Sunday, September 22, 2013

UFC 165: The Toronto Screwjob!

On what planet does the challenger break the champion's face and get a unanimous decision loss?  Were the judges playing Angry Birds during the first three rounds of that fight?  Even though Gustafsson got screwed, the championship fight was awesome.  Most of the other matches were pretty good, too.  Here are my thoughts on each bout:

Healy vs. Nurmagomedov: Man, that running slam in Round 3 was epic!  Even before that, "The Eagle" was holding his own.  In spite of being on the losing end of the striking game, he demonstrated his superior grappling by taking "Bam Bam" down several times.  However, that slam put an exclamation point on his victory.  Combined with his undefeated record, it definitely made his request for a title shot sound pretty reasonable.  Since the lightweight division is extremely stacked, I think he'll have to settle for a top-five opponent first.  Nonetheless, I feel that Anthony Pettis should take notice.

Philippou vs. Carmont: Even though this fight was dull, I have to hand it to Carmont.  He was able to grind out a decision over a top-ten middleweight with relative ease.  He took Philippou down and smothered him for three rounds, using some ground-and-pound once in a while.  Was it fun to watch?  No, but at least it worked. 

Schaub vs. Mitrione:  I knew that "The Hybrid" would win, but via a beautifully executed D'Arce choke?  Now I've seen everything!  It's nice that he got his first-ever submission victory.  I still don't think that he will get the belt, but I'll keep an eye on him for exciting fights.

Barao vs. Wineland:  This is the fourth spinning heel kick knockout in the UFC in less than a two-year timespan.  Once again, it was by a Brazilian.  Barao's finish was so quick that I missed it and had to watch the replay.  I don't see Cruz beating this phenom.  Nonetheless, I hope that the champion heals by early 2014 so that we can find out if I am right.

Jones vs. Gustafsson:  Not even a crappy unanimous decision can put a damper on this awesome fight!  Gustafsson took Jones to boxing school, busting the champion open with left jabs and straight rights.  In addition to outstriking him for the majority of the fight, he was the first guy to ever take Jones down.  In fact, he managed to do it twice.  He even pulled off a spinning hammerfist in the final round.  In spite of this, "Bones" went out like a man.  He rallied in the middle of Round 4, nailing Gustafsson with a spinning elbow and catching "The Mauler" with knee strikes afterwards.  He also took Round 5 by finally taking the challenger down and finishing strong with a flying knee strike.  He truly did show his warrior spirit in this "Fight of the Year" candidate. 

On a side note, Dana White replied to my tweet about the fight, which is pretty freaking awesome!  I hope that he gives Gustafsson an immediate rematch.  Even if he doesn't, I don't think that it will be too long before Jones and Gustafsson collide again. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

My UFC 165 Predictions

Finally, Jon Jones gets to pick on somebody his own size!  I doubt that the outcome will be different, but it should be an awesome fight nonetheless.  Here are my predictions for tonight's PPV.

Healy vs. Nurmagomedov:  I don't believe that Healy is going to be able to submit a Sambo warrior like Nurmagomedov.  At the same time, I think that his experience will be too much for "The Eagle."  I expect an awesome grappling contest that ends with Healy earning a decision victory.

Winner: Pat Healy

Philippou vs. Carmont:  Philippou proved that he is the most underrated middleweight in the UFC by finishing Tim Boetsch last December.  I see him collecting a paycheck by knocking out Carmont in Round 1.  After that, I hope he gets a top-five opponent to see whether he is a contender or a gatekeeper.

Winner: Costa Philippou

Schaub vs. Mitrione: I remember seeing Schaub pound "Big Ben" Rothwell against the cage until one slipup led to him getting his lights put out.  I don't see him getting that sloppy against Mitrione.  I believe "The Hybrid" will KO his opponent in Round 1 and continue to be an exciting lower-tier heavyweight. 

Winner: Brendan Schaub

Barao vs. Wineland: With phenomenal striking and submissions, I don't see anyone beating Barao until Cruz comes back.  Nothing against Wineland, but he is in way over his head in this match.  I see Barao submitting him in Round 2 at the latest.

Winner: Renan Barao.

Jones vs. Gustafsson: As much as I would love to see "The Mauler" pull an upset, that is highly doubtful.  He has a puncher's chance at best, and when Jones gets tired of getting tagged, the champ will probably take it to the mat.  I see Jones outwrestling Gustafsson en route to a submission victory in Round 4.

Winner: Jon Jones

Saturday, September 14, 2013

My "The Ultimate Fighter: Team Rousey Vs. Team Tate" Predictions

I'll just keep this short and sweet:

I believe that Sarah Moras will be the first ever female TUF winner.  She looked absolutely amazing against Tara LaRosa and I think that she has the heart and Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills to win the competition.   

I predict that Chris Beal will be the 18th male winner, even with his injured hand.  The guy overcame cancer and went straight for the finish in his match against Sirwan Kakai.  Only Kakai's strong chin kept him from getting laid out by those bombs.  I don't think that the other competitors will be able to weather the storm quite as well. 

