UFC 84: Ill Will Thoughts

I have several thoughts about UFC 84: Ill Will.  Here they go…

  • I was stoked to see the UFC show so many cards on pay-per view.  I believe 9 fights were aired.  I liked it a lot.  Of course it was because there were notmany drawn out decision fights.  I was gald to see Sokoudjou and Carwin’s fights.  It helps the UFC and their careers to get the attention.
  • B.J. Penn looked amazing.  We didn’t even see his jiu-jit su.  He looked crisp in striking.  He was quick and he wore out Sherk with striking.  His cardio looked great too.  B.J. called for the G.S.P. fight and that could be interesting.  Could B.J. hold two belts at the same time?
  • I don’t know what Sherk was doing.  After the fight he said he stayed standing because he was doing well striking.  What fight was he watching?  He could’t reach B.J.  He should have used his wrestling more.
  • How about the show of class between Penn and Sherk.  After many heated words B.J. hugged Sherk and invited him to train in Hawaii
  • Wanderlei is back.  He rocked Jardine.  Jardine was out cold.  And what a classy individual is Wandy.  He is what makes MMA special.  You cannot help but to like him.  He was really concerned for his opponent.  He is humble.  I am a Wanderlei fan.  I will root for a Wanderlei vs. Rampage fight in UFC.  It could happen and the UFC could market it as Rampage’s revenge.  That opens up many scenarios.  If Wandy wins he could get Chuck again for the title.  Still possible he drops down for the Silva vs. Silva match.
  • Lyoto Machida was great against Tito.  Some accuse him of running, but he was elusive.  He was smart.  Tito couldn’t hit him.  He was fast.  He picked his shots well against Tito.  Lyoto is the real deal and will get a big fight next.  He beat Tito bad and I am glad.
  • Who knows what all realyl went on in the UFC after fight press conference with Tito.  Tito is a loud mouthed jerk. 
  • Thiago Silva has a tough chin.  Mendes may be for real, but Thiago is really for real.  He is a top 10 light heavyweight and is in the mix for a title.  He will get a top tier guy next. 
  • Goran Reljic looked great.  He can kick hard.  He has KO power.  If he can learn to vary his kicks more he is a contender.  I moved him into my top 15 from that fight.  I’d like to see him vs. Hammil.
  • Palhares is a force at middleweight.  What an amazing arm bar!  He better improve his striking though. He should have thrown some punches while trying to sink in that choke.  Nevertheless, oen of the best jiu-jitsu guys in the UFC
  • Shane Carwin’s KO of Wellish was sick.  His bread and butter is ground and pound and he didn’t even show it.  He will be a heavyweight force.
  • Yoshida looked great against Koppenhaver.  That choke was textbook.  We will see how he does against more serious competition.
  • Kim will also be a force at welterweight
  • Sokoudjou won…yay!  He didn’t look great, but he won, apparently with a hurt knee.  He called for Shogun, but I hope he doesn’t get him.  I want both those guys to do well in the UFC.  One of them losing would hurt their UFC careers bad.  I’d give Shogun someone like Wilson Gouveia or Stephan Bonnar to get a win under his belt.  And Shogun wants Liddell.
  • This may have helped the UFC roster cuts.  Look for Salaverry, Koppenhaver, and Tan to be canned.  Also, Nakamura may be done as could Etim. 
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UFC 84 Predictions

Christian Wellish vs. Shane Carwin

Shane Carwin has never left the first round of a fight.  Nate Marquardt touts him highly.  He is rumored to be a great striker and a great grappler and jiu jitsu guy.  He is being hailed as the next big thing in the UFC heavyweight divison.  A win would ruin that for him.  I am not going to bet against Carwin in fact this is one of the fights I feel most comfortable with.  Don’t be shocked to see this one creep onto the pay-per view showing.  My final pick is Shane Carwin by TKO in round 1.

Terry Etim vs. Rich Clementi

Terry Etim is a great submission guy with 9 of his 10 wins coming by submissions. 5 of Rich Clementi’s 12 losses have come via submissions.  The experience would go to Clementi.  Terry Etim hasn’t fought since September.  Rich Clementi just fought in April at UFC 83 when he beat Sam Stout in a split decision.  This is a hard fight to pick because you have to assume that the fight will go on the ground and if it does Etim can submit Clementi quickly.  However, I am going to pick Clementi by ref stoppage in round 2. 

