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Randy Couture Says UFC Had Chances To Keep Him

February 14, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Dana White had his say and now it’s time for Randy Couture to speak out. A week after Dana brutalized his former UFC champion in the press, The Natural is fighting back. Randy has a different take on his departure from the UFC than his former boss.

It was an all out war a week ago when Bellator and Spike announced that they had signed UFC Hall of Fame fighter Randy Couture away from the UFC. Couture will not only be a part of Bellator’s new reality show, but will also be a fixture on Spike TV. Dana White wasn’t impressed and unloaded on Couture shortly after the news was announced.

I’m happy that he’s gone. I’m happy that he’s gone forever and that he’s with them. I don’t respect him at all. Not even a little. The only time that Randy Couture is ever a man is when he steps foot the cage. As soon as his big toe steps out of the cage, he’s the furthest thing from it. That’s it. That’s the way I feel about him. I don’t at all disrespect what he did in this sport. As much as a man that I think he’s not, he was 100 percent man when he stepped in that cage. It is what it is. And just to clarify to you guys, Randy Couture, it was around Christmas time and his lawyer sends in a letter and bails on the last [FOX] show that he’s doing for us, after they begged me for a fu#king job. So I’m like, ‘What the hell’s going on around here?’ I dig around and I find out that he’s talking about doing a deal with Bellator and Spike. I call his lawyer and I went ‘me’ on the lawyer — is the best way I can explain it — and then I called Randy. I called him over and over again and he wouldn’t even answer his phone. Then he texts me and says, ‘What’s up boss? I hear you’re flipping out. I did not sign a deal with Spike or Bellator but I’m talking to two other networks right now.’ I said, ‘If you tell me that you did not bail on my last fucking fight and go do a deal with them, I don’t give a shit what network you sign with. I don’t care if it’s freakin’ HBO, The Food Network, I could care less who it is. Are you saying you did not sign a deal?’ ‘I did not sign a deal with them. Stop worrying, relax, and have a great Christmas. We’ll talk later.’ To this f**king day sitting right here right now we still have not talked. I knew the whole time that he was doing the deal even when I was talking to him and he was lying to me not even to my face, not even though the phone but through texts.

Couture is now telling his side of the story and according to the former champ, Dana and the UFC could have prevented this rift. Couture says that he gave the UFC every opportunity to keep him after he retired and it was the UFC who showed very little interest in doing so.

I gave the UFC and Dana every opportunity to find a way to significantly use me since I retired a year and a half ago,he explained. “They acted like they were doing me a favor by giving me the four events on FOX a year as a commentator.

Couture is one of many former UFC pioneers that are largely ignored by the company after they retire due to long lasting personal issues. Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, Tito Ortiz, and Couture are all fighters who helped break ground for the company and are left with few if any opportunities while guys like Matt Hughes, Chuck Liddell, and Kenny Florian are well taken care of. Couture sees Hughes’ recent UFC gig as a big sign of intentional disrespect.

In my professional estimation, they had an opportunity to keep me and use me. They chose not to, and a week later, after this whole thing leaks, they give a job to Matt Hughes in a significant fashion. Frankly that was a big ‘f–k you’ to me from Dana. And that’s exactly what he intended to do.

It’s funny because I have never been a Couture fan but I was thinking the same when I heard Dana come out and blast him. This is a man who the company propped up as the Godfather for years and yet you barely see or hear from him on UFC related events. It seems like Dana wants its all. He wants to screw with guys like Couture and Ortiz yet gets upset when anyone God forbid take a job elsewhere.

Again I am not a big Randy fan and I understand what he tried to pull years ago but the second they brought him back that should have been forgotten. The idea that you’d ban a father no matter who he is from cornering his son is just downright embarrassing. He says he’s happy to see Randy go yet he pulls a power play like that? My thinking then and now is that if Dana was so upset that Randy left, why didn’t you have him under contract in the first place?

Dana White is coming off like a big baby here. He’s mad that people take jobs elsewhere yet he has no intention of hiring them. He can’t have it both ways. It’s time to start developing some kind of post-fight career for the UFC fighters and sign them to contracts similar to what the WWE does with their legends for marketing and appearances. Until the UFC does this, they have nobody to blame but themselves when their former stars work for the competition.

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Looking Back At The Ultimate Fighter Season One

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

The Ultimate Fighter returns this week on FX. Lost in all of the excitement is the impact that this show had on MMA 17 seasons ago. As much as UFC will try, they will never have another class and show as exciting as The Ultimate Fighter Season 1.

I watched back the entire season of the first The Ultimate Fighter show recently. I remember at the time being hooked on the show the first time I watched it. I felt the same way re-watching the season all over again. The season was filled with drama, tremendous fights, and a cast of characters that has never been quite as engaging as the cast from this season.

First of all, the format was entirely different on the show. The show featured weekly physical challenges ala Survivor. Unlike today where it was as simple as winning teams picks next fight, fight choices were determined by whoever won these challenges. In looking back, it is amazing that none of the guys got seriously hurt on these challenges.

I don’t know if there have been a better paid of coaches than Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture. The guys were true pros and both seemed to have the best interests of their fighters. This was at a time right before the two blew up and became mainstream stars. Randy Couture in particular was fantastic, especially during the Southworth-Bonnar fight when he told Bonnar exactly what Chuck would be advising Southworth.

Joe Rogan has called the cast, “The heart and soul of ultimate fighting.” The cast was truly a classic. From their personalities to the legacy they would build in UFC. It’s funny, because they were portrayed as young hungry inexperienced MMA stars. Yet, a lot of them had great pedigrees and probably would have wound up in UFC at some point. Guys like Chris Leben and Bobby Southworth had good careers going before the show. It really shouldn’t be a huge surprise in retrospect that a lot of them easily transitioned into the UFC.

The cast featured a ton of guys that would go on to main-event UFC Fight Nights and Pay-Per-Views. Forrest Griffin, Diego Sanchez, Chris Leben, Josh Koscheck, Mike Swick, Stephan Bonnar, Kenny Florian, and Nate Quarry. If you just became an MMA fan in the last few years, you wouldn’t believe that all of these UFC fighters came through a reality show. The amount of talent that UFC was able to amass from the show was just amazing.

The first season saw the coaches pick teams. It is funny watching this draft back in retrospect to see how wrong Chuck and Randy were. Out of that entire class named above, none of them were picked #1 overall. The #1 overall pick was Bobby Southworth on Team Liddell. Arguably the biggest star to come out of the show, Forrest Griffin wasn’t picked until close to the end of the draft. It just goes to show you that there is no way to measure a fighter’s heart.

Chris Leben was the star of the show early on. If you heard Leben interviewed today, you would never realize that this was the same kid. Leben was a loud mouthed, arrogant, cocky, drunk during most of the show. Leben went from peeing in one of the fighter’s beds in the first episode to crying in a sleeping bag with Nate Quarry. The guy was an emotional roller coaster and really made his mark.

The most memorable thing about the show was probably the rivalry between Leben and Josh Koshcheck. Things came to a head when Southworth called Leben a, “fatherless bastard” one night while partying. Leben broke down crying and wound up sleeping outside of the house. Koshcheck and Southworth proceeded to dump water on Leben while he was sleeping. Leben got up and in a crazed state wound up going through the house punching walls and windows.

Dana White immediately capitalized on this and made a fight between Leben and Koshcheck. In my opinion, Koshcheck seemed scared going into the fight. This was the kind of a fight that would have made money if it was put on pay-per-view. Koshcheck actually pulled off the upset and won. The fight turned out to be kind of boring with Koshcheck continually grounding Leben. Koshcheck was just too good of a wrestler for Leben to go the ground with. It still amazes me that UFC has never re-matched the two fighters.

For a guy that was in his mid-30s, Southworth probably came out as the biggest idiot of the show. The guy was completely immature both in and out of the octagon. He reminded me of the little kid that encourages the bully in those 1980s movies, but won’t do anything himself. After losing a decision to Stephan Bonnar, Southworth whined and complained. The fight was definitely close, but it was his fault for not finishing. Two minutes after the fight he threw his UFC career out the window when he told Dana White to leave his room. White was angry and well, we have not seen Southworth in UFC since.

Plenty has been written about the finale between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar and how it impacted UFC and MMA. Diego Sanchez defeated Kenny Florian in the middleweight final. These are two guys that have fought for the UFC lightweight title while Josh Koscheck has challenged for the UFC welterweight title. The level of talent that came out of the show will never be repeated for so many different reasons.

Tonight’s show will kick off the most anticipated season since Ortiz and Shamrock were coaching. Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen have manufactured a rivalry that some are hoping will reach the boiling point like Evans and Rampage and Ortiz and Shamrock. As for the class, the UFC is already dropping hints of chaos in order to stir up interest in the show. No matter who emerges from this year’s class, I don’t expect any class to make the impact of the first season.

Seventeen seasons later and I still don’t think UFC has been able to recreate the magic of season one. There have been more talented fighters, but nobody has translated to television like the first class. Getting one star out of a reality show like this is a miracle for anybody like a UFC. Getting 8 future stars out of a TUF class is unheard of and an unequivocal success. That alone is the reason why no season of The Ultimate Fighter will ever capture the magic of season one.

