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): 
http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mma-cagewriter/luke-rockhold-vaults-into-title-picture-with-win-over-lyoto-machida-030008535-mma.html 

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)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

UFC on Fox 15: My substitute for UFC 186

Why am I not watching UFC 186, in spite of being a fan of "Mighty Mouse" and "The Count"?

Because I don't pay for squash matches.  That's why.

Demetrious Johnson's opponent, Kyochi Horiguchi, barely beat Louis Gaudinot in his last match, which was so terrible that I wrote "Who cares?" in my UFC notes regarding who won Round 3 and stopped paying attention.  I honestly believe he got this title shot because he is the only flyweight "Mighty Mouse" hasn't schooled yet.  On top of that, Michael Bisping is fighting C.B. Dolloway, whose best accomplishment so far has been that he was hand-picked by the UFC to be part of Lyoto Machida's KO highlight reel.  The only way I would consider going out to watch this PPV is if Davis vs. Kaufman was moved to the main event and that certainly isn't happening.  So I'll just watch that particular fight on the prelims at home and save my money.

At any rate, here are my predictions for the fight card I'm watching instead: UFC on Fox 15.  It not only has much better matches: it's also FREE!

Herrig vs. VanZant:  I'll be rooting for "12 gauge" here, but the fact is that she simply doesn't have enough experience to beat someone like "Lil' Bulldog" just yet.  I believe Herrig will sub her in Round 3.

Winner: Herrig

Swanson vs. Holloway: Swanson has had a lot more experience and success against the upper crust of the featherweight division than Holloway has, so I think he will batter Holloway from pillar-to-post for three rounds en route to a lopsided decision victory.

Winner: Swanson

Souza vs. Camozzi: First, I found out Yoel Romero got injured and had to bow out, which was a major disappointment.  Then I found out that the best replacement they could find was Chris Camozzi, whom Jacare has already subbed within one round, and I was even more disappointed.  Since Camozzi is on a four-fight skid, I don't see this ending any differently: another Round 1 sub and easy payday for Souza.

Winner: Souza

Rockhold vs. Machida:  Since my first black belt was in karate, I would love to see Machida win another UFC championship.  That being said, he and Rockhold (who has crushed Costas Philippou, Tim Boetsch, and Michael Bisping) are both evenly matched and Rockhold is 6 years younger.  I believe that Father Time will catch up to Machida in this fight and that he will drop a unanimous decision to the former Strikeforce middleweight champion, who will go on to challenge the winner of Weidman vs. Belfort.

Winner: Rockhold.   

My Answers To MMAMania's Five Burning Questions For UFC On Fox 15

Just for fun, I decided to write a blog response to "UFC on Fox 15 preview: Five burning questions for 'Machida vs Rockhold' in New Jersey", an article by Alex Schlinsky at MMAMania.com.

http://www.mmamania.com/2015/4/13/8403365/ufc-on-fox-15-preview-five-burning-questions-for-machida-vs-rockhold-new-jersey-mma

Here are my answers to the questions that he asks:

"5. With Joanne Calderwood's loss this past weekend, is Paige VanZant vs. Felice Herrig a No. 1 contender's bout?"

Probably.  Even though I think that Maryna Moroz deserves it more with her upset of Joanne Calderwood at UFC Fight Night: Gonzaga vs. Cro Cop 2, the more popular, more charismatic (and let's just face it, prettier) female fighters tend to leapfrog the competition, regardless of skill or talent.  So I believe that Moroz will get snubbed and the winner of VanZant vs. Herrig will get the next title shot against Joanna Jedrzejcyk.

"4. Aljamain Sterling: A future title contender?"

The UFC better hope so.  Their bantamweight division desperately needs one.  Dillashaw and Barao seem miles ahead of the rest of the division.  I'm a huge Faber fan, but even I believe that he has had more than enough chances to prove he is the best and just doesn't have it in him.  And Cruz (who never actually lost his title to begin with) is too injury-prone to stay competitive.  I am all for bringing in any fighter who can prevent "Dillashaw vs. Barao V" from happening.

"3. Can Cub Swanson rebound from his difficult loss to Frankie Edgar, or will Max Holloway prove to be a top-five contender?"

Absolutely.  Swanson is a monster who was simply outmatched against Edgar.  I just hope that he is prepared for any "accidental" nutshots he might take against Holloway (watch Holloway's fight against Justin Lawrence and you will see what I am referring to).

"2. Does anyone care about Ronaldo Souza vs. Chris Camozzi?"

Let me think.  NO!

That's why I am hoping that, assuming that Souza and Michael Bisping defeat their opponents this month (which is highly probable), that "Jacare" answers the challenge that "The Count" issued to him over Instagram (see below).

http://www.bloodyelbow.com/2015/4/15/8417623/ufc-michael-bisping-jacare-souza-186-dollaway-mma-news

"1. How well does Lyoto Machida match up with Luke Rockhold?"

