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Calling the Shots of Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler

March 14, 2014 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

A new champion will emerge on Saturday when Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler battle for the vacated throne in the UFC’s welterweight division. The obligation of being the champion is a burden with glorious purpose. Both fighters are in hot pursuit of this coveted achievement and have traveled down different roads to reach the same destination. UFC 171 presents an interesting scenario since being the champion in a post Georges St. Pierre world will bring increased attention and heightened expectation to the victor.

Johny Hendricks, as well as many others, believes he is fighting for something that should have been his four months ago. He took it to GSP like no one has before, and he is unquestionably the favorite going into the bout. Hendricks was touted as a serious prospect from the get-go and has exceeded expectations. Twelve years ago, Robbie Lawler was pushed as the next big thing, but faltered after an impressive start. A move to middleweight garnered mixed results with no real sign of the ruthlessness we once knew. Hendricks evolved over the years from wrestler to knockout artist while Lawler remained a striker for most of his career. However, Lawler embarked on a career renaissance last year by racking up three consecutive wins against opponents who were expected to take him down with ease and pound him into oblivion.

It’s no secret that both fighters are knockout junkies, but it’s their difference in application that makes this matchup intriguing. Lawler has one punch KO power and is the more refined striker of the two. His best chance at victory is to circle away from Hendricks power at all times while keeping the fight in the center of the octagon. If he is taken down, it will be easier to get back on his feet if his head isn’t pressed against the fence by the two time national champion.

Hendricks is a solid boxer who is able to find his range faster than most and is the harder-hitting fighter. The Oklahoma native will be at a reach disadvantage, so pressuring Lawler early is a must. Using angles to control where the fights takes place is essential because getting into a firefight in the center of the cage plays into Lawler’s strengths. Of course, if all else fails on the feet he can go back to what brought him to the dance with his wrestling. Beware his jiu-jitsu, though because it is vastly underrated and it could catch Lawler off guard.

This is a tough one to pick because both of these men have lucky punch written all over them. Hendricks’s recuperative abilities are a mystery, while Lawler, as shown in his fight against Melvin Manhoef, can put your lights out even when he’s rocked. Lawler is no longer a turtle on his back so Hendricks will have trouble keeping him down.

The fact that Robbie Lawler is fighting for a UFC belt in 2014 is amazing and serves as an opportunity to substantiate the hype over a decade ago. He has a great chance of winning, there are just too many factors in Johny Hendricks’ favor. Lawler has greatly improved but Hendricks is better at mixing it up, therefore controlling where the fight takes place more often than not.

Verdict: Johnny Hendricks via unanimous decision

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Big UFC Fights Missing In 2014

February 12, 2014 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

With Anderson Silva and GSP on the sidelines, the UFC will need to count on new stars to fill those big fight slots this year. Unfortunately an early look at 2014 exposes a dull year and one of the most turbulent periods of the Zuffa era.

While the UFC has become a watered down product over the last couple of years, there have always been a couple of big fights to get excited about. A 2014 doesn’t show much promise when it comes to these big fights. I looked up and down the list of scheduled fights and potential fights and there is absolutely nothing for a casual fan to get excited about.

Dana White has had a lucky run the last few years. His two biggest stars, Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre continued to carry the company while cards became watered down and stars became harder to make. Now White is left with Jon Jones and Ronda Rousey, both unproven and somewhat unstable in their positions. It may be time for the UFC president to press the panic button.

If there is a big fight to get excited about in 2014 I don’t see it. When I mean big fight I am talking a fight expected to draw 700,000+ buys. Sure there are some intriguing fights that will appeal to the hardcore fans and maybe even some casuals, but where is the can’t-miss event of 2014?

Let’s take a look at some of the pay-per-view headline fights already scheduled for 2014. Excuse me while I grab a pillow.

Ronda Rousey vs. Sara McMann UFC 170 – This is the test for Rousey. There are many who believe that Rousey is the biggest star in the UFC. She certainly had a hand in that impressive UFC 168 buyrate but what has she done on her own? If Rousey can break 500,000 here I will concede that she is the biggest star in the UFC. If she can’t, it is a real dose of reality for the UFC who have hyped her more than any fighter since Brock Lesnar. Rashad Evans vs. Daniel Cormier in the semi is about as exciting as a sleeping pill. I would say thus far there is less buzz going into this Rousey fight than her previous two which isn’t a good sign.

Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler UFC 171 – I like the fight, like it a lot, but is it a draw? Hendricks drew a disappointing buyrate with GSP and let’s be clear, it was GSP drawing the number. I think a lot of casual fans still see Lawler as a Strikeforce castoff, which he certainly isn’t. I think it is going to be a fun fight but I can’t imagine many people scrambling to get together watch Robbie Lawler vs. Johny Hendricks.

Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixera UFC 172 – Again this is another fight I can’t wait to see. I am not the casual fan and casuals probably aren’t as hyped about Teixera as I am. Jones has not been the draw he should be given his star power (or lack thereof). His fight against Alexander Gusftafsson didn’t even break 400,000 buys! That is pathetic. The problem with Jones is Jones. The only time the guy draws is when his opponents like Rashad and Rampage do the talking. I don’t expect a lot of smack talk from Teixera here and thanks to Jones minimizing his opponent as he always does, I’d be hard pressed to expect anything more than 300,000 buys here.

Vitor Belfort vs. Chris Weidman UFC 173 – Of all the fights on paper this is the one I am most excited about. That said, how many times are fans going to get bit by Vitor Belfort’s championship chokes? Belfort is an exciting fighter whenever he is not challenging for a title. I think this is the most intriguing fight on the docket yet I don’t know how many fans are going to buy into Vitor. Add in the TRT controversy and Belfort is more of a turnoff in this situation. The saving grace here is Wanderlei vs. Chael which could push this event past 500,000 buys.

Quite honestly the more intriguing headliners to me are on the free shows. Lyoto Machida vs. Gegard Mousassi, Dan Henderson vs. Shogun Rua, Michael Bisping vs. Tim Kennedy, Roy Nelson vs. Bog Nog, and Travis Browne vs. Fabricio Werdum are better fights to me than most of the headliners.

Looking at the rest of the year there is nothing I can see that will fill the void left of by GSP in regards to pay-per-view buyrates. I don’t trust Jon Jones at all in selling the Gustafsson rematch. Teixera winning and a rematch with Jones could be a big one. Cain Velasquez will fight later this year but neither Fabricio nor Browne are opponents that anyone will get excited about. Machida vs. the Belfort vs. Weidman winner could be interesting but Machida has never been a big pay-per-view draw. Rousey vs. Cat Zingano is a fun fight but I don’t see either one doing the kind of promotion necessary to push it over the top. A miracle BJ Penn win over Frankie Edgar could make him an unlikely title challenger in what would be a huge fight. Any hope that GSP will come back and fight the Hendricks vs. Lawler winner seems to be dissipating with Dana White’s classless verbal attacks. If there is a big one I am missing let me know because all I am seeing is a bunch of okay fights lacking star power.

What is the UFC to do? There are no super fights available to solve this problem. The only super fight that is out there is Jones vs. Cain and according to Jones, he wouldn’t even entertain that until 2015. The UFC are going to have to work hard at creating new stars and using 2014 as something of a rebuilding year. Professional franchises do it all of the time. The UFC can still have a decent year while getting new faces and new stars ready for the future.

If not, 2015 is going to be an even uglier year for the UFC.

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Georges St-Pierre Vacates UFC Title, Taking Indefinite Break

December 13, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

One of the greatest MMA fighters of all-time is stepping away. UFC welterweight champion Georges St.Pierre announced Friday that he is taking an indefinite leave of absence. He will be taking an extended break and may come back…if he wants.

The announcement which UFC president Dana White told the media earlier this week would be nothing was something. GSP was expected to announce his retirement yet he stopped short of saying the r-word. GSP will take an extended break and has vacated the UFC welterweight title. The champ (well former champion) left no timetable for a possible return.

GSP’s decision seemed to come more from the UFC forcing him to make a decision than anything else. Dana White has been adamant about Georges owing the UFC and would not be allowed to take a break. GSP told the media that he has too much pressure right now and can’t do another training camp. Rather than hold the UFC up the champion will step away.

GSP did make it clear that he intends to come back but never said when. GSP said that the next time he fights he will be in the blue corner as a challenger and not a champion. GSP said his health is good, even 100%. Dana already has a plan in place to crown a new welterweight champion. GSP will be back but when is the question.

GSP told the media that he becomes completely obsessed with his fights. He said that when the UFC announce him for fights that he becomes 100% obsessed with each fight. He said that it is a lot of pressure. He said that it is hard to explain how difficult the pressure is. GSP said he thinks he will be back but wouldn’t confirm that and said he doesn’t want people thinking about him while he is gone. He said he is tired, needs a break, and needs to get away from it.

I can’t recall anyone in MMA ever stepping away this way. It reminds me of when Barry Sanders stepped away from the NFL and announced his retirement. The only difference here is that GSP has not committed to retirement.

