UFC 118 was all about having the proper gameplan. Any naysayers of the sport claiming MMA is barbaric and brainless should watch and learn. All of the televised pay-per-view fights were fought and won with specific gameplans, each utilized and performed to near perfection.
To begin the night, the controversial Nate Diaz took on Marcus Davis. Many, myself included though Davis’ boxing experience would neutralize Diaz on the feet. Diaz was able to use his incredible reach advantage to his liking, and peppered Marcus Davis with jabs throughout the duration of the fight, also opening up a gruesome gash over the eve of The Irish Hand Grenade. This bout was a true war, and while Nate Diaz won decisively, it immediately became a classic, as it set the UFC record for most standing strikes landed. Nate Diaz after the fight expressed interest in dropping back down to 155, to fight Gray Maynard before he receives a title shot…which Dana White quickly and rightfully shot down. I don’t understand why you would reward someone that had anything to do with this…
I was there live, and can tell you I’d place the blame all on Shields and the Diaz thugs.
That leads us to the number one contenders battle between Kenny Florian and Gray Maynard. Both fighters are legitimate threats withing the Lightweight division, Maynard being undefeated, and Florian looking to regain the position of number one contender. Florian was unable to do anything with the outstanding wrestling ability of Maynard. Unfortunately it seemed as if Maynard was content to lay on top of Florian and ride to victory as opposed to stopping his opponent. Despite not agreeing with his method of victory, which has been the same for the last seven fights of his, he most definitely deserves the shot with victories over big names such as Florian, Nate Diaz, Roger Huerta and current champion Frank Edgar. Florian, however MUST correct his takedown defense, and his brother Rich Florian said getting a wrestling coach to become a mainstay at their gym is going to be happening. Florian has lost several fights based on the fact he can’t keep the fight standing.
Damien Maia managed to get back on track, defeating Mario Miranda. So many wrestlers, grapplers, and brazilian jiu jitsu practitioners are so prone to staying in dominant position and not trying to end the fight. Maia did NOT do that, as he was constantly attempting submissions, and while he didn’t pull any off, he won a one-sided decision. Maia looks very comfortable on his feet, and is benefiting from training to fight Anderson Silva.
The Lightweight title fight between BJ Penn and Frank Edgar went exactly as I’d anticipated, and was more or less just rounds 6-10 as a continuation of their bout in Abu Dhabi. Frank Edgar is head and toes above the rest of the 155 division when it comes to speed, and as mentioned before, has employed the picture perfect gameplan to defeat Penn. He stayed on his toes, took Penn down at will, and wore BJ down until the former champion had nothing left to threaten Edgar with. Edgar vs. Gray Maynard is now in the works for a future date, and Maynard happens to be the only man to hold a victory over the champion.
Well the greatest moment of my week was most definitely Randy Couture dominating the loudmouthed, legendary boxer James ‘Lights Out’ Toney. Toney had been critical of Couture legendary status within the sport, which is completely ludicrous. I don’t disagree with the criticism towards his win-loss record nearly as much, as it isn’t a breathtaking figure. However, anyone who has competed or trained in the sport of MMA, realizes it’s much more difficult to dominate a sport that employs multiple disciplines as opposed to one. Couture shot for a low single leg takedown, which is rarely, if ever seen in MMA fights in the past several years. I mean seriously, this shot was embarrassingly low, as was his plan, to stay away from Toney’s hands. Couture made very short work of Toney, and hopefully banished him from the sport forever.
Hilarious. Somehow Toney managed to make $500,000 for this fight while seasoned MMA vet made only $250,000. This just goes to show how ridiculous the pay scale is for the sport. This needs to be repaired, IMMEDIATELY. James Toney practically begged for this fight, and made the most money that any debuting MMA fighter has ever made. Disgusting.
In the aftermath of UFC 118, several huge fights are on the horizon. Frank Mir vs. Mirko Crocop and Brock Lesnar vs. Cain Velasquez will both be shaking up the Heavyweight division very soon. I’m actually more intrigued with CroCop/Mir, as the contrasting styles could make for an extremely interesting fight. Vitor Belfort also looks to return against high ranked middleweight Yushin Okami, with the winner likely to face the winner of the Chael Sonnen vs. Anderson Silva rematch (which is tentatively set for New Years Day).I see Belfort running away with this battle, as he has regained his old form with a vengeance of late. Wanderlei Silva also expressed interest in fighting Chris Leben and Vitor, both of which would be outstanding fights from a fan’s perspective. Well…lets hope Wanderlei has at least developed some better defense since he last fought Vitor….
