The Stars of the UFC

There is a recent shift in stars of the UFC.  Those stars are the great investments, the money makers. The stars are not necessarily your best fighters, but they are well liked by the fans and they draw a crowd.  The stars are the people that the UFC will market and set up to be successful.  The stars get the most money and the best fights.  The stars have a louder voice with the UFC brass.  Some of those stars have been discontent like Randy Couture, Tim Sylvia, Andrei Arlovski and Tito Ortiz.  Those guys leaving hurts the UFC.  The guys the UFC recognizes as their stars are the ones they need to cater to more.  The stars are prized in all MMA organizations.  The WEC has Filho, Faber, Condit, and Stann.  PRIDE had Fedor, Cro Cop, Barnett, Wanderlai, Dan Henderson, Gomi, Arona, Shogun and the Nogueira brothers.  EliteXC has Lawler, Kimbo, Frank Shamrock, and Carano.  Strikeforce has Gilbert Melendez and Cung Le.  The stars are not always the champs, but they may be.  In the UFC there is a shift.  The old guard is moving on.  They are still there, and still draw a crowd and are still good PPV fights, but in a few years will be gone.  The old guard consisted of Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Ken Shamrock, Tito Ortiz and Matt Hughes.  There is a star level, then there is a second tier level of guys you want to hold onto at all costs, who have a following, and then there is the emerging star tier. Then you have your great fighters who perform in the octagon are respected, but may not have the charisma to be the face of the organization.  These guys can win and hold belts, but they won’t be the Chuck Liddell’s.  This system explains why the UFC gives a title shot and coaches spot to Forrest Griffin, who i no way has earned the title of number 1 contender.  He is good, but not that good.  He may eventually earn that, but this is premature.  Why did he get it?  Because he is popular.  He will sell PPVs and people will watch TUF because of him.  Personality will carry a guy a long way, just look at the Houston Alexander bandwagon. A lack of personality will hurt a guy, just ask Yushin Okami and Nate Marquardt, who if they had the charisma would be stars because they have the ability.  These guys can move up and down these different levels, but some guys have already been crowed as stars and can do little to harm that.  Your stars are the guys you hold on to at all costs.  Your second tier you want to keep because they are your contenders and can become stars.  Your third tier you be careful with because they can become stars if you play your cards right.  Your fourth tier are some of the best fighters, they put on good fights, they win fight night bonuses and they should be signed and kep in the organization if you can.  The effect of a star leaving the UFC is much greater than when someone else does.  The UFC is hurt by loosing their four biggest heavyweight stars Couture, Cro Cop, Arlovski and Sylvia.  The UFC is not so much hurt by loosing Jake O’Brien.  It would be nice to keep O’Brien, but if you can’t you move on.  Also, you sign MMA free agents based on this tier.  I and many others consider Fedor for example a star level guy, an instant smash hit and a great investment.  You pay him well, but he will make you money.  Dana White apparently considered him second tier, and didn’t sign him.  My opinion you give the Fedors and the Couture and the Liddells whatever they want.  My system looks like this:

UFC’s Stars:

  • Anderson Silva
  • Georges St. Pierre
  • B.J. Penn
  • Rich Franklin
  • Chuck Liddell
  • Quinton “Rampage” Jackson
  • Forrest Griffin
  • Tito Ortiz
  • Matt Hughes
  • Wanderlai Silva

Second Level: UFC’s Near Stars:

  • Brandon Vera
  • Matt Serra
  • Jon Fitch
  • Diego Sanchez
  • Dan Henderson
  • Josh Koscheck
  • Sean Sherk
  • Kenny Florian
  • Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
  • Rashad Evans
  • Michael Bisping
  • Joe Stevenson
  • Gabriel Gonzaga
  • Chris Leben
  • Karo Parisyan
  • Clay Guida

Third Level: The UFC’s Emerging Stars:

  • Brock Lesnar
  • Roger Huerta
  • Mac Danzig
  • Joe Lauzon
  • Cain Velasquez

Fourth Level: UFC’s Stud Fighters, but Not Stars:

  • Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
  • Fabricio Werdum
  • Keith Jardine
  • Frank Mir
  • Thiago Silva
  • Heath Herring
  • Lyoto Machida
  • Marcus Aurelio
  • Yushin Okami
  • Marcus Davis
  • Patrick Cote
  • Evan Tanner
  • Stephan Bonnar
  • Martin Kampmann
  • Marvin Eastman
  • Ricardo Almeida
  • Mike Swick
  • Thiago Tavares
  • Nate Quarry
  • Wilson Gouveia
  • Nate Marquardt
  • Kauhiro Nakamura
  • Jason MacDonald
  • Demian Maia
  • Thiago Alves
  • Thales Leites
  • Frank Edgar
  • Matt Hammil
  • Nate Diaz
  • Akihiro Gono
  • Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou
  • Gray Maynard
  • Hermes Franca
  • Cheick Kongo
  • Din Thomas
  • Spencer Fisher
  • Tyson Griffin

