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