Friday, August 10, 2012

UFC 150: No More Rematches Please

After the most successful UFC card on Fox history the organization carries the momentum into Denver for a card headlined by the lightweight title rematch between Ben Henderson and Frankie Edgar.

This card sums up an issue I currently have with the UFC. Right now fighters, especially the champions, have too much power in picking their fights.Frankie Edgar received this rematch because he refused to drop to 145. I understand he gave two rematches but one was because Penn is a legend and the other was because the fight ended in a draw.

Then, in the middleweight division Anderson Silva refuses to face Chris Weidman, the clear number one contender because wins over Demian and Maia and Mark Munoz are not impressive to his camp. If Silva will not fight Jon Jones or Weidman who is there left for him? His camp suggests Rich Franklin, seems like a guy who is more concerned about his legacy than actually challenging himself.

If there is a champion who has a right to complain about challengers it is Jn Jones. I won't get too much into it now, but if Jones does get bey Henderson, how is Machida the best Dana White 7 Co can offer to challenge him.

This weekend's card has plenty of story lines but the one thing we can be thankful is that DW learned from the Rothwell-Hunt “thriller and kept the big boys off this card in Denver.

Now on to the picks....

The pay-per-view portion of the card card starts with a featherweight bout that showcases the future of the division. Lawrence (4-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC), at 22 years old, is the elder in this fight and comes from the most recent TUF season where he lost in the semi-finals to eventual winner Michael Cheisa. Lawrence bounced back with a two bonus performance when he knocked John Cofer out cold at the finale.

Holloway (5-1, 1-1), only 20 years old, bounced back from his first career loss against Dustin Poirier with a dominating decision over Pat Schilling in June. Holloway really impressed me in his last fight. After watching his performance against Poirier I felt that he needed more time to develop. His striking is explosive but he can get wild at times.

When the cast for TUF: Live was announced many picked Lawrence as the guy to beat. He was a highly successful amateur kickboxing champion and is a two-time St. Louis Golden Gloves boxing champion. (Thank you Wikipedia). I'll take Lawrence here collecting another bonus.

Lawrence KO Round 2

Roberts (12-2, 1-0) is a Team Jackson product receiving a huge opportunity in this bout. He defeated Caio Magahalhaes in June by decision. The win did not set shockwaves throughout the division but due to a couple of injuries he is now in a fight with all upside for him.

Okami (26-7, 10-4) needs a win after losing straight to Anderson Silva and Tim Boetsch. After originally scheduled to face Rousimar Palhares, Okami should be glad to get a guy like Roberts. It gives hims a chance to get back on the winning track on a PPV main card. Three losses in a row will damage any fighter so the best thing for Okami is to go out and do what he does best. Don't get too wild, move around, and sprinkle in some take downs. He will not earn any new fans with this performance but at this point all Okami needs is a win.

Okami Decision (30-27)

At first glance this looks like a huge mismatch. Shields (27-6-1, 2-2) has been a champion in nearly have organization he has competed in and has notable wins over Yushin Okami, Carlos Condit, Martin Kampmann and Dan Henderson. After going 2-2 in the Octagon, Shields is set to make his UFC middleweight debut, a weight he has not fought at since April 2010. He is a submission ace, but his cardio has been questioned since coming off to the UFC and it will be interesting to see how how getting back to this weight effects him.

Herman (20-7, 7-5) is in the middle of a career renaissance. He has a three fight winning streak, all finishes, but no one near the caliber of Shields. Herman's best chance in this fight is to avoid going to the ground. Despite being a black belt himself, there is no doubt the best chance for him to win is keeping the fight on his feet.

I expect to see a vintage Jake Shields out there. The first round will feature some awkward stand up exchanges before Shields gets top control in the second and finishes it.

