Thursday, June 29, 2017

Guys! WSOF is now PFL and debuts tomorrow night

Talk about minimal advertising and media coverage....the third player in the major American MMA organizations is no more, or had been rebranded as the Peofesssional Fight League with a reported $1 million dollar payout for a guy who wins a series of elimination fights? 
I asked a guy who is one of their bigger names and he has no idea what's really going on.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Scott Coker: Is the Reebok Sponsorship Deal Even Legal?

It's actually an interesting point. It was refreshing in a nostalgic sort of way to see sponsors on fighters at Bellator this past weekend rather than the drab blandness of the nondescript UFC choices. Ultimately, I'm sure the UFC can draft the terms of the contract as they see fit but I simply refuse to believe the sponsorship deal has been a boon to any of the fighters and especially the majority. You're the premier organization in the world and guys are making 5k to fight and 5k to win? Please. 

UFC Fight Night 112 Tuesday Morning Hangover

Maybe it's because Bellator's Saturday was awesome and entertaining and had all the high notes of MMA programming....maybe it's because the UFC has such a dearth of programming....or maybe it's both, or maybe it's none and the brass tacks is the UFC's entertainment value for me has waned as of late with the absence of guys like McGregor and the fights the likes of Wonderboy vs Thompson Snoozefest 2, but UFC Fight Night 112 happened. I had to sit through a Herrig fight where her opponent flailed around like a white belt in Jiu-Jitsu and also I didn't realize until the day after her opponent is a legitimate women's Muay Thai world champion (whatever that means, b/c it was hardly smoking aces up her sleeve in the standup department either.

The card just felt ho-hum in every sense of the word. Hendricks missed weight and got TKO'd by the dangerous gatekeeper Tim Boetsch who may not ever get to fight for a belt but is dangerous AF. Some middlweights plodded around in a sloppy kickboxing match. All in all, the card was just forgettable minus the pooping in the women's fight and overall lack of Jiu-Jitsu (if I see one more headlock takedown attempt or failure of an opponent to take the back when her opponent goes for it in women's MMA I may hang myself), or another Clay Guida caveman persona borefest (I sure wish he would use all that energy to like, finish a fight, y'know). The Chiesa vs Lee fight was great while it lasted and his efforts to submit Lee got his guard passed and I blame ring rust, he paused while Lee took his back and didn't address the coming danger as immediately as he should have, with the body triangle locked, Lee did a better job finishing from there than I, or I suspect Chiesa and his camp, would have expected. I don't really care much for Lee overall, and am admittedly a fan of Chiesa's grappling-heavy submission style, but he came back from over a year out and took on a rising contender-prospect-none of those feel right, but I have no reason to think he was gonna escape that RNC the way I saw female fighters fail to capitalize in their fights earlier on the card.

I don't even want to type words about BJ Penn's retirement tour. On that note, if Siver can't finish a man standing in front of him like a zombie who can barely shuffle left or right, he should also pack it in. It was atrocious to watch and just all around blah. 

Bellator NYC PPV Weekend Results; Bellator Becomes More Than Freakshow

"Fallout" actually doesn't feel right as I reflect on this past weekend for Bellator.

Everyone is marginally familiar with the UFC's sordid beginnings and recent sale to become truly a global company.....but Bellator, ladies and gentelemen....deserves a hand. This weekend, Bellator wasn't just a freakshow. It wasn't just that non-UFC semi-professional MMA event on cable TV. Bellator put on an event at MSG, offered up a PPV, and staged a cable TV broadcast.

I attended the free admission weigh-ins on Friday with some guys with whom I train Jiu-Jitsu. I saw Fedor, Wanderlei, Chael, Larkin, Lima, Chandler, et cetera all in the flesh and do the ceremonial weigh-ins bit. I saw some A and B list MMA celebrities and even ran into Eddie Bravo.

Bader won a belt that I feel was quite the gift of a decision. His face pretty much said it all. A freak accident derailed Chandler's title run/defense, Fedor looked as beatable as he could look in such a short fight. That being said, I think he folds up not super heavy HW's as Mitrione cuts to make 265 I believe. Wanderlei and Chael continued their slide into obscurity and lack of relevance....Larkin and Lima did work and some prospects were showcased and one faltered. Meanwhile in the UFC's offering a Muay Thai champion pooped herself against a fighter with a 12-6 record who complains the UFC doesn't promote her enough. Felice Herrig should win some more fights and beat fighters like Paige Van Zant (whom she lost to) rather than complain about their exposure. Say what you will, but I'll bank on it time and time again, I ENJOY Bellator cards more than UFC ones nearly every time. Which card did I viscerally enjoy more: the UFC's weight-missing former champ Hendricks & Chiesa coming back from a layoff for a year  OR Gallagher's stomping of brother Machida, and Bader vs Phil Davis? Easy pick man, easy pick. Bellator won this weekend, and not even by including its PPV.

I've been saying this for awhile...the Bellator cards, for me, have better entertainment value per hour than the UFC has for awhile. The UFC has the moniker and true claim to being the premier organization but for my per hour smiles and enjoyment and thrills....Bellator almost always delivers whereas I can name quite a few UFC's that failed to deliver in terms of wanting some hours of my life back.

I'll never stop rabidly following the UFC, but Bellator proved it is truly a main player, if not an almost competitor with the UFC in a number of ways this weekend.

Bellator's weekend as far as Cable TV can be summed up as: ....a next-gen grappling-centric McGregor picked up a visible win, a boxing import beat a beatable can of an opponent, a prospect beyond hyped learned that weight classes and crafty veterans are both ready to derail the occasional hype train, ......a closely contested LHW belt changed hands....and that was all over by 10pm when the Cable TV broadcast ended. I laid in bed and was thrilled with the card for the Cable TV broadcast....and then came the PPV.

