This Week In MMA

 ·         UFC Fight Night 16: Fight For the Troops – Wednesday, December 10th

This event is a special bonus for fight fans.  Also, it is a stand up gesture by the UFC.  Say what you want about Dana White and the UFC, but no other fight organizations show the benevolence that the UFC does.  The goal of these fights is to raise money for the Intrepid Fallen heroes Fund.  Click here to find out more or to make donations.  Not only is it a good cause, but there are several good fights.  We will see stars such as Josh Ksocheck, Mike Swick, Matt Wiman, Jim Miller, WEC champ Steve Cantwell, and Luigi Fiorvanti.  Tune in to SPIKE on Wednesday Night to watch this event. 

o   Josh Koscheck vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida

o   Mike Swick vs. Jonathan Goulet

o   Matt Wiman vs. Jim Miller

o   Steve Cantwell vs. Razak Al-Hussan

o   Liugi Fioravanti vs. Brodie Farber

o   Nate Loughran vs. Tim Credeur

o   Steve Bruno vs. Johnny Rees

o   Eddie Sanchez vs. Justin McCully

o   Ben Saunders vs. Brandon Wolff

o   Corey Hill vs. Dale Hartt

·         Adrenaline MMA 2 – Thursday, December 11

Some good fights on tap here.  The biggest enw may be the return of legend, Pat Miletich against Thomas Denny.  Also in action will be former IFL Heavyweight champ Ben Rothwell, rising Heavyweight star Mike Russow and several other notable fighters. 

o   Pat Miletich vs. Thomas Denny

o   Ben Rothwell vs. Chris Guillen

o   Mike Russow vs. Branden Bice

o   LC Davis vs. Billy Kidd

o   Mike Ciesnolevicz vs. Derrick Mehmen

o   Gabe Lemley vs. Dan Loman

o   Ryan McGivern vs. Geno Roderick

o   Pat Curran vs. Ramiro “Junior” Hernandez

o   Jesse Lennox vs. Ryan Williams

·         Mixed Fighting Alliance – Saturday, December 13

This boasts a solid main event between two heavyweight legends in Monson and Rodriquez.  The big news will be the debut of WWE star Bobby Lashley.  The question will be can he do what Lesnar has done? 

o   Jeff Monson vs. Ricco Rodriquez

o   Bobby Lashley vs. Joshua Franklin

o   Ariel Grandulla vs. David Baggett

·         The Ultimate Fighter 8 Finale – Saturday, December 13th                   

I do not know of another TUF finale that I have been so excited about.  This season has all the 16 cast members fighting on this card.  Two exciting finals and two exciting bouts of non TUF cast members in Jason MacDonald vs. Wilson Gouveia and a re-match between Kevin Burns and Anthony Johnson.

o   Ryan Bader vs. Vinny Magalhes

o   Phillipe Nover vs. Efrain Escudero

o   Jason MacDonald vs. Wilson Gouveia

o   Anthony Johnson vs. Kevin Burns

o   Junie Allen Browning vs. Dave Kaplan

o   Krzysztof Soszynski vs. Shane Primm

o   Eliot Marshall vs. Jules Bruchez

o   Kyle Kingsbury vs. Tom Lawlor

o   Shane Nelson vs. George Roop

o   Rolando Delgado vs. John Polakowski

 

 

Advertisements

Evaluating Affliction

One of the questions that I keep thinking about is whether or not Affliction in here to stay and whether or not they will compete with the UFC.  No one disagrees that UFC is the standard of MMA right now, but Affliction is making up ground quickly.  It has been a tell tale sign of a slight change that Affliction has signed so many guys lately including many of the stars from the now defunt IFL, which was bought by the parent company of the UFC, Zuffa.  Affliction has signed Champs Roy Nelson and Vladimir Matyushenko.  They have signed lightweight star Chris Horodecki and are rumored to have welterweight champ Jay Hieron.  Affliction is cleaning up the free agents and doing better in that regard than even the UFC as of late.  So, what is there to judge a promotion…

1. Fighter Talent – Fight promotions are fight promotions.  There are other factors that come into play, but primarily if a promotion does not have top level talent they will not stay relevant.