Ivan Salavarry vs. Rousimar Palhares

Ivan Salaverry is very talented, but for some reason hasn’t show all he can do.  He is very well rounded.  Palhares is a relative unkown, but apparently he can submit people because that is how he wins.  I struggled picking this fight because Salaverry may be done.  This is one of those win or go home fights.  I amy regret it but I am going to pick Palhares by submission is round 1. 

Dong Hyun Kim vs. Jason Tan

I have no idea what to say here.  The loser is going to be cut.  Japanese fighters seem to struggle over in the UFC with the exception of Okami.  Maybe Kim is Korean and he will win.  Jason Tan hasn’t beat quality people yet.  However, I am going to pick Jason Tan by unanimous decision.

Jon Koppenhaver vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida

It comes down to heart and Koppenhaver has heart, but his head is messed up.  I pick Yoshida to win by unanimous decision.

Thiago Silva vs. Antonio Mendes

Mendes has a good record, but Thiago Silva has looked amazing.  I think he is a guy to watch in the UFC.  Silva is 12-0 with 10 wins coming by TKO.  I think Silva is going to KO Mendes in round 2. 

Wilson Gouveia vs. Goran Reljic

Gouveia is 4-1 in the UFC, with his only loss coming in the TUF 3 Finale to Keith Jardine.  Now, Gouveia in his last fight was nearly KO’d by Jason Lambert, but he camback and won the fight.  Gouveia may want to keep the fight standing and may want to watch for Reljic’s armbar.  Reljic is a Croatian who has trained with Cro Cop.  I don’t know how good he will be, but we will see.  This may be a good fight.  I think Gouveia could easily win this fight, but I am going to pick Reljic by upset win and submission in round 1.

Kazuhiro Nakamura vs. Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou

Sokoujou is still a top ten talent most places.  He is doing some training with Extreme Couture and his guys tend to do very well.  Nakamura has an average record of 11-7, but to his credit his losses have come to Machida, Shogun, Barnett, Dan Henderson, Wanderlei Silva, and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.  In other words he has some good wins and some good fights, but struggles against the top tier.  This may be a win or go home fight as well.  I look for Sokoudjou to win this fight by unanimous decison.

Tito Ortiz vs. Lyoto Machida

Perhpas this is the fight will all the drama.  Tito is most likely gone from the UFC win or lose.  We know of his bitterness with Dana White.  Tito wants nothing more than to go out with a win as a sign to the UFC that he is still a good fighter.  Dana wants nothing more than Tito to lose badly in this fight.  In fact he has probably given Machida all sorts of incentives if he wins.  Tito claims to be in tip top shape.  However, I have a feeling he has been distracted by talks of where he will fight next, the Apprentice, clothing lines, Jenna, other busisness ventures, did I mention Jenna?  I think in the end Machida is too good.  I wouldn’t want to go to decision against Tito, no fighter has been given more questionable decisions than Tito.  Machida is 12-0 and that against top notch guys.  He holds wins over B.J. Penn, Rich Franklin, Sokoudjou, Nakamura, and David Heath.  I am going to pick Lyoto Machida to win by TKO in round 2. 

Keith Jardine vs. Wanderlei Silva

This is set up to be a great fight.  Both these guys are good guys with great records.  The question for me is Wanderlei’s best days behind him?  Jardine in my opinion should be the one coaching TUF and should be the one getting the next title shot.  Jardine beat Liddell and Wanderlei lost to Chuck recently.  So I guess many people with figure that Jardine should easily beat Silva.  Not so fast.  I think Wanderlei’s training and hard word will pay off.  I like Keith Jardine, but I like Wanderlei Silva.  He is a class act and a MMA legend.  I am rooting for him all the way.  A win for Jardine ought to mean title shot.  A loss for Silva and some people are talking he is out of the UFC.  I doubt that yet.  With that said I will pick Wanderlei Silva to win by TKO in round 1.