Hardy could barely put a way a fighter with a sub .500 record who didn't levels once. Her opponent had the absolute lack of takedown tools was entirely hittable, and still managed to almost last 3 rounds. Not much of a debut but hey, what do I know? She managed to not get guillotined *ahem* Aaron Pico.
Michael Chandler? The curse of being excited to fight at MSG reared it's head. Caused me to wince every time he tried to plant or turn or pivot on that broken ankle. Thank god they stopped the fight. He still clocked Primus even on a completely busted leg. Rematch dead ahead folks. Wanderlei looked like he hadn't done Jiu-Jitsu in his lifetime. One of my coaches, Neiman thankfully showed Jiu-Jitsu in his fight as it was a kickboxing-centric affair most of the night. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Bellator NYC & UFC Fight Night 112 Picks

It's a packed MMA/combat sports weekend folks.

I'm a bit meh that Chael vs Wanderlei is headlining over Fedor's fight, but it is what it is.
Bellator is bringing a TV event that has 3 fights I'm as excited for as plenty of the UFC's cable TV offerings as of late. Davis vs Bader was a UFC PPV fight previously. Neiman Gracie, Gallagher, Chinzo, are all UFC caliber fighters if not better than what I've been sitting through in the life of prelims as of late. Say what you will about the PPV, but it's also PPV worthy in my mind, but more on that after the card takes place.

Bellator 180/NYC PPV
Fedor vs Mitrione - The GOAT by 2nd round Submission
Silva vs Sonnen - Sonnen via Unan. Decision
Lima vs Larkin - Larkin via 2nd round TKO
Chandler vs Primus - Chandler via 3rd round TKO
Pico vs Freeman - Pico via 2nd round submission

Davis vs Bader - Bader via Unan. Decision
Gallagher vs Chinzo Machida - Gallagher by Unan. Decision
Neiman Gracie vs Marfone - Neiman via 3rd round Submission

UFC Fight Night 112 -
Chiesa vs Lee - Chiesa via 3rd round RNC
Boetsch vs Hendricks - Boetsch by 2nd round KO
Tim Means vs Alex Garcia Tim Means via Unan. Decision
Clay Guida vs Erik Koch - Erik Koch via Unan. Decision

5Grappling Lightweight Card Revealed

Can't wait. Old school Braga, perennial contender Grippo, Saggioro, Sinistro....

Sunday, June 18, 2017

4 Big Pro Level Grappling Announcements

ACBJJ Open World Championships: off the heels of its Grand Prix events and other invitationals (which in in the past featured the likes of the Mendes Brothers), the organization is occurring Cash prizes at all belts for is July World Championships. 

Polaris available on UFC Fight Pass: 

Firas Zahabi will be putting together a Sub Only Cash tournament with Bitcoin payout and spectators can contribute to the winnings. 

Eddie Cummings to face Paulo Miyao at Grappling Industries: ADCC Rules.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

UFC 213 Extended Video Preview: Nunes vs Shevchenko & Whitaker vs Romero

Well, well, well.....the sand of time and the webs we weave....Whitaker faces Romero for the Interim belt because Bisping has skillfully avoided defending his belt against all comes other than an aging non-TRT Dan Henderson.

I think Whitaker is actually the guy best-suited to face Romero. He has the power to hurt Romero, maintains a workrate that will win rounds especially as Romero's fight against Weidman saw him clearly conserving energy to do just enough to win rounds, plain as day. Jacare didn't have the wrestling to get Romero down and didn't have the confidence on the fight as he appeared tentative much of the bout. Bisping wants no part of Romero's physicality and power, and Weidman also didn't have the power to wobble Romero or the wrestling to get him down. Whitaker has the mystery quotient element....the power to tag Romero and hurt him, which I think will allow him to steal valuable early rounds and then go for the kill later in a 5 round fight. I've said this many times: Romero could never fight 5 rounds. The guy can barely fight 2 full rounds anymore. I suspect USADA is to blame, but y'know, it is what it is these days.

I like Shevchenko, and I think a 5 round fight here suits her as well. Her confidence has grown, and she has the striking chops to give Nunes problems. Nunes has the range, but Shevchenko's timing and slipping as evidence by the Holly Holm fight is the real f'ing deal. I'm actually super excited for this card at the beginning of July.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

UFC Lightweight Division Analysis: Division with a Placeholder Champ

Well, we would have had an Interim champ if Khabib hadn't totally blown it and cut so much weight he was hospitalized. I'm mystified how guys act like they're shocked that their body shuts down when they cut 25 lbs of body weight/water in a month or two. Walk around less heavy between fights. There's not like a mystery how you blow up between fights.

That being said, the #3 guy is Alvarez who got dismantled by Conor and now will likely rematch Poirier to run it back after the unified rules/non-unified/grounded opponent/knee to the head uncertainty that ended their fight. #4 Barboza managed to get a win in a fight I had him losing against Dariush with a well-timed jumping knee. That leaves Barboza without a dance partner as Alvarez is likely booked against Poirier. #7 Chiesa faces surging #12 Kevin Lee, #8 Nate Diaz is being Nate Diaz and I guess waiting for Conor McGregor. #5 Dos Anjos is booked for next week against Saffiedine, and #6 Michael Johnson is booked to face another WSOF champ/import Justin Gaethje in July. Waiting sucks, but most of the top 10 for this division is booked. Barboza is saying he wants Ferguson or Khabib next. Dariush is coming off a loss and #11 aquinta is embroiled with a public feud with his bosses. It reminds me of the Tito Ortiz/Dana White days and perhaps it's mostly trumped up on both sides as a cliched narrative to sell tickets. At this point, nothing surprises me in the fight game. With McGregor gone for at least through the fall I would imagine, they do need to pony up for an Interim belt so the division can move forward. This is the 3rd division I've examined in a few days that is currently on hold because of the champ's  either being injured, off doing other stuff or coming up with reasons to not fight the next guy (*ahem* Michael Bisping, and Demetrious Johnson).

