UFC News: Hermes Franca vs. Joe Lauzon at UFC Fight Night 17

In an interview with Jeremy Stephens the other day he stated that Hermes Franca was going to fight in February.  It looks like Stephens was correct and it look like he will be fighting TUF 5 alum Joe Lauzon. This should be a very interesting fight.  Both guys are top tens in the UFC divison…or close to it.  Both guys are serious contenders.  Both guys are coming off of wins.  Lauzon comes fof a win over Kyle Bradley and Franca comes off of a win against Marcus Aurelio.  The winner of this fight will be considered an upper eshalon UFC lightweight. 

Lauzon is my earlier favorite to win this one, but it certainly can be a tough fight with a couple of tough fighters.

UFC Fight Night 17 will be held on February 7 and will feature bouts between TUF 6 winner Mac Danzig and Josh Neer as well as TUF 7 winner Amir Sadollah taking on Nick Catone.  I look for all 3 of these fights to make the televised card with a event yet to be named to be tapped for the main event.

MMABlog’s Lightweight MMA Rankings

Rank

Name

Organization

Next Fight

1

B.J. Penn

UFC

St. Pierre (#1 WW) 1/31

2

Takanori Gomi

World Victory Road

Golyaev (NR), 11/1

3

Shinya Aoki

DREAM

 

4

Eddie Alvarez

EliteXC?

 

5

Sean Sherk

UFC

T. Griffin (#15), 9/25

6

Mitsuhiro Ishida

DREAM/Strikeforce

 

7

Tatsuya Kawajiri

DREAM

 

8

Kenny Florian

UFC

Stevenson (#10), 11/15

9

Josh Thomson

Strikeforce

Edwards (NR), 11/21

10

Joe Stevenson

UFC

Florian (#8), 11/15

11

Gesias Calvancante

DREAM

 

12

Joachim Hansen

DREAM

 

13

Gilbert Melendez

Strikeforce

 

14

Jamie Varner

WEC

 

15

Tyson Griffin

UFC

Sherk (#5), 9/25

16

Roger Huerta

UFC

 

17

Gray Maynard

UFC

Clementi (NR), 9/25

18

Frank Edgar

UFC

Wiman (NR), 12/10

19

Vitor Ribeiro

 

 

20

Nate Diaz

UFC

 

21

K.J. Noons

EliteXC?

 

22

Joe Lauzon

UFC

 

23

Nick Diaz

EliteXC

 

24

Spencer Fisher

UFC

Gugerty (NR), 9/25

25

Caol Uno

DREAM

 

 

Others Considered: Clay Guida, Hermes Franca, Marcus Aurelio, Jim Miller, Jorge Masvidal , Rich Clementi, Matt Wiman, and Mac Danzig.

Tournaments in the UFC

What if UFC had a 16 man tournament.  In other words a little bigegr version of what DREAM is doing with lightweights and middleweights.  A tournament would doa  lot of good things.  It would give an underdog the chance to win and fight the top dog.  You would have to have some type of ranking to do it and seed the guys like with the NCAA basketball tournament.  It would ease match making.  It would give exciting fights and intriguing possibilites.  Can you imagine all the possible scenarios of what could happen and who could fight one another?  I bet guys would fight passionatley.  There would be upsets.  So…I played around and came up with this…I took my 16 top guys in each class and made a bracket.  The fight one winner will fight the fight 2 winner and so on…

Lightweight:

Round One Match ups:

B.J. Penn vs. Rich Clementi

Clay Guida vs. Gray Maynard

Marcus Aurelio vs. Frank Edgar

Kenny Florian vs. Manny Gamburyan

Sean Sherk vs. Spencer Fisher

Nate Diaz vs. Joe Stevenson

Joe Lauzon vs. Tyson Griffin

Roger Huerta vs. Mac Danzig

Welterweight:

Georges St. Pierre vs. Chris Lytle

Thiago Alves vs. Mike Swick

Karo Parisyan vs. Matt Serra

Josh Koscheck vs. Ryo Chonan

Jon Fitch vs. Roan Carneiro

Diego Sanchez vs. Luigi Fiorvanti

Marcus Davis vs. Akihiro Gono

Matt Hughes vs. Chris Wilson

Middleweight:

Anderson Silva vs. Thales Leites

Martin Kampmann vs. Nate Quarry

Patrick Cote vs. Ricardo Almeida

Yushin Okami vs. Demian Maia

Rich Franklin vs. Evan Tanner

Nate Marquardt vs. Jason MacDonald

Chris Leben vs. Michael Bisping

Dan Henderson vs. Jorge Rivera

Light Heavyweight:

Quinton Jackson vs. Goran Reljic

Mauricio Shogun Rua vs. Matt Hammil

Wanderlei Silva vs. Sokoudjou

Chuck Liddell vs. Houston Alexander

Keith Jardine vs. Jame Irvin

Forrest Griffin vs. Wilson Gouveia

Thiago Silva vs. Rashad Evans

Lyoto Machida vs. Stephan Bonnar

Heavyweight:

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Dan Evenson

Cheick Kongo vs. Eddie Sanchez

Heath Herring vs. Cain Velasquez

Frank Mir vs. Christian Wellish

Fabricio Werdum vs. Antoni Hardonk

Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Shane Carwin

Brock Lesnar vs. Justin McCully

Brandon Vera vs. Neil Wain

 

This all could make some interesting match-ups.  What you would do would be take all five divisons and make 5 fight cards with 8 fights each.  You could split them up or have a “lightweight card”.  5 cards would finish round one.  Then you could have two 10 fight card and that would finish round two.  Then you could have another card that would do the semi-final match ups and another card for the championships.  Try making an un-televised undercard out of any of these fights.  That would be awesome.  Of course you could put more thought into match ups and potential second and third round “dream match up” in where you placed fighters, but it is a great idea.  The one flaw is that if the UFC had one card a month this tournament would take 9 months to finish and that would keep a lot of fighters from fighting in that time.  I guess you could break it up and have non-tournament fights mixed in there too.  Just food for thought…

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

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