2. Show Quality –  While good fighters is essential, the promotion must put on a good show.  They must entertain fans.  This includes exciting fights, good commentators and a solid show production.  Promotions have to build shows people will come to or buy.

3.  Solid Managment –  Managment is important to a fight promotion, not just anyone can do it.  A promotion may suceed or fail based ont he business savvy of the fight promoter or president.  The PR, fighter pay, contracts, TV deals, etc. all come into play here.

With that said, let’s see how Affliction is doing…

1. Fighter Talent…

There is a lot of hype around Affliction’s fighter talent.  Here is who I can think of off hand that they have and will use on their cards

  • Fedor Emelianenko
  • Andrei Arlovski
  • Josh Barnett
  • Tim Sylvia
  • Ben Rothwell
  • Roy Nelson
  • Pedro Rizzo
  • Paul Buentello
  • Aleksander Emelianenko
  • Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
  • Tito Ortiz
  • Vladimir Matyushenko
  • Renato “Babalu” Sobral
  • Mike Whitehead
  • Edwin DeWees
  • Vernon White
  • Vitor Belfort
  • Matt Lindland
  • Jay Hieron
  • Mike Pyle
  • J.J. Ambrose
  • Chris Horodecki

I went to HDNet’s Rankings to see how many Affliction Fighters were ranked in the top 100 pound for pound or top in their divisons  here is the results.

(Pound for Pound Rank, Divison Rank)

  • Fedor Emelianenko (2, 1)
  • Andrei Arlovski (25, 4)
  • Josh Barnett (27, 5)
  • Tim Sylvia (55, 7)
  • Ben Rothwell (81, 12)
  • Roy Nelson (84, 13)
  • Pedro Rizzo (NR, 19)
  • Paul Buentello (NR, NR)
  • Aleksander Emelianenko (76, 10)
  • Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (85, 13)
  • Tito Ortiz (87, 15)
  • Vladimir Matyushenko (66, 12)
  • Renato “Babalu” Sobral (92, 16)
  • Mike Whitehead (NR, NR)
  • Edwin DeWees (NR, NR)
  • Vernon White (NR, NR)
  • Vitor Belfort (NR, NR) – Unfairly I’d admit
  • Matt Lindland (22, 5)
  • Jay Hieron (59, 11)
  • Mike Pyle (NR, NR)
  • J.J. Ambrose (NR, NR)
  • Chris Horodecki (NR, NR)
  • Put this into perspective, out of the top 100 the promotions faires like this in pound for pound top 100 fighters…

    • UFC -39
    • Affliction – 13
    • DREAM -12
    • WEC – 10
    • EliteXC – 10
    • Strikeforce – 5
    • World Victory Road – 3

    The point is that Affliction’s talent is overrated. 

    • They are right about the level of DREAM talent wise
    • They are no where near the talent level of the UFC
    • 10 of the Affliction guys that appeared on the rankings list have fought in the UFC before.  Some have been sucessful.  There are several former UFC champs (Sylvia, Barnett, Rizzo, Ortiz and Arlovski), however most of them did no better than fair in the UFC (see Matyushenko, Hieron, et. al)
    • Most of the top Affliction guys are in the second half of their careers and are past their prime.  They still have fight left in them, don’t get me wrong, but not for the long haul
    • What happens if two or three of those gusy get injured?  Affliction is hanging their hat on Fedor, Barnett, Arlovski and Ortiz.  They cannot keep putting everyone on every card, they will run out of match-ups.
    • To their credit, they can put on good fights.  The talent isn’t bad.  Their guys can fight exciting fighter, but they have exciting fights at tough man competitions. They need to sign younger talent and more talent.

    Show Quality…

    • I cannot judge them solely on their sole show.  Affliction needs to improve their show quality as far as commentating, interviews and production is concerned
    • Also, I thought with the exception of the last 3 fights the card wasn’t what it was billed to be
    • They are nowhere near the UFC level as far as enjoyability to watch

    Solid Managment:

    • The UFC with Dana White and the Fertitas is still the managment standard.  I have problems with the UFC and Dana White’s managing style.  I don’t like his constant expletives, I don’t like the way he trashes other promotions, I don’t like the stubborness he exhibits with signing guys like Lindland and Barnett, and even Fedor.  However, Dana is crafty.  Atencio is no Dana White.  Watch his video below where he can’t remember Josh Barnett’s name and he is the main event for the second show. 
    • Affliction does have the deep pocketed Donald Trump behind them which helps.  Trump is a business guiness, but he doesn’t neccessarily know MMA.  The money helps thought he same way it helped having Lorezon and Frank in the UFC early days when they lost tons of money.