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UFC Heavyweights Analyze Dos Santos Vs. Velasquez II

December 26, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, Videos

UFC 155 will feature one of the most anticipated heavyweight clashes in UFC history. Junior Dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez will fight a second time and even after a convincing KO win, not everyone is convinced that JDS can do it twice…especially his peers.

It is easy for a blogger like me to sit here and make UFC predictions but even I’ll admit it is more interesting to hear them from the pros themselves. So let’s hear what the heavyweights that have stepped into the UFC octagon have to say about Velasquez vs. JDS II.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture is going with the challenger.

The rematch is gonna be interesting, I think you’ll see Cain back at the top of his game and sharp it was a question with the shoulder issues he had. Coming back and fighting a guy the caliber of Dos Santos. he was just sitting there waiting and obviously hungry. Cain certainly wants his belt back so i think maybe we’ll see a little bit tighter Dos Santos than we’ve seen in the past. but it will be an interesting rematch, for sure. I expect to see a lot more wrestling out of Velasquez, to deal with the punching and striking abilities of Junior dos Santos.

It is hard to take Couture’s picks seriously as it seems that Randy likes to go with underdogs more often than not His assessment of Velasquez and the wrestling makes a lot of sense, although I am expecting another one round KO, this time in favor of Velasquez.

Roy Nelson also offered his pick. Roy is interesting because he has actually gone the distance with the champion. Unfortunately you never know if what Roy is saying is actually what he thinks or what he is hoping will make headlines.

“I think I was the only one who gave Junior a chance to actually finish that fight…I still got Junior. Just because, he hits hard and if anything he’s got five rounds to knock Cain’s block off. If Cain does the same thing he did last time, it’s not gonna be a good thing. I think Cain has to just change his game-plan up and actually go out there and execute good, solid grappling match game-plan, then he’ll be okay. As long as you’re tying him up, he can’t punch you.

So Roy is going with Junior. Like Couture though Roy is saying that Velasquez’s key to victory is the wrestling.

You didn’t expect the media to pass up the opportunity to quote former Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem did you?

I think Cain is gonna do good in this next fight. I think he might even get the belt. I think he’s gonna get the belt.

Talk about going out on a limb. I have to say I expected Overeem to take another dig at Dos Santos but he kept the pick rather straight and professional. A Cain vs. Overeem fight is certainly intriguing but for the sake of seeing JDS vs. Overeem, I am hoping to see JDS pull off the win and make it 2-0 against Velasquez.

Frank Mir is a former UFC heavyweight champion who has fought Dos Santos and trained to fight Velasquez. Mir is one of the better analysts in the game in my opinion so I tend to put a little more weight behind his opinion as opposed to his peers. Here is what he said on Fuel TV.

I think it’s really close. Again, I think Velasquez is extremely well rounded, very tenacious has great grappling ability. I think the way to beat Dos Santos is to close off the cage, to put him against there and put him down on the ground. Lets test his abilities in other areas. He’s already proven he’s an unbelievable fighter when it comes to the open area. His footwork, his speed. I think if you want to take the champion away from that, you have to take him out of that element. I think Velasquez has the potential to possibly do so. That being said he’s already tried once and came up short and Dos Santos, so far no one has really figured out the riddle on really how to cut him off and get him down to the ground. No one has been able to really be dominant at all, or even show a chink in his armor. As of right now, he goes around and he does what he does best and no one is able to stop him. They’re both such great fighters. I’ll probably slide toward the champion just because he is the champion. It’s not something I would actually bet my house on.

Former UFC contender Shane Carwin also weighed in on the fight. Dos Santos brutalized Carwin in Carwin’s last fight which saw Carwin go the distance with JDS.

Dos Santos and Cain, I think it is more of the same from the last fight, Dos Santos

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Lyoto Machida: The UFC Rise and Fall of the Dragon

August 22, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

A long time ago Eric approached me with the idea of writing a blog about “The decline of Lyoto Machida.” I was instantly intrigued, but thought that we might be of two different minds on the subject. With his recent victory over Ryan Bader and his upcoming title shot, I thought it might be worthy of discussion.

My original idea was to talk about what happened to the Era of the Dragon reigning with terror over the UFC’s Light Heavyweight division. Many people were so drawn in by his style and his seeming invincibility that he was heralded as an undefeatable champion after signature wins over Thiago Silva and Rashad Evans. Both wins were massive for Machida. They were both nasty knockouts over top competitors, and the second one over Evans actually earned him the UFC Light Heavyweight title. What has happened since? He’s gone 3-3, earning a close decision over Mauricio Rua, before dropping the title to him in the rematch and getting knocked out cold for his trouble. He also dropped a controversial decision to Rampage Jackson and was choked out cold by newly minted undefeatable champion Jon “Bones” Jones. The wins were far less impressive, the previously noted close decision victory of Shogun, a highlight knockout over the aging and retiring Randy Couture at UFC 129 and the recent victory this weekend over Ryan Bader.

However, what started with a mere look into what’s happened to the Era of the Dragon, I decided to watch every single one of The Dragon’s UFC bouts thus far. What will follow is going to be a breakdown of each fight, some thoughts on the outcomes and general musings about what kind of impact it’s had on his career. Obviously, most of you will be more concerned about his more recent bouts, so I will focus much of my effort on his most recent events, but bear with me through the whole thing. I’ll also be offering a bit of technical insight into Machida’s style and it will be one of the focal points, as we take a look at how The Dragon has evolved as a fighter inside the UFC’s octagon.

UFC 67: All or Nothing (February 3, 2007) – Lyoto Machida defeats Sam Hoger via Unanimous Decision

This is Lyoto’s UFC debut fight. It’s extremely difficult to find footage of this bout as it took place on the Preliminary portion of the card. However, this was the first introduction for most people to the style of Lyoto Machida. He plays his usual style to a tee here. He looks unquestionably nervous at first, but settles in as the bout wears on. The main story of this entire bout is the lazy and sloppy striking of Hoger and how much Machida makes him pay for it. He nearly finished Hoger with an impressive couple of knees from the clinch, but Hoger survived to the final bell. Basically, not much to glean from this fight besides it being the novelty of Machida’s first bout in the UFC.

UFC 70:  Nations Collide (April 21, 2007) – Lyoto Machida defeats David Heath via Unanimous Decision

This is actually somewhat notable because Machida was originally scheduled to take on Forrest Griffin at this card, which would have been a significant step up in competition immediately, and might have actually launched his career a little sooner. Instead Griffin got a nasty staph infection and was replaced by Heath. The fight was rather un-interesting until the last round of the bout. Knowing he was down two rounds to none, Heath threw caution to the win and charged Machida and he paid dearly for it. Machida nailed some knees in the clinch and pounced on his hurt opponent, but couldn’t earn a finish. This bout was actually removed from the Spike-TV Tape-Delayed broadcast, because it was deemed too boring, and was yet another blow in Machida’s introduction to US fans.

UFC 76: Knockout (September 22, 2007) – Lyoto Machida defeats Kazuhiro Nakamura via Unanimous Decision

This was considered a bit of a step-down for Machida as he was coming off of a dominant win over the previously undefeated David Heath, but Nakamura was a talented Japanese fighter with big fight experience. Machida came out noticeable more aggressive in the first round, going after the Japanese judoka. Machida actually showed off how dangerous his grappling was in this bout as he handled the black belt level Judoka on the mat with ease. This bout was featured on the Main Card and was probably the first real introduction that fans had to Machida, if they had not seen him fight live.

UFC 79: Nemesis (December 29, 2007) – Lyoto Machida defeats Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou via Submission

Sokoudjou entered the UFC with a whirlwind of hype. He was coming off of massive knockout upsets over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona, both in Pride and besting both men in under two minutes. Machida absolutely dominated Sokoudjou, showing some slick striking and then once again showing his impressive grappling skills. This also marks Machida’s first finish in the UFC and was extremely impressive as he submitted another top-level Judo fighter in the second round via Arm Triangle Choke.

UFC 84: Ill Will (May 24, 2008) – Lyoto Machida defeats Tito Ortiz via Unanimous Decision

Widely considered to be Machida’s toughest test to date, Ortiz was definitely the biggest name that The Dragon had ever faced. It was also Machida’s first bout against a wrestler and many wondered how he would fare. The bout was about as one-sided as it gets, with Ortiz’s only real offense being a Hail-Mary triangle choke at the end of the third round that stunned Machida. This is one of the most important bouts in Machida’s career as it really began the Era of the Dragon and made people realize just how impressive his ‘elusive’ style was. Ortiz was the biggest name he’s faced to date and Machida walked through him. His wide karate stance allowed him to shrug off nearly every takedown attempt that Ortiz threw at him, and we continued to see just how effective Machida is at fighting at a distance.