Note: The reality show really helped some of these fighters draw a fan base, because people saw them on TUF they root for them to suceed in their careers

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Affliction July 19th Fight Card

The premiere of Affliction of Jult 19th is huge.  They have a great card taking shape

Fedor Emelianenko vs. Tim Sylvia

Matt Lindlad vs. ?

It has been rumored that many other big name fighters could be on the card including: Andrei Arlovski, Josh Barnett, Aleksander Emelianenko, Murilio Bustamante, Dave Terrell, Ben Rothwell, Frank Trigg

I will comment more as the card takes shape. 

UFC 83 Thoughts and Comments

Georges St. Pierre when focused and determined is bad news for any welterweight.  That is bad news for Jon Fitch.  St. Pierre proved that the Serra knockout was a fluke.  Perhaps it showed that Matt Serra is good, but not that good.  I look forward to the Serra vs. Hughes fight.  Again, wow GSP is great when he wants to be.

Rich Franklin looked pretty good and is a class act.  He is what MMA is all about.  Rich can hang with most middleweights and win, this is his dilemna.  He can beat anyone in that divison except Anderon Silva.  Rich showed great talent escaping an arm bar and picking apart Lutter.

Travis Lutter, a jiu jitsu great has no cardio.  How in the world can you step into the octagon, get paid as a career to fight, and get tired after one round.  There is no excuse for that.  In my opinion Lutter can submit anyone, but he is not able to hang with strikers.  If he wants to fight in the UFC he needs to improve.

Michael Bisping looked great at middleweight, but come on he wasn’t fighting a top ten guy or even a top 20 guy at middleweight.  He looked like he was in great shape and he did great.  I’d like to see Bisping fight a top 15 type guys maybe Leben, Cote, or Almeida.

Nate Quarry looked fantastic.  If this indicates what he will be he will be dangerous.  Perhaps Quarry could fight Bisping.  He will get a top ten type guy now.  He looked fresh though, but he fought Starnes.

I considered Starnes a decent fighter.  Now I think he is not so much.  I can handle loosing.  I can handle a guy getting submitted or KO’s.  I can handle a guy getting KO’s bad or quickly, but running is ridiculous.  If I was Dana I would can Starnes right now.  He may have punched his ticket out of the UFC.  By the way Nate Quarry making fun of Starnes, doing the running man and the Screech was stinkin’ hilarious.  It made that fight worth watching.  How much do you want to bet Starnes’ leg isn’t hurting him as bad as his pride is?

Mac Danzig looked great.  After a little bit of a tough round 1 Mac came out and showed his experience and versatility.  He ought to get a tough level competitor now.  I’d like to see a Nate Diaz vs. Mac Danzig fight.  Mac will go far in the lightweight divison.  He did great against a good ground fighter. 

Didn’t see the undercard fights, but looks like MacDonald will stay near the 3-9 range in the middleweight divison.  Goultet earned fight of the night with a great fight and show of heart.  That Maia submission was sick, I wouldn’t want to fight him, he is here to stay and he climbed my rankings.  Jason Day impressed Dana White and may have earned a chance to hang around the UFC.  UFC 83 may have been a coronation of Cain Velasquez as the next great heavyweight, but time will tell.  I hear he looked real good.  Rich Clementi keep winning and climbing the rankings slowly.  If I was Dana White or Joe Silva Kalib Starnes, Charles McCarthy, and Travis Lutter would be done with their UFC careers.  Can them and sign someone who will fight. 

If any of my readers paid attention, they will see how great I did at picking these fights.  I was 10 of 11.  I missed the Maia vs. Herman fight and I nearly picked Maia.  This is not to brag because i usually am slighlty better than 60% or so.  At least for once I picked a card accuratley.  Can’t wait till UFC 84!

UFC 83 Predictions

Jonathan Goulet vs. Kuniyoshi Hironaka

Bo-ring!  Goulet by decison.

Cain Velasquez vs. Brad Morris

Cain by TKO in round 1.  I predict this guy will be good.  He will make a statement, at least the UFC hopes he does.  The UFC has blown the Heavyweight divison and they need a contender.  They dropped O’Brien and Sylvia.  Arlovski could be gone.  Could a newcomer take the divison by storm.  We shall see.