B.J. Penn vs. Sean Sherk

If B.J. Penn looks like he did against Joe Stevenson it is good bye Sean Sherk.  I am rooting for B.J.  Sean Sherk is no puch over though.  Sherk has one many fights by ground and pound.  That may be dangerous against the jiu-jitsu of Penn.  Cardio will be a huge factor to me.  Sherk has an awesome record.  Sherk could win this one, but I am going to pick B.J. Penn by submission in round 2. 

Upsets to watch for: Terry Etim over Rich Clementi.  Keith Jardine over Wanderlei Silva.  Wilson Gouveia over Goran Reljic. 

UFC Cutting Fighters

What is taking place?  Who has been cut?  Why have they been cut?  Who should be cut?  Wh shouldn’t be cut? What fighters are on the chopping block? 

The UFC had over 200 fighters under contract.  Just recently the UFC has decided to start cutting fighters to allow the better fighters to fight more often.  In the recent weeks the UFC has cut Jake O’Brien, David Heath, Din Thomas, Kalib Starnes, Travis Lutter, John Halverson, Soa Palelei, Tommy Speer, and Kuniyoshi Hironaka.  They allowed Cro Cop and Tim Sylvia out of their contracts and have not yet re-signed Arlovski.  They are about to loose Tito Ortiz.  The goal of the UFC brass is to get down to the 150-160 range of contracted fighters.  This means there are more cuts to come.  Many fights on upcoming cards are do or die fights.  Let me sound my opinion…

  • I understand what the UFC is trying to do, and I too want to see the best fight more often
  • The options are either to have more events with more fights on the fight cards or release some fighters
  • If the UFC has 200 fighters under contracts and hold 18 fight events annually with 10 fights per card that means there will be 180 fights, with 360 fighters in action annually.  That means some fighters will only fight once per year.  That doesn’t cut it.  They need 3-4 fights a year to susatain their career.

With that in mind…

  • I don’t agree with all the cuts that have been made.  For example, Jake O’Brien was undefeated in the UFC, then he looses to Arlovski and he is cut.  He was a top 10-15 UFC heavyweight.  The heavyweight divison is hurting bad now.  That is the worst move of all.  Hironaka just won fight of the night in a loss to Goulet and he was cut.  Din Thomas was a top 15 lightweight and he was cut.  I think Tommy Speer deserved one more chance to prove himself. 
  • I understand cutting Starnes and kind of understand cutting Lutter and Doerksen. 
  • I don’t understand why Dana White will let Sylvia and Cro Cop out of their contacts, but won’t let Couture
  • There are some fighters would could be cut and the UFC will not miss them

Who is in danger?

The bottom line is the next few UFC events for many guys will be do or die.  This will make for some exciting fights as no one wants to be fired, but it cannot be a constant issue as we do not want fighters to look over their shoulders because they are bound to lose eventually. So who is in danger?

UFC 84

  • Christian Wellisch
  • Jason Tan
  • Dong Hyun Kim
  • Jon Koppenhaver
  • Yoshiyuki Yoshida
  • Rousimar Palhares
  • Ivan Salaverry
  • Kazuhiro Nakamura
  • Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou
  • Antonio Mendes

UFC 85

  • Jess Liaudin
  • Paul Taylor
  • Paul Kelly
  • Roan Carneiro
  • Jason Lambert

TUF 7 Finale

  • Jeremy Horn
  • Drew McFedries
  • Dustin Hazelett
  • Evan Tanner
  • Kendall Grove

Nearly half those guys will be cut

What standard should be used to decide to gets cut.  The problem is some guys are going to lose, should they be cut for one loss?  Here would be my standard…