    Here is the point folks…Affliction is a solid upstart company.  They may be around for a while, but before we jump ont he bandwagon and label them peers to the UFC and competitors to the UFC let them get through a few shows first.  Let’s see how much money they lose after 3 events.  Let’s see how many fights they can do after 3 card.  They could compete, but as for now it is the UFC and then everyone else.  Zuffa is sitting pretty in the MMA world.  They are the big leagues, everything else is just the minors.  Affliction, EliteXC and DREAM are in the same boat and in a year from now at least one of them will be non-existent.

    Best Non-UFC Fighters

    Here are the best non-UFC fighters.  This shows where the UFC is stacked and where they lack.  There competition is mainly in Affliction at heavyweight and DREAM at lightweight.  Here are the best non-UFC guys that the UFC should look to sign if possible. 

    Rank

    Heavyweight

    Light Heavy

    Middleweight

    Welterweight

    Lightweight

    1

    Fedor Emelianenko

    Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

    Paulo Filho

    Jake Shields

    Takanori Gomi

    2

    Andrei Arlovski

    Ricardo Arona

    Matt Lindland

    Carlos Condit

    Shinya Aoki

    3

    Josh Barnett

    Rafael Feijao

    Robbie Lawler

    Jay Hieron

    JZ Calvancante

    4

    Tim Sylvia

    Vladimir Matyushenko

    Kazuo Misaki

    Nick Thompson

    Eddie Alvarez

    5

    Ben Rothwell

    Babalu Sobral

    Gegard Mousasi

    Mach Sakurai

    Mitsuhiro Ishida

    6

    Mirko Cro Cop

    Tito Ortiz

    Vitor Belfort

    Mike Pyle

    Joachim Hansen

    7

    Roy Nelson

    Steve Cantwell

     “Jacare” de Sousa

     

    Tatsuya Kawajiri

    8

    Aleks Emelianenko

    Brian Stann

    Jason Miller

     

    Josh Thomson

    9

    Antonio Silva

     

    Melvin Manhoef

     

    Gilbert Melendez

    10

    Alistair Overeem

     

    Murilio Rua

     

    Vitor Ribeiro

    11

     

     

    Cung Le

     

    Jamie Varner

    12

     

     

    Denis Kang

     

    Ryan Schultz

    13

     

     

    Joey Villasenor

     

    KJ Noons

    14

     

     

    Frank Shamrock

     

    Nick Diaz

    15

     

     

    Yoshihiro Akiyama

     

    Caol Uno

    16

     

     

    Jorge Santiago

     

     

    17

     

     

    Chael Sonnen

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    EliteXC and Their Future

    We have seen many fight promotions come and go.  Dana White has stated that he isn’t worried about EliteXC, but Satuday is a big day for the EliteXC and for all MMA.  So, how will EliteXC on CBS do?  There are a lot of questions about Mixed Martial Arts on primetime television.  This deal is obviously big.  There are many Kimbo haters who don’t think he is right for the main even, but I disagree.  The main event isn’t necessarily about the best or most experienced fighter or even what will be the best fight, but about what will sell the most tickets and that is Kimbo.  Kimbo Slice is a gold mine.  This fight may determine a lot about hsi MMA future.  I’d like to see him fight a bigger name guy and if he wins Saturday he will.  EliteXC, Affliction, and DREAM seem to be the biggest competition for the UFC, so how will they do?  There are a few ways to determine that.  The UFC has been a model of success in MMA, let’s see what EliteXC needs to do.

