Breaking Down the UFC Heavyweight Divison

The Champion: Brock Lesnar

The Top Contender: The Winner of Mir vs. Nogueira

The Next Tier:

·         Frank Mir

·         Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

·         Gabriel Gonzaga

·         Cheick Kongo

·         Fabricio Werdum

·         Randy Couture

 

On the Rise: 

·         Cain Velasquez

·         Shane Carwin

·         Junior Dos Santos

 

Other Notables:

·         Heath Herring

·         Jake O’Brien

·         Antoni Hardonk

·         Mustafa Al Turk

·         Justin McCully

·         Eddie Sanchez

 

Scheduled Fights:

·         Eddie Sanchez vs. Justin McCully @ UFC Fight Night 16 on December 10

·         Frank Mir vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira @ UFC 92 on December 28 (For Interim Title)

·         Cheick Kongo vs. Mustafa Al Turk @ UFC 92 on December 28

·         Antoni Hardonk vs. Mark Burch @ UFC 92 on December 28

·         Dan Evensen vs. Patrick Barry @ UFC 92 on December 28

·         Jake O’Brien vs. Christian Wellish @ UFC 94 on January 31

 

Match Ups I’d Like to See:

·         Heath Herring vs. Gabriel Gonzaga or Cain Velasquez

·         Shane Carwin vs. Junior Dos Santos

·         The loser of Mir vs. Nogueira vs. Randy Couture

 

Other Thoughts:

·         The status of Fabricio Werdum is unknown.  Rumors circulated that he was released from his UFC contract following a breakdown in contract negotiations.  Then it was reported that Werdum was not leaving the UFC.  If he stays he is a serious contender.  I hope the UFC would consider this and want to keep him around

·         The status of ProElite is uncertain, and I mention this because the UFC has the potential to sign a couple of good fighters from the EliteXC heavyweight division such as Brett Rogers and Dave Herman.  It looked like Antonio Silva will head to Sengoku and Kimbo Slice, well….who cares!

·         It is time for Shane Carwin and Cain Velasquez to get more exposure and fight the best.  They are real threats to Brock’s belt. 

·         A 2009 bout between Lesnar and the winner of the Mir vs. Nogueira fight is exciting

·         We are hoping Randy Couture has a few fights left in the tank, and they probably will be at Heavyweight, but don’t expect him to fight no name fighters.

·         Not sure where Mark Coleman fits into the heavyweight picture seeing as how he will be fighting Shogun at light heavyweight

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UFC News: Fabricio Werdum Leaves UFC

Fabricio Werdum was in a tricky situation in the UFC.  He was once considered to be a number one contender.  He entered the UFC with a disappointing loss to Andrei Arlovski, but followed that with two wins over Gabriel Gonzaga and Brandon Vera.  Then it was said that he would get a title shot.  However, the UFC did not take into account Randy Couture’s return.  Also, the UFC started the Ultimate Fighter 8 with Interim Heavyweight Champ Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Frank Mir as the coaches and set them to fight at the conclusion of the reality show.  This prevented the UFC from simply unifying the titles with one bout.  They decided to make a four man tournament.  One would suspect Werdum to fight Couture and the winner of that fight to fight the winner of Nogueira vs. Mir.  However, the UFC didn’t go that route.  Newcomer Brock Lesnar got the nod to face Randy in a super fight, being billed as the biggest fight in UFC history.  Werdum was the odd man out.  It wasn’t all bad though for Werdum.  He worked out a new contract and writen in the contract was a promise of a title shot if he won his next fight.  His opponent would be a little known UFC newcomer named Junior Dos Santos.   So, on October 25th at UFC 90 the two clashed.  Dos Santos left with a win and a knockout of the night bonus.  Fabricio Werdum left with less dignity, a bad headache and no title shot in the near future.  MMAweekly is now reporting that Werdum has left the UFC.

Following a rocky time in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, capped by a surprising knockout loss to Octagon newcomer Junior dos Santos at UFC 90, Chute Boxe fighter Fabricio Werdum has left the promotion. Sources tell MMAWeekly.com that Werdum’s exit comes on the heels of a failed contract renegotiation following the loss to dos Santos. Werdum and the UFC were apparently unable to come to an agreement. He has already opened talks with other promotions in the U.S. and Japan.  Had Werdum taken care of business against dos Santos, he was expected to be in contention to face the unified heavyweight champion later in the year. Now it appears he will be moving on to another promotion such as Affliction in the U.S. or Dream or Sengoku in Japan.

Many Questions Arise in Wake of UFC 90?