I think an Interim belt up for grabs between Tony Ferguson and Barboza makes the most sense as you can't let Khabib fight for it after his total FAIL missing weight for a HUGE title fight. The UFC usually punishes guys a bit for this squandered opportunity, pre-fight promotional work, and wasted opportunity cost, and rumor has it had he won Interim belt they were gonna do a Russia card with him facing McGregor to unify. It would have been gangbusters. Le sigh, so much for what might've been. As it is, Khabib has been laying very low on the radar and it remains to be seen what word from his camp says.

Champion : Conor McGregor

Monday, June 12, 2017

UFC Fight Night 111: Holm vs Correia.....The Inglorious Card

The main event of this card is two fighters with a combined 1-5-1 in their past 7 fights.
I want you to wrap your brain around that.
Holm has lost 3 in a row. Correia has tied, actually won a single fight, and lost 2.

Arlovski is coming off of 4 losses in a row. ALL BY STOPPAGE.
Tybura is 2-1 in his past 3 fights.

Dos Anjos is 1-2 in his past 3, and Tarec is also 1-2 in his past 3 fights.

Dong Hyun Kim is thankfully 3-0 in his past 3 and Covington is also 3-0 in his past 3, but without their fight on the main card the total record of the main card in the fighters' previous 3-4 fights is a laughable 5-14-1.
The combined record of the recent fights of all but one of the main card bouts is 5-14-1. 

I literally think they put the Kim and Covington fight on the main card for this reason alone.
Hell, Gomi is on the undercard, I didn't know he was even still fighting in the UFC.

What does that even mean? I'm all for growing the women's divisions but putting this fight as a main event can only do poor numbers. Arlovski in his own skid faces up and coming Marcin Tybura in a truly gatekeeper's fight on a UFC Fight Pass card for the former world champion. Dong Hyung Kim, the perennial hot and cold ala Erick Silva type fighter faces Colby Covington and Rafael Dos Anjos faces Tarec Saffiedine.

I truly don't get this card. If it's for Fight Pass content, the name recognition of the fighters is pitiful considering their recent Octagon performances and if it's to build the UFC brand in the Asia's the same. Following the type of cards One FC is putting on, this just won't work.

Every time I consider signing up for Fight Pass, a card like this comes along and I'm like....."Nah, hard pass, guys. Thanks, I guess, for making passing on Fight Pass and its subscription easy. I get the appeal of the fight library but I have been a hardcore fan for years, and have seen most if not all of the bouts when they happened. I'm not a fan who rewatches fights unless I'm doing homework on gambling picks or research for a blog post.
Having the EBI events on there has almost gotten me to sign up multiple times, UFC cards like this, when there's Bellator on free TV a lot of the time, and cards on FOX et cetera, it just makes it a hard pill to swallow. If I wasn't into watching grappling and the broadening swathe of Invitationals now being put on, I would probably have fight pass as a hardcore MMA fan, but this kind of content just isn't enough to "move the needle" as they are so fond of saying. 

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Bellator NYC's OverKill June 24th: Bellator PPV Countdown Special

I feel like 3/4 of the guys worth watching on Bellator are all fighting June 24th. Between the cable TV card and the PPV it's everyone from Fedor, Mittrione, Wanderlei Silva, Sonnen, Larkin, Lima, Chandler, Phil Davis, Bader, Machida's brother. Neiman Gracie, Aaron Pico's debut, & Ryan Couture. I exaggerate a bit on this being all the guys they have worth watching, but frankly, the regular cable card followed by a PPV feels a bit like Overkill. If that's not overkill, you gotta watch the countdown show. Full of choice hyperbolic descriptions of Wanderlei as a "killer in the ring" and plenty of Chael Sonnen promos, it falls short of hyping Fedor nearly as well as it could. The import of Fedor to Bellator after his run in Strikeforce is nothing short of miraculous....but I have digressed.

The show glosses over Chael's outside of the ring foibles, and completely ignores Wanderlei's 3 year suspension (was originally a lifetime ban in Nevada) for literally running out the back door to avoid a USADA drug test as well as his lengthy dispute with the UFC that coincided at that time.

The fact that Bellator had enough guys on its roster to do any shows for the rest of the year with what's left is impressive in terms of considering just exactly how far Bellator's roster has come. 

For the summer run after this extravaganza Bellator still has on deck: 
Lovato has his 2nd Bellator fight, there's a promised Dillon Danis debut, Kendall grove returns, Patricky Freire Joe Warren, Koreshkov, Brennan Ward and AJ McKee on a card in late August to round out bellators robust summer scheduling. 

Reebok Athlete pay a joke but no one's laughing.

Mark Hunt in the main event made $10k for his Reebok sponsorship. 
Anyone want to ballpark what he could make without the much touted Reebok deal? Ross Pearson who wasn't even main event made twice what he made. 

It's hard to find a way to invent even the flimsiest rationale that the pay scale is anything worthwhile compared to what fighters used to make. When a legend in the sport is co-main event on Cable TV, and he's making chump change, it's another straw on the pile of ways MMA fighters aren't treated as professionals in the world's premier MMA organization. I guarantee you guys in Bellator can make what UFC guys gets from Reebook with a bit of shopping around. 
Honestly, the only Reebok UFC apparel I see on guys who train are actual current active roster UFC fighters who've dropped in or regularly train at my gym. 