UFC 94: St. Pierre vs. Penn2 (January 31, 2009) – Lyoto Machida defeats Thiago Silva via KO

The true arrival of the Era of the Dragon. Machida took on the then-undefeated Brazilian Thiago Silva. Before the fight Machida had talked about training strength and conditioning for the first time in his career and using weight training in his pre-fight regimen and the results speak for themselves. Machida used the same countering and elusive style that he had in the past, but against a significantly more aggressive opponent. Silva constantly moved forward, but was always met with punishment for his mistakes. After scoring two knockdowns in the first round, there was only five seconds remaining in the round when Silva shot for a takedown out of desperation. Machida was able to stuff the shot and trip Silva to his back, before landing a huge right hand from standing position that knocked Silva out cold and announced to the world that Machida could put on exciting performances. The win is also notable as it earned Machida a UFC Light Heavyweight title shot.

UFC 98: Evans vs. Machida (May 23, 2009) – Lyoto Machida defeats Rashad Evans via KO

This is quite possibly the masterpiece of Machida’s career to date. Evans was by far the most decorated wrestler that Machida had ever faced and was a talented and speedy striker in his own right. Many fans wondered what would happen when Machida faced someone who wasn’t afraid to trade leather with him but could also take him down if needed.  The results speak for themselves, as Machida fought a perfect fight. He allowed Evans to basically beat himself. Machida out-landed Evans in Significant Strikes 28-4.

I’ll dive into a bit of technical analysis for this bout, as it really is one of the best examples of why Machida’s style causes so many fighters fits. Machida traditionally fights from the Southpaw stance, Evans fights from an Orthodox stance, this allowed Machida to keep a lot of distance between the two men at all times. What this also does is allows Machida tons of time to react to any potential takedown attempts by Evans, although he really doesn’t attempt any in this bout. Re-watch the fight and notice the distance between the back legs of both fighters, it’s an integral part of Machida’s fight strategy.

This is also notable for Greg Jackson’s game plan of back-pedaling vs. Machida = win strategy. Machida is by nature a counter-striker and Jackson and company thought that by engaging less against Machida they would be able to turn the tide in their favor. Instead what they got was Evans not engaging actively and Machida being able to land shots un-punished leading to the worst beat down of Evans’ career.

UFC 104: Machida vs. Shogun (October 24, 2009) – Lyoto Machida defeats Mauricio Rua via Unanimous Decision

This was an extremely close and highly controversial decision. It was also a highly entertaining bout between two of the best in the sport. Machida won the bout 48-47 on all three judge’s cards. Machida was able to win the first few rounds, while Shogun was able to capitalize on his stronger cardio and outwork Machida in the final rounds. This bout was highly controversial and many fans though that Shogun should have won the fight. I actually scored the bout for Machida, 48-47 with Machida winning the first three rounds and Shogun the final two. For those who disagree or are hating on that, re-watch the fight with no Commentary and you may see the fight more objectively. The other area of controversy is that Fight Metric had Shogun out-landing Machida in every round.

Let’s talk about some of the things that Shogun did to solve the puzzle that is Machida. First of all, Shogun was far more aggressive than really any of his previous opponents have been. Shogun has an absolutely insane chin, which allows him to be a bit more reckless than most opponents are able to against Machida. In rounds where neither fighter lands any significant offense the fighter moving forward is often rewarded for being the aggressor, Rua took advantage of this. Shogun was also willing to fight from the clinch and work for takedowns to score points. While Machida rarely shoots for traditional takedowns, he does at times look for trips and takedowns from the clinch.

One thing that also led to Machida struggling in this bout is that Shogun looked incredibly quick. Machida’s game relies heavily on timing and being quicker to the punch than his opponent. In fact this is an important part of the karate style of fighting. The basic idea of karate is to react at the same time as your opponent and land before he does. Shogun entered this bout in significantly better physical shape than his previous UFC bouts and it showed, as Machida looked surprised when dealing with the quickness of Shogun. However, he was able to stay composed and was able to control the range of the fight throughout the first rounds of the bout.

UFC 113: Machida vs. Shogun 2 (May 8, 2010) – Mauricio Rua defeats Lyoto Machida via Knockout

Rua basically goes with the same strategy as he did in the first bout, constantly moving forward with kicks. It’s in this bout that Shogun exposes what is quite possibly Machida’s biggest weakness and that is basically his refusal to keep his hands up and protect his own chin. As men more intelligent than I am have pointed out in the past, this is a direct result of his karate background. In point-contact karate fighters score points when they strike and then return their hands to their waist position, which explains why Machida does it frequently.

After a back and forth first few minutes, which featured a nice takedown by Machida and an excellent sweep and return to feet for Shogun, Machida forgets that he is best fighting at range and gets in close with Shogun. Instead of covering up in close, Machida tries to brawl with one of the best wild punchers in the game. After throwing a knee, Machida moves out with his hands down and allows Shogun to tag him with a massive overhand right hook.

It’s hard to glean anything significant from this bout, except for the major mistake Machida constantly makes. Keeping his hands down as he moves out. The other thing that can be gleaned from this pair of fights with Shogun is that crowding Machida is an effective strategy if you’re willing to stick to it and constantly pressure Machida. Getting in close and not being active is a sure-fire way to get pummeled, but if you can focus on keeping him busy, crowding him in close can certainly be effective.

Despite Shogun’s success against Machida in their pair of bouts. A close loss, which many felt he won and a decisive knockout victory, I would heavily favor Machida in a rematch, especially after seeing their performances at UFC on Fox on Saturday night. Shogun looked slow and sloppy in their bout, while Machida looked razor sharp and focused.

UFC 123: Rampage vs. Machida (November 20, 2010) – Quinton Jackson defeats Lyoto Machida via Split Decision

The end of an era? Many people consider this to be the spot where The Era of the Dragon died, however, it’s tough to say that in a bout that was so close and so controversial. Basically, the scoring in this bout came down to the first round, as Jackson cleanly won the second and Machida decisively won the third. In my opinion this one went the wrong way, but the first round was action light so it’s forgivable. In the first round Machida definitely looks slightly gun-shy and tentative, and doesn’t want anything to do with the power punches of Rampage.

In the second round Rampage once again calms out stalking Machida. Jackson works the bout to the cage and uses his significant size and strength advantage to control the bout against the fence. This is seen by some as another weakness of Machida, as he is small for a Light Heavyweight, cuts little weight to make 205 pounds and is physically unassuming compared to most of the much larger men who fight at 205. In the third round Machida takes over. After a flurry of punches from both men, Machida works the bout to the mat and controls Jackson, nearly securing an arm bar submission and working from mount for much of the round. After the bout even Rampage admits that he thought he lost the bout.

UFC 129: St. Pierre vs. Shields (April 30, 2011) – Lyoto Machida defeats Randy Couture via KO

The Return of the Dragon. After struggling through back-to-back losses Machida faced Captain America himself. There’s not much to take from this bout as it lasted barely over a minute. Many people thought that Randy might be able to dominate the fight, by getting inside and using his dirty boxing to punish Machida. He never got the chance as Machida used a highlight reel Jumping Switch Kick to end the fight and Randy’s career. This was a huge win for Machida as it re-energized fans to see Machida fight, reminded them how dangerous he could be, and actually catapulted him into a title bout against Jon Jones.

UFC 140: Jones vs. Machida (December 10, 2011) – Jon Jones defeats Lyoto Machida via Submission

In Jones, Machida fought a fighter like none other he had ever faced. A quick and talented striker, with a massive reach and a strong wrestling base. Machida was able to find success in the first round and actually looked like a legitimate threat to Jones and won the first round on many people’s scorecards. It remains a moot point, since in the second round Jones took over the bout and worked over Machida before landing a big left hand and then choked him out cold with a standing Guillotine.

Let’s take a look at some of the things that made Jones so successful against Machida. The first is definitely range and reach. Jones has an 84-inch reach, which is insane for the 205-pound class. This huge reach allows him to fight on the outside as well as anyone. Machida does best from the outside, but he uses that by stepping in when his opponents commit and punishing them before darting back to the outside. Against Jones who has a huge reach and is an accurate striker with the ability to use leg kicks, that major strength is negated.

Another thing that Jones did well was his ability to switch stances. Like I mentioned earlier Machida is a Southpaw striker who feasts on orthodox strikers, because of the distance between the rear legs of the two fighters. When Jones turned southpaw himself, he severely closed that distance and allowed himself instead of Machida to control the distance that the fight took place at.

Jones was also able to ‘out-Dragon’ed the Dragon.’ What I mean by this is that he made excellent use of feints and fakes to counter Machida. Lyoto does some of his best work when his opponents over-commit to strikes and leave themselves open to counters. After two solid rounds of throwing leg kicks, Jones was able to fake a kick and throw a right hand that crushed Machida as he was trying to counter the kick. He caught Machida coming in wildly and that right hand was what set up the eventual submission victory.

UFC on FOX 4: Shogun vs. Vera (August 4, 2012) – Lyoto Machida defeats Ryan Bader via TKO

This one should be fresh in everyone’s minds. Machida put on a striking clinic on Saturday night, absolutely battering Ryan Bader for two rounds, before finally finishing him midway through the second round. We’ve seen the types of fighters that have the most success against Machida. Quick, accurate and talented strikers who can crowd Machida successfully and work inside. Bader is neither quick, nor accurate and besides having a powerful overhand right, is not a talented striker. Bader was unable to close the distance against Machida, and basically was made a fool of.

