Why Are U.K. Fans Upset With UFC 95?

If you look at UFC 95 on paper it is quick to see that it is not the best UFC card by a mile.  I have heard it said that U.K. fans are less than pleased with the card so far.  I understand their feelings.  However, I am not too upset because it airs free on SPIKE TV.  I would be hesitant to spend $44.00 on this card.  However, let me say this: UFC 95 is one fight away from being a dynamic card.  The problem with UFC 95 is a lack of a main event.  Also, for many in the U.K. it may be the absent Michael Bisping.  Diego Sanchez’s lightweight debut against Joe Stevenson may be interesting, but it is not main event interesting.  Both guys are super talented, but not main event talented.  Co-main event? Maybe.  So, my theory is that UFC 95 is a main event short of being a great card.  Imagine with me for a second that UFC 95 featured a main event with a big name fighter that is main event worthy.  Then the televised portion would follow with…

2. Diego Sanchez vs. Joe Stevenson

3. Demian Maia vs. Chael Sonnen

4. Nate Marquardt vs. Wilson Gouveia

5. Junior Dos Santos vs. Stefan Struve or Dan Hardy vs. Rory Markham

If they find a solid main event UFC 95 would stack up against any other card.  Here is the importance of this:  The UFC has openly seeking to go international.  Their largest fan bases outside the U.S. are in Canada and the U.K.  They do not want to disappoint those fans.  Reward them for their loyalty.  Find a good main event.  See if you cannot bribe Rashad Evans to fight Quinton Jackson here.  See if you cannot get a Randy Couture vs. Nogueira fight chalked up.  Bump Liddell up from UFC 96.  Whatever it takes.  Dana White and Joe Silva must realize that the U.K. is the gateway to the European market.  Give them a better main event that Sanchez vs. Stevenson.  This is a better card than some will credit it for being, but it does lack a main event.  You can breeze by with a solid main event and a less than solid rest of the card, but a solid rest of the card without a solid main event may be tough to sell.

UFC News: Demian Maia vs. Chael Sonnen Set For UFC 95

Okay, the UFC 95 card sucks royally (that may be a pun seeing as how the card is in London) but, at least there will be a few good fights.  One of those fights that is exciting is going to be a middleweight match up between Demian Maia and Chael Sonnen.  Both of these names were tossed around as possible opponents for Anderson Silva.  The winner of this fight would surely be considered for a title shot.  The problem is the UFC suddenly thickened things a top the 185 lb. division.  It is strongly rumored that Thales Leites will leap frog numerous contenders and get a title shot.  Meanwhile, Dana White has pretty much assured that Yushin Okami will get a title shot.  That makes a contender and one in waiting.  We figure that this summer the two TUF 9 coaches will fight, witht the winner getting a title crack by year end.  Therefore if Silva fights 4 times in 2009, we know his opponents.  They will probably be: Thales Leites, Yushin Okami, The winner of the Sonnen vs. Maia fight, and the winner of the Bisping vs. TUF 9 coach. 

    Anyways as for the Sonnen-Maia fight that is a good one.  Maia is incredible on the ground.  Sonnen comes over from the WEC with a great wrestling pedigree and improving stand up.  Sonnen surely will want to use his wrestling to keep the fight standing.  If he takes it to the ground at any time he is on very dangerous ground even when he is on top.

Why Does Leites Get A Crack At Silva?

I have been confused lately by Joe Silva and Dana White’s decisions and matchh making for middeweight champ Anderson Silva.  Dana has been quick to proclaim Silva as the best pound for pound fighter in the world.  I don’t disagree with that statement, however I do not think he is defending his belt against the number 1 contenders.

Case 1 – It was proclaimed that when Patrick Cote met Ricardo Almeida that the winner would get a title shot.  Many were confused by this as neither seemed like the number one contender.  They may have been able to climb the ladder, but they were not there yet.  Silva showed he was in a different league than Cote by toying with him.

Case 2- Travis Lutter.  I understand the Ultimate Fighter winner getting a title shot, but Lutter jumped tons of guys for a title shot.  He missed weight and then got submitted. 

Case 3 – Thales Leites.  I know Leites is good.  He is superb on the ground.  He owns a win over Nathan Marquardt.  However, that win is controversial.  I have Leites ranked 8.  I understand that the 6 guys between Anderson and Leites may not be able to beat Silva.  I also understand that he has already fought many of them including Dan Henderson, Rich Franklin, and Nate Marquardt. 