I think I've seen a handful of Reebok UFC apparel items in regular life, and I see a lot of people on a daily basis as I live in NYC. 

UFC Middlweight Log Jam of Consternation: Analysis and Head Shaking

Expectation: on the surface, it's an interesting time to be a middlweight division fan: We have names like former champ Weidman, Anderson Silva's stranglehold is no more, Robert Whitaker has become a legitimate contender, Rockhold is in the mix, Jacare is a part of the coterie, and and Yoel Romero despite controversy is also a part of all this. 

Reality: it's a frustrating time to be a middlweight UFC division fan. Bisping has only defended his belt against a non-TRT induced Henderson who basically fought 3 rounds of their fight (and still have two moments where he almost finished "The Count"). Bisping has about as artfully dodged and weaved facing Yoel Romero as one could possibly imagine. He got a grace when Romero got popped for a banned substance but had his suspension reduced, Romero took a fight with Weidman as Bisping was beginning talks to face GSP. That has since fizzled or been delayed and Bisping is now slated to have a surgery or isn't, I've lost track of how much he needs to get done then changes his mind about since winning the belt. 

On one hand, I get it: Bisping has faced a bunch of guys who got popped or were on TRT. He also fought basically every middlweight worth naming and not for his first run through to the belt before taking a Rockhold rematch when Weidman had neck surgery. 
On the other hand.....we've been waiting a good bit for him to fight since the Henderson fight. I don't decry him for the Hendo fight. Guys get hurt, sometimes a guy gets a shot that might not have a few months before or after, Hendo had a few wins in a row and had a devastating HL reel KO of Bisping. 

But time to talk brass tacks......Romero fights Whitaker for the Interim belt and Bisping I guess is having surgery. Whether or not he faces GSP before or after facing the Interim champ remains to be seen. My suspicion is after. I'm actually a bit glad for these Interim belts because the UFC has forever and a day refused to just come out and ironclad say this is a number one contender fight or so and so is next in line, it's always been a murky gray annoying AF "we'll see who wins and how they win and if the wind blows lukewarm and the groundhog sees its shadow...." and I would need an abacus or a calculator to tally the number of guys promised title shots only to see that was just a bridge in Brooklyn for sale on the cheap. 

Jacare is having surgery on his pectoral muscle and Mousasi is stomping his feet for a title shot. Dude has a bunch of wins and stoppages to boot. Rockhold after lengthy contract negotiations is back and a fight between him and Mousasi makes sense as they're both unbooked and both the clear cut guys coming late into the game for the line-up to face Bisping in whoever knows how long. 

Brunson stopped Dan Kelly last night which people won't give him credit for but he chopped down a guy with 4 wins in a row and in most of the UFC divisions, 4 wins (especially the heavier weight classes) is a big deal (if you're Max Holloway you gotta have 10 AND chase around and campaign for a title shot). I'd like to see Mousasi face Jacare (improbably Mousasi has a triangle win over Jacare back in the Japanese MMA days - fun fact!) but Jacare is coming off a loss and Mousasi would be dumb to take that fight just to stay active. What I bet happens is Mousasi faces the winner of Romero vs Whitaker (Whitaker, who I actually think probably beats this new version of Romero who fights at an atrociously low work rate each round, completely fearful of running out of energy due to what I suspect is no longer being allowed to use the IV to rehydrate and the USADA stringent testing). 

My crystal ball for the future is: 
Weidman beats Gastelum then faces Brunson whom he also beats. 
Bisping fights GSP later this fall and loses. 
Whitaker beats Romero for Interim belt. 
Mousasi beats Whitaker for Interim belt. 
GSP doesn't commit to defending the belt against the Interim champ. 
Jacare faces David Branch in the fall for his return fight after surgery. 
Mousasi becomes undisputed champ due to GSP vacating the belt and faces Rockhold. 
Mousasi beats Rockhold and defends his now no longer Interim and instead a now undisputed belt, becoming de facto Middleweight rather than a 'converted' Interim champion. 

That is a ton of variables to try to cajole into a vision of the future because Middlweight has shown us a lot of unexpected looks as of late. GSP came out of left field. Jacare got hurt after losing to Whitaker, a guy he stylistically should have had no problem defeating. Rockhold has been MIA. THe good news is we have some solid guys down the tier in David Branch, Urijah Hall, Leites and Jotko that are all scrapping, tough, professional full-sized middleweights so that when the log jam clears, there's no shortage of guys coming up for mid-tier fights. Johnny Hendricks is another guy scrapping together wins over guys and maybe not looking devastating doing it, but somehow, putting together tough wins makes it easier to get that next fight. Fights grow scarce when you're crushing guys moving up the ladder but notice how excited everyone was when Bisping won the belt? He's looked beatable in every fight as of late, and that has guys chomping at the bit to face him. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

UFC Bantamweight Division Analysis & Frustration

There's a trend you'll notice in the UFC as of late: log jams at the top.

Between what McGregor did to featherweight and now lightweight, and what Bisping has done to middleweight it's gotten to the point where blame has to be placed. I am
by no means a fan of interim belts but the fact that Bisping is still ducking Romero desire the fact I can't stand Romero is a joke. Bisping was ducking Jacare as well and hoping Jacare would take out Romero, then Whitaker might be up to it, and now miraculously needs surgery again in hopes Whitaker takes out Romero for an interim belt. Only time Bisping has been cued up to fight was against Hendo or when it sounded like GSP was coming back. It's pretty miraculous how well Bisping has danced and weaved since defeating Rockhold in Cinderella man fashion on less than two weeks notice to avenge a previous loss by one arm guillotine.
At any rate, back to the topic at hand: Cruz deserves a rematch because despite the dramatic moments of the fight, it was still a very close fight on the scorecards. It's always interesting to "discuss" the fights the day after with people who were drinking while watching the fights versus those who watched the fight sober and remember it a bit more clearly and emphasize scoring the fight round by round (*ahem* how it is actually tallied).