    FIGHTERS IN THE ORGANIZATION

    This does not just mean having a host of fighters, but it means having good fighters and more importantly marketable fighters.  The UFC has that. Does EliteXC.  Here are their top fighters…

    • Kimbo Slice
    • Gina Carano
    • Jake Shields
    • Robbie Lawler
    • Eddie Alvarez
    • Frank Shamrock
    • KJ Noons
    • Nick Diaz
    • Kala Hose
    • Antonio Silva
    • Joey Villasenor
    • Phil Baroni
    • Murilio Rua
    • Paul Daley
    • Jon Murphy
    • Brett Rogers
    • Rafael Feijao
    • Ricco Rodriguez

    In that group they have some recognizable names (Sheilds, Diaz, Carano, Slice, Lawler, Baroni, Rodriguez).  They have a few good prospects (Rogers, Feijao, and Murphy).  They have a couple of true stars (Slice and Carano).  Carano is a babe, a good fighter, an American Gladiator star, and one of the most searched for names on the internet.  Kimbo Slice is a You Tube sensation and perhaps will evolve into a decent MMA fighter. However, they only have a couple of legit top level fighters (Lawler. Alvarez and Shields).  Don’t get me wrong their all around talent can draw a crowd and is better than most.

    REVENUE

    They are still operating in the red, but that will change.  I don’t expect money to be an issue right now for EliteXC

    EVENTS

    Here is where EliteXC will struggle.  They hav a great card set up for Saturday, but can they consistently do that?  With about 20 guys that are main card worthy can they put on more than two or three cards?  The answer is…no.  They need to sign more talent.  I don’t know how often they plan to be on CBS Primetime, but they need better events and Kimbo and Carano can’t be on every big card they have.

    MANAGMENT

    Gary Shaw knows what he is doing, but the question is, does he have the savvy that Dana White has?  Time will tell if he makes good busisness moves and this CBS deal is key.  We will see how it does on CBS.

    EliteXC is not going to dissolve any time soon, however, they need more talent and not just marketability. I think EliteXC on CBS this Saturday will fair very well.  They will get large audiences and new fans.  It will help all MMA. 

    UFC’s Competition

    I have been critical of Dana White’ abilitiy to sign the free agents in the MMA world.  I think the bottom line is that Dana is unwilling to bend.  I just heard that Jacare, an excellent jiu-jitsu guy signed with DREAM.  The negotions broke down with the UFC because Dana felt they wanted too much money.  Maybe he is right, but nevertheless Jacare is now in a competitong organization.  Furthermore, it seems the UFC fails to sign top notch fighters especailly Japanese guys like Ishida, Ayoki or Sakurai.  There are other top level fighters that the UFC couldn’t sign.  Worse than that there are several top tier guys I don’t know if the UFC even cares about (Jakes Shields, JZ Calvancante, Gilbert Melendez).  He won’t sign Fedor.  He won’t sign Lindand.  In my opinion UFC will never be a monopoly and has some serious competition. With some of the internal problems and some of the UFC stars upset we could see another organization become the “big dog” in MMA.  In my opinion here is UFC’s biggest competitors.

    1. EliteXC.  Dana’s feud with Shaw hasn’t helped.  Shaw is a much more typical commissioner than White.  The CBS deal will bring them in a lot of viewers, but will also help all MMA.  They have some stars in EliteXC (Nick Diaz, Jake Shields, Cung Le, Robbie Lawler). They are willing to take chances as seen by the future star Kimbo Slice.  They offered Fedor, and may get him.

    2. WEC – I know it is Zuffa owned, but they have some great fighters that the UFC should bring over to the UFC.  I don’t know why you have another organization with top level fighters.  They have some great guys that would translate well anywhere (Paulo Filho, Carlos Condit, Urijah Faber, Miguel Torres, Doug Marshall, Brian Stann, Rob McCullough, Jamie Varner, Chael Sonnen, Leonard Garcia and Jens Pulver)

    3. DREAM – Not much competition now, but has some good fighters (Sakurai, Cro Cop, Calvancanti, Ishida, Aoki, Denis Kang, Yamamoto, Joachim Hansen, Eddie Alvarez and Mark Hunt).  The American market is next to nothing though.

    4. World Victory Road — Josh Barnett and Takanori Gomi enough said.  A few more big names and they have something good.

    5. Strikeforce.  Not great competition, but still have a few guys any monopoly would want (Frank Shamrock, Josh Thompson and Gilbert Melendez)

    6. ICON.  They have Jason “Mayhem” Miller and a future star in Kala Hose.

     Right now the UFC is doing fine.  They have a few competitors, but they are still the big leagues.  They have the best fighters.  Some divisions they are better than others.  For example at Light Heavyweight they have a near monopoly and at welterweight they are doing pretty well.  There are several key free agents out there (Fedor, Arlovski, Couture).  If EliteXC or someone else picks up the other guys they can really compete.