This puts enormous pressure on Anderson Silva at UFC 168. GSP is the biggest draw on pay per view for the UFC. With GSP gone, Anderson Silva now moves into that top spot. What if Silva loses? Silva could announce his retirement. Regardless he won’t be the same draw he was prior to that fight. That leaves Jon Jones as the big star. Unfortunately for the UFC he has never caught on with casual fans like past UFC superstars had. His most recent fight with Alexander Gustafsson drew a disappointing buyrate. Maybe if fans see him as the top dog his appeal will increase?

The UFC will move forward with a fight to decide the new champion on March 15. Johny Hendricks will fight Robbie Lawler for the vacated welterweight title. Should Lawler win he could go down as one of the biggest comeback stories in MMA history. I am glad they didn’t go with a rumored Carlos Condit vs. Hendricks fight since Condit lost his last two of three. Rory MacDonald couldn’t have picked a worse time to lose. He would have been guaranteed that spot if he defeated Lawler. Unfortunately for him he didn’t. It will be real interesting to see if Nick Diaz pops back up in the picture now that GSP is gone.

I think GSP will be back. Unfortunately we may have to wait a year to see it.

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GSP Owes Johny Hendricks Nothing

November 20, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The outrage from the UFC president and some UFC fans continue to grow. GSP’s critics believe that he owes Johny Hendricks an immediate rematch. Unfortunately the reality here is that Johny Hendricks is owed absolutely nothing.

Let me start this off by saying that I was stunned by the UFC 167 decision in the main-event. I thought Hendricks won the fight and he was robbed of the title. I just want to make that clear before I am accused of being some GSP fan boy who believed the champion won the fight. I don’t but at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter.

Johny Hendicks has nobody to blame for this mess but Johny Hendricks. Hendricks’ corner told him he had the fight in the bag before the fifth round. They told him to “go get your belt.” Obviously they were misinformed and probably have more culpability here than anyone. On the other side of the octagon you had GSP’s corner telling him he needed to win rounds. I think it is fair to say that Hendricks came out looking not to lose the fight while GSP coming out looking to win in the fifth round. That is not a judge or GSP’s fault and Johny Hendricks, Dana White, and Hendricks’ fans need to live with that.

I think it is funny how some of the smartest people in MMA are making complete fools of themselves when analyzing this fight. Whether it is the UFC’s own president, the number one contender or UFC’s own color commentator, it would appear that many within the company don’t understand the rules. Everyone who thought Hendricks won pointed to GSP’s face. Unfortunately for Hendricks what a fighter’s looks like isn’t accounted for in the judging. Maybe it was by design but the idea that the UFC president is out there spreading some conspiracy theory because of what one fighter looked like before looking at the fight metrics is beyond ridiculous to me.

Speaking of fight metrics, the metrics tell an interesting story. Unfortunately they don’t clear much up. The metrics on FightMetric.com gave Hendricks the deciding first round. Yet they also give GSP an overall performance rating of 48 as compared to Hendricks’ 47. GSP landed one more significant strike than Hendricks did in the first round. GSP landed overall 101 significant strikes to Hendricks 85. In other words there was no robbery here. It was close and in the end it could have went either way.

This all comes back to the fifth round in my eyes. Hendricks looked fresh and had a chance to close it out. Instead he arguably coasted and it cost him the round and the fight. How does anyone deserve any kind of rematch under those circumstances? He let the fight get away from him and that is something he’ll have to live with.

Hendricks had his chance and he lost. Whether those lost opportunities were his own or taken away from him, he lost. Dana White himself has said dozens of times not to leave it in the judge’s hands. I said the same thing about Gustafsson after he fought Jon Jones. Hendricks should have to get at least one more win before getting the rematch. I just don’t see what the point of wins and losses are if that isn’t the case.

It was a close fight but it certainly wasn’t a robbery. GSP owes Johny Hendricks nothing. If Hendricks wants it, go get it the hard way. Earn it!

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Johny Hendricks Poses GSP’s Greatest Threat At UFC 167

November 13, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Georges St. Pierre has dominated one of the toughest divisions in MMA for seven years. GSP has steamrolled through challengers with very little resistance but Johny Hendricks is different. Big Rigg poses the greatest threat GSP has ever faced to his title.

I don’t think I have been more excited for a UFC fight in a long time. I always enjoy watching GSP fight even though his fights are generally pretty dull. This Saturday will be different. GSP is fighting a guy like no one he has ever faced. Johny Hendricks may not be a household name but he has every tool to dethrone the greatest welterweight of all-time.