Well, if not Leites then who?  I understand not giving a re-match to Henderson or Marquardt yet.  They may get their shots.  Henderson is slated to fight Rich Franklin in January and Marquardt appears to be fighting Wilson Gouveia in February.  The winners inch closer to a re-match.  That moves Henderson and Marquardt off the map for now.  Rich Franklin is now at 205 it seems, plus he got destroyed by Silva twice.  Michael Bisping is nearing number one contender status, but he will coach the Ultimate Fighter season 9 opposite the Henderson/Franklin winner.  The two TUF coaches would then square off for the title shot.  That takes Bisping out for now. 

 That leaves two guys between Silva and Leites: Demian Maia and Yushin Okami.  Both of these guys are more deserving than Leites.  I suppose that the UFC in their looking for the next opponent for Silva was left with three names as I am: Maia, Leites, and Okami.  Let’s check out their respective resumes and see who should have gotten the “job”.

Demian Maia –  Maia is 9-0 overall and 4-0 in the UFC.  He has looked very, very impressive.  He has 4 submissions wins.  He has UFC wins over Nate Quarry, Ed Herman and Jason MacDonald.  He has earned the reputation of having the best functional jiu jitsu for MMA.   Most everyone agrees that Silva’s achilles heel may be a jiu jitsu practitioner of very high calibur. 

Yushin Okami –  Okami is 6-1 in the UFC and 22-4 overall.  He has UFC wins over Evan Tanner, Jason MacDonald, Mike Swick, and Alan Belcher.  His sole UFC loss came to Rich Franklin.  He was slated to have a title shot before an injury allowed Cote to step in and take it.  Okami is set to face Dean Lister at UFC 92.  A win would make him the clear number one contender in most rankings.  Oh yeah, did I mention that Okami has a win on his record over Anderson Silva.  I know it was a DQ win, but it is a win. 

Thales Leites – is 14-1 overall and 5-1 in the UFC.  His UFC wins come over Pete Sell, Floyd Sword, Ryan Jensen, Nate Marquardt and Drew McFedries.  He does have good ground skills and has finished 3 fights by submission. 

Breaking it down: Based on resumes alone Okami would get the job.  The runner-up would be Maia and the one left looking in would be Leites. 

So…why not Okami?  The answer is I have no flippin clue.  I can appreciate his upcoming bout with Lister.  However, what does the UFC do with Okami if he beats Lister?  If he looses then it settles it.  The UFC should have waited a week to book Silva’s April opponent.  If Okami had won he should have gotten the shot.  Okami was excluded because they do not see him as marketable.  The problem with that is that Leites is not Mister Personality.  I have no problem suggesting Maia is one or two wins away.  He does have better quality wins than Leites though. 

Here is my problem.  Leites is on a 5 fight win streak.  He will get a title shot coming off of a win to Drew McFedries.  Come on.  Make a dude fight someone good for the title shot.   Before that Leites scored a win over Nate Marquardt, but Marquardt won that fight.  He only won because Nate lost two points in the contest and Leites still only won by split decision. 

I am not anti-Leites.  He is a good fighter.  He may pose serious problems to Silva.  However, this is not the fight I want to see.   Leites is not ready.  Okami has earned his shot and further seals it with a win Saturday.  Maia should be at least considered. 

Tell me what you think….

Breaking Down the UFC Middleweight Division

The Champion: Anderson Silva

The Top Contender: ?

The Next Tier:

·         Yushin Okami

·         Nate Marquardt

·         Michael Bisping

·         Dan Henderson

·         Demian Maia

·         Thales Leites

·         Patrick Cote

·         Chael Sonnen

 

On the Rise: 

·         Demian Maia

·         Michael Bisping

 

Other Notables:

·         Denis Kang

·         Rousimar Palhares

·         Martin Kampmann

·         Chris Leben

·         Ricardo Almeida

·         Nate Quarry

·         Jason MacDonald

·         Wilson Gouveia

·         Goran Reljic

·         Dan Miller

·         Dean Lister

·         Kendall Grove

·         Alan Belcher

·         Ed Herman

·         Jorge Rivera

·         Alessio Sakara

·         C.B. Dolloway

·         Mike Massenzio

·         Matt Horwich

·         Jake Rosholt

·         Amir Sadollah

 

Scheduled Fights:

·         Nate Loughran vs. Tim Credeur at UFC Fight Night 16 on December 10

·         Jason MacDonald vs. Wilson Gouveia at TUF 8 Finale on December 13

·         Yushin Okami vs. Dean Lister at UFC 92 on December 27

·         C.B. Dolloway vs. Mike Massenzio at UFC 92 on December 27

·         Denis Kang vs. Alan Belcher at UFC 93 on January 17

 

