kickboxing match in which Jedrzejczyk edged out Letourneau with 1-2 combos, intermittent flurries, and leg kicks.  In my opinion, this was the "Fight of the Night" and both women should be proud of the show that they put on.

Winner (and still UFC women's strawweight champion): Joanna Jedrzejczyk (unanimous decision)

Rousey vs. Holm: The Preacher's Daughter Rises! The headkick KO I wished for came true, and I still can't believe it!  Even before that, Holm completely outclassed Rousey, catching her with straight lefts and a couple of elbows while using her footwork to get out of the way whenever the champ went "raging bull" on her.  She also outmuscled her in the clinch, only getting taken down once and successfully defending the armbar before getting back up.  The beginning of the end was when, in Round 2, Holm ducked and slipped away when Rousey tried to rush her again, and "Rowdy" slipped, almost going face first into the cage.  Then, after Holm shoved Rousey off when the champ tried to clinch with her again-



A left headkick to Rousey's jaw sent the pound-for-pound best WMMA fighter crashing to the canvas.  The hammerfists afterwards were merely a formality.  "The Preacher's Daughter" not only rose to the occasion, she completely dominated.  Everyone at Buffalo Wild Wings went crazy as we witnessed the biggest upset in MMA history.

Winner (and NEW UFC women's bantamweight champion): Holly "The Preacher's Daughter" Holm (KO)  



Saturday, November 14, 2015

UFC 193: My Predictions

"Holm won't last a minute against Rousey!"

That's what most people seem to believe, based on what I have read on the internet.  I do believe that Holm is overmatched and was rushed into this title shot too soon.  Nonetheless, I'm not convinced that Holm will wind up on Rousey's "60-second armbar highlight reel."  The main reason is that Holm reminds me of another challenger who shocked the world against a P4P great: Alexander Gustafsson, who brutalized Jon Jones en route to losing a controversial decision. 

Just like Gustafsson, Holm took decisions in her 2 previous fights and is now facing a champion who has run through the top fighters in the division like a lightsaber through stormtrooper armor.  Just like Gustafsson, Holm leap-frogged over someone else (Tate, in her case) who had earned the shot because she was a fresh challenge for the champion.  Just like Gustafsson, everyone assumes that Holm will be manhandled because she is a boxer with an unproven ground game up against an expert grappler with deadly submissions.  But in spite of this, just like Gustafsson, Holm doesn't seem intimidated by the champion or demoralized by the nay-sayers. 

Which is why I believe that, just like Gustafsson, Holm will shock the world and give her division's champion the fight of their life.  I'm not saying that she will win.  However, I do believe that the bout will end in a brutal, hard-fought decision.

Here are my predictions for each match on the card:

Struve vs. Rosholt:  Yes, Struve did beat Minotauro in his last fight.  But considering that the match resembled a ballroom dancing lesson more than a fight, I can confidently say that it was unimpressive.  This bout is probably going to be another grinding snoozefest, but with the healthier "Big Show" getting the victory with a decision.

Winner: Jared "Big Show" Rosholt

Hall vs. Whitaker:  Hall appears to have finally overcome his "Too nice to hurt people" mental block and seems willing to actually finish his fights now.  If that is the case, Whitaker will be knocked out by a spinning back kick within less than a minute.  Then Hall will be ready for a title eliminator to see if he can provide an interesting challenge to Weidman as the Jamaican Anderson Silva.

Winner: Uriah "Prime Time" Hall

Hunt vs. Silva:  At 41 and after brutal finishes by Werdum and Miocic, Hunt's comeback story seems to be at an end.  Due to age, I believe that Bigfoot will get the finish by KO in Round 2.  I just hope that this rematch isn't ruined by another failed drug test on his part.