Looking back on GSP’s seven-year winning streak you can see a predominant theme among his opponents. They are all strong wrestlers who aren’t known for their knockout power or striking. Don’t get me wrong. These aren’t cake walks but these are all guys that specialize in one area. Nobody on the list of GSP’s victims is as well-rounded as Hendricks.

Hendricks striking is ridiculous for someone with his background in this division. This division has been known for its wrestling. Hendricks matches up perfectly with the other wrestlers GSP has faced. He is a highly decorated collegiate wrestler with his one weakness possibly being his takedown defense. That is the biggest glaring weakness here that GSP, who is a takedown master, can expose. The problem is that once on the ground, Hendricks can be equally dangerous for GSP. How is GSP going to hold down someone that strong?

There is nobody that pushes forward in the division like Hendricks does. The only opponent GSP had who comes remotely close was Thiago Alves but Alves does not have the ground game that Hendricks has. Hendricks is scary because he isn’t afraid to throw down and he one of the best power punches in MMA. This is where it gets troublesome for GSP. If GSP goes for a takedown he exposes himself to a shot and that one shot may be all Hendricks needs.

GSP showed in the Condit fight that he is vulnerable to a good strike. Condit almost won the fight out of nowhere when he connected and rocked GSP. GSP recovered but an overhand left from Hendricks will turn the lights out on GSP. He made that mistake in the past with Matt Serra and paid for it but that was many moons ago. GSP has done a fantastic job of avoiding strikes to the tune of 75% according to one breakdown. But what about the other 25% that connected? All Hendricks needs is one.

The only thing stopping Hendricks from giving GSP the fight of his life at 167 is Johny Hendricks. We have seen fighters numerous times over the last 20 years step into championship match and abandon the tools that got them there. Hendricks has also never fought anyone with the takedown defense and grappling prowess of the champion. On paper this looks like the most intriguing fight of GSP’s championship run. Whether it delivers or not is always another story.

I am going with Hendricks for the upset. He is stronger, packs the power punch, and can hold his own on the ground. GSP is only 32-years old but I have to wonder how badly he wants this after expending so much mental energy against Nick Diaz. It would be hard for any athlete to return that same kind of focus after fighting his or her rival. Doing so would be one of the most impressive accomplishments of GSP’s legacy.

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Georges St-Pierre Says Anderson Silva Is Too Big For Super Fight

April 24, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Dana White needs to stop any future talk about Georges St-Pierre vs. Anderson Silva because it is clear GSP isn’t interested. Now if he wants to set his sights on GSP vs. Benson Henderson, he may have better luck according to the UFC welterweight champ.

The UFC president was at it again last week when he told the media that he was going to make another attempt to sign the Silva vs. GSP super fight. White said that he expected an answer from GSP last week but never followed up with the media on it. GSP on the other hand was glad to talk to the media on it and it isn’t happening, at least not now.

GSP is doing media for his new autobiography “The Way of the Fight” and sat down with UFC color commentator Joe Rogan on Rogan’s podcast to talk about the book. Of course the subject immediately shifted to Anderson Silva and GSP gave what I think is one of the most honest answers you’ll ever hear from a fighter that isn’t interested in a fight he doesn’t think he will win.

“Anderson Silva is very big,” St-Pierre said. “He’s 230 pounds. He’s a very big guy walking around, and I’m 190 pounds. It’s a lot of weight difference. If this fight happens one day, we’re going to have to decide what weight class and everything.”

Not all is lost. GSP told Rogan that if Silva can come down to welterweight, he’d take the fight.

“If he can make 170, he can weigh 170, I can weigh 170, and everything is fine.”

From the start of this Silva vs. St-Pierre talk, GSP has been rather consistent in his worry about the size difference between the two fighters. GSP has said numerous times that he would have to come up in weight and he isn’t comfortable with that. As a fan as much as I admire GSP I have said from the start that I felt Silva was too big for him. There is a big size difference there and as fun as the fight is on paper, MMA has weight classes for a reason.

These comments are also interesting in regards to what GSP’s current trainer and ex-manager have said in recent interviews. Both have said that GSP had a three-fight plan and that the plan was Diaz, Silva, Hendricks, and then retirement. GSP seemed to indicate that he would take the fight with Johny Hendricks next and stay at 170. Hendricks can now relax because it appears that he is getting his title shot.

Now that said, not all talk about super fights is dead. GSP told Rogan that a move to 155 pounds is something that he’d actually entertain. He told Rogan that the 155 pound fighters walk around at 190 which is what he weighs. UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson has talked about wanting to fight GSP. Maybe Dana White and the UFC need to start working on the super fight that they can actually sign instead of chasing the ones they can’t.