Ed Herman (Ranked #16) vs. Demian Maia (Ranked #26)

Ed Herman has looked good of late.  I predict he wins via TKO in round 2.

Sam Stout (Ranked #20) vs. Rich Clementi (ranked 18)

A decison would be a win for Stout probably.  Stout should have the best of the standup.  Clementi better take this one to the ground.  I predict he does it and does it early in round 2 after learning in round 1 that Sam Stout is tough as nails.  Clementi by submission in round 2. 

Jason MacDonald (Ranked #9) vs. Joe Doerksen

MacDonald has struggled against the top level guys, but he is a legiy top 10 middleweight.  I think he beat Doerksen by TKO in round 1.

Alan Belcher (Ranked #14) vs. Jason Day

Belcher would be the more popular pick, but he didn’t convince me in the Starnes fight.  Albeit he opened up one of the worst cuts I have seen on him.  Day has fought some good competition and I think he wins this fight by unanimous decision.

Mac Danzig (Ranked #15) vs. Mark Bocek

Mac is a competitor at this weight class.  He walked through TUF easier than anyone has.  I think at 155 he will be a top 10 type guy.  I think Mac wins by submission in round 1. 

Michael Bisping (Ranked # 11) vs. Charles McCarthy

I admit I am a Bisping hater.  Ever since he pulled out the worst decision in UFC history I have been anti-Bisping.  The drop to middleweight was a good move for him though.  He can win there.  He won’t beat Anderson Silva, but he can contend with the middle of the pack well.  McCarthy isn’t even a middle of the pack guy.  I will root for McCarthy, but Bisping will make a good showing and win by ref stoppage in round 3. 

Kalib Starnes (Ranked #22) vs. Nate Quarry (Ranked #15)

This is a tough pick.  Starnes is tough.  Quarry is still an iffy guy coming off back problems.  He looked good though his last outing.  I think Quarry wins via decision.

Rich Franklin (Ranked # 3) vs. Travis Lutter (Ranked # 10)

This could be a tough fight for Rich.  I am a huge Rich fan, but Lutter is great on the ground.  Rich better drop him and pound him out before Lutter can get his senses.  Lutter is great on the ground.  Rich should have the better of the stand up.  I pick Rich Franklin by ref stoppage in round 2. 

Georges St. Pierre (Ranked #1) vs. Matt Serra (Ranked #2)

I don’t like Serra, but he did beat St. Pierre.  I think this is a tough match for him.  He will fight an angry St. Pierre in his hometown.  St. Pierre looked determined against Hughes to get his belt back.  I pick St. Pierre by  ref stoppage in round 4. 

Upset watch: Kalib Starnes over Nate Quarry, Sam Stout over Rich Clementi and Travis Lutter over Rich Franklin

Which TUF Season Produced the Best Fighters?

1. TUF 1

TUF 1 saved the UFC.  Dana White acknowledges that the finale fight of Bonnar vs. Griffin was a defining UFC moment, perhaps that is why Griffin is getting a title shot.  In this season you have 2 or 3 guys that could hold a title eventually.  Kenny Florian is looking dominant.  Diego and Josh both are doing well as is Mike Swick in the welterweight divison.  Chris Leben may never win a title, but he is winning a lot.   

Notable Alumni: Forrest Griffin, Stephan Bonnar, Mike Swick, Diego Sanchez, Josh Koscheck, Kenny Florian, Nate Quarry, and Chris Leben

2. TUF 2

This may not have as many stud fighters as season 1, but season 2 was good and produced 4 serious contenders (Stevenson, Marcus Davis, Keith Jardine, and Rashad Evans).   

Notable Alumni: Joe Stevenson, Luke Cummo, Josh Burkman, Keith Jardine, Rashad Evans, Marcus Davis, Jorge Gurgel, Melvin Guillard and Rob MacDonald

3. TUF 4

The comeback season was a success.  Travis Lutter lost to Anderson Silva, but still looked good.  We will see how he does against Rich Franklin.  We all know of Matt Serra winning against St. Pierre.  Clementi, Cote and Lytle all have looked good lately.  This season has a lot of names that UFC fans know. 

Notable Alumni: Travis Lutter, Charles McCarthy, Jorge Rivera, Rich Clementi, Pete Sell, Patrick Cote, Matt Serra, Chris Lytle and Din Thomas

4. TUF 5

This season is still developing talent.  However, these lightweights are all contenders. I think this season has 5 or so guys that could be top 15 material in a stacked divison. 

