Could this month get any bigger for the sport of Mixed Martial Arts? Two major UFC cards, a Strikeforce card, four total title bouts between the two, and the first UFC vs. professional boxer bout set to take place this Saturday night.
The mystique in the UFC’s upcoming card is being sold on the rematch between former champion BJ Penn, and new champion Frank Edgar. Edgar was able to pull off a shocking five round decision victory just a few months ago to capture the title in Abu Dhabi, and many question whether or not he will be able to replicate this performance.
I’ve heard so many people say “BJ Penn is just going to go at Edgar like a mad man and dominate him!” I wouldn’t place my money on that. Frank Edgar is fast, ladies and gentlemen, way faster than Penn will ever consider being. Penn has fought at weights up to 191 pounds in his career, and conditioning and cardio have been a longstanding issue for the Hawaii native. Edgar however could easily compete in WEC’s 145 pound featherweight division if he so chooses, and it was his outstanding technical abilities that earned him the victory. If Penn wants to regain his title, he’s going to need to finish Edgar, in which he’s more than capable of. Leaving this bout up to the judges is NOT something BJ wants to do, as he has only one decision victory in the Lightweight division, as opposed to two losses and a draw.
Edgar faces many of the same criticisms that Mauricio “Shogun” Rua faced, after he was blatantly robbed of his initial victory overy Lyoto Machida. He fought such a precise technical fight, with the perfect gameplan, how does one replicate such a performance? You surely wouldn’t be able to do the same thing to a fighter the stature of BJ Penn would you? That’s exactly what he should do. BJ Penn’s counter striking seems to not be on par with Edgar’s speed. Until the speed factor is neutralized, it needs to be used. Frank Edgar also was circling towards Penn’s right hand a lot, which enabled him to get better angles on his own jab, while staying away from the great strength that Penn possesses in his own.
While the BJ Penn vs. Frank Edgar fight is listed as the evening’s main event, there is a much more publicized fight that looks to draw in PPV buys and interest from new fans. James Toney made a much talked about entrance into the UFC earlier this year, constantly calling out UFC President Dana White, consistently trash talking the sport, and signing a mulit-fight deal with the company. White responded by matching the legendary boxer, with a legend of his own in Randy Couture.
Personally I’ve never been a Randy Couture fan, but he’s been marketed properly. Boxing is losing a lot of it’s steam in America due to the lack of American stars at the top of the ranks in the boxing world. Mixed Martial Arts reached new heights in popularity when American born stars such as Couture, Chuck Liddell, Forrest Griffin and others became extremely marketable stars for Dana White to build his product around. I’ve often times criticized Couture because he hasn’t pieced together three consecutive victories since 2000. I respect him for his contributions to the sport, but I’ve rarely cheered for him. Then I see this..
This…James Toney, who is supposed to be representing the boxing community in a positive light to defend it’s relevance also has said that “nobody will lay on him like a little f-ggot”. There was also a story perpetuated that he submitted Former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion King Mo Lawal with a guillotine choke during a training session, that both parties admitted was untrue, and used to build the fight. Toney has certainly built an interest with his mouth in this fight, but I don’t think he understands what he’s getting into.
Toney has the initial advantage as every MMA fight starts on the feet. Beyond the hand aspect of the game, Randy Couture has every single advantage. Conditioning, ground, wrestling, submission, even half of the stand up game. James Toney likely doesn’t train to take kicks (not that Couture throws them very often). Toney MUST have this fight to remain standing if he wishes to stand any chance at all. Allegedly his clinch work is deadly, according to MFC Lightweight Champ Antonio McKee. If any clinch situation arises, I expect Couture to quickly shoot for a takedown. While Couture is an exceptional wrestler, his Greco-roman style doesn’t often call for shooting from great distances for takedowns, but against a novice grappler like Toney, it shouldn’t be an issue.
Would anyone else here jump for joy if The Natural simply pounded him out in a minute or two? I initially said I’d go crazy and cheer like a maniac if Randy Couture took James Toney down and held him for 15 minutes just out of spite. After watching yet another Jon Fitch fight I’ve changed my tune on that situation. Please, lets get Toney’s mouth shut!
As I’m sure you’ve read or watched by now, former ECW Wrestling owner Paul Heyman has been making some noise in the MMA world of late. Brock Lesnar isn’t often available for interviews, so often times, Heyman (being a close friend of Lesnar) is asked his take on certain situations, and surprise surprise…turns out he has quite the mind for the sport of MMA as well. In a recent 90 minute interview with AOL Fanhouse, he touched on several subjects including TNA, Strikeforce, UFC, WWE, and Brock Lesnar. Whatever company manages to gain Heyman as an employee, whether it be wrestling, MMA, or a pro hopscotch league is going to be dealing with an outstanding creative mind. I’d also like to know why Ariel Helwani, whom conducted the interview, isn’t employed by a major MMA promotion full-time. This kid is extremely educated, well-spoken, and never shaken by the star power he is constantly surrounded by. He’s also not afraid to ask ridiculously difficult questions in the presence of these guys, as evidenced by the video posted above with James Toney.