GSP never said the Silva fight is dead, but unless the Spider is dropping to 170 (which he has said he’d do), it isn’t happening anytime soon.

Georges St-Pierre: The Way of the Fight Book

Anderson Silva: Like Water

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Anderson Silva, Not Johny Hendricks Could Be Next For GSP

April 22, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

I have always been a fan of Georges St-Pierre and found him to be a stand up guy. Yet his reluctance to fight the true number one contender is troubling, in addition to the UFC support behind it. It’s time fight Johny Hendricks or vacate the title and abolish the rankings.

It appeared coming out of UFC 158 that everything was on target for a big UFC welterweight championship fight. Johny Hendricks won his sixth fight in a row against elite competition in the UFC and was guaranteed the next fight with GSP by UFC officials. Several weeks later and an interesting comment later, that fight is no closer to taking place than it was before Hendricks stepped into the octagon with Carlos Condit.

UFC president Dana White made what I thought was a shocking statement last week. White told the media that the UFC were once again making a play for a Georges St-Pierre vs. Anderson Silva fight.

If Georges says to me, ‘I want to fight Anderson Silva,’ you think I’m going to go, ‘No you’re not – you’re fighting Johny Hendricks. We’ll talk about that later’?

White then told the media that St-Pierre would not have to vacate the title to fight Silva. White said that the plan would be for GSP to move up and then move back down and defend the title against Hendricks.

Come again?

I am so sick of this proposed Silva vs. GSP talk. Remember when Dana White guaranteed that he was going to make the fight happen after GSP vs. Condit? Either move on or don’t say another word about it until you have bout agreements signed by all parties. It’s freaking pathetic already.

But what about Hendricks? I’ll admit that I was in favor of the UFC passing Hendricks over for Nick Diaz in regards to GSP’s last fight. That was probably a mistake and Hendricks proved me wrong when he came out victorious over the former interim champion. At this point enough is enough. The guy just beat the former interim champ, won his sixth in a row, and has been promised the next fight with GSP. It’s time to do what is right and give the guy his title shot.

The UFC introduced rankings a few months back. Dana said at the time that the rankings wouldn’t have influence over match making which begs the question as to why even have them in the first place. I know FOX wanted them but what’s the point if they mean nothing. If Hendricks has to sit again and wait I say abolish these rankings altogether, at least at welterweight. There is zero credibility if this happens.

I don’t know what happened because the plan seemed fairly clear the last few weeks. Chris Weidman would fight Silva, GSP would fight Hendricks, and then Silva would fight Jon Jones at the 20th Anniversary event. How we got back to GSP vs. Silva is a great question. Considering the fact that GSP has a movie coming up and probably wouldn’t be fighting until the fall, a fight with Silva would require Hendricks to sit out a year or more for his title shot. It’s just ridiculous.

Again I get it and the UFC has made it perfectly clear that this is a business. Unfortunately this company has lost more credibility in the last year because of this. I think at this point there are enough people excited about seeing Hendricks fight for the title that the idea of putting the fight the off seems bizarre. Is the UFC worried that Hendricks will beat GSP and thus want to shoot the GSP vs. Silva fight now? It sounds like a dumb question but when you really look at the big picture, why else would they steal the guy’s title shot that they have promised him twice?

Hendricks may have to show up at GSP’s camp to get his title shot after all.

Georges St-Pierre: The Way of the Fight Book

Anderson Silva: Like Water

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Anderson Silva Fight Could Be Next Says GSP’s Trainer

April 02, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

It’s on, it’s off, it’s on, it’s off, and now it could be back on again. That is the story of Anderson Silva vs. Georges St-Pierre. While GSP has publicly shown little interest, a new report says that he is not only interested, but the Spider may be his next opponent.

If I read one more tease about this Anderson Silva vs. Georges St-Pierre fight I am going to throw my computer out the window. Everyone in the UFC has teased this fight over the last few years except one guy, Georges St-Pierre. The UFC welterweight champion appeared to be the only holdup in making this fight happen. According to his trainer, GSP has come around.

GSP’s trainer Firas Zahabi either never got the memo, let the cat out of the bag, or is doing some slick negotiating on behalf of his star pupil. Zahabi recently revealed to Sherdog.com that all of the talk about Johny Hendricks vs. GSP may be premature and it is Silva vs. St-Pierre that could be next for the champion.

“If he fights Hendricks, I think (GSP) could fight for longer. He could have more fights after that. If he fights Anderson Silva, I could really see that being his last fight. He’ll retire after that because there won’t be a bigger fight for him to do, I think, anymore in his career.”