Notable Alumni: Joe Lauzon, Gray Maynard, Nate Diaz, Manny Gamburyan, Matt Wiman, Cole Miller, Corey Hill

5.  TUF 3

Not a bad season, but disappointing as far as how these guys have done after the show.  Bisping has done fair and dropped to middleweight and we will see how he does there.  Matt Hamill may be the success story of this show.  Kendall Grove has fallen hard.  Ed Herman can rise some if he keeps winning.   

Notable Alumni: Kendall Grove, Kalib Starnes, Ed Herman, Micahel Bisping, Matt Hamill

6. TUF 6

This show was the weakest of all.  We will see the effects of it.  In two years there may be two or three guys in the UFC from TUF 6.  Mac Danzig was so much better than everyone else on this season.  George can be decent and do well in the UFC.  Tommy Speer is so raw.  Matt Arroyo has good skills, but we will see.  Guys like Koppenhaver and Rollins have earned some time in the UFC, but I doubt it will last.  Watch for Mac though to climb the lightweight ranks. 

Notable Alumni: Mac Danzig, Tommy Speer, George Sotiropolous

UFN 13 Thoughts

Matt Hamill is a serious contender

One of the things that stands out more than any other was how good Matt Hamill is.  He took some serious shots and he stayed with it.  His wrestling is superior and I believe he could beat nearly anyone in the light heavyweight divison.  I’d like to see Hamill vs. Rashad Evans.  A Evans loss to Chuck and it may happen. 

Nate Diaz is on the rise

Nate Diaz fought a very good Kurt Pellegrino and submitted him with a great triangle choke.  Nate Diaz is for real.  He wants better competition and he will get it.  He better improve standing up though.  Nate Diaz is no slouch, maybe even betetr than his brother.

Tommy Speer is tough, but not a welterweight contender

Tommy Speer has shown that he can take a likin and keep on tickin, but Anthony Johnson demolished him.  He doesn’t seem to have the desire to win.  He will not be a contender at welterweight in the UFC.  WEC anyone?

Gray Maynard is underrated

When the Frank Edgar fight was booked everyone thought it was the end of Gray’s win streak.  I knew it was a bad match up for Frank Edgar.  Gray Maynard is very underrated.  He will continue to rise.  He should continue to get solid competition now.  He moved into my top 15 lightweights, which is a great feat.  I am a Gray Maynard fan.

Joe Lauzon is here to stay

Okay so Joe Lauzon lost, but he looked great in round 1.  I think it was a hair early for the Florian fight.  Joe is still a top ten guy, and showed he can realyl fight.  He will be a star in the UFC.  I’d like to see him fight a Clay Guida, Spencer Fisher or Frank Edgar.

Kenny Florian is getting better and better…and that is scary

Kenny Florian has the worst elbows in MMA.  He is very good and in my opinion is a tough match up for B.J. Penn.  He wants Huerta and all I can say is the Huerta hype would stop there.  Kenny is getting better and better each fight.

Steve Mazagatti is a trigger happy fight stopper

You can complain about the Houston Alexander and Karo stoppage all day long.  I thought the stoppages were a hair early, but honestly Karo and Houston were on their way out anyways.  Steve just saved them the final blows.  This isn’t the first time this has happened.  However, just like when a bad decision comes from the judges you have to finish fights.

Karo Parisyan is no longer in line for a title shot

The debate was who should get the Serra vs. St. Pierre winner.  It was between Karo and Jon Fitch.  Thiago Alves gave us the answer.  Jon Fitch will get the next shot and there cannot be any complaint from loud mouthed Karo.  He got caught thats all there is to say about it.  By the way, didn’t Thiago Alves look good?

The Houston Alexander love fest is officially over

A fast KO of Keith Jardine and one more KO and everyone jumps o the Houston train.  He cannot beat top competiton consistently.  Thiago Silva destroyed him and James Irvin KO’d him in 8 seconds.  The love fest is over.

UFN 13 Predictions

Tommy Speer vs. Anthony Johnson

Tommy Speer looked greated on TUF, however in the finale against Mac Danzig he didn’t look good.  If he can stand with someone and ground and pound them Tommy can beat anyone.  We will see how his training has come since TUF.  If he stick with Hughes it could really help him.  Tommy Speer by unanimous decision.