Throughout the first round and a half Machida controlled the distance against Bader, used leg kicks and excellent defense to control the bout and avoid taking nearly any damage. As Bader began to get more frustrated, it created more and more openings for Machida to score points. Finally midway through the second round, Bader charged forward behind a jab and a right hand. Machida is able to simply step back out of the way of the jab, before delivering the crushing right hand that ends Bader’s night instantly.

The Future…

Moving onto the future, what lies ahead for Machida is another crack at Jon Jones, should Jones get by Dan Henderson at their upcoming bout at UFC 151, which will likely be no easy task for the champ.

Machida proved that he is as dangerous as they come on Saturday night and it was somewhat of a return to form for Machida. However, we’ve always known that Bader is the exact type of fighter that The Dragon feasts on; a wrestler with sloppy footwork and unimpressive striking. The question will be how does he deal with a strong wrestler, with capable footwork and impressive game planning.

Be it Jones or Henderson, the only major differences might be a thunderous right hand, or the reach of a giant.

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10 Main Events Worse Than UFC 147

June 20, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC 147 headliner featuring Wanderlei Silva vs. Rich Franklin 2 has been dubbed by many the worst main-event in UFC history. However, a look back tells us that there have been far less interesting fights sold as UFC main-events.

I am certainly not thrilled about the fight but at the same time I think it is absurd to call this the worst headliner in UFC history. I have watched UFC since the start and I can tell you that there have been far worse mismatches passed off as main-events by Zuffa. This got me to thinking and with a little refresher help from Wikipedia, I was able to easily come up with ten fights that were far worse main-events on paper than the UFC 147 headliner.

Now to be fair not all of these fights were sold on pay per view. Some of these fights were given away for free on Spike TV. Yet they still qualify as UFC main-events in my mind because they headlined a UFC numbered show. I did not include headliners from non-numbered UFC events. So with that said, here are ten fights off the top (in no particular order) of my head that are much worse than what the UFC is trying to sell this Saturday night.

UFC 122: Nate Marquardt vs. Yushin Okami - This was a joke! Yes it aired on free television but yet the idea that this was passed off as a legitimate headliner by the UFC was an insult. Dana White proclaimed the fight a championship eliminator which gave us yet another unfortunate main-event that would have made the list if I went with a top fifteen.

UFC 133: Ortiz vs. Rashad Evans - This band aid of a main-event came after numerous fight changes to the card. Injuries to Phil Davis and Jon Jones forced this rematch of a long forgotten draw between these two former champions. Ortiz was coming off his first win in six fights and five years while Evans was the recognized number one contender. As big of a mismatch as this was on paper, it was every bit as one-sided in the octagon.

UFC 130: Hamill vs. Jackson - If I was ranking this list in order this one would probably be at the top. Once again, this fight was a backup plan once Thiago Silva was injured going into his fight with Rampage Jackson. The original main-event Edgar vs. Maynard was also scrapped which pushed this one to the top. I know circumstances were beyond the UFC’s control but their hype machine was in full b.s. mode when it came to pushing this fight. This fight lived up to all expectations…it stunk!

UFC 105: Randy Couture vs. Brandon Vera - This won’t be the first time Couture makes the list. Once again the UFC offered up a free show from England and mucked it up with this ridiculous choice of main-event. The fight wasn’t actually that bad but just the idea that the UFC would sell anything with Brandon Vera in it as a main-event is beyond preposterous…wait a second!

UFC 112: Anderson Silva vs. Demian Maia - By all rights Maia was due a title shot but I don’t think anyone thought for a second that this would be an entertaining fight. Silva went out of his way to make sure that didn’t happen to the point where Dana White refused to get into the octagon and wrap the belt around Silva following the win. UFC 112 had a pretty loaded show when it came to star power so even with a bogus main-event, fans had plenty of reasons to buy this show. The headliner though was not one of them.

UFC 119: Frank Mir vs. Mirko Cro Cop -
If I was ranking this list this fight would probably come in second (actually I am starting to rank the list). I find the outrage over UFC 147 hilarious considering the insult of a main-event that the UFC served up at UFC 119. Wanderlei and Franklin could put on a better fight in their sleep than Mir or Cro Cop could at this stage of their careers. Just remember before you nominate a fight to be the worst on selling headliner in UFC history that there was a little show called UFC 119 with an even bigger insult to your intelligence.

UFC 97: Anderson Silva vs. Thales Leites - A win over Drew McFedries suddenly catapulted Leites to the number one contender’s spot and a title shot against Anderson Silva. Nobody with an MMA brain thought Leites had a chance to win and he proved us right. To his credit he lasted five rounds but that was more Silva playing games than anything else. To show you how “main-event” worthy Leites was to the UFC he was released following his next fight.

UFC 55: Andrei Arlovski vs. Paul Buentello - Yep, it happened. This fight came about after UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir was injured and the UFC needed to create a new champion. Buentello did rattle off some wins but selling him in the main-event was laughable. Buentello did his best to prove that after getting knocked out in a mere fifteen seconds by the Pit Bull.

UFC 53: Andrei Arlovski vs. Justin Eilers - This is still regarded as one of the most controversial fights in UFC history in regards to Eilers getting a title shot coming off a loss. See, you only thought that happened in Strikeforce! Arlovski literally beat the crap out of Eilers as Eilers left the fight with a broken nose, a torn ACL, and two broken hands and the UFC left UFC 53 with very little credibility when it came to the UFC heavyweight (or interim in this case) title.

UFC 109: Randy Couture vs. Mark Coleman - The battle of “legends” took place at UFC 109. The idea behind this senior’s battle was that Coleman and Couture were scheduled to fight years earlier and someone had the misguided idea that UFC fans were still awaiting the cancelled fight. They were wrong. In all fairness the fight did draw 1.7 million viewers on Spike yet keep in mind that it was free and had a strong undercard or recognizable names.

Silva vs. Franklin 2 doesn’t sound so bad now does it?

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Does Brock Lesnar Belong In The UFC Hall Of Fame?

May 09, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Brock Lesnar walked into the UFC with one MMA fight under his belt & left almost four years later as a former UFC world champion with wins over elite heavyweights. Now retired, Brock’s UFC run begs to question whether or not Brock Lesnar should go into the UFC Hall of Fame.

The Hall of Fame is one of the most debated topics in sports. Whether it is football, baseball, boxing, or even the UFC, there is no shortage of opinions as to what a true Hall of Fame athlete is. Yet a look at Hall of Fame athletes in sports all over the world makes the criteria more muddy every day. The UFC Hall of Fame is no exception.

Brock Lesnar is a name that will always remain polarizing in MMA. Lesnar had the dual distinction at one time of being the most hated fighter in MMA yet being the biggest drawing card the sport has ever seen. Lesnar’s credentials were questioned from day one whether it was getting a UFC contract, getting a UFC championship shot, and now whether or not Brock is a Hall of Fame fighter. While the debate among hardcore MMA fans may be simple, an objective look makes this a puzzling question.

Before we talk about Brock’s Hall of Fame credentials, let’s take a look at the current roster of fighters in the UFC Hall of Fame.

Mark Coleman
Randy Couture
Chuck Liddell
Ken Shamrock
Royce Gracie
Matt Hughes
Charles Lewis
Dan Severn
Tito Ortiz (Dana said that Ortiz will go in the Hall of Fame when he retires)

A look at that list makes one thing abundantly clear. There is nothing clear or common about the credentials to be a UFC Hall of Fame fighter. Quite frankly I did not even realize that a couple of those names were on the list. Let’s break the list down and try and find some kind of common ground between the fighters.

Taking Charles Lewis out of the equation, everyone on the list but Royce Gracie is a former UFC champion. For Shamrock and Severn, it was the UFC Superfight championship while the other fighters held UFC class championships. Coleman only had one successful title defense as heavyweight champion. Couture and Hughes are the only fighters to have multiple title reigns. Gracie, Liddell, and Hughes are the only fighters on this list I’d claim that changed the game. Liddell is probably the only fighter on the list that has mainstream appeal outside of the UFC, although Randy could join him after a few more movie roles. In other words, this list is all over the place.

My gut instinct without looking at the list is that Brock is not a UFC Hall of Fame fighter. However once I look at the list and break it down I start to think much differently. I was a big fan of Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn’s during the early UFC days but Brock is certainly more Hall of Fame worthy than those two guys. As for Mark Coleman, you may as well get Brock’s plaque ready once you let him in because there is no way that Coleman is more Hall of Fame-worthy than the former UFC champion.

In terms of win/loss, Lesnar went 4-3 in the UFC. Those aren’t Hall of Fame numbers in itself, but you need to look closer at the numbers. Lesnar came into the UFC with one MMA fight under his belt and beat Frank Mir, Randy Couture, Heath Herring, and Shane Carwin. The wins over two former UFC world champions with little experience are huge in my opinion. Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Mark Coleman, and Tito Ortiz didn’t face the best as Lesnar did in their primes and come out on top as often as Brock. Lesnar had two successful title defenses, one more than Coleman had with the UFC title. But let’s forget about what Brock did inside the octagon, let’s look at the impact he made on the UFC outside of the events.