Shields Submission (Rear Naked Choke) Round 2

A lightweight battle between two friends is the co-main event. The build up to this fight has been more about Cerrone (!8-4, 4-1) calling out Anthony Pettis rather than talking about his scheduled opponent. Cowboy is coming off a clear-cut decision win over Jeremy Stephens and is looking to jump to the front of the lightweight division. Cerrone is dangerous wherever the fight goes but loves finishing his opponent on the ground. (13 submission wins)

In October of last year Guillard (30-10-2, 11-6) was on his way to a title shot. An upset by Joe Lauzon and a submission loss to Jim Miller through ice on his hot streak. But after a decision win just over a month ago against Fabricio Camoes, Guillard took this fight on short notice to get back to the top.

Guillard appears to be in trouble. Nine of his ten losses have come by submission and as mentioned before, Cerrone loves that. The two promise a brawl but despite his gentlemanly drawl I expect Cowboy to go for the submission early and end this thing.

Cerrone Submission (Triangle Choke) Round 1

Frankie Edgar (14-2-1, 9-2-1) aka the king of the rematch looks to regain his title in the main event. Honestly, I am not that excited for this fight. It pains me to say that because there are so many great match ups to make in the 155 pound division. Edgar possesses some of the best footwork in the UFC and above average wrestling as well. No one will show more heart in a fight than the New Jersey native but is that enough to take out the much bigger Henderson (16-2, 4-0)?

In their first fight Edgar looked like a featherweight and Henderson was competing at 170. Smooth has been on a roll since dropping the WEC title to Anthony Pettis in December 2010. The first fight he went toe to toe with Edgar and at the end of the fight looked like he could go five more rounds.
After reviewing their first fight again I still like Henderson in this one. If he throws less kicks and lands another one of those upkicks, he should be able to control the action and defend his title. Just don't expect him to finish Edgar.

Henderson Unanimous Decision (49-46)
Win or Lose, let's promise to not fight each other again
If you liked this article please leave a comment below and vote on the poll to the right.  Also, I started a weekly podcast called Split Decision on with my friend Ryan Penney, needless to say it is pretty awesome so you check that out too.

Friday, August 3, 2012

UFC on Fox 4: This is the Best 205 Can Offer?

Let’s face it. UFC 149 was a total flop.  Not only did I have my worst predictions of all-time, the fights in general were awful. After a phenomenal preliminary card, Matt Riddle and to a certain extent Renan BarĂ£o were the only fighters to show up.

The only thing stranger than the Kongo-Jordan fight and Hector Lomabrd’s debut was news that broke earlier this week.  At the press conference for UFC on Fox 4 Dana White announced the winner of the Brandan Vera-Shogun Rua fight would receive a title shot. (My initial reaction).

After hours of social media outrage good ole DW changed his mind and decided that if the winner co-main event between Ryan Bader and Lyota Machida wins in more impressive fashion than Rua or Vera than that person would receive the title shot. (Revised reaction).

There are many issues with this decision in my opinion.  First off, Vera is 1-2-1 in his last four fights and was originally scheduled to face James Te-Huna.  How does he go from a Fuel card against a mid level fighter to a main event #1 contender fight against a guy who has lost 2 of his last 3? Dana you make my head do this.

I’d much rather see Phil Davis, who is on the under card, or Alexander Gustafson get a shot than any of the four mentioned above. At the very least give Jon Jones a rematch against this guy.

Now on to the picks…

Last Card: 1-4
Year: 52-33

Mike “Quick” Swick vs. DeMarques “Darkness” Johnson

The main card kicks off with the return of Mike Swick (14-4 MMA, 9-3 UFC)  to the Octagon.  He has not fought in two and a half years and is riding a two fight win streak.  They are his first two losses in the division after winning his first four at 170.  A season 1 TUF alum Swick burst on the scene with 5 wins (4 finishes) and projected to be a champion one day.  Unfortunately, injuries have derailed his career.  Ring rust will be an issue and who knows if his hand phenomenal hand speed has slowed down.