Garbrandt won rounds with knockdowns but it ended up still very closely contested. Dominic deserves an immediate rematch as much as any champ could after losing his belt.

Dillashaw has good wins stacked up and has a great narrative to push his fight against Garbrandt. That being said, the rest of the division is what happens when there's a big chunk of time that the belt was in flux (ala when Cruz came back then got hurt and was gone for something like two plus years. Eventually, he had to be stripped and in the meantime Dillashaw faced Barao in a fight NO ONE thought he would win and further down the tier guys kept fighting one another to stay active and what happens is down the list of guys say ranks 5-15 or so it's a criss cross of guys who have beaten one another or so and so had 3 wins but a loss to a guy further up the totem pole et cetera.
Dodson took out Lineker in what I guess was billed as a contender match but why bother? There's two guys legitimately in front of him in Cruz and Dillashaw and now Garbrandt is injured. Much of the rest of the division is unbooked. Almeida is getting back on track  thanks to a KO loss to now champ Garbrandt. Almeida faces Rivera soon, while Raphael Assuncao just picked up a win over
WSOF import Moraes but didn't really advance
himself much toward a shot in the lackluster glorified sparring that fight was for those of us watching at home. Aljamain Sterling beat Augusto mendes who's got a few wins under his belt (but a loss to now champ Garbandt), and Bryan caraway is coming off a loss to Assuncao. That literally takes us thru the 11 top guys at bantamweight. Moraes is ranked above a bunch of these guys but hasn't proved much in the UFC other than that he didn't get blown out by longtime division solid Assuncao. It gets worse afterward with names like Wineland who has a loss to Dodson who sits further up the ladder, but some solid guys like Rani Yahya and Munhoz and Joe Soto with 2-3 wins apiece to their credit but no big breakthrough performance. I didn't realize even with the rankings in hand, what a mess the division looks like on paper when you look at it listed totem pole style 1-14 or so. There's the champ who could easily face either #2 or #3 and no one would complain, Assuncao who is just about there, but who does he fight? A guy who loses to Garbrandt when he defends his belt? Until then, does Assuncao take a fight with Dodson to prove he's the next best guy not named Cruz or Dillashaw?

Other than Cruz or Dillashaw, after that, I honestly don't know who I think warrants a shot. Pairing Almeida with Munhoz doesn't make MMA math b/c if Almeida beats him, Almeida has a recent violent KO stoppage loss to the champ? So then does he fight whoever's not lined up next for Garbrandt in Dillashaw or Cruz?

Rafael Lovato Jr 2nd Bellator Fight Booked

Another BJJ champ making moves in MMA. Lovato has been plying his wares in smaller stages and now begins a slow climb in Bellator. I'm all for guys growing into the game and making strides over time (I'm looking at you Augusto Mendes). Look at how long Demian Maia has been at it, to give you an idea. His protege Rader has also been doing the same and will be interesting to see if/when he transitions to the UFC Bc as it is, I'm wanting some new blood for the flyweights and bantamweight divisions. DJ has beaten (sometimes more than once) and finished most of the available roster and the bantamweights are tied up with Garbrandt injured and Dillashaw and Cruz both offering compelling storylines as contenders. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Who I'm Studying/Feed Your JiuJitsu Mind

I train a lot more NoGi these days, in fact I train NoGi roughly 7-9 sessions per week now and roll in the Gi probably 2-3 or 4 times per week. I've definitely seen my Gi grip-based open guard game suffer as a result but my back control and attacking to finish from the back has increased, c'est la vie, right? There's only so many hours to train and as you have better clarity and precision in your game, you also notice when areas of your game slack off a bit or suffer due diligence and time spent elsewhere. The rabbit hole runs so very, very deep, right?

That being said, with the Worlds having just occurred, I've been watching Musumeci to catch up on the development of his Gi game as he's the most back taking-est competitor in the game today.  Also, myself being/as a practitioner who's spent a lot of time working on making my guard as impassable as possible, I still find myself waging the war of sweeping and submitting off my back but not threatening enough back takes to round out my bottom game. A guy like him who used his impassable guard to get to the back is of particular interest rather than the more traditionally structured game of sweep, pass, improve position.

I'm also studying (as posted before) Gabriel Arges and his bottom game entries to the kneebar for the Gi specifically. I like inverting to attack the kneebar, and it's a current part of my repertoire I'm taking aim at in competition class with the upper belts. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

UFC Fight Night 110: Lewis vs Hunt - This is Where We Are

These are the fights which I care enough about to discuss and predict:

So, Hunt returns to action against Lewis (who should've lost to Travis Browne after getting dismantled for 2 rounds. It was a pitiful fight to watch and I actually went to sleep assuming it was over before the 3rd round began). Well, fighting is fighting, and Lewis pulled out the win. Anyhow, unless Hunt has truly faded beyond measure, this will be a walk-off KO win for him. Lewis will backpedal once he tastes the pain and Hunt won't make the mistake Travis Browne did.