Let’s talk Royce Gracie for a moment here and I know I am going to open myself up for criticism from Gracie disciples for this one. Why is Royce in the Hall of Fame? For winning favorable matchups in the inaugural UFC tournaments? For being dominated years later by Matt Hughes? No, Royce is in for his contributions to the UFC and helping the UFC get off the ground. How about Brock Lesnar’s contributions? I would argue that Brock’s record of wins in the UFC are a lot more impressive than Royce and I would also argue that Brock did just as much to help grow the UFC if not more than Gracie.

Brock became the biggest draw in MMA history during his prime. He shattered previous numbers and opened the UFC up to new eyes, new markets, and a new audience. Whether it was because people liked him or hated him, Brock put the asses in the seats. Three years later and Brock still holds the record for the biggest UFC buyrate with his headliner at UFC 100. If you want to talk about a game changer, if you want to talk about a fighter that made just as much if not more of an impact outside of the octagon than inside, and if you want to talk about a fighter who became the biggest star in the sport, you have to talk about Brock Lesnar…and the guy did it in just a couple of years.

As the sports biggest draw during that period, Brock brought more fans to the UFC during that time than any other fighter before or after him. The numbers don’t lie and with those numbers came more money for the UFC and any fighter that fought on a Brock card, more exposure to mass sports media that recognized the casual interest in Lesnar, and brought more new fans to the UFC than any other fighter in company history.

Putting Brock into the Hall of Fame would make a lot of MMA fans angry. Unfortunately it isn’t their Hall of Fame. If the only people in the Hall of Fame were Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, and Matt Hughes, than I could see your argument. But you can’t tell me that Brock isn’t just as worthy as all of the other guys, one who with all due respect was not even a UFC fighter.

I think Brock Lesnar gets into the UFC someday. Dana White is a money guy and at the end of the day Brock brought more money to the UFC in a shorter time period than anyone else that has ever stepped into the octagon. Some in the MMA community may not appreciate what he achieved but I think the people in charge are smart enough to reward Brock for his MMA accomplishments in and out of the octagon.

If Mark Coleman, Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, and Tito Ortiz belong in the Hall of Fame, than there is no question in my mind that Brock Lesnar deserves the same honor for his contributions.

Brock Lesnar’s autobiography – Death Clutch: My Story of Determination, Domination, and Survival

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Former UFC Champions Talk Jon Jones Vs. Rashad Evans

April 17, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Jon Jones vs. Rashad EvansUFC.com has a fantastic article previewing the UFC 145 showdown between Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans. The UFC rounded up all of the former UFC light heavyweight champions to break down the fight and predict Saturday’s championship showdown.

Before I get into the quotes, there was one thing that immediately came to mind after reading this article. The article is a reminder as to how new the UFC really is as an organization. In the history of the company, there have only been 11 different UFC light heavyweight champions. Call me naïve but if you would have asked me before reading the article as to how many different light heavyweight champions the UFC has had in its history, I probably would have guessed much higher.

It also looks like that out of all of the championship lineages that the UFC has its best relationships with the former light heavyweight champions. I couldn’t imagine the UFC putting something like this together for any other division. I also think it says a lot about the upcoming bout that this is the first time that the UFC went out of their way to put something like this together for a fight.

So let’s take a look at what some of the former champions had to say about Jones vs. Evans.

Frank Shamrock, inaugural champion from Dec. 21 1997 to Nov. 24, 1999

This fight has a tremendous story behind it, with it having grown out of a friendship that went sour back when these two were teammates. The drama that’s fueling this is incredible. Fans can expect a fight that, stylistically, will be extremely challenging for Jones to overcome, and he’ll have fits with Rashad’s wrestling if he’s able to put Jon on his back. But ultimately, I see Jones being able to inflict more damage and walk away with the belt still in hand. This will be a fight that will not end as easily and devastatingly as Jones’s others have, but rather one of those moments in his career where he’ll have to pull himself up and battle until the final bell. In the end, this fight will help Jon become a better fighter and a better champion, and will endear himself to fans for years to come.

What I like most about Frank’s comments is that he is one of the few guys interviewed to actually go out on a limb and pick a winner. Most of the other ex-champions give scenarios where each guy can win, but don’t necessarily pick a winner. You never have to worry about Frank Shamrock offering an opinion and backing it.

Randy Couture, two-time champion from Jun 6, 2003 to Jan 31, 2004 and Aug 21, 2004 to Apr 16, 2005

I think it is going to be very interesting, Rashad has the speed and skills to win. Rashad has to avoid his propensity for standing up and just striking, which he has done in the past. He can’t just strike with Jones; if he does he will lose because Jon has more tools in the toolbox. Rashad has to take Jones down, not just once or twice but every single time he has any opportunity. If Jones is worried about getting taken down, that’s when Rashad can put his hands on him and do some damage. But he has to keep Jon guessing if it is a takedown or a strike that’s coming.

I think Jones is super-talented and he is clearly getting better in each fight. He could turn into a very special type of champion. He poses some very unique problems in the Octagon – and so far no one has solved too many of them. I think this is a huge fight for the division. “Bones” Jones is very hot right now and with the personalities and the back story, it all hypes this up into a very interesting fight.

Interesting take from the former UFC champion. I do agree with Couture that Rashad needs to win this fight with takedowns. I did find it interesting that for a guy that is never shy about offering a prediction, he really doesn’t pick a winner here.

Chuck Liddell, champion from Apr 16, 2005 to May 26, 2007

Everyone is different but, I think, for most fighters getting into the Octagon with someone they don’t like is a great motivation in training. Every time you are tired or holding a little back, you think about losing to this guy you can’t stand and it helps you give 100%. That’s how I was with Tito, I couldn’t stand the idea of losing to him and so I trained harder.

I’d love to know who really got the best of it when these guys trained together. You get a feeling for someone when you spar with them. That’s why I was so confident against Tito; I’d beat him up standing, wrestling and at BJJ when we trained together years before out fights and I knew I was in his head because of that. Listening to Rashad, it seems from watching the Primetime show that he feels he’s in Jon’s head a little. He sounds very confident and I think that’s based on experiences in the gym. I’m glad he is confident, because that’s something you have to have against Jones. If you don’t go after Jon you are in for a bad night.”

While the Iceman didn’t outright say he was picking Rashad, it sure sounds like it. Liddell also offers a very interesting glimpse into the mental makeup of Evans going into this fight. I think a lot of people are discounting the history that both guys have as training partners. Liddell doesn’t and brings the motivation of beating his old training partner into play. I love it!

Lyoto Machida, champion from May 23, 2009 to May 8, 2010

Jones vs Evans is a big fight for the fans and a big fight for the division. It is a very interesting fight; Jones is very unorthodox and is strong in all aspects of the game, but Rashad is a great wrestler and has the hand speed to catch Jones.

Way to go out on a limb Lyoto! I don’t think Machida is breaking any ground here. This quote represents the last couple of years of Machida’s career, a big letdown.

“Rampage” Jackson, champion from May 26, 2007 to Jul 5, 2008

Rashad has to go for it right from the start, for real. Rashad can’t play on the outside, you can’t fight no Jon Jones on the outside, believe me. Rashad is fast and can surprise you. He surprised me by faking a takedown and hitting me with a right hand which kinda stunned me. I think he can do that to Jon Jones, but he has to do it right away because the more time you give Jones, the harder it is to set him up for a punch. I think Jon Jones will win, but I think Rashad has a chance.

This is an interesting take from Jackson and you almost get the idea that he is pulling for his biggest rival. He makes a great point here about Evans’ speed. I think a lot of people are not looking hard enough at Evans’ speed and footwork in predicting the fight. Jones is fast but in my opinion, a healthy Rashad is fast enough to catch Jones at any time during the five rounds.

Check out the full article on UFC.com to hear comments from Shogun Rua, Tito Ortiz, and Forrest Griffin.

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A Look Back At Brock Lesnar’s MMA Career

April 03, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Brock Lesnar officially retired from MMA after suffering a TKO loss to Alistair Overeem at UFC 141 & is back in the WWE. In just a short span of four years Lesnar conquered the world of MMA competing at the highest level and winning a world championship. Lesnar’s run in the world of MMA is nothing short of remarkable.

It is entirely possible that Brock Lesnar’s UFC career is over. Choosing not to get surgery is practically announcing his retirement. Even if Lesnar does get surgery, the operation is invasive and could put Lesnar on the shelf for over a year, missing a critical amount of time at this stage of his career. In all likelihood the world of MMA has probably seen the last of Brock Lesnar as an elite heavyweight.

So today I look back at one of the most amazing short careers in MMA history. His accomplishments should be recognized whether you like Lesnar or not as nothing short of great. Fighters train for years and accomplish much less than what Lesnar did. Here is a quick look back at the MMA career of Brock Lesnar.

Brock Lesnar vs. Min-Soo Kim, Dynamite!! USA June 2, 2007. Casual MMA fans probably don’t even realize that Brock Lesnar did have one MMA fight outside of the UFC. A number of MMA promoters booked the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for one of the biggest MMA events in history. Half would air on pay per view while half would air on Showtime. Brock Lesnar’s first MMA fight would air live on the pay per view portion.