  • Exciting fighter.  This earned Koppenhaver and Rollins a chance and may give them one more fight.  You can lose well.  The UFC wants exciting fighters.  The lack of excitment got Starnes cut.  Dana has always said he would reward exciting fights.  This could keep a guy like Terry Etim or Paul Taylor around even if they loose.  I would can boring fighters who refuse to engage.
  • Popular fighter.  I would not cut a more popular fighter because they could be a draw.  They need to look at the fan base before cutting.  That could save a guy like Kendall Grove or Jeremy Horn.
  • Ranked fighter.  I would not cut a top 20 fighter in the world.  That should save Sokodjou and Nakamura. 
  • Experienced figher.  You give the MMA vets an extra shot.  That again would spare Jeremy Horn even with a loss
  • Classy Figher.  MMA needs good ambassadors.  I would keep around classy guys and emphasize character if I was looking to sign people.  That has worked in other sports.  Many teams won’t trade for, sign or draft a troubled athelete even if they are talented because they are a liability.  MMA needs to target young people and if they want credibility they need to have class act guys in a controversial sport.  Punk fighters should be booted before classy guys. 
  • Potential fighter.  Shane Carwin is highly touted it he loses he needs to stay.  Brock Lesnar was in the same boat as was Velasquez.  If they are highly touted you give them a chance and let them prove themselves. 
  • Not All Losses Are Equal.  You cannot fault a guy for fighting good competition.  Imagine if Sokoudjou losses to Nakamura, there is chatter that he would be cut.  He would have lost to two quality guys in Machida and Nakamura.  I don’t expect him to lose, but he is universally ranked in the top ten in the world.  Dan Henderson has lost 2 in a row in the UFC.  Some say Wanderlai could even be in trouble, but you cannot can him for losses to Liddell and Jardine.  My opinion you keep some guys no matter what.  If Henderson fights Rich Franklin next he could easily lose that making him 0-3 in the UFC.  My tohughts would be give him a second tier guy to prove he is worth it.  If he loses then cut him, the same with Wanderlai and Sokodjou.  They did that with Cro Cop. 
  • Adequate opportunity.  I think if the UFC signs someone and gives them a fight you give them a chance to win.  Guys like Carwin, Wain, Palhares, Carneiro may lose their first fight.  Give them one more chance.  You want to develop talent and not ruin it.
  • Winability.  Like my new word?  It means do they have the skills to win?  I think UFC fighters need to be able to have a winning record.  There is no need for guys that will just get beat

The bottom line is cuts need to be made, but only cut those who have no heart and cannot compete at that level.  That is why using the Zuffa owned WEC as a farm system is a great idea.  Send the guys that need to improve down to WEC and bring the best of the WEC into the big leagues.

 

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

What to expect in MMA in ’08

  • I expect to see new title holders in every division but one and that is the middleweight.  All though Anderson could be challenged by Dan Henderson.  My picks for the title holders: Nogueira, Not sure about lightheavyweight, Anderson Silva, St. Pierre, and B.J. Penn.
  • I expect to see a few more fighters signed to UFC contracts.  Highlighting the list: Matt Lindland, Gilbert Melendez, Jake Shields, and some other big name surprise
  • I expect TUF to be a disappointment with Rampage Jackson getting a lot of camera time saying his crazy off the wall things
  • I expect the middleweight division to get tougher
  • I expect a few UFC stars to retire (Matt Hughes and Rich Franklin)
  • I expect Sean Sherk to get another title shot, but B.J. Penn to beat him badly
  • I expect the light heavyweight division to get crazier with guys like Machdia, Thiago Silva, Rashad Evans, and Shogun in the title mix.
  • I expect Chuck Liddell to avenge his loss to Keith Jardine by summer
  • I expect that Shogun is still only one fight away from a title shot, I think that my top ten in the lightheavyweight at the top ten at light heavyweight, perhaps not in that order.
  • I expect Dan Henderson to try Anderson Silva like he hasn’t been tried in a while
  • I expect Jon Fitch, Kenny Florian, Sean Sherk, Roger Huerta, Matt Lindland, and either Arlovski or Cro Cop to get a title shot. 
  • I expect the former PRIDE guys to turn it around in the octagon
  • I expect another solid fight from Wanderlai Silva, can you say rematch?
  • I expect the Fedor vs. Randy fight to happen
  • I expect other organizations to become more of a competition to the UFC
  • I expect Dana White to say many more expletives on national television
  • I expect TUF alums to suceed this year even more
  • I expect Diego Sanchez to drop to lightweight
  • I expect Brock Lesnar to be a middle of the road fighter
  • I expect Brandon Vera to drop to lightheavyweight
  • I expect Bisping to cry when he gets beat in middleweight
  • I expect Tito to loose in the Apprentice

UFC Fighter Rankings

Where do fighters rank in the UFC?  I’ve seen all sorts of thoughts on rankings, so I will chime in and give my rankings, which of course are the best and most accurate.  I am using a few guidelines.