    The UFC Heavyweight Title

    There is a huge mess for the UFC heavyweight title.  Right now Randy Couture is still the UFC Heavyweight champ, but he says he is not coming back.  All the litigation and the news of him signing with HDNet fights and Mark Cuban seems to verify that.  Therefore, the UFC Interim Heavyweight Champ is Antonio Rodrgio Nogueira.  It is reported that Randy Couture has been offered the fight with Nogueira.  I don’t know why he would take it.  I would say there could be a few motivating factors to accept the fight for Randy.  First would be to get the UFC off his back and fulfill his contract.  Second,  many people rank Randy as the third best heavyweight behind Fedor and Nogueira.  If he really is concerned about fighting the best he could prove himself against Nogueira.  Third, the Fedor fight is still possible in the UFC.  With the news of Fedor becoming a free agent, the UFC could sign him.  If the UFC signs him I look for Randy to have two more fights.  One with Nogueira and one with Fedor. What a way to end his career.  A much better ending than the chaos and controversy of lawsuits.  He could end his career beating the number one and number 2 guys in the world to solify himself as the best. 

       Previously, Dana White indicated that Fabricio Werdum was next in line for a title shot.  At first it sounded maybe one win premature.  However, if you run through the division who else will it be?  Arlovski’s contract is over.  Tim Sylvia just lost to Nogueira.  Kongo was the apparent other option, but he just loss to Herring.  Vera is coming off a loss.  Mir is still a few fights away from the title shot. Therefore Werdum seemed like a decent option.  However, werdum is going to fight Brandon Vera this summer.  The winner will be a contender.  I would assume that before that fight the UFC will book a fight for Nogueira.  Since Werdum is fighting someone else that only leaves me to conclude the UFC has someone else in mind.  They could have counted on Kongo, but his loss blew that.  I think that leaves just four options…

    1. Randy Couture could fight Nogueira.  That all hinges on Fedor being signed.  This is the firsdt option for the UFC.  However, if the UFC signs Fedor and Randy first fights Nogueria, a loss would make it hard to make the Fedor vs. Randy fight work.  Fedor is bound to get a title shot right away.

    2.  Andrei Arlovski could fight Nogueira.  Event hough his contract has expired and he is a free agent, he could still get the fight.  He is the best heavyweight in the UFC besides Randy and Nogueira.  However, he has to sign first.  If he signs this is a good possiblity and could come with Randy’s belt beign stripped. 

    3. Fedor could sign and fight Nogueira.  We would assume Fedor would win and then Randy would be offered this fight.  That is very possible.  However, I remember when everyone planned on the Chuck vs. Wanderlai fight and Rampage messed that up. I don’t want Nogueira to spoil that fight, even thoguh I like Nogueira. 

    4. Werdum could fight Nogueira.  The fight with Brandon Vera could be scratched and he could fight Nogueira if all the above doesn’t work out.  Or the UFC could hold off until Fall sometimes on any title defense in the division and Werdum could beat Vera and still be the next to fight Nogueira. 

    5.  It could be someone else to fight Nogueira.  Not likely.  Who would it be?  Kongo lost.  Herring just fought and lost to Nogueira.  Sylvia just lost to Nogueira a re-match would be a horrible idea.  Gonzaga is coming off two losses.  Jake O’Brien lost.  Frank Mir is a possibility, but he still seems a fight or two away from contention.  Brock Lesnar?  Ha!  Eddie Sanchez?  Haha! Cro Cop left and went to DREAM for now.  Another guy not currently in the UFC?  Who?  It won’t be Josh Barnett.  It won’t be the other Emelianenko.  It won’t be someone like Kimbo…yet.  It won’t be Ricco Rodriguez.  It won’t be Ben Rothwell.   That exhausts the MMA heavyweights….

    The bottom line is the only realistic options are Randy, Fedor, or Werdum, with Vera and Mir standing on the outside looking in.

    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