I believe several questions arose in wake of UFC 90.  I will post the questions in poll form so my readers can voice their opinions.

1. 

Personally, I think it is a mix of a few things and none of them involve anything Cote did.  I think Anderson Silva was trying to confuse Cote.  Part of me feels he was playing around and trying to get in a groove.  I really feel that a KO was coming.  He showed flashes of it.  I was highly disappointed with the fight, but stuff happens.  Silva had a game plan and we don’t like it because Cote’s knee blew.  Silva didn’t know that would happen.  Perhaps he planned on becoming more aggressive.  Anyways, as Dana White said, I would hate to be Silva’s next opponent.  I have a feeling he will be fighting sooner than later. 

2. 

Here is my take on it.  I think Thiago Alves is for real.  I was not on his bandwagon, but I think he is a very good strike, however I see two problems.  He is very predictable.  He loved the flying knee and superman punch.  A good striker could give him problems too.  Also, I don’t know how he would do off his back.  I do not know if he could beat either GSP or B.J. Penn.  I am leaning towards Penn winning the super fight on January 31, and I think if B.J. can get Alves down to the ground he can submit him and pound him.  I think style wise both Penn and GSP are tough matchups for anyone.  So, I say he is for real, but he cannot beat GSP or Penn right now.  GSP was impressed with Alves and thinks he may see Thiago after Penn, but Georges better not overlook B.J.

3.

I am not quite on the bandwagon, but I think he could be a solid fighter.  He needs to prove himself more.  I do not know if he is that good or if Werdum just underestimated him.  He has great training and could be a star, but I’d like to see one more fight before I jump on the bandwagon.  I seem to remember a few guys like Houston Alexander and Sokoudjou coming out of nowhere with a couple of big names KO’s and then disappointing.  I don’t think Dos Santos fits into that mold because I think he will be a more well rounded fighter and trains with some of the best.

4.

I think several impressed.  I guess I would have to say that I was impressed with Thiago Alves the most.  He looked very sharp.  I also was impressed with Josh Koscheck in his loss.  He is tough as nails.  I thought Sherk was impressive and showed good stand up.  Of course Dos Santos was impressive as well.  I enjoyed the Miller vs. Horwich fight and think that both are solid fighters.

5.

My answer depends on how literal you take this question.  Most disappointing to me was Anderson Silva.  I expected a KO.  However, it wasn’t all his fault.  The Cote injury was disappointing, but that wasn’t his fault either.  I really expected more out of Aurelio as well.

My UFC 90 Thoughts and Recaps

  • I said in my predictions that I nearly did not order UFC 90 and that I changed my mind.  Perhaps I shouldn’t have.  I thought the card was good, but I was disappointed with the main event.  I never thought Cilva vs. Cote was main event worthy.  Patrick Cote was overrated and didn’t deserve a title shot.  What did he do?  He beat Kendall Grove and won a split decision over Ricardo Almeida. 
  • The fight between Silva vs. Cote did not go as expected, but not because Cote was good.  He was clearly out of his league, but at times I wondered what Silva was doing.  He was dancing around and messing with Cote.  Perhaps he thought the octagon was some cool name for a new Chicago nightclub.  It looked like Silva vs. Cote was a Dad messing around fighting with his son. 
  • The knee injury disappointed me.  I do not question Cote’s heart, but that was a horrible ending and quite frankly I think the UFC should refund  part of those pay per view buys.  That is the problem when everyone tunes in to watch one guy Anderson Silva and the rest of the card is not great.
  • Thiago Alves look spectacular.  His striking is so good.  However, I think his weakness is a agressive striker, because when Koscheck really attacked he was on his heels big time. 
  • All props to Alves, but love him or hate him Josh Koscheck is one tough dude.  He took this fight on 10 days notice and hung in there with Alves.  He took some vicious shots and kept it up.  I gained respect for Koscheck in this one.
  • By the way, what was with Alves’ takedown after the final bell?  Koscheck looked somewhat annoyed.
  • Gray Maynard again showed dominant wrestling ability.  He manhandled and bullied Clementi.  I got ticked at the ref for his “come on, let’s go” usage.  They guys were fighting and the ref kept telling them to get busy, but they were fighting for positioning.  I didn’t think it was the most exciting fight, but I enjoyed it.  Maynard is quick on the rise.  He is moving quickly up the ladder.  Perhaps a Sean Sherk fight could be in the future or the loser of the upcoming Florian vs. Stevenson fight.
  • How about Junior Dos Santos.  He has to be a popular guy with Dana White right now.  The UFC was really in a pickle with Werdum.  They had a title fight set up for Randy on Novermber 15th against Couture.  They had an interim title fight set up between Mir and Nogueira in December.  Then we can assume that the winners would fight one another in March or April.  Also, Fabricio Werdum had been labeled a number one contender and writen in his contract that a win over dos Santos would guarantee him a title shot.  Dos Santos solved that problem real fast.
  • That was a vicious KO by Dos Santos.  He may be the real deal.
  • Tyson Griffin vs. Sean Sherk was an exciting fight.  I do not know who earned the win, but it was fight of the night no doubt.