Match Ups I’d Like to See:

·         Yushin Okami vs. Anderson Silva

·         Thales Leites vs. Rousimar Palhares

·         Demian Maia vs. Michael Bisping

 

Other Thoughts:

·         The UFC Middleweight division is very, very underrated!  I believe it is because of Anderson Silva’s dominance.  The middleweight division does not have a clear number 1 contender, but from top to bottom I would put this division with any.  Albeit, the UFC’s competitors have some middleweight talents in the likes of guys like Gegard Mousasi, Jacare, Vitor Belfort, Matt Lindland, Jorge Santiago,and  Kazuo Misaki.  Not to mention the few solid middleweights from EliteXC such as Robbie Lawler, Joey Villasenor, Scott Smith, Frank Shamrock and Benji Radach.  The UFC is sure to pick some of those guys up

·         Rumor has it the UFC is in negotiations with top middleweight Yoshihio Akiyama.  I do not know if they call pull him away from DREAM and Sengoku, but that would be a huge add. 

·         The middleweight division is growing with adds like signing Denis Kang, the move of WEC’s division which will add Chael Sonnen and Jake Rosholt as well as guys like Aaron Simpson and Danillo Vilefort likely to come over.

·         Paulo Filho will not be in the UFC…yet.

·         TUF 9 will feature middleweight coaches with Michael Bisping being a lock.  The other names being thrown around are Dan Henderson, Rich Franklin, Nate Marquardt and even Demian Maia

Poll Questions In Wake of UFC 91

Cast your vote below in some questions that arose following UFC 91. 

UFC 91: Couture vs. Lesnar Results and Thoughts

Quick Results:

Brock Lesnar defeats Randy Couture via TKO in Round 2                                                                              Kenny Florian defeats Joe Stevenson via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) Round 1
Dustin Hazelett defeats Tamden McCrory via Submission (Armbar) Round 1
Gabriel Gonzaga defeats Josh Hendricks via TKO (Strikes) Round 1
Demian Maia defeats Nate Quarry via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) Round 1
Aaron Riley defeats Jorge Gurgel via unanimous decision
Jeremy Stephens defeats Rafael dos Anjos via knockout in round three
Mark Bocek defeats Alvin Robinson via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) Round 3
Matt Brown defeats Ryan Thomas via Submission (Armbar) Round 2

  • Congratulations to Brock Lesnar the new UFC Heavyweight champ.  The fight was very predictible.  I do not know what to make of it.  Is Brock Lesnar that good?  Or did Randy have a lot of ring rust?  I think a little of both.  There is no way around it, Brock Lesnar beat Randy.  I rooted for Randy, but Brock manhandled Randy.  I still think he got the title shot too early in his career, but it is over now anmd he is the champ.  He proved he is a good fighter who can hang with anyone.  He flew up the rankings I am sure with a win over Randy.  Bring on Nogueira or Mir. 
  • I hope we see Randy again. It didn’t sound like he was done, so that is good news.
  • Kenny Florian looked incredible.  He is better than ever.  He would beat Sean Sherk now.  I think he is the number one contender.  He may sit out a while, but he deserves a shot at B.J. Penn.  Kenny Florian made a really good Joe Stevenson look bad.  Now we see why Joe was the underdog. 
  • Demain Maia is at the top of the heap at 185.  He looked very, very good against Nate Quarry.  He may be a serious threat to Anderson Silva.  Rumor has it he is on the short list for TUF 9 coaches alongslide Bisping.  Maia vs. Bisping would be interesting.  Demain Maia is the real deal.
  • Gabriel Gonzaga looked to be back to true self with a good KO
  • Dustin Hazelett climbed the ladder at 170.  He has great ground game.  Did he break McCrory’s arm????  Hazelett had some of the best submissions in MMA.  The beard was cool too.  Don’t write of McCrory either.  He lookeed pretty good.
  • Jorge Gurgel vs.  Aaron Riley was an all out war.  I predicted it to be fight of the night and I was right. 
  • Matt Brown has jiu jitsu!!!  He may be the steal from the TUF 7 season.  He has looked really good since TUF, and very well could be undefeated since his showing, but lost a close decision to Dong Hyun Kim
  • Jeremy Stephens’ KO of Rafael dos Anjos was sick.  The snot flying out was crazy.  Good camera work there.  By the way I called that to be KO of the Night as well.
  • I was glad to see so many fights on the pay per view last night.