George Sotiropolous vs. Roman Mitchyan

This is a tough fight to pick because Roman Mitchyan didn’t stay around long enough on TUF due to an injury.  He seems tough as nails and he can beat anyone on the ground.  I almost picked him, but George seemed so good and so confident on TUF.  I pick George by unanimous decision

Manny Gamburyan (Ranked #18) vs. Jeff Cox (unranked)

Okay, well Manny was the TUF runner up and near winner if it wasn’t for an injury, why is he still fighting third tier guys.  All the others on TUF with him are fighting good guys.  Lauzon has Florian.  Maynard has Edgar.  Diaz has Pellegrino.  It is time for Manny to fight better competition.  A win here will force him to fight better people.  I pick Manny Gamburyan via submission late in round 1

Clay Guida (Ranked #9)vs. Samy Schiavo (unranked)

It is amazing how Guida can be beating Roger Huerta senseless for two rounds and then get caught and loose the fight and now Guida is on a UFN undercard fighting an unknown and Huerta is in the title talk.  Guida can fight with anyone.  I pick Guida by TKO in round 2.  He needs to show he can finish this fight.

Din Thomas (Ranked #12) vs. Josh Neer

This isn’t an easy fight.  However, Din Thomas is very good.   I think Din will win in round 2 with a KO.

Marcus Aurelio (Ranked #10) vs. Ryan Roberts (unranked)

The original fight was scheduled to be Aureilo vs. Spencer Fisher.  Obviously this is on paper an easier fight to Auerilo.  I will pick Marcus because he has fight much better competition.  I expect a unanimous decision win, although it is ideal for Marcus to stop the fight quick.  It gets him back in the top ten talk.

Frank Edgar (Ranked #7) vs. Gray Maynard (Ranked #20)

Frank Edgar looked good his last fight, but so did Gray.  I was shocked by this fight.  Gray Maynard has done very well in the UFC, but Edgar is a top five guy.  It seems like a bit too early for this fight for Gray.  That will hurt him, but I would not be shocked if Gray wins.  Both are great wrestlers.  Gray can hit really hard so can Edgar.  I nearly picked Gray for this, but I have to go with Frankie Edgar, who is in and will stay in the title picture with a win.

Nate Diaz (Ranked #16) vs. Kurt Pellegrino (Ranked #14)

Nate has looked really good.  That bite through this lip for Kurt his last fight was sick.  This is going to be a tough fight.  It will do two things.  It will show how good Nate Diaz is and it will show if Kurt Pellegrino belongs further up the rankings.  If Nate is like his brother he will be incosnsitent, however he has potential against anyone.  Both can grapple.  I don’t know how Nate will take a hit.  We will see.  I still pick Nate Diaz via submission in round 3.  Should be a good fight. 

Houston Alexander (Ranked #14) vs. James Irvin (Ranked #19)

The question is was Houston Alexander a fluke?  No doubt he can hit hard and can finish a fight.  It seems he is not a top ten guy yet as Thiago Silva destroyed him.  How will he do against another mid level fighter.  I think Irvin will go to sleep in the first round before the half way point.  So I pick Houston Alexander via KO in round 1.

Matt Hamill (Ranked #15) vs. Tim Boetsch (Ranked #20)

Tim Boetsch looked mean his last fight.  Matt Hamill got cheated his last fight.  I think Hamill is very good.  He has stand up.  He can wrestle better than anyone.  He is good.  I look for him to take Boetsch down and use some ground and pound on him.  Hamill by TKO or Ref Stoppage in round 1. 

Karo Parisyan (Ranked #5) vs. Thiago Alves (Ranked #11)

This may be a good fight.  Karo has looked so good against so many guys.  There is no doubt he is a top level guy.  Thiago Alves is no slouch.  With a win here he will be right there with Jon Fitch in the title shot discussion.  This won’t be a easy win though.  I think in the end though Karo wins by unanimous decision.

Kenny Florian (Ranked #3) vs. Joe Lauzon (Ranked #8)

The hardest fight to pick is the main event.  Both have some experience against elite fighters.  Both have good wins.  Both are long and thing.  Both can wrestle.  Both have great stand up.  Both have brutal elbows.  Both have jiu Jitsu skills.  Honestly, this could be a toss up and should be fight of the night.  Win or loose both these guys are around to stay in the top tier of the divison.  The winner should be in the title shot discussion.  If Florian wins he could get the next shot.  If Lauzon wins, Huerta will get the next shot and Joe will have to win one more.  Both these guys have great training.  I think in the end Joe Lauzon will pull out a win and will catch Kenny in round 2. 

Most possible upset(s): Gray Maynard over Frank Edgar.  Thiago Alves over Karo Parisyan.  Tim Boetsch over Mat Hamill

This fight night has huge implications for the lightweight divison and will sort out a lot of the rankings.  Winners move up, losers move down the rankings.  Nine of the top twenty fighters in my rankings are fighting from the lightweight divison including #3,7,8,9,10,12,14, 16, 20