Winner: Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva

Jedrzejczyk vs. Letourneau:  Letourneau's upset of Maryna Moroz was impressive.  Unfortunately, that was mostly because she outwrestled her, and Jedrzejcyk has elite takedown offensive.  This fight is staying on the feet, which is Jedrzejcyk's world, and she'll prove it by punching Letourneau unconscious within two rounds to win a "Knockout of the Night" bonus.
Winner: Joanna Jedrzejczyk
Rousey vs. Holm: Holm doesn't seem to have the power to finish Rousey with her hands.  Not to mention that her chin is suspect after she got dropped by a punch from Pennington in Round 3 of her UFC debut.  However, I do believe she has the takedown defense, footwork, and technical striking to be the matador to Rousey's raging bull for the first 2 rounds of the fight.  Nonetheless, through sheer aggression, I believe that, after getting picked apart in Rounds 1 and 2, Ronda will hurt Holm with a strong shot early in Round 3.  Then the champ will probably have Holm backpedaling for the rest of the fight, winning the decision on aggression and octagon control.
Nonetheless, I am still hoping for a fluke headkick KO by Holm, because I don't support champions who commit adultery (see this article on MMA Fighting to find out what I'm talking about).  

Winner: Ronda "Rowdy" Rousey     



Sunday, October 4, 2015

UFC 192: Clash of The Light Heavyweight Titans!

Wow!  Contrary to popular belief, there are still great UFC light heavyweight fighters not named Jon Jones!  In the classic "boxer vs. wrestler matchup", Gustafsson and Cormier put on a "Fight of the Year" candidate.  Here are my thoughts on each match of the card:

Eye vs. Pena: Alright, maybe Pena isn't quite ready for Rousey yet.  Nonetheless, she proved that she is an elite female bantamweight by dominating Eye in Round 1 and Round 3 on the ground.  Not to mention that it's hard to fault "The Venezuelan Vixen" for not stopping an opponent who hasn't been finished since 2011.  Pena was only in trouble in Round 2, when Eye her down, took her back, and later got an arm-triangle.  Even then, she escaped and was back on top when Eye fouled her with a knee to the head (which definitely did NOT look accidental) and got a well-deserved point deduction.  While I would like Pena to get one more fight against a top-five bantamweight before she fights Rousey, that's unlikely.  The champ has mowed down everybody else, so Pena's the number 1 contender by default and will probably get the chance she requested to prove that she's Rousey's "Evander Holyfield" (unless Holm can pull the upset next month).

Winner: Julianna Pena (unanimous decision)  

Benavidez vs. Bagautinov: Benavidez had more diverse striking, using knees and headkicks as well as boxing combos.  Nonetheless, I felt Bagautinov won the last two Rounds because he was more aggressive.  On top of that, he got two takedowns and a suplex in Round 2.  The judges, however, saw it differently, which is why you should always finish your opponent in MMA.

Winner: Joseph Benavidez (unanimous decision)

Jordan vs. Magomedov: Apparently, experience isn't everything.  Even though Round 1 was even, the "Leopard" ran circles around "The Savage" for the rest of the fight with boxing 1-2 combos and roundhouse kicks to the head.  In the highlight of the fight, Magomedov did a spinning back kick in Round 3 which cut open Jordan's right eye.  Other than a takedown in Round 1, Jordan was simply too slow for Magomedov, and, in spite of his strength, was often outmuscled when he did clinch with him.

Winner: Ruslan Magomedov (unanimous decision)

Bader vs. Evans:  With two takedowns and by working his jab, Bader easily outpointed Evans and proved he is the one who most deserves a light heavyweight title shot (although he will probably be leapfrogged by Jon "Teflon Bones" Jones).  In contrast, Evans just made a couple of half-hearted takedown attempts and threw the occasional punch or kick which didn't do any damage.   In other words, the former light heavyweight champ's heart doesn't seem to be in it anymore and if that's the case, he would be better off retiring and becoming a full-time analyst.

Winner: Ryan Bader (unanimous decision)

Cormier vs. Gustafsson:  What do you get when you put a boxer and a wrestler in the cage?  World War III!  I personally would have given Gustafsson the nod, but it was a really close fight!  In this standup war, Gustafsson was the technician, working over Cormier's face and body with boxing combos and knee strikes, including one knee to the face which dropped "DC" in Round 3.  Only Cormier's heart and grit allowed him to survive.  In contrast, DC was more aggressive, hitting Gustafsson with uppercuts in the clinch and proving that he could box as well as wrestle.  On top of that, he did his most spectacular slam ever, hoisting the 6-foot-5 Swede into the air, flipping him upside down, and dumping him on his back.  Gustafsson, however, proved he could wrestle, too, by becoming the second man to ever take Cormier down and stuffing most of the champion's takedown attempts.  To be honest, this "Fight Of The Year" candidate was so awesome that both men were winners.