Derek Brunson vs Dan Kelly - Dan Kelly is that guy who improbably wins after each increasingly improbable win/pulls the rabbit out of the hat. By a slim margin he beat a very poor looking Rashad Evans and has amassed himself a little win streak. Derek Brunson has seen better days and is coming off a loss to Robert Whitaker (now a title shot contender - haha, I laughed once I typed that as I have literally lost count of all the guys promised a title shot by the UFC over the years), and Anderson Silva. I honestly can't pick this one. Daniel Kelly hasn't faced the resume that Derek Brunson has but Brunson's camp in North Carolina doesn't seem to be a hotbed of training partners to compete at the highest levels of the MMA world in its premier organization. 

I'm gonna go with Dan Kelly in this one as he somehow pulled it out against Rashad Evans and has the momentum. 

Ross Pearson vs Dan Hooker - Pearson is on the chopping block. The dude is coming off of 3 straight losses to Will Brooks (who ragdolled him for the most part), Jorge Masvidal (who just had a number one contender fight - is it ever really known to be one though?) and Stevie Ray. Granted, they're not slouches but 3 losses are 3 losses unless you're along the likes of Vitor Belfort or Dan Henderson or Anderson Silva et cetera. I've never seen Dan Hooker fight so I'll go with Ross Pearson as Dan Hooker has alternated wins and losses for his past 6 UFC fights.

Tim Elliott vs Ben Nguyen - Tim made it a fun, spastic affair against Demetrious Johnson. He also made it a great scrap with his fight against Louis Smolka which he won with his grappling and transitions and scrambles. He does enough standing up and swinging and kicking to get fights go the ground and it feels like I'm actually watching mixed martial arts rather than a lot of recent UFC bouts with sloppy kickboxing and a the occasional takedown in the 3rd round in an affair that looks like glorified sparring.
Against Mighty Mouse he kept squirming and transitioning against the champion and made him work the whole time. Ben is 3-1 in his last 4 UFC fights as a whole and this is a tough one for me to call. I'm gonna go with Tim Elliott as what he showed me against Demetrious Johnson counts for more than Nguyen's lengthier UFC resume.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

UFC 212 Hangover/Commentary

Holloway said in the Countdown special that a king goes to another King's village and takes him out. Holloway lived up to his words. He went to the notoriously hostile Brazil/crowd/UFC event, and stopped Aldo convincingly in 3 rounds. I saw Aldo's mouth open toward the end of the 2nd round and I started to get worried. Holloway clipped him with a back to back 1-2, 1-2 and once Aldo was hurt/wobbled, Holloway kept the top pressure on. It was actually flawless to watch Holloway give Aldo enough room to move, yet Holloway stayed in position to continue peppering shots, rather than say set the hooks, take the back and potentially give Aldo time to recover/get his wind back. It looked like pure fatigue on top of getting wobbled that did him in. Toward the end I was yelling at the screen for Aldo to turn and give up mount to just not have the ref step in and I honestly think Aldo chose to get finished there rather than have the stoppage come with him mounted. I'm not a mind reader, but that's what I saw and interpreted.

Borrachinha faced a woefully understkilled opponent and walked him down and chopped him down.
Belfort showed a few brief flashes of what makes him Belfort, but he is done against anything other than mid-level guys on their way downhill.
He's not the same without TRT, let's just call it what it is, ala Dan Henderson.
Claudia exposed the lack of grappling prowess of Karolina who looked like she literally grapples with low level white belts in preparation for a #1 Contender bout. THIS was a co-main event. No one get butthurt that I'm taking her to task because she's a woman, but it was embarrassing to see the holes in the game of someone being billed ahead of Vitor Belfort, a *(&^ing legend in the sport. Belfort was winning the UFC HW tournament at UFC 12 when Karolina was 12 years old. I get it, the UFC is doing blah blah blah for women's MMA but it's also silly and it looks it when you have that fight as a co-main when the ending is just a honest assessment of the lack of depth in some of the women's divisions and even at the "top tier" of such divisions.

Medeiros pulled out a win via early stoppage, but the way Silva's head hit the canvas, is always gonna be tempting for a ref to stop it, that being said, argh, it was a competitive fight up until that point and Silva continues his hot and cold ways of winning and losing in sequence.

Antonio Carlos Junior picked up a stoppage in front of the home crowd to continue his semi-quiet ascent up the rankings of his weight class and Marlon Moraes went the way of Branch and underwhelmed in his WSOF departure to UFC debut. Moraes and Assuncao both were content to spend two rounds having not much more than glorified sparring and I don't feel sorrow for an MMA fighter with a solid grappling pedigree who shoots 1-2 times in a 3 round fight and loses a narrow decision. You want to bounce around and throw a kick or a punch at a time and pivot and circle and move? The decision may not go your way, bro. So many ways to win in MMA and you elect to waste solid minutes of time on the clock inside the cage circling and moving and feinting and blah blah.

At any rate, it was a decent card and I enjoyed the fight if nothing else than moderately. Part of me wanted Marquardt to win just so Belfort will maybe hang it up, but despite some recent violent stoppage losses, Belfort seems content to continue plugging along. And, to be honest, he's a grown man who's been fighting for decades so he can do as he pleases. He's paid for the right to decide when he's done on his damn terms. 

Monday, June 5, 2017

IBJJF Worlds 2017 Aftermath & Reflections

This is by no means exhaustive, but it covers most of that which I'm aware and the names which I follow with some or considerable consistency throughout the year.

Odds and Ends: tossing a belt onto the competition mat felt tacky and honestly, if some school from the middle of nowhere did this, it would be getting more than just a side eye. The favortism and nepotism and conflict of interest that plagues the sport will have to be addressed eventually. Social media is an open forum and with video now from various angles and access to footage, it's no longer a matter of he said/he said, but rather, examples of behavior tolerated by some and punished by others.

