Poll Questions In Wake of UFC 89

Cast your vote on several questions that arose from UFC 89…

My UFC 89 Predictions

Some of these are very tough picks.  This is a solid card, which is by far better than UFC 90.  I will probably stink up my picks because there are some tough fights here.  From top to bottom this is a good card.  Maybe not the big names that pay per view cards often carry, but to the serious MMA fan even fights on this undercard are appealing.

Michael Bisping vs. Chris Leben

I think Bisping is a serious contender at 185 lbs.  He has looked impressive, but he has not fought anyone of Chris Leben’s calibur yet at 185.  He handily beat Jason Day and Charles McCarthy, but Leben is better than those guys.  Leben can strike and he has an iron chin.  I think when it comes down to it we will see that the difference is Bisping’s conditioning and his ability to take Leben down and work some ground and pound.  If Bisping tries to exchange with Leben it could be goodnight “Count”.  However, Bisping is hailed the best UK fighter, and is likely the TUF 8 coach.  I look for Bisping to win by ref stoppage in round 3. 

Brandon Vera vs. Keith Jardine

This is a very tough fight to pick and here is why.  Brandon Vera made the drop from heavyweight to light heavyweight, which I think is a good move.  He debuted at 205 and looked less than impressive ina  win over Reese Andy.  I do not know if Vera is struggling as a fighter right now or if the weight cut got to him that fight.  I would expect a much better Vera Saturday.  Jardine is a tough guy to figure.  He has at times looked like a top contender.  He has beaten Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin.  However, he got beat handily and quickly by Wanderlei Silva and Houston Alexander.  So is Jardine a top 5 fighter?  Or is he a “gatekeeper”?  My pick for this fight is not concrete, and I would not be shocked for it to go either way, however, I pick Brandon “The Truth” Vera by unanimous decision.  It would be great for Vera’s career if he finished quickly and in exciting fashion like the Vera of old. 

Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou vs. Luiz Arthur Cane

Argghhh.  Another hard fight.  For the same reasons as above.  How good is Sokoudjou?  He has impressive KO wins over Arona and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, which put him on the MMA map.  He then lost in his UFC debut to Lyoto Machida.  There is no shame in that, Machida is a top guy.  Then he came and dismantled Nakamura, who was unable to answer the bell after round 1.  This fight will show how good Sokoudjou is.  Many people may look over this fight, but this may be the best match up on the card.  A lot of people do not know who Luiz Cane is, but he is a phenomenal striker.  He devestated Jason Lambert.  Anyways, I will go with Sokoudjou by 2nd round KO. 

Marcus Davis vs. Paul Kelly

Paul Kelly is tough. He has an iron chin, great wrestling and good ground and pound skills.  He isn’t afraid to trade blows either as he showed against Paul Taylor.  I think when it comes down to it Marcus Davis is way more experienced.  That will be the difference.  I pick Davis by late first round submission.

Shane Carwin vs. Neil Wain

Quite honestly, I know very little about Neil Wain.  However, I do know that Shane Carwin is one of the top heavyweight prospects.  I do know he has knockout power.  I do know that he reportedly has some of the best ground and pound skills.  I think we will see it on display.  I pick Carwin by ref stoppage in round 1.

Dan Hardy vs. Akihiro Gono

Dan Hardy is the British newcomer who is highly touted by many.  He will make his debut against a tough Akihiro Gono.  I have no idea how to predict this fight.  Hardy is touted, but looking at his record, I don’t know what there is to tout.  Gono has tons of experience, but he too has struggled at times.  I believe that home octagon advantage could play a factor and help Hardy who will be a sure crowd favorite.  The winner of this fight will be thrust right into the top ten of the stacked welterweight divison.  I think that Gono wins a tough decision victory.

David Baron vs. Jim Miller

I don’t like this match up.  These are two good signings being placed opposite one another in their debuts.  I wouldn’t mind the fight, but I’d like to see both guys have a chance to win one first.  Only one will win.  David Baron gained fame with his win over Hayato “Mach” Sakurai.  He also boasts wins over Dan Hardy and another UFC recent signee in Abdul Mohammed.  Jim Miller is a former IFL fighter, whose lone career loss came to Frank Edgar.  This should be a tough match between two well rounded fighters.  In the end I think David Baron will win by decision.