Zahabi goes on to tell Sherdog Radio that he believes that win or lose if St-Pierre fights Silva, that the fight would mark the end of the champion’s career. Zahabi said that once GSP moves up in weight for the fight that “he’s never coming back down” and will probably end on that note.

The only one not excited about this revelation has to be Johny Hendricks. Hendricks is probably livid after hearing those comments. Hendricks took a backseat to Nick Diaz at UFC 158 and was promised a win over Carlos Condit will move him to the front of the line. While he could still fight for a vacated title (should GSP leave the division with a Silva fight), it isn’t the same thing as fighting GSP. It’s fight he has earned and a pay day he won’t get fighting anyone else at welterweight.

I don’t care what the UFC says, if GSP wants to fight Silva next, Hendricks is going to have to wait. At the end of the day this is a business, as the UFC has proven time and time again. Even the biggest Hendricks supporter has to come to grips with the financial bonanza a Silva vs. St-Pierre offers the UFC over Hendricks vs. GSP. It’s not fair but it’s just the way it is.

This also brings back to Anderson Silva. Silva is signed to fight Chris Weidman in a UFC middleweight title defense this summer. Silva has been talking about a potential Jon Jones mega fight at the 20th anniversary event in November. What does the UFC do? Personally I’d like to see a Jones vs. Silva fight, let Hendricks fight GSP, and then match GSP and Silva up. It’s a great dilemma to have if you are the UFC.

And somewhere Johny Hendricks continues to fume.

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UFC 158: GSP vs. Diaz Results and Takeaways

March 18, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Another weekend gone by and with it another UFC Pay Per View is in the books. UFC 158 rocked the PPV airwaves and likely did excellent numbers for the UFC as it was headlined by one of the most anticipated fights of the past couple of years as Welterweight kingpin Georges St. Pierre breezed through his title defense against Nick Diaz. Although it’s too early to discuss the potential number of PPV buys UFC 158 did, it is likely going to be deemed a huge success for the UFC. What we don’t have to speculate about is the live gate, as the Canadian fans proved that once again the sport of MMA is loved in Montreal. The Bell Centre reported an attendance figure over 20,145 all contributing to a $3.7 million live gate.

Although those people that initially shelled out $60 for the Pay Per View were likely frustrated and disappointed with their purchase after the first two main card bouts, the three Welterweight fights that closed the show certainly delivered. Jake Ellenberger continued his climb towards the top of the Welterweight division with an impressive Knockout of the Night award winning performance against the always-tough Nate Marquardt. Carlos Condit and Johny Hendricks engaged in an absolute war that is my candidate for Fight of the Year so far, in a number one contender’s bout. And to cap off the night GSP dominated Nick Diaz for most of their 25-minute affair all the while his hometown fans chanted obscenities at Diaz and cheered their local hero.

Lightweight Bout: Mike Ricci defeated Colin Fletcher via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds

This was a bout between two TUF second place finishers and Mike Ricci got the job done in front of his home crowd. Despite gaining a dominant victory, Ricci certainly can’t be overly happy with the victory as the bout was a rather slow and plodding affair. Across all three rounds Ricci used a more well-rounded and accurate striking game, along with takedowns and excellent top control to batter his opponent. In the end there was little doubt about who the victor was, but in the action-light opener, you got the feeling that Ricci could have done more.

What’s next for Ricci? Despite the win, Ricci wasn’t overly impressive. He was definitely dominant, but he was never really close to finishing the fight and the bout was slow paced. He’ll need to step up his game if he wants to make it far in the Lightweight division, but it’s going to have to be baby steps for him. Fellow TUF veterans Francisco Trinaldo and Mike Rio are competing in May in Brazil, the winner of that fight could be a good test for Ricci.

What’s next for Fletcher? Unemployment probably. He’s looked fairly unimpressive in his two UFC bouts so far, so he deserves to be cut. But he is British and he does have a big personality and the UFC might decide to keep him around for their European cards. Feed him to someone like Paul Sass or Daron Cruickshank on a free car in Europe and let him get someone’s career back on track before he goes.

Middleweight Bout: Chris Camozzi defeated Nick Ring via Split Decision after Three Rounds

For three rounds Nick Ring kept his hands down, danced around the outside and tried to use his speed advantage to pick apart his opponent. If you listened to the commentary from Rogan and Goldberg, you’d believe that he did it as well, but the judges thought differently. Camozzi was rewarded for moving forward, despite taking a few shots on the way in, but he did manage to land some punches of his own, especially in the second and third rounds as Ring began to slow. Despite the close Split Decision neither fighter really impressed in this one, but Camozzi does get the W.