Steroids. I feel like when I was a kid watching baseball and the homerun derby and records being obliterated. We have whole divisions competing which are not tested at all (brown and purple belts I'm looking at you) and the adult divisions, are only tested (well, have the possibility of being tested) on a date known to them nearly a year-ish in advance. As a still largely unpaid sport, it is what it is, but the kinds of feats being seen with guys fighting 11 times in 1-2 days against world class competition and looking literally like cartoon characters when their Gi tops come just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. As athletes want to be paid like professionals, and if Jiu-Jitsu with its origins of a weaker man blah blah and technique conquers all blah blah, they'll have to accept out of competition testing.
I'd be curious if you showed up to random high level schools throughout the year and offered out of competition testing to prove they were clean how few well known names would sign up. 

On to the results!

Buchecha beat Erberth by 2 pts and Erberth continues to drive the margin narrower and narrower between him and the the guy who is undeniably the greatest of all time/currently competing that is Buchecha. It remains to be seen if Buchecha moves to MMA sooner rather than later and when Erberth fills the void or if he gets another crack at Buchecha next year. This coming year if Erberth keeps up his competition pace, it will be something as he's beaten or finished a ton of guys within Brazil and abroad having competed in almost everything worth doing this past year. 

Middle: Arges had his day which I had a feeling was coming after the steam he'd been picking up all year. His game is different and he feels comfortable in places other guys don't seem to have as many answers for. Tinoco was the real moral victor in this bracket as he advanced all the way to the final  and took out very game competition along the way. Magid Hage and Oliver Geddes both went out first round, 

Light: Lepri repeated and defended his world tittle. Satoshi got past Langhi which in and of itself is an accomplishment (Lepri didn't have his guard passed in 3 years at one point at black belt). Lepri had some close calls in the earlier rounds but added another tittle to his resume. Brunovskis lost first round and Vinicius moved past Sinistro to then lose to Jhonny Souza of Alliance. It was definitely a day of some interesting upsets and surprises. Mackenzie is another guy who acquitted himself quite well and will definitely be one to watch in the coming year. 

Light Feather: Musumeci beat Joao for the 5th time, becoming only the third (or is it 4th? Are we counting Drysdale?) American to win black belt worlds, and the bracket played out about how I expected. Joao beat Moraes, but Doederline lost to Musumeci, who then beat Ary (technically now reigning world champion due to the PED test for Paulo) and against Joao, Musumeci had the momentum on his side from having beaten Joao several times before. 

Feather: I didn't forsee Saggioro beating Marcio Andre, which blew my bracket. I also expected Moizinho to beat Gianni but that didn't happen and Cobrinha added another title to his resume. The bracket promises a lot of high level showdowns over the next few years. Hard to believe Cobrinha is 37 and still able to hang with the young guys. 

Rooster: Malfacine beat Caio again and the bracket played out about how I expected. 

Demetrious Johnson Counters UFC Claims

I'd previously posted about the DJ not wanting to fight TJ Dillashaw, and Mighty Mouse has lifted the curtain to expose a lot more context of the whole affair. DJ raises some legitimate points and counter arguments to the UFC's rather blanket assessment that he's afraid of Dillashaw. As always, it's a lot more complex than just taking what on the surface seems like a bigger name than Ray Borg in TJ Dillashaw. 

Friday, June 2, 2017

2017 Worlds Brackets Analysis and Picks

Ultra Heavy - Semis will be Cavaca vs Trans and Trans wins on youthful exhuberance, and Buchecha beats Joao Rocha and Buchecha beats Trans again for another world title.

Super Heavy - I don't know if Bernardo Faria or Rodolfo Vieira will take their match....I think Rodolfo's focus on MMA will hurt him against Bernardo who will pull it out finally. After that Bernardo will face Erberth Santos in the final and wins another world title.

Heavy - Semis will be Meregali vs Wardzinski & Jackson Sousa vs Leandro Lo. Leandro takes it because he's Leandro Lo.

Medium Heavy - Semis will be Tarsis Humphreys vs Romulo Barral & Galvao vs Gregor Gracie (one of my coaches who I think will upset some folks along the way. I'm not gonna call the final because my coach is in the bracket and I'm biased.

Middle - Semis will be Gabriel Arges vs Josh Hinger & Otavio Sousa vs Tinoco. Much like the stranglehold on Lightweight that Lucas Lepri has, this is Otavio's division unless your name is Leandro Lo. I think Hinger will get after it against Gabriel Arges who plays fairly relaxed with his kneebar 50/50 game, but Josh will lost in a transition and not continue due to points, and Otavio will make his way to the final. Interestingly enough, Arges kneebarred Otavio at the ACB Challenge Grand Prix and it will be a very tight, slow paced match in my opinion as Otavio will use his world champion experience to avoid the kneebar and game of Arges (who also is a guy who as really turned it on in the past year or two).

Light - Semis will be Sinistro vs Langhi & Edwin Najmi vs Lucas Lepri. Unfortunately for these guys, this is Lepri's division unless your name is Leandro Lo. Seeing Lepri dismantle Lieira's game was unbelievable and though Najmi I think has more versatile and dynamic weapons in his arsenal, Lepri takes this one by a not small margin in the semi, then moves on to face Langhi and I think becomes the second guy to pass Langhi's guard other than Leandro Lo.

Feather - Semis will be Marcio Andre vs Moizinho & Samuel Braga vs Cobrinha. I think Marcio Andre faces Cobrinha in the finals and takes it. Marcio has looked incredible and I think he becomes the second guy other than Rafa to beat Cobrinha.