Winner (and still UFC light heavyweight champion): Daniel Cormier (split decision)   

Saturday, October 3, 2015

UFC 192: My Predictions

Finally, another stacked UFC PPV!  As much as I am disappointed by the loss of Hendricks vs. Woodley (which was scrapped due to a weight cut which ended with Hendricks going to the hospital), there are still enough other matches to keep this card solid.  Here are my predictions for each fight:

Eye vs. Pena:  Julianna Pena is a tenacious, powerful monster who has crushed everyone who has gotten in her way since she was on "The Ultimate Fighter."  I believe she is actually the greatest threat to Ronda Rousey at the moment, because, in addition to her ferocity, heart, and KO power, she has never failed a test for steroids (unlike a certain other "challenger" who's not even on UFC's roster).  In contrast, Jessica Eye seems to have peaked with her decision victory over Sarah Kaufman in October of 2013 (which was overturned due to a failed drug test for marijuana).  While she is a decent technical striker, she was manhandled for 2 out of 3 rounds in her match against Alexis Davis  and dominated in her fight against Miesha Tate.  In other words, she is currently in gatekeeper mode, and I believe that Pena will mow her down with ground-and-pound in Round 2 on the way to getting a title shot.

My prediction: Julianna Pena by TKO.

Benavidez vs. Bagautinov:  I have never seen Bagautinov fight, but I have seen Benavidez, who would be flyweight champion if it wasn't for the much faster "Mighty Mouse."  I see Benavidez staying at the top of the division by grinding out a decision victory with his wrestling.

My prediction: Joseph Benavidez by decision.

Jordan vs. Magomedov: I have to pick Jordan here, due to his UFC experience and that brutal headkick which took down Derrick Lewis in June.  I do not see this going the distance: Jordan will probably KO Magomedov in Round 2.

My prediction: Shawn Jordan by KO.

Bader vs. Evans: Three years ago, I would have gone with Evans.  However, the former champion has been on the shelf for 2 years due to injury and is 36, whereas Bader is 32 and on a 4-fight winning streak.  For that reason, I think "Darth" Bader is finally going to earn a title shot with a decision win over "Suga" in his comeback tour.

My prediction: Ryan Bader via decision.

Cormier vs. Gustafsson: After dominating Anthony "Rumble" Johnson, it is clear that "DC" is the best light heavyweight other than Jon Jones.  He arguably has the best wrestling technique in the UFC as well.  That being said, at 36, he is fighting on borrowed time.  Gustafsson, at 28, is in his prime, and spent three-and-a-half rounds brutalizing the guy who gave DC his first loss before getting robbed by the judges.  At the same time, we can't discount the fact that Gustafsson was violently knocked out by "Rumble" in one round, whereas DC popped right back up after getting hit with the same overhand right and managed to wear Johnson down with wrestling before submitting him in Round 3.  This fight comes down to strategy: if Gustafsson can use his boxing and footwork to keep DC at bay and drag him into the later rounds, then he will win by decision.  If DC can close the distance early and go "Zangief" on "The Mauler", then he will win by submission.  Personally, I believe that Gustafsson will be able to implement his game plan first and take the decision, albeit by the skin of his teeth, and set up a rematch to settle the score with Jon Jones (assuming "Bones" decides to come back to the UFC, of course).

My prediction: Gustafsson via decision.                             