I look at this Lesnar’s UFC audition. There were plenty of rumors at the time about Lesnar and the UFC. Dana White was hesitant to pull the trigger for obvious reasons. WWE wrestling fans were incredibly excited about seeing “one of their own” make the MMA leap. Min-Soo Kim would become the sacrificial lamb for young Lesnar.

Kim was an Olympic silver medalist in Judo so it was kind of odd to see Lesnar shoot in immediately on Kim. Lesnar dominated him on the ground and passed his guard with ease. Lesnar just started raining down strikes on the former Olympiad. Kim shockingly tapped out as Lesnar was beating the daylights out of him. To this day it remains one of the weakest tap outs I have ever seen in MMA, but any doubts about Lesnar’s potential in MMA were answered in 1:09 of Round 1. The word was out, Brock Lesnar was for real.

Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir UFC 81: Breaking Point, February 2, 2008. This was Lesnar’s UFC debut and let me tell you, the UFC weren’t shy about promoting Lesnar’s WWE past. A collection of WWE stars right out of Legends of WrestleMania were show in the building throughout the night building a WWE vs. UFC theme for the fight. Lesnar was even announced as a former WWE champion with old wrestling footage to boot. It was certainly quite a spectacle indeed.

What I remember most about this fight is that in the weeks leading up to it and in my writings on phillyburbs.com I never believed Lesnar could beat Frank Mir. I thought Mir was too experienced here and that Lesnar would go into the fight over confident. I remember getting into several arguments with callers on my radio show about it, yet I didn’t think it was a huge revelation. Well, in this case I was right.

Lesnar bull rushed Mir and opened up with the same ferocity he unleashed against Kim. Lesnar dropped Mir pretty quickly and the Las Vegas crowd went nuts. Could an inexperienced athlete beat a credentialed former UFC champion in his second fight? Nope. Mir was too smart for him and caught Lesnar with a kneebar. Mir showed a lot of guts looking for a spot as strikes rained down on his head. Mir tapped Lesnar in 90 seconds to a stunned crowd. Was Lesnar exposed as a fraud or did he just need more time to learn? The MMA world would find out six months later.

Brock Lesnar vs. Heath Herring UFC 87: Seek and Destroy, August 9, 2008. Quite honestly Lesnar should have fought someone more along the lines of Herring in his first fight, not someone as experienced as Mir. Herring is certainly no pushover as he came very close to beating Antonio Nogueira a year earlier. A loss here could have been devastating for Lesnar. I would argue that this was the biggest fight of Lesnar’s entire MMA career as anything less than a win or solid effort would have jeopardized his high UFC contract.

Like every fight in his career, Lesnar charged the Texas Crazy Horse early in the fight. He missed a flying knee but rocked him with a punch that busted Herring open. To me, he broke Herring’s will at that point and Heath was just trying to survive. Brock held Herring down and mauled him for the rest of the fight. Lesnar had Herring’s back for most of the fight but seemed content on just riding the Texas Crazy Horse out for three rounds. The fight ended with Herring making a last ditch attempt to run at Lesnar with Brock laughing in his face as the bell rang. It was pure domination by Lesnar.

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The win was huge for Lesnar. For one, it answered a lot of questions about his cardio and stamina. Lesnar had only fought twice before this, with both fights ending in less than two minutes. Lesnar never gassed out, well at least enough for Herring to take advantage of. Two, Lesnar really showed what an intimidator he can be in the octagon. Three, he never had to look back from this point on in regards to being cut from his contract following a loss. Four and maybe most important, Lesnar established himself as a hell of a heel by laughing in Herring’s face and asking the crowd, “Can you see me now?” It wouldn’t be until Lesnar’s recovery from diverticulitis a few years later in which he would be accepted by the MMA fans as a babyface.

Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Couture UFC 91: Couture vs. Lesnar November 15, 2008. This was the shortest time between fights for Lesnar. Randy Couture returned after a lengthy absence to defend the UFC championship against Lesnar. Many hardcore MMA fans were angry feeling Lesnar didn’t deserve a title shot with one win and one loss. They were right but it didn’t matter as Brock Lesnar would become world champion with only a little more than one year of MMA experience against a man that had been fighting for eleven years.

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This was a real physical mismatch on paper with Lesnar maintaining a 57 pound weight advantage over Couture. That is why fans were shocked and excited to see Randy Couture hold his own for the first round. The first round saw Couture get in some dirty boxing and an elbow, appearing to confuse the much bigger Lesnar. Couture got Lesnar’s back at one point in the first round and the crowd just went absolutely ballistic. The UFC hero against the WWE villain. At one point, Couture almost threw Lesnar towards the end of the first round. The round ended and the fight looked anything like the slaughter that most people were expecting.

The slaughter came in Round 2. They started out once again back in the clinch with each guy looking for an advantage. Couture drew blood and opened up Lesnar above the eye. At this point in the fight it looked like one of the greatest David vs. Goliath upsets in sports history. That was until Brock got mad. Brock rocked Couture hard with a shot and an uppercut. Lesnar nailed Couture who stumbled and allowed Lesnar to swarm in for the kill. Lesnar finished off Captain America and did the unthinkable, winning the UFC heavyweight championship.

After the fight Lesnar said, “He’s got a lot of balls to take a year off and fight a young buck like me. I believe in hard work and it pays off. I may come across as cocky, but I’m confident. The Lord gave me this body and my mind,” and the place still booed him. The fans hated to see this former pro wrestler walking around with their belt. Unfortunately it would be a long time before anyone would do anything about it.

Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir UFC 100: Lesnar vs. Mir II, July 11, 2009. This was the first and only real grudge match in Lesnar’s MMA career. Lesnar and Mir developed a very real rivalry between the two fighters that was exposed on UFC’s countdown show as well as pre-event press conferences. Mir dismissed Lesnar as a joke while Lesnar was enraged at the constant reminder of his first and only MMA loss to Mir. The grudge match would turn out to be the biggest fight in UFC history, shattering records that close to two years later still haven’t been broken.

I had this one all wrong. I thought Mir would take him out with a submission early or even stand up with him. Lesnar took Mir down early in the first round. Lesnar had Mir trapped with an arm locked, leaving his face wide open. Lesnar just unloaded on a helpless Mir for most of the round. Mir later said he was working for another kneebar here but he just looked defenseless. Mir could do nothing against the size and strength of Lesnar who seemed to take particular enjoyment with every brutal punch he dropped on Mir’s face.

Mir’s face already looked like a wreck going into Round 2. Mir went for broke and tried to stand up with Lesnar. The two went down and once again Mir was trapped. Lesnar used his power to dominate Mir against the cage. Lesnar punched Mir’s face until he knocked him out. It was the biggest statement made that Lesnar had ever made in his MMA career. Don’t screw with him or you are going to get hurt!

The action continued after the fight. Even the most bitter rivals hug after a fight understanding that hype=money. Brock Lesnar is no hugger. Lesnar immediately got in Mir’s face and said, “talk your sh*t now!” Lesnar had to be pulled away by several security guards. The live crowd went nuts with a chorus boos which was met by Lesnar telling the fans that they were all number one. Lesnar was certainly not going to win the 2009 Most Popular UFC Fighter award.

Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin UFC 116: Lesnar vs. Carwin July 3, 2010. This was promoted as one of the biggest fights in UFC history. Up to this point Lesnar had always greatly outweighed his opponents. In this fight, Lesnar would have no significant weight advantage. In addition, Lesnar just looked unstoppable in his last three fights. Carwin on the other hand was riding a streak of five straight knockouts. If styles make great fights, this one had the potential to be a heavyweight classic.

This was one of the most impressive wins you will ever see in MMA. Shane Carwin destroyed Brock Lesnar for the first round. Carwin caught him with an upper cut and just dominated Lesnar for the entire round. Carwin sat on top of Lesnar and dropped down hammers and elbows. Lesnar was cut bad and looked like he was out of it at one point. The onslaught gassed Carwin out by the start of Round 2. Lesnar finally got a takedown in Round 2 and dominated him on the ground. Lesnar was able to mount him and secure an arm-triangle choke on Carwin for the tap. This was a gutsy performance!

Carwin made himself a star that night. For the first time since Frank Mir vs. Brock Lesnar 1, Lesnar looked human. Even with his matching power and wrestling acumen, Carwin was still no match for Lesnar in the end. Carwin and Lesnar will likely meet again at some point. Shane Carwin is just too good to go on an extended losing streak so whether it is for the UFC title or not, I see a rematch between these two guys at some point down the road.

It was also a big turning point in the polarizing relationship between Brock Lesnar and the MMA community. Lesnar came into the fight and walked away a humble man after a career-threatening battle with diverticulitis. Lesnar’s comeback in Round 2 after being obliterated with strikes from Carwin was something even his biggest critics could appreciate. The crowd opened their arms to the UFC champion and the champ returned the embrace. A love affair was born.

Brock Lesnar vs. Cain Velasquez UFC 121: Lesnar vs. Valasquez October 23, 2010. Who knew that this could very well be the final fight in Brock Lesnar’s career? Lesnar came into the fight a big favorite. The hardcore MMA fans were behind Velasquez, while the casual audience slept on the challenger. Most experts predicted that the only way Cain could win was to tire out Lesnar in a long, grueling, five-round fight while UFC fighters predicted a quick knockout by Velasquez. Sometimes those crazy fighters know what they are talking about.