Fight of the Night: Tyson Griffin vs. Sean Sherk

Knockout of the Night: Junior Dos Santos

Submission of the Night: Spencer Fisher

My UFC 90 Predictions

I at first glance thought this was the weakest card of 2008.  I honestly was tempted to not order it.  I admit the main event isn’t much, but from top to bottom this has some great fights, especially in the lightweight divison.  My point is this: if you are doubting this card, look at fights like Clementi vs. Maynard and Griffin vs. Sherk to remind you why it is a good card.  The undercard has a few good bouts like Aurelio vs. Franca and Miller vs. Horwich. 

Andreson Silva vs. Patrick Cote

Is anyone really going to pick against Anderson Silva in this fight?  I know in a MMA fight anything can happen and I know that with a guy with heavy hands like Cote that Silva can get caught, but seriously very few will be picking Cote in this one. However, for the gamblers out there perhaps it isn’t a bad idea to put some bread on Cote.  If he somehow wins it would make a good pay day.  Here is the truth about this fight: Cote is not the type of guy that will beat Silva.  Style wise it is a bad match up for Cote.  The guy who can beat Silva will be good at jiu jitsu and good and wrestling and ground and pound, but yet can strike.  Cote is not good on the ground.  I will be shocked if this fight goes past round 1.  I think James Irvin had a better chance of beating Silva than Cote does.  Anyways, I will take the safe bet and pick Silva by TKO in round 1.

Josh Koscheck vs. Thiago Alves

This could be an interesting fight.  The fight was supposed to be Alves vs. Diego Sanchez.  That fight was well hyped.  Many looked forward to the high paced aggressive style of Sanchez vs. the muay thai of Alves.  That would have been a good one.  Let’s give props to Josh Koscheck for stepping in on about 2 weeks notice to fight a very tough opponent.  Say what you want about Koscheck, but he is super talented and always improving and he is always ready to fight.  Here are some of the factors that will come into play in this fight.  First, what will the short notice do to Koscheck?  Will it affect his game plan or his conditioning?  Second, will Alves make weight?  Either way and it could affect him.  He is a huge welterweight and the weight cut could hurt him and drain him.  How will Koscheck approach Alves?  Will he look for the take down and try to out wrestle him or will he stand and bang with him?  I think a combination of the two will work well.  The winner of this fight will get a title shot.  There is a lot riding on this fight.  When it comes down to it I think the size and strength of Alves will be too much for Koscheck and I think that Alves wins in round 2 by TKO, or maybe pulls of a decision.  Koscheck may be smart to try to take this to later rounds in hopes that Alves tires.  I will pick Alves, but root for Koscheck.

Fabricio Werdum vs. Junior Dos Santos

I don’t know anything about Junior Dos Santos, except that the Brazilian trains with Nogueira and Anderson Silva.  With that said, I think Werdum is one of the best heavyweights in the world, and I think he deserves a title shot.  I hope he gets it.  Quite honestly if Werdum loses here it would clear up a lot of the mess in the UFC Heavyweight divison.  We have the Couture/Lesnar bout for the title and the Nogueira/MIr fight for the interim title.  We can suppose that the winners of those bouts will fight in February or March.   That means Werdum would have to wait until early summer 2009 to get his title shot.  I look for Werdum to win this fight by submission in round 1. 

Sean Sherk vs. Tyson Griffin

What a fight!  I do not know what is in the mind of UFC match maker Joe Silva and Dana White, but it appears that the UFC could be anticipating B.J. Penn to vacate his lightweight title.  It would seem logical that the winner of this fight could face the winner of the Florian/Stevenson fight for the title.  If not Florian gets the next shot with a win.  I’ve thought a lot about this fight and here is my conclusion.  Tyson Griffin is a solid contender, but he has trouble finishing fights.  Sean Sherk is tough as nails and his conditioning is second to none.  Both are great wrestlers and Tyson Griffin will not outwrestle Sean Sherk.  Sean Sherk is very underrated.  He has only lost to the best of the best in his career (B.J. Penn, Georges St. Pierre and Matt Hughes).  I think Sherk takes this fight.  However, if Griffin is smart he will take a page out of B.J. Penn’s booka nd box Sean Sherk and utilize a jab.  Griffin has a big advantage in training in one of the best gyms in the nation at Xtreme Couture.  He has training partners like Gray Maynard.  Nevertheless, I pick Sean Sherk to win this by unaimous decision.