Considering the age of these too middleweight standouts, not well enough, I'm afraid.  The surging Rockhold is 30 and in his prime, whereas Machida is 36, which is when most fighters lose their touch (and their chin).  I believe that this is the fight where Father Time finally catches up to Machida and he passes the torch to the next generation of champions.  Will he put up a valiant effort against the surging Rockhold? Absolutely.  Will he win?  I doubt it.   

Next post: My UFC on Fox 15 predictions (and why this event is my substitute for UFC 186)

    






Sunday, March 22, 2015

MMA Blogging: My Hobby

As much as I would love to blog about MMA full-time, there are these things called "bills" which I have to pay.  For that reason, I will just treat it as a hobby for now.  If things take off in the future and I can make money off my hobby, great.  Meanwhile, I will just do it for fun whenever I get some free time.

That means that I will not be able to review every single UFC event.  It used to be that there would only be one UFC PPV a month.  Now, on top of those PPVs, there are free events EVERY WEEK.  I simply don't have the time to keep track of every match anymore, so I have to be picky about which events I write about.

Additionally, as much as I love MMA, I primarily train in the traditional martial arts, so I want to blog about those, too.  Even though Kung Fu isn't trendy anymore, it is still valuable for self-defense and is AMAZING when it comes to physical health.  The Kung Fu kata, in particular, have done wonders for me when it comes to stress relief, improving my overall energy level, healing my joints, and preventing injury.  It's basically yoga for warriors.

For these reasons, I will be cutting back on my MMA posts.  Even though I will cover as many PPVs as I can, the UFC is just one of many aspects of the martial arts.  Therefore, it will only be one of many aspects of my martial arts blog.         


Sunday, March 15, 2015

"Showtime" Gets Cancelled At UFC 185!

"Through Jesus, you can do all things!"

That's what Rafael Dos Anjos yelled after giving Anthony Pettis a five-round beatdown en route to becoming the first Brazilian UFC lightweight champion.  His "David vs. Goliath" victory capped off an amazing PPV which also saw Joanna Jedrzejczyk crush Carla Esparza in two rounds, which was another upset I didn't see coming.  Here are my thoughts on each match of the card.

Caraiso vs. Cejudo: As expected, Cejudo schooled Caraiso in a grappling clinic to get the decision.  Caraiso did almost get a heel hook near the end of Round 3, but it was too little, too late.  Even though I don't think Cejudo's quite ready yet, I wouldn't be surprised if he gets a title shot after this, especially if "Mighty Mouse" wins next month.

Nelson vs. Overeem: Overeem made me eat my words by picking apart "Big Country" en route to a decision.  In particular, flying knees to the chest and body kicks which turned the entire right side of Nelson's body red were the keys to victory for "The Reem."  He also showed better defense, dodging (and a couple of times, running from) Nelson's fists and covering up when Nelson wailed on him to protect his chin.  Wagging his finger at Nelson to taunt him after stuffing a takedown may not have been the classiest move, but it was entertaining nonetheless.

Hendricks vs. Brown: Has Hendricks' "punch-punch-takedown" style become formulaic?  Yes.  But hey, it works.  He basically smothered "The Immortal" for three rounds, using his wrestling to stymie all of Brown's submission attempts, including a couple of inverted triangle attacks.  Not to mention that the slams that "Bigg Rigg" used, especially the one when he carried Brown to the center of the octagon and planted him into the mat, made me nostalgic for the days when WWE was actually good.

Esparza vs. Jedrzejczyk: Joanna is the Polish She-Hulk!  First, she sprawled, stuffed or reversed nearly all of "The Cookie Monster's" takedown attempts.  Then Jedrzejczyk broke the former champion's face with brutal straight rights until she finished Esparza against the cage with a flurry in Round 2 for the TKO.  In all honesty, though, Jedrzejczyk had crushed Esparza mentally long before that.  With her wrestling completely neutralized, Esparza had no clue what to do.  She fell into the insanity trap of doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, seemingly unable to believe that the wrestling ability which took her to the top was completely useless against her opponent.  Overeem made me eat my words; Jedrzejczyk, the new women's strawweight champ, shoved them down my throat!

Pettis vs. Dos Anjos:  Dos Anjos was way too nice to make me eat my words.  Instead, he politely served me humble pie, slice-by-slice, through manhandling the best striker in the UFC.  Dos Anjos used straight lefts to smash Pettis' right eye so that he couldn't see.  Then he used multiple takedowns to ground the high-flying champ and brutalized him with ground-and-pound.  On top of that, he rode Pettis' back and nearly got a rear naked choke not once, but twice.  Additionally, he almost got a kimura.  Pettis did attempt a kimura-sweep in Round 5, but Dos Anjos wasn't having it.  In the end, Dos Anjos claimed the lightweight throne as his own before acknowledging the real source of his victory: Jesus Christ.

Ironically, Dos Anjos admitted in a post-fight interview that he had almost pulled out of the fight due to a torn MCL in his right knee.  However, Dos Anjos prayed to God and God told him that he would be fine.  I can only imagine what Dos Anjos will do when he is at 100%!             

Saturday, March 14, 2015

UFC 185: My Predictions

Two championship fights, a former welterweight kingpin trying to climb his way back to the top after being screwed out of his title, and the heavyweight division's most entertaining KO artist attempting to make a comeback?  Sounds like an awesome PPV to me!  Here are my predictions for UFC 185.