This fight went exactly as most fighters predicted. Brock came out immediately and charged Velasquez. Lesnar connected on several shots and took down Velasquez. Velasquez stayed calm, returned to his feet, and waited for an opening. Cain Velasquez then started connecting on shots, dropped Lesnar, and won the fight via TKO at 4:12.

I wouldn’t call it a great fight, but I would call it one of the most exciting rounds in UFC history. This fight was very similar to Lesnar vs. Carwin. Lesnar was down absorbing a ton of punches from Velasquez. The only difference here is that you had a smarter fighter in Velasquez who picked his shots and didn’t tire out. Referee Herb Dean seemed hesitant to stop it and probably gave Brock more time than he deserved. All in all, Lesnar was dominated by the more skilled fighter.

Of course the fight is also memorable for a post-fight confrontation between Lesnar and WWE star The Undertaker. Many reports confirm that the WWE was planning to match Lesnar vs. Undertaker at WrestleMania 27. The match was scrapped when Dana White refused to give Lesnar permission to lace up the pro wrestling boots.

Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem UFC 141: Lesnar vs. Overeem December 30, 2011. This was one of those fights that you knew wasn’t going to last long and it didn’t. While you didn’t get your money’s worth inside the octagon, you certainly got your money’s worth in atmosphere and anticipation. This fight had something that the UFC has been missing for quite a while and that is the emotion in and out of the octagon of a big time fight. It wasn’t long but it likely will never be forgotten.

The story going into the fight was simple. If Brock could take Overeem down, he’d likely win. If Overeem could keep this one up top, he would likely win and that is what happened. Lesnar and Overeem started off with a few missed shots. Lesnar went for the single leg takedown which Overeem blocked beautifully. Overeem nailed a few knee strikes on Lesnar early which appeared to hurt the former champion. At that point it looked like Overeem’s game plan was to tie up Lesnar in the corner, pulverize him with knee strikes, and drop the big man. Eventually that is what happened. Overeem followed a few knee strikes with a kick to the liver that rocked Lesnar. Lesnar dropped, Overeem swarmed in with strikes, and the fight was stopped at 2:26 in favor of Overeem.

It is impossible not to relive these memories and appreciate what Lesnar achieved in such a short time in MMA. If it is the end of the road, Lesnar has nothing to be ashamed of. Like him or not, the sport will not be the same without him.

Brock Lesnar’s autobiography – Death Clutch: My Story of Determination, Domination, and Survival

WWE – Brock Lesnar – Here Comes the Pain DVD

UFC 73 Flashback: Tito Ortiz Vs. Rashad Evans 1

August 05, 2011 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

It may have taken four years but MMA fans are finally getting three more rounds of Tito Ortiz vs. Rashad Evans. The former UFC light heavyweight champions face off once again at UFC 133. I thought it would be fun to take a look back at their first fight and how it could play into their rematch.

Evans vs. Ortiz 1 took place at UFC 73: Stacked on July 7, 2007 in Sacramento, California. Ortiz vs. Evans was a co-headliner on an event that included two UFC championship fights. At UFC 133, Ortiz and Evans will be the main-event, as Ortiz steps in on less than a month’s notice after Phil Davis pulled out of the fight. Unlike UFC 73: Stacked, UFC 133 is all about Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans.

A lot has changed in four years for these two fighters. Going into UFC 73, Ortiz was undefeated since returning to the UFC, having lost his last fight two years earlier. Tito Ortiz was hot coming off of The Ultimate Fighter 3 and his two subsequent destructions of Ken Shamrock. There were questions surrounding Ortiz as he turned down a rematch with Forrest Griffin at UFC 72. Four years later, Ortiz is coming off his first win in five years and was one fight away from being cut at UFC 132 before beating Ryan Bader.

Rashad Evans was still wet behind the ears as a UFC fighter going into UFC 73. Evans was undefeated as a UFC fighter, winning The Ultimate Fighter Season 2 as a heavyweight. Evans ran off four wins at light heavyweight and was coming off his flashiest win ever over Sean Salmon via knockout. The hype was there but the questions about Evans’ lack of real competition were also there. Ortiz was certainly a huge step up in competition for Evans.

The UFC 73 odds going into this fight had this at more or less a pick ‘em. One line I saw had Ortiz at -130 and Evans at +100, while another blogger handicapped it more evenly with Ortiz at -120 and Evans at -110. Evans was certainly getting his respect going into the fight.

There was a bit of a grudge here going into the fight. The guys had words going into the fight. Ortiz called Evans a “nappy-headed ho” playing off of the Don Imus controversy. Ortiz said it was a joke. There was a heated blowup on a conference call leading into the fight where Evans said that Ortiz was “half the fighter he used to be” and Ortiz just went off. Well, at least some things haven’t changed four years later.

Finally, it should be pointed out that Ortiz was not at 100% for the fight. As a matter of a fact, Ortiz blew out his back in training two weeks before the fight. The injury greatly impacted Ortiz’s cardiovascular training going into the fight.

Evans is booed pretty heavy during the ring introductions. Remember, this is California and Ortiz is the “Huntingdon Beach Bad Boy.” Ironically Ortiz gets a mixed reaction. In other words, neither one of these guys is that well liked by the fans inside the Arco Arena. Remember, these guys weren’The announcers point out how much bigger Ortiz looks than Evans. I did notice that Evans looks a lot smaller here than he does today, so that makes sense.

Ortiz opens up with a head kick and shoots for the double leg takedown. Ortiz takes Evans down quickly. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think this was going to be a one-sided affair by the looks of the open. The crowd is going nuts! Evans is sitting up and trying a wall walk on the fence which Randy Couture says is great technique. Mike Goldberg says that Tito told him he is finally healthy again. Couture says that Tito over trained which is why he used to get hurt. Chants of “Tito”! Rashad walks his way up the fence and the guys are now standing up.

They break along the cage and this turns into a wild slugfest. Rashad is swinging wildly, Ortiz is looking to counter, and nobody is doing any real damage here. Both guys tie up again. Ortiz has Evans up against the cage and nails a nice elbow inside. Ortiz hits some shoulder punches and an uppercut up against the cage onto Evans. Evans looks confused. John McCarthy breaks it up. Evans lost his mouthpiece.

Both guys are back in the center of the octagon. Evans is moving wildly, Tito is stalking, but no action just yet. Tito misses an inside kick and subsequent left hook. Joe Rogan thinks that the initial takedown is causing Evans to be tentative. Ortiz hits two nice leg kicks. Evans swarms in with fists but Ortiz covers up. Ortiz goes for another takedown, Rashad blocks it, but Ortiz nails a sick knee strike to the mid section, the announcers say it hit the groin. Evans winces.

Ortiz drops down as Evans is up against the cage. Evans does a crotch lift, sits through, and reverses on Ortiz. Evans now has Ortiz’s back. Ortiz quickly escapes but is now back-to-fence. Ortiz has a cut underneath his eye. Tito re-pummels with double under hooks on Rashad and now has Evans up against the cage. Ortiz sets up a knee and then a left hand. Evans pushes the fight back to mid-octagon. Ortiz pushes him back to the cage and continues using under hooks to “stifle Rashad” as Couture says. Ortiz goes for a high single leg takedown but Evans stays on his feet. The round ends. No doubt this was Tito Ortiz’s round.

Rashad opens up with a ton of footwork and waves his hands around. Ortiz stalks him but looks a little slower at the start. Ortiz looks to strike with hands and feet but has nothing. Ortiz looks real tired whereas Evans looks faster than he did at the start of the fight. Evans goes for the takedown but Ortiz sprawls to counter. Evans quickly gets out of there before Ortiz has a chance to open up. Ortiz is continuing to stalk, looking for a slugfest, but Evans keeps moving. Rogan says that Rashad can’t find his rhythm. The announcers continue to talk about the psychological effect that the quick first round takedown is having on Evans.

Evans uses under hooks to push Ortiz up against the cage. Ortiz grabs a Muay Thai Plum and starts opening up with knee strikes. Both guys exchange elbows. Evans is looking for a takedown while Ortiz continues to clinch and strike. Referee John McCarthy warns Tito about grabbing the fence. The guys get off the fence and break into a quick slugfest once again. Evans continues to jump in, Ortiz clinches, Evans looks for a takedown, Ortiz sprawls. This happens a few times.

Tito goes in deep on a double leg takedown and has Evans up against the fence. Tito finally picks him up and takes him down. The announcers point out that Rashad was walking around at 205 last week while Ortiz was at 222 pounds. Yikes! Evans is hitting Ortiz on the sides as Ortiz continues holding on. Evans reverses and McCarthy once again warns Ortiz about holding on to the fence and yes, he is holding on to the fence, no doubt about it. Evans picks up Ortiz, McCarthy screams, “Let go of it,” and then deducts a point from Tito for holding the fence. You can’t say he wasn’t warned and you definitely can’t say he wasn’t holding on to it.