I can never seem to get enough of that. Brutal.
I was very excited to hear that one of my personal favorites Jon “Bones” Jones, will likely be receiving a high profile bout against the winner of the upcoming Little Nog vs. Ryan Bader fight. Bader is an unbeaten prospect looking to break into the upper echelon, and Little Nog is a proved commodity within the division. If you’re a pro wrestling fan that happens to be checking out MMA or my column, I encourage you to check out the video posted below. Jones is a very unpredictable fighter, and easily one of the best ambassador’s for the sport. So well spoken and intelligent, humble and skilled. I’ve been a fan of his for a few years now, and he’s not had any struggles yet within the octagon…and he’s only 23 YEARS OLD! He impresses everyone with his unique offensive arsenal and deadly elbow strikes. This is going to be the guy one day that popular culture and the rest of the world identifies with the term “mixed martial arts”.
In other UFC business, Michael Bisping vs. Akiyama has been added to headline the upcoming UFC 120 show based out of Bisping’s native land of England. I’ll go ahead and swiftly make a prediction that Akiyama will easily gain this victory, and I’ll delve more into the fight as it nears.
Karo Parisyan, signed a new UFC deal this week as well. Parisyan was a perrenial welterweight contender, whom had been publicly fired due to his painkiller addiction late last year. Reportedly he’d attempted to negotiate with Strikeforce and was extremely unprofessional in doing so. Karo had been with the UFC since debuting at UFC 44, and his judo skills have been unmatched until Akiyama came to the company last year. Lets all hope, whether we’re fans of the man or not, that he has kicked this dangerous habit, and is able to make a living.
Also, the much anticipated Welterweight title fight between upcoming “The Ultimate Fighter” coaches Georges St. Pierre and Josh Koscheck has been confirmed to take place in Montreal, which happens to be the hometown of GSP, a place where Koscheck is much reviled, and has played the part of heel in the past. Honestly, it could be held in Koscheck’s home state of Pennsylvania, and I’m sure he’d get boo’ed out of the building. Both men have world class wrestling, and ever-improving stand up. Should be a great fight. Classic heel vs. face battle here.
Moving on to Strikeforce news, which is few and far between due to the constant losses that their major stars are dealing with. There have been rumors running rampant that the company itself may actually be for sale. This all stems from CEO of Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment Greg Jamison stepping down from his position of power. Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment happens to manage Strikeforce as a promotion. However, Strikeforce President Scott Coker was quick to shoot down these rumors. Paul Heyman was actually rumored to be a possible buyer, as he once almost DID buy the company with the assistance of several financial backers. I think that would be nothing but positive for the company, as they could use a more market minded brain behind the company at this point.
Strikeforce has a supposedly major card coming up next month out of San Jose, although nothing I’ve heard of warrants it as major at all. KJ Noons, whom fought just a couple of weeks ago ahs signed on to take on Nick Diaz in their rematch in which Noons won via a cut. Hopefully Noons takes care of Diaz thug number 2. The Diaz boys both act like ridiculous gangbanging thugs at all times, which is a shame, because they are truly exciting fighters. Matt Lindland, who hasn’t had a victory over a relevant opponent in years, is also on the card. Strikeforce really needs to step it up and put together good matchups instead of what they see as “safe” matchups. In the case of nearly all of these, they’ve proven to not be so safe, and have hurt the star power of the company.
Strikeforce was dealt a huge blow, last week. I reported on my twitter account that King Mo Lawal, former Light Heavyweight champion could be out up to a year with ACL surgery. Supposedly Mo tore this before his recent fight, and was considering fighting again before getting the surgery. Even after being dealt the loss, Lawal is still a very marketable character. ACL injuries can be quite difficult for wrestlers to make a comeback from, but given Mo’s work ethic, I doubt it will be much of an issue.
Next week I’ll be talking about the upcoming Shark Fights card, Legalization of MMA, as well as Brett Rogers….and MC Hammer?! That’s right!
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