Caraiso vs. Cejudo: I'll go with my gut and say Cejudo via decision.

Winner: Cejudo

Nelson vs. Overeem: Nelson has cinder block fists and Overeem's chin is about as strong as an antique vase.  This one is a no-brainer: another first round KO for "Big Country."

Winner: Nelson

Hendricks vs. Brown: Matt Brown has the toughness and the heart to hang with the welterweight elite, but he simply does not have the skill.  I believe that "Bigg Rigg" will achieve the impossible and finish "The Immortal" with a KO in Round 3.

Winner: Hendricks

Esparza vs. Jedrzejczyk: It's nice that Jedrzejczyk pulled an upset over Claudia Gadelha in her last fight.  I just don't see it happening against "The Cookie Monster."  Esparza will defend her title by grinding out Jedrzejczyk en route to getting the submission in Round 3.

Winner: Esparza

Pettis vs. Dos Anjos: Dos Anjos may have knocked out Benson Henderson, but I believe that Pettis is way too fast and dynamic for him.  Even though Pettis' last two wins were by submission, I see "Showtime" returning to his striking game and knocking out Dos Anjos by Round 2 at the latest.

Winner: Pettis

Sunday, March 1, 2015

UFC 184: "Just...F@#$!"

"Just...F@#$!"

Zingano's exclamation during her post-fight interview pretty much sums up everyone's reaction to Ronda Rousey's 14-second victory over her, including mine.  With this victory, Rousey demolished the last of the "murderer's row" of the top female bantamweights in the world and cemented her place as the undisputed Queen of MMA.



Let's just face it: this belt isn't going anywhere unless Ronda Rousey (pictured with her sister and mother) retires. Image by MMAJunkie (Link to: http://mmajunkie.com/2015/03/ufc-184-post-fight-facts-ronda-rouseys-ridiculous-resume-is-beyond-amazing)

Here's my take on this night of exciting finishes:
  
Ferguson vs. Tibau: Ferguson rocked Tibau with a right to gain the upper hand early.  Several choke attempts later, "El Cucuy" had Tibau in a deep rear naked choke with double leg hooks to get the victory via tapout.

Walsh vs. Jouban: Walsh's forward pressure and aggression was turned against him when Jouban caught him with a left elbow as he rushed in and got the TKO victory after the referee stopped it.  I personally felt this was an early stoppage.

Ellenberger vs. Koscheck: This looked like it would be the most boring fight of the night.  Both Ellenberger and Koscheck appeared to be afraid to engage on their feet.  Koscheck looked like he was trying to cruise to a decision victory by smothering Ellenberger with takedown attempts.  Fortunately, that ended in Round 2 when "The Juggernaut" caught Koscheck in a standing guillotine and took him down into a North-South choke (which I've never seen before in my life) to give him his first submission loss in almost 10 years.

Holm vs. Pennington: This was the fight of the night in my opinion.  I believe that this should have been a unanimous decision victory for Holm instead of a split.  The only round in question was Round 3, when "Rocky" caught her with several hard rights, including one that dropped "The Preacher's Daughter" near the end.  Nonetheless, Holm clearly controlled the rest of the fight with great takedown defense and pressuring Pennington with boxing combos and head kicks.  The real question, however, was whether or not Holm could prove she was a threat to Ronda Rousey.  The fact that Holm had such a hard time defeating the 14th-ranked woman in the division is proof that she is not.

Rousey vs. Zingano: Zingano clearly took Rousey by surprise with a flying knee followed by a suicide throw which had the champ doing a somersault in the octagon.  Unfortunately, Rousey was too level-headed and technically sound to be taken aback for more than a few seconds.  During the scramble that ensued, Rousey took Zingano's back, transitioned into an omoplata, and from there had the second-best female fighter in the world tapping in a straight armbar within 14 seconds flat.  I'm not sure what impressed me more: the fact that Rousey crushed her challenger in record time with a type of armbar that I had never seen before, or her display of sportmanship and class afterward, in which she consoled a clearly distraught Zingano with an embrace and kiss on the cheek.

This completes a face-turn which Rousey began when she commended the effort of her rival, Miesha Tate, at UFC 168 and I can honestly say that I am now a huge fan of the champ.

Now that Rousey has slain every dragon that WMMA has to offer, what should she do next?  Well, she could defeat Holm and Jessica Eye as a formality.  In fact, to make things more efficient, the UFC may consider making Eye and Holm face off in a title eliminator to decide who gets the next beatdown at the hands of the champ.  As another formality, Rousey can go up to catchweight to smash Cyborg (provided that the latter continues to lay off the 'roids).  I would appreciate this, not because I think Cyborg is a credible threat without PEDs, but because it would make her foot-kissing fans shut up.  If Rousey does those two things, she really has nothing left to accomplish and would be better off moving on to bigger and better things such as Hollywood or getting married and starting a family.

At any rate, two things are clear: Ronda Rousey is the undisputed Queen of Queens of MMA, and her character has finally caught up with her talent.