Light Feather - Key Players: Joao Miyao, Gabriel Moraes, Musumeci, Doederlein, Ary Farias, and Samir Chantre

- Ary is now the reigning world champ due to the PED test that withdrew Paulo's title from last year. That being said, Gabriel Moraes is a former world champ (was promoted from blue belt after winning Worlds to black belt and won Worlds the next year - WTF? True Story). I haven't seen a lot of Ary this year but I've seen a good bit of Musumeci, Joao, and Doederlein. Doederlein has in the past gone neck and neck with Rafa to not have him among the favorites to win this division isn't possible. This bracket is incredible.

My guess Joao Miyao vs Gabriel Moraes & Doederlein vs Ary Farias, and the final will be Joao vs Doederline, with Joao taking the final by the slimmest of slim margins.

Rooster - Hard to think that we won't see anything other than a Malfacine vs Caio final again. Hard also to think that Malfacine won't pull out an incredible additional world title. I wish he competed more. Seeing him once per year do a handful of matches means I don't particularly care for this division because there's just not a ton to follow throughout the year other than Pans and Worlds. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Picks and Predictions: UFC 212 Aldo vs Holloway

I've had a rough run over the past two UFC's for which I've done picks.
Things like the derailment of the Cirkunov and Al Hassan respective hype trains, Marcin Held's ill-fated Imanari roll into a knee, Gustaffson looking as on point as ever rather than the one who showed up to be KO'd by Anthony Johnson....but here we go again, because why not?

I think Aldo does his best when prodded by opponents (other than McGregor who wore him out with 2 fight build-ups on media tours) and Holloway I think will face the kind of Aldo we saw against Frankie Edgar. Aldo looked beyond sharp in that fight showcasing some amazing boxing slipping and pivoting and the 3-4 punch-kick combos for which he is best known, rather than the pot shotting he had done in fights previous.
That being said, Holloway dispatched Pettis, strangled Swanson, and has a ton of wins in a row against all comers and styles. This really is a *(&^ing awesome main event for a title unification bout. Other than McGregor returning to featherweight, this is TRULY the fight to make at FW.

I think Holloway will last the distance as Aldo seems content even when punishing to take it 5 full rounds and I think the Aldo we saw in his last fight shows up and I just don't think Holloway beats that version of Aldo 9 times out of 10.

Gadelha vs Kowalkiewicz - I think the loss on Gadelha record to Joanna is the blueprint for how she loses this fight. I actually prefer Kowalkiewicz to Joanna as Joanna is a bet more stick and move and pepper and avoid and Kowalkiewicz is a bit more stick it to them and move forward. Gadelha's move to a new camp is interesting and her bulldog build with slams is enough to give me concern about her putting Kowalkiewicz on her back and keeping her there 2 out of 3 rounds.
Is Karolina enough of a 2nd rate Joanna to do the same here? I think so, but I wouldn't bet cash $ on this fight as the threat of 2 takedowns across 3 rounds and a decision is exceedingly high.

Borrachinha vs Bamgbose: Bamgbose gets the KO here by his resume of stiffer UFC competition leading up to this bout.

Belfort vs Marquardt - Marquardt is well past his prime and is 2-3 in his past 5 fights with stoppage losses to Gastelum, and Thiago Santos, as well as a Unan. Dec. loss to Sam Alvey. He stopped Tamdan McCrory and CB Dolloway in that stretch as well. Belfort.....well, he's Belfort. If he lands a punch it's curtains, especially at this stage in Marquardt's career. That being said, Marquardt is cagey enough to avoid much of Belfort's tricks. Belfort has struggled against guys with the wrestling acumen to keep him on the backfoot and/or put him on his butt. I don't think Marquardt does that here. I think Belfort gets a KO win to go on his veritable who's who list of unconscious opponents.

Medeiros vs Erick Silva - Silva. I hate betting on fights this guy is in. He is always willing to somehow lose a fight he's winning or pull a rabbit out the hat and get a KO in a firefight. Silva lost a close fight to Neil Magny (he got outwrestled.....?) and KO'd by Nordine Taleb then most recently won by RNC. I can't bet on a guy with that kind of fluctuation in wins and losses. I love watching him fight as frustrating as it it as times. Dude likes to find a way to go out on his shield. Medeiros. In his last far he's alternated wins and losses (see a theme here? He's lost a decision to the hulking Francisco Trinaldo, been KO'd by Dustin Poirier, submitted Sean Spencer and won a decision of John Makdessi. I think he can win this fight but not doing anything overly ridiculous and fighting smart most of the 3 rounds. I think Silva's power is a legitimate concern as the dude swings for the fences, but I don't think Medeiros has the chops to tap Silva or KO him, and so my pick is Silva buy TKO in the 2nd round after backing Medeiros up in the first round coming out the gate like a madman.

Assuncao vs Moraes - truly a fight to determine how much Assuncao has faded in his recent inactivity since losing to Dillashaw and barely edging out Sterling and how much or not at all Moraes was benefitting from being a big fish in a small pond over in the WSOF. We saw Brance who was a 2 division WSOF champion struggle to win against a guy who was top 10 in his UFC return/debut. Will that happen to Moraes? I think in no way have Moraes past several fights compared to Assuncao but the inactivity of Assuncao is a major concern. I think Moraes hand speed and youth pull him out the win here by Unanimous Decision.

Carlos Junior vs Eric Spicely - I think Carlos has the size and pressure forward striking to put Spicely against the cage, drag him down and get the finish inside of 3 rounds as carrying Junior's world class black belt frame and top pressure will fatigue any mortal man.

Iuri Alcantara vs some guy - Alcantara despite his foibles is also a blast to watch fight. I see him getting the win by headkick KO/punch/knee combination straight outta street fighter 2 turbo.