Official Fight of the Night: Aaron Riley vs. Jorge Gurgel

Official Submission of the Night: Dustin Hazelett

Official KO of the Night: Jeremy Stephens

UFC 91 Preview and Predictions

Randy Couture vs. Brock Lesnar

Perhaps this is not the biggest fight in UFC history, but it is a big one that is sure to attract a record crowd.  The hype surrounding this card speaks volumes about this particular fight seeing as how the rest of the card is mediocre at best.  This is also a hard fight to pick.  Here is what we know.  Brock Lesnar has looked impressive in his two UFC fights although he lost his debut against Frank Mir (or as he says it “Murr”).  Quite honestly, if Steve Mazagatti hadn’t pulled Lesnar off and stood them up for a hit to the back of the head the fight may have ended with Lesnar being victorious.  Against Heath Herring Lesnar showed incredible ability to control another fighter and he showed that he hits stinkin’ hard.  There are a lot of unknowns about Brock Lesnar.  However, Randy Couture is not an unknown at all.  We know what he will bring to the cage.  He comes in as an underdog despite his experience.  Let me break down this fight. I broke down different skills sets and picked who had tha advantage in each realm that may be a factor in this fight.  Myabe it will help in picking a winner.

Age: Brock Lesnar

Randy is 45.  Brock Lesnar is 31.  Age could be a factor.  It hasn’t been for Randy yet, but it is bound to be eventually.  Everyone thought it was an issue against Tim Sylvia and against Gabriel Gonzaga and it wasn’t, a little over a year later, we expect it could be a factor.  I do not believe it will be the sole factor or even the deciding factor, but it will be a factor. Unfortunately, if Couture loses everyone will blame it on Randy’s age and not Lesnar’s skill.  I believe everyone would agree that Lesnar wins the age battle.

Experience: Randy Couture

There is no question that Randy’s experience is a huge factor.  Lesnar is 2-1 in his MMA career.  Granted he has fought elite fighters in Mir and Herring, he doesn’t nearly have the résumé that Couture has.  Couture has an impressive 16-8 record.  Randy has been in the ring against guys like Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Tim Sylvia, Gabriel Gonzaga, Vitor Belfort, Josh Barnett, Ricco Rodriguez, Maurice Smith, Pedro Rizzo, Jeremy Horn, and Kevin Randleman.  Couture has fought 5 round fights.  He has headlines big events.  He has been in every imaginable situation in a fight.  That is a huge advantage.  The limelight will not be a decided advantage for Randy because Lesnar has been there.  He experienced that in WWE and even in his college wrestling days.  When it comes down to instincts in the ring though Randy has the advantage.  The one who loses this fight could very well be the one who makes the first mistake.  That bodes very well for Couture.

Strength: Brock Lesnar

Is there any real question here?  Look at Lesnar.  He dwarfs everyone.  He is strong as an ox.  By the way, never question whether Lesnar’s build and strength were gained by natural means because he does not like being accused of steroids.  Strength could be an issue.  Lesnar’s strength could give Lesnar the ability to hold Couture down and avoid reversals.  It could help in the clinch, where Randy is very good.  It could help to avoid submissions and to get off his back.  In this match-ups strength will be an issue.  We give the strength advantage to Lesnar.

Athleticism: Brock Lesnar

This is a tough one to call.  I just give the athletic advantage to Lesnar because he is younger and he is a physical specimen.  He is a elite wrestler.  He played some pro football.  He is doing well in MMA.  He has shown great athletic prowess.  I think Lesnar may be the most athletic heavyweight.  He is quick and moved well for a guy nearing 300 lbs. I know WWE is fake and say what you want about pro wrasslin’, but it does take great athleticism do fair well in the WWE. I give the athleticism advantage to Lesnar, but not by a lot.

Wrestling: Brock Lesnar

I know that Randy Couture is a top tier wrestler.  I know of his background at Oklahoma State.  I know that he was an Olympic alternate like 3 times.  There is no one with the wrestling pedigree of Brock Lesnar.   He is a national champ out of Minnesota.  He could have done whatever he wanted wrestling wise.  Where does this come into play?  On the ground.  It will be very hard to keep Brock on his back.  However, he is not in there against some tomato can wrestler.  Randy Couture is a good, very good wrestler.  I give the advantage to Brock here though mainly because Randy is further removed from his wrestling career than Brock Lesnar.  The skill set difference may not be enough to make much difference and I highly doubt this fight will unfold like the Herring fight did. 