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Evans and Ortiz go to the ground and Ortiz grabs an arm-in guillotine, similar to the one he used to beat Bader. Unfortunately for him, it comes with only ten seconds left in the round. Additionally, his positioning is off so it probably wouldn’t have finished Evans anyway. Ortiz rolls on top of Evans, choking from a mount as the round ends. Wow! To me, that was clearly Ortiz’s round but as we know now, that point deduction was a killer. Joe Rogan thinks that was very close to being finished. Couture points out that he has it a 9-9 round with the missing point.

It is do or die time for Rashad Evans. Funny thing is after I just wrote that, Rogan said the same thing. I’d hate to think that we think alike. Anyway, Rashad has been fairly dominated for most of the fight and really needs to come out looking for the finish. Ortiz is cut while Evans does have some swelling over his left eye. Ortiz steps right into a left hook by Evans. Couture says that even with the lost point, Ortiz is winning the fight. Couture says that Evans needs to stop dancing and do something. And THAT is Rashad Evans legacy summed up right there by Randy Couture.

The guys are down on the ground again with Evans’ back against the fence. Couture thinks that Evans is over trained. The announcers are talking as if this is a clear Ortiz win at this point. Ortiz looks real tired, which is understandable after you learn about the back injury. Ortiz mounts him for about a second as Evans stands up out of it. Ortiz has Evans’ head and is opening up with some knees. The guys continue wrestling along the fence and the announcers continue pointing out that Rashad needs to make something happen. McCarthy breaks them up on the fence which I think is ridiculous because Ortiz was nailing him with shoulder shrugs and working.

Ortiz and Evans are now brought to the center of the octagon to restart. Evans continues to dance and tries to open up but Ortiz blocks. Ortiz looks extremely sluggish on his feet. With 1:15 to go, Randy Couture says that this could be a draw unless Evans opens up. This is ridiculous! Ortiz is real slow here but Evans just continues dancing around and moving away. He is fighting scared. This is what absolutely annoys me about Evans to no end. Even when he is losing, he’ll still dance around and refuses to engage.

Finally! We are under a minute and the guys are opening up on their feet. This is a terrible move by Ortiz. He is winning the fight and is continuing to stand. Well then again he was doing the right thing by working the fence and yet McCarthy broke them up anyway. Evans nails some good shots here and Ortiz is wobbly. Ortiz has had enough and finally shoots the takedown. Evans sprawls. Ortiz continues to tie up Evans here along the fence. Evans finally gets the takedown with 10 seconds to go. He opens up a few elbows but not the flurry you’d expect from someone losing the fight.

Okay a few things here about this fight. That point of course killed it but he really was holding the fence. If there was any call I had a problem with it was McCarthy breaking them up in the third round when Tito was doing damage. This fight was a lot like the Lyoto Machida vs. Tito Ortiz fight except Ortiz couldn’t catch Machida. Evans looked like he had a game plan and stuck to it, even when losing which aggravated me to no end. Ortiz was also much more aggressive throughout the fight while Evans was just looking to move a lot and stick as little as possible. It wasn’t a great fight, but it wasn’t as bad as some people remember it to be either.

How does this fight relate to Saturday? It is a little unfair to say since Ortiz is a lot older and Evans is a lot more experienced. If I were Ortiz, I’d be very confident that I can go out there and take Evans down and that is exactly what he is probably going to attempt to do. Of course Evans knows this and has probably worked hard to correct those flaws from their previous fight.

I think a huge difference here could be the size. Evans looks a lot heavier now than he did back at UFC 73. Ortiz probably had about a 15-20 pound advantage in this fight. I think that will be much more leveled at UFC 133 which would make those takedowns a lot harder to come by for Ortiz. On the other hand, Evans may be over trained for this one and that could give Ortiz a slight advantage deeper in the fight. Remember, Ortiz was injured going into this fight. Maybe with less time to prepare, Ortiz doesn’t fall into the trap of over training and really does come in at 100%?

Either way this rematch is long overdue. Quite frankly it is ridiculous to think that we had to wait four years for it, but it is here. I’d love to see Ortiz get the win because he certainly should have gotten it at UFC 73, but if I had to go out on a limb I’d go with Evans via decision.

Punishment Tito Ortiz UFC 133 Walkout T-Shirt [Black]

Punishment Tito Ortiz UFC 132 Walkout T-Shirt [Black]

TapouT Rashad Evans Warrior UFC 133 Walkout T-Shirt

Tito Ortiz’s autobiography This Is Gonna Hurt: The Life of a Mixed Martial Arts Champion.

UFC 133 Official Program

UFC: Ultimate Royce Gracie DVD

Shop Now at the Official UFC Store

James Toney Fighting Former UFC & WWE Champion In MMA Return

June 24, 2011 By: Category: Boxing, Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, WWE | Pro Wrestling

I guess James Toney enjoyed being humiliated in front of an MMA audience by 47-year old fighters. Toney has signed to fight former UFC Superfight champion Ken Shamrock in what has to be the biggest farce since…Toney’s last fight.

BJPenn.com reported on Thursday that the two former champions have signed to face off in an MMA bout on September 23. No place or promotion has been attached to the fight according to reports. To make this one an even bigger freak show, Toney’s reps told MMAFighting.com that a reality TV show is also on the table as part of the fight package.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news for the good MMA fans of Texas, but according to reports Texas is closest to getting the fight. This news comes less than a week after the MMA community in Dallas had to sit through one of the worst big time MMA main-events in history last Saturday when Fabricio Werdum tried to turn his fight with Alistair Overeem into an Abu-Dhabi exhibition.

On the one hand I am very surprised that Toney would have any desire fight again in MMA. He was completely embarrassed against Randy Couture at UFC 118. He was taken down with a novice move by the former UFC champion within the first 20 seconds of the fight. Couture proceeded to smother him with ground and pound and while it looked like he could have ended the fight immediately, Captain America appeared to have a little fun and continue the fight at Toney’s expense. Once Couture finished giving Toney his lesson, he locked on an arm triangle and forced the rotund pro boxer to tap out.

On the other hand I remember Toney talking after the fight about wanting to compete in the UFC again. UFC president Dana White immediately dismissed that idea and had no interest in moving forward with Toney in the UFC. For whatever reason, Toney seems to have some weird fascination with MMA. Although he reportedly was paid $500,000 (plus a hefty bonus) for his fight with Couture, Toney doesn’t have a prayer of seeing those kinds of numbers ever again in MMA.

Toney talked a ton of trash going into the fight and to his credit, turned what most coined as a joke fight into a must-see event with his pro wrestling style promos. However, the height of Toney’s arrogance before the fight came at  Toney’s open UFC 118 workouts. The former boxing champion showed off his best boxing techniques but never once showed any MMA techniques. He obviously didn’t take the fight very seriously at all and came into the octagon in pretty rough shape. Ironically, Toney’s reps claim that he hasn’t done much MMA training since.

Then there is Ken Shamrock. The former pro wrestler, turned shoot fighter, turned MMA fighter, turned back to pro wrestler, turned back to MMA fighter, and now turned joke. Sadly, Shamrock has held on to what was once a respectable MMA career and continues fighting ten years past his prime. Shamrock’s record since 2001 is 4-9, his last eight losses coming from TKO or straight knockouts. And it isn’t as if Shamrock has been losing to elite competition. One of Shamrock’s losses recently made my top twenty biggest MMA upsets list. At this point any wins for Shamrock would be considered an upset.

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Jeremy Botter of Heavy.com summarized Ken Shamrock’s current MMA career the way most see it. “Ken Shamrock used to be the baddest man on the planet. In the early days of mixed martial arts, it was tough to find anybody who inspired more fear than Shamrock. His muscled and ripped frame…his intensity was unequaled in the sport at the time, and his bag of submissions made him a very real threat to any opponent he faced during those early years. But those early years were a long time ago, and Shamrock is no longer even a shell of the man he once was.

The UFC Hall of Fame fighter has probably done more to damage his name and credibility outside of the action in recent years. Shamrock sued the UFC for releasing him from his contract. Not only did he lose, but he had to pay back $175,000 in legal fees to Zuffa, LLC. Yet the biggest black mark against Shamrock came when he admitted to using steroids. What made it worse was when he blamed it on the fans. “When they find out about it, they want to stick their heads in the sand,” Shamrock said. “No one wants to take responsibility, but everyone wants to see.

I can’t imagine any MMA fan casual or hardcore even the least bit interested in paying to watch this fight. Maybe if Toney had never fought before, he and Shamrock could cut strong enough promos to make it work. However, MMA fans aren’t stupid and quite honestly, it is an insult to the sport to take a dime from any fan that pays to watch this live or on pay per view.

Although if I get to see weekly James Toney promos and shenanigans on a reality show leading into the fight, I would tune in every week.


UFC: Ultimate 100 Greatest Fights

UFC: Best of 2010 DVD

Brock Lesnar’s autobiography – Death Clutch: My Story of Determination, Domination, and Survival

UFC: Ultimate Royce Gracie DVD

UFC 131 Official Program

Bad Boy Junior Dos Santos Walkout T-shirt – Black Sand

Shop Now at the Official UFC Store