What’s next for Camozzi? Many people have already called for this one, but I’m inclined to agree with the mainstream media on this, Camozzi should fight Brad Tavares. Both Middleweights have been impressive since their runs on The Ultimate Fighter and they are both ready to try and break out of the middle-tier of fighters in the Middleweight division. They both just got big wins, they’re both TUF veterans, no reason not to match them up.

What’s next for Ring? He hasn’t lived up to all of the potential people thought that he had after his shortened season on The Ultimate Fighter. Despite what many people thought was a rather lackluster fight, Dana White seemed impressed with this one on Twitter and gave both Ring and Camozzi ‘Much respect’ on his Twitter, so I guess he’s not likely to be cut. Despite the props from the boss, he’s still going to drop down the rankings. Bouts with Daniel Sarafian from TUF: Brazil or Japan’s Riki Fukuda would make sense.

Welterweight Bout: Jake Ellenberger defeated Nate Marquardt via Knock Out (Punches) at 3:00 of Round One

Marquardt and Ellenberger took the center of the cage quickly, but it was Marquardt who got the first edge as he chopped away at Ellenberger with leg kicks. Marquardt managed to use those kicks to set up a few nice combinations and scored with a few of them. Nearly midway through the round Ellenberger countered a kick and landed a combination that dropped Marquardt to his knees against the cage. Ellenberger swarmed his hurt opponent with follow up punches, including a huge right hand that dropped Marquardt face first into the mat unconscious as the referee stepped in to stop the bout in the opening round.

What’s next for Ellenberger? That was definitely a statement fight as he completely thrashed a very tough and durable Nate Marquardt (in face Anderson Silva is the only other fighter to stop Marquardt via strikes.) He deserves a top contender and there is definitely plenty of choices at Welterweight. Top contenders like Rory MacDonald or Demian Maia would make sense. But I think the best choice might be a top contenders bout against the final Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Tarec Saffiedine.

What’s next for Marquardt? He probably fell out of the top 10 with the knockout loss, but he’s still a tough fighter who will allow the UFC to gauge the talent of up-and-comers and middle of the pack Welterweights who they think might be ready for a step-up in competition. A bout with Siyar Bahadurzada could be interesting if they agree to fight for the rights to use the nickname ‘The Great.’ Also intriguing could be a bout against Stephen Thompson.

Welterweight Bout: Johny Hendricks defeated Carlos Condit via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds

I will spoil nothing of this fight, because you simply should go and watch all fifteen minutes of it. Back and forth striking action, big takedowns, slams, suplexes, flying knees, head kicks, huge bombs, this fight had everything that a good MMA contest should have. It’s just a shame these two didn’t have two more rounds to keep scrapping.

What’s next for Hendricks? At the end of the day, Hendricks won this bout and gets his shot against GSP. He apparently broke his hand in this fight, so he might need some time off to heal, but he’s getting a shot at the championship and he deserves it.

What’s next for Condit? He’s going to be employed for life. Knowing he would probably need a finish, he went out and threw everything he had at Hendricks in that final frame trying to steal the fight back. He’s lost two straight, but they were to the champion and number one contender so there’s not a lot of shame in that. At the top of the division there’s only a lot of rematches and only the Diaz one makes sense. I’d rather see him take a slight step back in competition and have some exciting bouts to get him back on track. Bouts with BJ Penn, Amir Sadollah or Mike Swick could prove to be exciting slugfests and could probably get Condit back on the winning track.

Welterweight Championship Bout: Georges St. Pierre defeated Nick Diaz via Unanimous Decision after Five Rounds

 GSP gonna GSP, that’s about all there is to say about this fight. It definitely wasn’t ‘the worst beating the octagon has ever seen’ like he claimed it would be, but it was fairly one-sided. Georges stood with Diaz more often than I thought he would and although he struggled at times, he handled himself fairly well in the stand up and didn’t allow Diaz to get into any kind of a rhythm at all. On the ground it was complete and utter positional domination. Diaz had a number of tricks that he tried, but no matter what he did rolling for knee bars, scrambling to the bottom, giving up his back to try and create space for scrambles, none of it worked. GSP controlled the action on the mat every time it went there. This fight wasn’t without some notes though, as GSP looked decidedly more fatigued by the end of this fight, than I have seen him in previous fights. By midway in the third round, GSP was beginning to glance up at the clock and looked to be slowing down. In fact it showed in his performance as several of his takedowns in the final two rounds were stuffed by Diaz, something that wasn’t even close to happening during the opening two rounds.

What’s next for GSP? Johny Hendricks engaged in a war with Carlos Condit in the co-main event and earned himself a title shot. Dana has said that he expects the bout to take place in Vegas once Hendricks heals from a hand injury he suffered during the Condit fight.