Gray Maynard vs. Rich Clementi

Rich Clementi has looked very good lately.  He is so solid of a fighter and is so well roudned that he makes difficult match ups.  Gray Maynard is very good.  He is coming off of a dominant win over Frank Edgar.  Maynard is still underrated, but a win here will catapoult him into the top tier of lightweight contenders and certainly put him into the mix for a title shot.  Clementi has good submissions and he could pull off a submission here, but I look for Maynard to use his boxing and then his take downs to work soem ground and pound.  Maynard will win this one by unaimous decision in what is a fight of the night and fight of the year candidate.

Dan Miller vs. Matt Horwich

The fight of former IFL middleweights.  Dan Miller being the last IFL middleweight champ.  Miller won his UFC debut and was tapped as a replacement for the injured Ricardo Almeida.  This could be a very good fight.  Horwich is a solid fighter, but his ground game will really be tested against Dan Miller.  Horwich has solid ground skills with 18 of his 22 wins coming by way of submission.  Horwich also will have the experience on his side.  They have a common opponent in Ryan McGivern.  McGivern beat Horwich, but Miller beat McGivern.  That doesn’t necessarily translate into victory for Miller, but here I think it will. I think Horwich will do very well at first, but then Miller will get the take down and submit Horwich in round 2.

Hermes Franca vs. Marcus Aurelio

Hermes Franca is a former number 1 contender who has great amounts of experience.  He has great wins over the likes of Nate Diaz, Spencer Fisher, Jamie Varner, Ryan Schultz, and Caol Uno.  However, Franca has lost two in a row to Frank Edgar and Sean Sherk.  Following his steroid suspension Franca has not looked the same.  Aurelio also has a great resume which boasts wins over Rich Clementi and most notably Takanori Gomi.  Aurelio has great jiu jit su and he should have the advtage in this fight.  I think in the end Aurelio is too much for Franca and he wins by submission in round 3. 

Thales Leites vs. Drew McFedries

This fight was supposed to be Leites vs. up and comer Goran Reljic.  That fight was highly anticipated, but this should be pretty good as well.  Leites comes into this fight having won four fights in a row, including a controversial decision win over Nate Marquardt.  McFedries is an exciting fighter who has not lived up to potential.  He is 3-3 in the UFC and seems to have a patetrn of winning every other fight.  He is a late replacement for Reljic who withdrew due to injury.  I think Leites is too good all around and McFedries is not good enough on the ground.  Leites is well rounded and has great submissions.  I thinm he will submit McFedries in round 2 with a easy submission. 

Spencer Fisher vs. Shannon Gugerty

Gugerty made his UFC debut against Dale Hartt and won that match.  He has a 8 fight win streak on the line.  Spencer Fisher is a solid veteran who has been around.  Fisher is 6-3 in the UFC and he looked really good against Jeremy Stephens.  I honestly do not know much about Gugerty, but I have to pick Fisher to win this fight by unaimous decision. 

Pete Sell vs. Josh Burkman

Pete Sell has yet to prove himself in the UFC, and quite honestly I do not know why he is getting this chance.  Nevertheless Josh Burkman has had a solid UFC career and is full of talent.  I think this fight could be exciting and we could see these two go at it.  In the end I pick Burkman to win by decision.

UFC News: Fabricio Werdum to Fight at UFC 90

Fabricio Werdum has signe d a5 fight extension with the UFC which includes a guaranteed title shot if he wins one more fight.  It looks like Werdum will return at UFC 90 and fight Junior dos Santos.  A win would assure he would fight the winner of Mir vs. Nogueira in 2009 sometime.  I think Werdum is past being well deserving of a title shot.  It was my understanding that he was going to get the title shot following his win over Gabriel Gonzaga.  Then I thought for sure beating Brandon Vera would secure him a title shot.  However, the UFC gave the shot to Mir and put him on as a TUF coach.  Mir is a better TV personality, but Werdum is the one who deserved that, sorry.  The UFC got this one wrong.  Thankfully Werdum should get past Santos and get his title shot, but best case scenario he will wait until March or April of 2009 to get that shot.