Chris Lytle vs. Paul Taylor

Both these guys are tough as nails.  Paul Taylor may be under the radar.  He has a 2-2 record in the UFC, but that is deceiving.  His losses came to Paul Kelly and Marcus Davis.  He was very competitive in both fights, in fact Davis’ submission was seen as a come from behind victory.  Chris Lytle is a very tough dude.  I honestly do not know if he will be able to handle Paul Taylor’s pace.  Both guys like to stand and strike.  Chris Lytle’s nickname is “lights out”.  Lytle has fought some top names in the game such as Koscheck, Alves, Hughes, Serra, Parisyan, Lawler, Nick Diaz, Shonie Carter, and Joe Riggs.  The problem is he has lost to all those dudes.  The point is this, Lytle is a good fighter, but he is not a great fighter.  Don’t get mad at me, that is what his record says.  He has not beaten a top notch fighter except an early win in his career over Kazuo Misaki.  He has some solid wins over guys like Matt Brown, Savant Young, Pat Healy, Tiki Ghosn and Pete Spratt, but those guys are not top guys.  The question as I pick this fight is which group Paul Taylor fits into.  I think Taylor is good and could win this, but Chris Lytle is the prototypical UFC gatekeeper, the top guys beat him and the second tier guys don’t.  I think Taylor has a future in the UFC still, but I think this fight ends with a Lytle KO is round 2.

Jess Liaudin vs. David Bielkheden

Poor David Bielkheden.  He made his UFC debut against a Diego Sanchez with something to prove and he could beat up at UFC 82. Now he drops to lightweight against another welterweight who has dropped to lightweight.  I think it could be an exciting match as the loser may be out of the UFC.  I think that Liaudin will pull out a win here in a unaimous decision. 

Terry Etim vs. Sam Stout

Terry Etim was very hyped coming into the UFC.  He hasn’t lived up to it at all.  He won his debut, but scored losses to Gleison Tibau and Rich Clementi following.  Sam Stout is tough as his fights with Spencer Fisher indicate.  I would not be surprised if he wins this fight that we see the rubber match of those fights.  Terry Etim has great submissions.  If he losses he is out of the UFC.  I suspect Etim will win by submission, even though it does not seem that Stout is very suseptable to submissions.  Etim by submission, round 1.  If it stands though Stout wins. 

Per Eklund vs. Samy Schiavo

This could be a good fight.  Schiavo may be underrated.  He lost to Clay Guida badly, but Schiavo has excellent strikes and solid submissions.  I think Schiavo will be too much for Eklund and will finish the fight by TKO in round 2.

UFC News: Sam Stout vs. Terry Etim at UFC 89

Previously it was rumored that Sam Stout would be facing Paul Kelly at UFC 89.  It does appear that both of them will fight at UFC 89 just not each other.  Stout appears to be headed for a lightweight clash with British Fighter Terry Etim. 

It is very interesting to note that both Etim and Stout are coming off of loses to Rich Clementi at UFC 83 and 84 respectivley.

UFC 84: Ill Will Medical Suspensions

The medical suspensions for UFC 84 were released and there really isn’t anything too surprising.  I was a little surprised that Jardine wasn’t hurt worse than he was following being KO’s by Wanderlei Silva.  I also was shocked that Wilson Gouveia was beat up as bad as he was.  Apparently, Tito could have a broken hand or wrist as well.  I don’t know when he broke it, he certainly didn’t break it hitting Machida.  It is also possibe that Sean Sherk is healthy enough to fight on the UFC 87 card in Minnesota.  Could he be fighting Frankie Edgar on that card?

Sean Sherk — “The Muscle Shark” is suspended until July 9 and there is no contact until June 24 because of a right cheek laceration.

Keith Jardine — “The Dean of Mean” must clear a possible nasal fracture with a doctor or no contest until November 21. His minimum suspension and no contest will last until July 24 and there’s no contact until July 9.

Goran Reljic – The Croatian is suspended until June 24 and there is no contact allowed until June 15.

Wilson Gouveia — The American Top Team-trained fighter sustained nasal and maxillary sinus fractures that need to be cleared by an Ear Nose and Throat ENT specialist, as well as broken ribs that need to be cleared by a doctor, or no contest until November 21. His minimum suspension will last until July 24 and there is no contact allowed until July 9.

Tito Ortiz — “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” must have his left hand and wrist x-rayed and cleared by an orthopedic physician or no contest until November 21. His minimum suspension will last until July 9 and there is no contact allowed June 24 because of a right eyelid laceration.

Antonio Mendes — The Brazilian is suspended until June 24.

Kazuhiro Nakamura — The Japanese Judoka must clear a nasal fracture with a doctor there is no contest until November 21. There is a minimum no contest until July 9 and no contact until June 24.

Terry Etim — The British lightweight is suspend until June 24 and there is no contact allowed until June 15 because of a right cheek laceration.

Jason Tan — Tan must clear a nasal fracture with a doctor or no contest until November 21. There’s a minimum no contest until July 9 and no contact until June 24.

Christian Wellisch — “The Hungarian Nightmare is suspended until June 8 and there’s no contact allowed until June 1

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. 

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.