Sunday, September 6, 2015

UFC 191: Business As Usual For Mighty Mouse

UFC wasn't the exciting "lopsided beatdown" gauntlet that I expected, but it was alright.  Here are my thoughts on each match of the PPV:

VanZant vs. Alex Chambers: As expected, "12 Gauge" manhandled the much older "Astro Girl" for the entire match.  This was mostly with knees in the clinch to show off her Muay Thai training, but she also did a neat headlock takedown in the first round.  Chambers looked horrific, falling backwards after a takedown attempt in Round 1 and simply getting shoved to the ground in Round 2.  VanZant capped off the most exciting fight of the main card in Round 3 by hitting Chambers with an overhand right, dropping her with a knee, going for a rear naked choke, transitioning to mount, and using ground-and-pound before finishing with an armbar.  Needless to say, she deserves a big step up in competition after this easy payday, preferably against my favorite strawweight, Joanne Calderwood.

Winner: Paige "12 Gauge" VanZant (submission)

Blachowicz vs. Anderson:  Jon Jones deserved to be stripped of his title and suspended by the UFC due to his behavior outside of the cage.  At the same time, without him, the light heavyweight division (with the exception of Cormier, Rumble, Gustafsson and Teixiera) sucks.  More proof of that is this fight, where Anderson won by basically lying in either Blachowicz's guard or half-guard for two out of three rounds.  If Jones ever does come back, he should just leave this wasteland behind and move on to heavyweight. 

Winner: Corey Anderson (unanimous decision).

Johnson vs. Manuwa:  Manuwa managed to avoid getting knocked out by "Rumble" until Round 2.  That is an accomplishment in and of itself.  Meanwhile, "Rumble" should cash the check from this easy payday and celebrate, especially after winning "Knockout of the Night" with that left body kick and overhand right.

Winner: Anthony "Rumble" Johnson (KO)

Arlovski vs. Mir:  I actually thought Mir did enough to edge out Arlovski with his takedowns and top control, since the striking was equally awful.  But this fight was so terrible that one of these men bragging about winning it is like a turtle bragging about beating another turtle in the 50-yard dash.  Neither man was trying to go for a finish: there were points during the fight where Mir would just stand with his arms down and taunt Arlovski and Arlovski would just stare back.  Suffice it to say that if Arlovski gets a title shot and fights like this, he's doomed.

Winner: Andrei "Pitbull" Arlovski (unanimous decision)

Johnson vs. Dodson: There was a moment of humor where at the end of Round 3, "Mighty Mouse" caught Dodson with a flying knee, fell on his back, and, as soon as the bell rang, he scurried away through Herb Dean's legs.  He also took down "The Magician" with a couple of WWE-style slams (Dodson used his hands to soften the first one) in Round 5.  Other than that, this was just another day in the office for "Mighty Mouse": superior technical striking and speed en route to a dominant decision.  After he beats Silva's record, I hope he goes back to bantamweight so that he can fight opponents who will actually challenge him.

Winner (and still UFC flyweight champion): Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson (unanimous decision) 



Saturday, September 5, 2015

UFC 191: My Predictions

The only thing shorter than this post will be tonight's PPV, because it's full of squash matches.  On the bright side, it should be exciting and will be a nice break after the horrendously long UFC 190 PPV.  Here are my predictions for tonight's card:

VanZant vs. Chambers: "Astro Girl" may rival "12 Gauge" in the looks department, but after VanZant's thrashing of Herrig in her last fight, I see a lopsided beating by the newcomer en route to a decision.

Winner: Paige VanZant

Blachowicz vs. Anderson: My gut tells me Blachowicz will get the KO in Round 2.

Winner: Jan Blachowicz

Johnson vs. Manuwa:  This is a clear tuneup fight for "Rumble."  Manuwa should be proud of himself if he gets out of Round 1 without getting KO'd.

Winner: Anthony Johnson

Arlovski vs. Mir: "Pitbull" has been on a tear, most recently knocking out Travis Browne within one round.  As much respect as I have for Mir, there's no way his chin is going to hold up in this fight.  I see another KO for Arlovski on his way to a title shot.

Winner:  Andrei Arlovski

Johnson vs. Dodson: Like Ronda Rousey, "Mighty Mouse" is leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of his division.  In contrast, "The Magician" hasn't looked any different from his last title fight, especially after he was gifted a decision over Zach Makovsky in his last match (which I thought the latter won).  I see a clear decision win for Johnson en route to his quest to break Anderson Silva's record of title defenses.   

Winner (and still UFC flyweight champion): Demetrious Johnson. 

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!