Grappling: Randy Couture

Brock Lesnar showed a lot of skill against Herring, but he showed very little grappling or jiu jitsu skills.  He should have submitted him numerous times following the many times he mounted the Texas Crazy Horse or the times he took his back.  If he gives Randy his back he will be choked out.  That may be a good place for Randy to look to win and it may be an area that Brock is vulnerable.  With that said the brute strength of Lesnar makes up for some of his lack of grappling skill and also, Lesnar is showing improvement constantly.  Certainly he has worked on grappling.  The question is how much did he improve since Herring?

Clinch: Randy Couture

Randy is a master at the clinch and dirty boxing.  He is not afraid to clinch with bigger stronger guys.  Just ask Gonzaga and Sylvia.  The clinch could be a good place to be for Randy.  He has a decided clinch advantage.

Size: Brock Lesnar

Brock Lesnar has to cut weight to make 265 lbs.  Randy Couture will come in barely over 205 lbs.  Lesnar wears those XXXXL MMA gloves.  He will be a tough dude to wrap up and to hold onto.  Enough said. 

Striking Technique: Randy Couture

Randy never fails to impress.  He has more technique because he has been at it longer.  He may utilize his technique and boxing skills to keep Lesnar away and he may want to test Brock’s chin.  Randy hit Sylvia so hard in round 1 of their fight that Tim says he didn’t come to until round 5. 

Striking Power: Brock Lesnar

Ask Heath Herring.  Brock can hit hard.  He doesn’t seem to have the technique that Randy does, but I have a feeling that Brock hits harder.  He packs a lot of weight behind a punch.  If Brock hits Randy like he did Herring it could be a bad night for Captain America.

Training: Randy Couture

I do not doubt Lesnar’s work ethic or how good his training will be.  The bottom line is that Xtreme Couture is becoming one of the elite training facilities in the world.  Randy will as always have a superior game plan and will have trained and prepared for everything in this fight.

Fans/Popularity: Randy Couture

He is Captain America.  He is the Natural.  Randy Couture is beloved by fans.  I do not know if his recent stint outside the octagon will hurt him, but I think it will help him.  I imagine that when Randy walks out Saturday night that the cheers will be deafening.  The fans will be behind Randy.  Brock is not unpopular, it is just he is fighting the most popular or at least one of the most popular mixed martial artists.  His popularity will translate into money and pay per view buys.  I think Randy will have the crowd seeing as how he is fighting out of his hometown of Las Vegas.  This is a factor in this fight.  Brock will receive some love too, but not the love of Captain America.

Cardio:  Randy Couture

I almost labeled this a tossup.  It really could be, but I gave it to Randy for a few reasons.  First, Randy is and always has been known as a cardio machine.  Second, he has gone five round before.  After round 3 it is a new place for Brock.  I would imagine that Brock’s cardio is very good and that he is prepared to go 5, but he is more likely to gas than Randy and Randy could keep a fast paced or in your face style that could wear down Lesnar.  I do not think it is a huge advantage, but it could be a slight advantage.

The only other question I would have is will Randy show some ring rust?  I doubt it.  I am so tempted to pick Lesnar to win this fight.  However, I have learned my lesson about betting against Randy Couture.  Therefore I pick Randy Couture to win by submission in round 3. 

Kenny Florian vs. Joe Stevenson

A great fight in the lightweight divison which should determine the number 1 contender.  If Florian wins he has to get a title shot.  If Florian can avoid the Stevenson guillotine choke he will win this fight.  I am excited about this one.  However, I pick Florian by decision.

Demian Maia vs. Nate Quarry

This is a great fight.  Quarry is a good striker and Maia is a great grappler and jiu jitsu practioner.  The winner of this fight moved far up the ladder at 185 lbs.  I think if it stays standing Quarry wins.  If it goes to the ground Maia wins.  With that said, I think it will go to the ground.  Maia will then make quick work of Quarry.  If I am wrong Quarry will have won by KO or TKO.  Nevertheless, I pick Maia by submission in round 1.

Amir Sadollah vs. Nick Catone

I know nothing about Catone, but do you really think they will give the Ultimate Fighter winner a guy they thought would beat Amir?  Amir by submission in round 2.

Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Josh Hendricks

Quick Picks:

Dustin Hazelett vs. Tamdan McCrory

Jorge Gurgel vs. Aaron Riley

Jeremy Stephens vs. Rafael dos Anjos

Mark Bocek vs. Alvin Robinson

Matt Brown vs. Ryan Thomas

Fight of the Night Pick: Gurgel vs. Riley

Submission of the Night Pick: Demian Maian or Dustin Hazelett

KO of the Night Pick: Jeremy Stephens

Upset to Wtach: Brock Lesnar over Randy Couture and Nate Quarry over Demian Maia