As far as which coach will win, that's a no-brainer.  Rousey takes it via first-round armbar again.  My only dilemma is that I don't know who to root for.  While I am still a Tate fan, Rousey has matured a lot since their first encounter.  As a result, she's grown on me.  I'll probably just sit back and enjoy the match without taking sides.   

"The Ultimate Fighter" Episode 2: Always Assume That You Are The Underdog

Did you all think that Julianna Pena stood a chance against Shayna Baszler?  Neither did I!  I didn't even understand why Baszler was in the house.  I thought that the UFC would have signed her directly.  At any rate, when she was paired with Pena, I thought it was game over for the new girl.  My belief was confirmed when she dominated Pena for the first round.

Then I was forced to eat my words in Round 2.

Several key things happened: 1) Pena took Baszler's back 2) Pena got both hooks in.  When this happens, you're in trouble 3)  Pena got the choke.  When this happens, you're in deep trouble 4) When Shayna tried to roll out, Pena flattened her face-first against the mat.  If this ever happens to you, you're doomed!

I went absolutely crazy after this upset.  Since I had tuned in late, I checked out the buildup in OnDemand.  As I caught up on the episode, I realized why Pena won: she took Baszler seriously. 

While Baszler was talking all sorts of trash about Pena, Pena was absolutely terrified of Baszler.  Due to this, Pena did everything she could to make sure that she was ready and showed everyone that she was a force to be reckoned with.  Baszler, on the other hand, thought that she would just walk right through Pena and wound up eating a humble pie the size of a truck tire.  This just shows that, when it comes to fighting, you must always assume that you are the underdog.  Doing so this can be the difference between getting your hand raised and getting choked the heck out!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Pettis Era Begins At UFC 164!

I never thought that the battle for the lightweight crown would end in a first-round submission finish!  Has Anthony Pettis been training with Ronda Rousey?  I'm just asking because that armbar was beautiful!  Here are my thoughts on this freaking amazing card (in which I correctly picked all five winners!  Woooo!). 

Poirier vs. Koch: Poirier won this one with the skin of his teeth.  He survived a vicious triangle choke in the first round and came back to drop Koch with a right hand.  He followed it up with a D'Arce choke, but Koch was saved by the bell.  Poirier dominated Koch from the top and in the clinch in Round 2.  However, Koch made a comeback in Round 3, working the jab, getting top position and taking Poirier's back.  He got a rear naked choke, but was simply too tired to finish.  Even though Koch lost, he should be proud of his effort, and Poirier made it clear that he is still a contender at featherweight.

Rothwell vs. Vera: The first two rounds were basically Vera running away from Rothwell.  Fortunately, "Big Ben" took his time, refusing to let his smaller opponent tire him out.  Finally, he cornered Vera in Round 3.  He threw him off by erratically posturing like a mad man before putting his lights out with a series of punches, knees, and strikes after he hit the mat.  Afterwards, he called out Travis Browne.  While that would be an extremely awesome fight, I doubt that Browne will accept after having finished a ranked opponent in Alistair Overreem.  Nonetheless, Rothwell definitely deserves a top-ten guy.

Mendes vs. Guida: Mendes controlled Guida the entire fight, stuffing numerous takedowns to take his back.  In Round 3, "Money" was the first guy to ever KO "The Carpenter."  He caught him with two right hooks first.  After that, he finished him with an uppercut while his back was against the cage and two straight punches after he hit the ground.  I honestly don't know who deserves a second shot at Aldo more: Mendes or Cub Swanson. 

Barnett vs. Mir:  Barnett dominated Mir against the cage with punches and knees before dropping him with a brutal right knee in Round 1.  If I was the referee, I would have stopped the fight, too.  It appears that "The Warmaster" is still relevant in the heavyweight division.  I wouldn't be surprised if he leapfrogged over Werdum to get a shot at the winner of Dos Santos-Velasquez III because of his name.  Mir, on the other hand, would be better off hanging up the gloves and either coaching the next generation of fighters, or going corporate like Matt Hughes and Chuck Liddell.

Henderson vs. Pettis: "Showtime" has done it again!  The most unpredictable fighter in the UFC pulled off a crazy armbar after a failed capoeira-style knee attack.  He basically used one of Bendo's arms to pop the other one a la Rousey vs. Kaufman.  To Bendo's credit, he honored Jesus even in defeat.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," he said, "I'll be back."

Pettis, meanwhile, thanked his hometown for their support and said that he was proof that they could do anything that they put their mind to.  He also called out Jose Aldo.  While that would be an interesting fight, I think he has enough contenders in his own division to keep him busy for a while.  In particular, I hope that T.J. Grant gets his well-earned title shot.    

At any rate, the Pettis Era has officially started in the lightweight division.  Due to his insane athleticism and creativity, I don't see it ending anytime soon.