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.
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.
Nate “The Great” Marquardt appears to have lost his bid to be an Ultimate Fighter coach, but he does appear to still be in the title picture. He will fight next at UFC 95 against Wilson Gouveia. Gouviea is coming off of an impressive TKO win over Jason MacDonald at the Ultimate Fighter 8 Finale. However, Gouveia failed to make weight. He is stiking around at 185 and that win should have catapolted him up the division.
This could be a great match between two very well roudned fighters who are both coming off of big wins. The winner will certainly move towards the top tier of the division.
·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
·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
Dan Henderson def. Rousimar Palhares by unanimous decision
Nate Marquardt def. Martin Kampmann by TKO in round 1
Dong Hyun Kim def. Matt Brown by split decision
Jason MacDonald def. Jason Lambert by submission in round 2
Tim Boetsh def. Mike Patt by TKO in round 1
Kurt Pellegrino def. Thiago Tavares by unanimous decision
Ryo Chonan def. Roan Carneiro by split decision
Fight of the Night: Kurt Pellegrino vs. Thiago Tavares
Submission of the Night: Jason MacDonald
Knockout of the Night: Rashad Evans
My Predictions: I went 6 of 9 (I missed the Rashad Evans vs. Chuck Liddell, Martin Kampmann vs. Nate Marquardt and Kurt Pellegrino vs. Thiago Tavares fights)
My Thoughts on UFC 88:
Rashad Evans was impressive as heck. I was utterly shocked. I thought after round 1 Chuck would finish it. Rashad looked good all round 2. He was winning that fight even before the KO. By the way, that was one of the most vicious KO’s I have ever seen in one punch. That will be a highlight reel KO for years to come. That will be knockout of the year candidate. Rashad Evans showed he was no joke. I don’t know if he deserves the title shot he was granted in December, but I won’t complain about it too badly. I still think Machida deserves it.
Rich Franklin is back. I love Rich Franklin. He is a class act fighter. He is super talented and always improving. His striking is world class. He is a threat in the light heavyweight divison. There are some guys he would lose to, but I think he would beat Forrest or Rashad right now. I am glad to see him back on track.
Matt Hamill looked good in the loss. He showed he is improving his striking. I think he still needs to rely on his bread and butter more of take downs and ground and pound, but he wants to show his striking. Rich was just too experienced for him and found a weakness in his game and exploited it. Hamill will be back and in my opinion he is still a top 15 light heavyweight.
Dan Henderson looked alright, but nothing special. I think that is because Palhares is that good. Palhares has a solid chin and superior submissions. Keep his name in mind because he will be back too.
The most impressive performance to me was Nate Marquardt. Nate has always had excellent grappling and submissions, but he showed versatile and skilled striking against a dangerous Kampmann. He looked crisp and solid. He is in the top heap at 185. I’d love to see him fight Dan Henderson or Michael Bisping with the winner getting a title shot. However, it may be that after Cote, Silva will get Okami. Then Bisping is likely the next guy in line. Then perhaps a re-match with Marquardt or Henderson.
Some people think Matt Brown should have gotten the decision over Dong Hyun Kim, but I don’t think so. I think Kim won round 1 due to submission attempts and a near finish and I think he won round 3 due to the take downs and big elbows out the end. I think Kim looked really good against a tough as nails Matt Brown who showed some improvement. Kim is a contender at 170 and though many people think he shouldn’t have won, and though I am sure he would have rather finished the fight, a win is a win and he will climb the ladder.
Tim Boetsh looked impressive against UFC newcomer Mike Patt, and I think if he can gain some cardio he can be a contender at 205.