What’s next for Diaz? In the post-fight interview with Joe Rogan he teased retirement, but by the time the press conference came around he was asking for a rematch and offering to fight Anderson Silva, so it’s hard to say what’s on Diaz’s mind. If he passes the post-fight drug test and decides that he still wants to fight, there are a number on interesting bouts in the 170-pound division for Diaz. Diaz isn’t getting back in for another shot at GSP any time soon, so you might as well give him decent match ups against guys who will brawl with him and try to use him basically as entertainment value. Bouts against primarily strikers would be in the UFC’s best interest if they pursue that option. Martin Kampmann expressed interest in fighting Diaz and that’s a fight I’d like to see. The loser of the upcoming Dan Hardy vs. Matt Brown fight at UFC on FOX could also be an excellent choice for a brawl.

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UFC 158 GSP vs. Diaz Results: GSP Wins, Diaz Teases Retirement

March 17, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

I don’t think anyone expected the Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz UFC 158 main-event to be a loser leaves town match but it may have just been that. After suffering a dominating defeat, Diaz announced his likely retirement in an antic-climatic end to one of the UFC’s biggest grudge fights.

If you took a step back from all of the Diaz trash talk and fight hype, you probably had a good idea of how this fight was going to go. The highly anticipated GSP vs. Nick Diaz main-event turned out to be the fight you expected and that was unfortunate. Fans were paid off with the typical GSP ground and grind with a mix of standup in a fight that hardly lived up to the hype.

I don’t know if I’d call it a dominating fight by GSP or just a bad off night for Diaz, regardless GSP won the five-round decision. The first round saw GSP dominate Diaz with takedowns. The best action came as the second round closed and Diaz tried to get into St-Pierre’s face. The third round was Diaz’s best as he stopped multiple takedown attempts and had some striking combinations. Unfortunately that was about the best we saw from Diaz all fight. At one point Diaz just seemed disinterested walking around with his hands down. The only other highlight was Diaz hitting GSP after the bell late in the fight and being threatened with a disqualification. Other than that it wasn’t too thrilling.

Diaz and GSP immediately hugged after the fight. GSP called Nick the best boxer in MMA. Funny as he hardly seemed like anything close to it. GSP had a lot of complimentary things to say about Nick, although he didn’t invite him over for a BBQ. It was probably a little too respectful of an interview if you consider the fact that his opponent was just accusing him of being on steroids 48 hours ago.

Diaz on the other hand made noise of his own in his post fight promo. Diaz told Joe Rogan that he fairly confident that he is done with MMA.

“I want to thank GSP for giving me the credit that I like to think I deserve. I don’t think I got any more” on what’s next.”

Diaz then went on to say that he was tired of getting busted up. He told Joe Rogan that he made enough money from the fight that he hopes he can make some investments. He said he gave this a lot of thought over the last year he was on suspension. If he didn’t give a similar speech after his last fight I’d probably take him a lot more seriously. Unless Diaz fails a drug test I’d expect him back in the UFC.

The good news for St-Pierre is that he won the fight. The bad news is that he now has to fight a beast in Johny Hendricks. Hendricks defeated Carlos Condit in the co-headliner by unanimous decision in one of the best fights I have seen in awhile. Hendricks was a beast and is probably the most dangerous opponent GSP ever fought. I can’t imagine GSP bullying Hendricks on the ground and Hendricks will take the striking to GSP like nobody else. Hendricks challenged GSP in his post fight promo and told GSP that he was willing to bring a ref to GSP’s house to get it done. Hendricks thought he broke his hand during the fight so the eventual title fight may be delayed for awhile.

Full UFC 158: GSP vs. Diaz results and winners…
Georges St-Pierre (c) defeated Nick Diaz via Decision (unanimous)
Johny Hendricks defeated Carlos Condit via Decision (unanimous)
Jake Ellenberger defeated Nate Marquardt via KO (punches) in Round 1
Chris Camozzi defeated Nick Ring via Decision (split)
Mike Ricci defeated Colin Fletcher via Decision (unanimous)
Patrick Côté defeated Bobby Voelker via Decision (unanimous)
Darren Elkins defeated Antonio Carvalho via TKO (punches) in Round 1
Jordan Mein defeated Dan Miller via TKO (punches) in Round 1
John Makdessi defeated Daron Cruickshank via Decision (unanimous)
Rick Story defeated Quinn Mulhern via TKO (punches) in Round 1
T.J. Dillashaw defeated Issei Tamura via KO (knee and punches)
George Roop defeated Reuben Duran via Decision (unanimous)

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