  • This is strictly UFC, not including fighters not yet signed in UFC from Pride.  For example, Fedor would be on or near the top of the Heavyweight rankings, but he is yet to sign so he is not included
  • This is based not on popularity or even record, but purely on who I perceive to be the best fighters
  • I am putting the title holders at number one in each weight class, even though they might not be the best in that class, for example, I would not have Matt Serra as the best fighter in his class, but he is the belt holder.
  • Some fighters are rising quickly and others are falling quickly (i.e. Tito and Cro Cop)

HEAVYWEIGHTS

1. Randy “The Natural” Couture

2. Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski

3. Gabriel Gonzaga

4. Cheick Kongo

5. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

6. Tim Sylvia

7. Mirko “Cro Cop”

8. Brandon Vera

9. Frank Mir

10. Jeff Monson 

11. Heath Herring

12. Fabricio Werdum

13. Assuerio Silva

(Note: Fedor, Josh Barnett, and even Aleksander Emelianko may have made the list had they signed. )

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS

1. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson

2. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

3. Dan Henderson

4. Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell

5. Wandelai Silva

6. Rashad Evans

7. Houston Alexander

8. Tito Ortiz

9. Keith “The Dean of Mean” Jardine

10. Forrest Griffin

11. Rogerio “Minotoro” Nogueira

12. Matt “The Hammer” Hamill

13. Micael Bisping

14. Ryoto Machida

15. Jason Lambert

16. Stephan Bonnar

17. Renato “Babalu” Sorbal

18. Wilson Gouveia

19. Marvin Eastman

(Note: I put Hamill above Bisping because I believe he beat Bisping in their fight.  Even though Bisping got the win, Hammil looked better.)

MIDDLEWEIGHT:

1. Anderson Silva

2. Rich Franklin

3. Yushim Okami

4. Terry Martin

5. Nate Marquardt

6. Dan Henderson

7. Jason MacDonald

8. Patrick Cote 

9. Kalib Starnes

10. Chris Leben

11. Martin Kampmann

12. Thales Leites

13. Ivan Salaverry

14. Nate “Rock” Quarry

15. Evan Tanner

16. Kendall Grove

17. Ed Herman

18. Travis Lutter

19. Dean Lister

20. Alessio Sakara

WELTERWEIGHT:

1. Matt Serra

2. Georges St. Pierre

3. Matt Hughes

4. Diego Sanchez

5. Karo Parisyan

6. Josh Koschek

7. Jon Fitch

8. B.J. Penn

9. Marcus Davis

10. Mike Swick

11. Thiago Alves

12. Josh Burkman

13. Luigi Fioravanti

14. Nick Diaz

15. Chris Lytle

16. Edilberto “Crocota” de Oliveira

17. Jonathan Goulet

LIGHTWEIGHT:

1.  Sean Sherk

2. B.J. Penn

3. Joe “Daddy” Stevenson

4. Roger Huerta

5. Kenny Florian

6. Hermes Franca

7. Nick Diaz

8. Joe Lauzon

9.  Din Thomas

10. Marcus Davis

11. Clay Guida

12. Spencer Fisher

13. Frank Edgar

14. Melvin Guillard

15. Drew Fickett

16. Kurt Pellegrino

17. Terry Etim

18. Tyson Griffin

19. Marcus Aurelio

20. Sam Stout

21. Tiago Tavares

22. Nate Diaz

(Note: I listed to 22 because there are so many quality fighters and the last 12-15 of these guys are not far from one another in ranking,  Some rankings have my number 19 Marcus Aurelio much higher, but come on, whose he gonna bump down?)

 Let the disputing begin.  I’d love to hear comments.  Perhaps I left someone off included someone I shouldn’t have.  Perhaps I have someone overrated or another underrated.  Let me know what you think.