Strikeforce: Houston was a huge card for the company this past Saturday, although it didn’t receive the proper build up that it deserved. On the card were two title fights, and an appearance by former WWE and TNA star Bobby Lashley. The story of the evening however, was the garbage officiating, honestly some of the worst I’ve ever witnessed in my life.
To begin, there were an insane amount of strikes to the back of the head throughout the entire televised card. The back of your head is the most prone to cause a knockout, as well as brain damage, which is why such strikes are banned in all major promotions. Warnings have to be assessed for things like this for this sport to remain safe and legit.
Bobby Lashley was also very questionably stood up from a mount position, something I’ve rarely, if ever have witnessed done. Lashley was not doing much work at all from the top, but if you’ve ever watched a Jon Fitch fight (and sorry if you have). He does almost no work from the top and remains there for the duration of his fights…all of them. KJ Noons also received a lot of criticism for his strike after the bell, which was clearly an accident. However, the blatantly illegal knee after the KO was not. Jorge Gurgel may be the first person in history to have been knocked out THREE times in a single MMA bout.
Strikeforce and the entire MMA world need to straighten up the situation with the legality of elbows. I was under the impression elbow strikes were illegal in Strikeforce, and legal in UFC…with the exception of 12 to 6 elbows, which apparently are only illegal if you use the point of the elbow. Confused? So am I, and Jon Jones, and Joe Rogan, and Randy Couture, and many other people involved with the sport. What constitutes a 12 to 6 elbow you ask? It’s the act of going from the direction of the ceiling straight to the floor with an elbow strike, an act I saw Rafael Cavalcante perform multiple times on King Mo. I will credit him however, with attempting to keep them away from the back of Mo Lawal’s head. I’d be very disappointed if I didn’t see some action taken against some of the refs from this card.
On to my thoughts on the outcome of the fights. If you would have told me Jacare Souza would not attempt a single submission against Tim Kennedy in the Middleweight Title match, I probably would have dropkicked you in the mouth. Jacare is one of the worlds best grapplers, and fighting an opponent in Tim Kennedy who was thrust into the situation. A tournament including the two mentioned fighters, as well as Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Dan Henderson, Matt Lindland and others was talked about for quite some time, but never came to fruition, and as a result we received a Middleweight Title match that didn’t get nearly as much attention as it should have. Jacare came out with the victory as expected, and Tim Kennedy is seeking a rematch that he likely will not receive.
I was very disappointed in the loss to Bobby Lashley, as I’m a huge pro wrestling fan. I was upset at the idea of standing up any fighter that worked to gain a mount position, but it is what it is. Lashley was visibly tired and Chad Griggs took advantage of the situation with his superior striking game and caused a ref stoppage after the completion of the second round. Lashley still has an incredibly promising future, but I don’t know that I’ve witnessed him throw any strikes thus far in his fighting career. When you become one dimensional, you’re easy to prepare for, and that is something Mr. Lashley must stay away from.
King Mo Lawal came into this fight off the heels of his upset victory over the extremely successful Gegard Mousasi, and was looking to be Strikeforce’s most marketable fighter. This didn’t work out at all for him as he was stopped by the underdog Rafael Cavalcante. Mo looked very good in this fight, but was exposed by “Feijao”, who had the benefit of training with Team Black House, which includes Anderson Silva and both Nogueira brothers.
This continues a huge streak of disappointment for Strikeforce’s front office. King Mo, Dan Henderson, Bobby Lashley, Shinya Aoki, Andrei Arlovski, Brett Rogers and Fedor were all brought in to attract new viewers to the promotion, and all have suffered losses in the past four months. Couple that with the loss of Middleweight Champion Jake Shields to the UFC, and the absence of Gina Carano and Frank Shamrock (whom retired), Strikeforce is now in need of some major star power to succeed. There is much talk of a Batista vs. Bobby Lashley fight, but until Batista is signed to a deal, I’ll not hold my breath.
Next time I’ll talk UFC 118 fall out, and hopefully take a look at the upcoming Strikeforce: San Jose card, that is, if they announce any fights for the damn thing. I’ll also delve into Batista vs. Lashley a little more, as well as Strikeforce perhaps running a card in Cowboys Stadium!
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