Joe Silva did not do Swick any favors by matching him up with Johnson (16-10 MMA, 4-4 UFC) in his first fight back.  The TUF Season 9 runner-up is known for his brawling style.  He is very aggressive and will push Swick as soon as the bell wings. While, Darkness has put on many entertaining fights his style has proved to be his downfall as he has been caught on multiple occasions.

This fight is a huge opportunity for both fighters.  Being able to kick off the main card on Fox gives the winner of the fight a ton of momentum in the crowded welterweight division.

Swick Round 2 Submission (Guillotine)

Last fall, no one would believe these guys would be facing off against each other.  Joe Lauzon (21-7 MMA, 8-4 UFC) just submitted Melvin Guillard in less than a minute and was heading to a potential title eliminator fight against Anthony Pettis. Varner (20-6-1- MMA, 2-1 UFC), was not even in the UFC. In fact, he lost to Dakota Cochrane, a guy who could not get into the TUF house, on a regional show.

Since that loss, Varner has seen a resurgence in his career.  The former WEC put together two wins in the XFC promotion before stepping in against Edson Barboza at UFC 146.  No one wanted to face Barboza at that time but Varner rose to the occasion finishing the Brazilian in the first round. This is technically his second stint in the UFC but he is a far superior than his first time. Three of his six losses are by submission so he will need to be on the top of his game against the dangers Lauzon.

J-Lau is a difficult fighter to judge in the lightweight division. Since his debut against Jens Pulver in 2006, Lauzon has proven he can hang with anyone in the division.  He does everything fairly level, but is elite when he comes to his submission game.  His guard has caught a number of fighters in his career.  The one issue for J-Lau is his cardio.  He starts so fast and at such a great pace that if he does not get a finish early he is trouble in the later rounds.

The longer this fight stays on thee feet, the better it is for Varner.  His goal needs to be to weather the storm and push this fight to the later rounds.  After his performance against Barboza he will not be taking anyone by surprise.

Varner Decision (29-28)

This sort of, kind of, possible number one contender fight between two fighters who in their last four fights are a combined 3-5 is a hard one to predict.  Bader (14-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC) is coming off a dominating decision win over Rampage Jackson that sounds a lot more impressive than it really is. (Sorry buddy)

The first match up against Jones was too much at the time for Bader. However, I think he learned a lot more in his next fight, a loss to Tito Ortiz than he did against Jones. His key in this one is no shocker, his wrestling. Machida (17-3 MMA, 9-3 UFC) is a great counter puncher and the best way to avoid this is to stand and trade with him as little as possible.

The dragon was most recently seen unconscious on the mat with Jon Jones walking away like a true BAMF.  While many people will remember the ending sequence, they forget how great Machida looked leading up the submission.  He challenged Jones more so than anyone and actually tagged Jones a couple times.  Machida has been criticized by being too passive at times, but if he fights like he did against Jones this weekend, it will be a shot night for Bader.

Machida KO Round 2 & earns #1 contender spot

The main event is one of the most uneven fights to headline a card in years. Rua (20-6 MMA, 4-4 UFC) is a former light heavyweight champion who only losses in the past 9 years are to current or former UFC champions as well. Vera (12-5 MMA, 8-5 UFC), on the other hand, is coming off his first win since August 2009.

Shogun’s last fight was considered by many to be the fight of the year.  He proved that going 5 rounds will not be an issue for him and I doubt Vera will be bale to push him as much as Henderson did in that bout. Despite being a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu has only one submission win in his entire career.  When healthy, Shogun has the hands to knock out anyone and never puts on a boring fight.

No one is more shocked to see in Brandon Vera in this position than me.  I remember the days when people were talking about Vera being a champion in two different weight classes. (I’m not lying, look it up). Call me crazy, but I don’t think a win over Eliot Marshall deserves a number one contender fight.  Also, while many people point out Vera is 1-2-1 in his last four fights, the two losses are to Jon Jones and Randy Couture, certainly no shame in that.

Vera is pumped about this fight.  We have seen many times where a fighter comes out of nowhere and takes advantage of a huge opportunity. I do not think this fight is one of those times.  I expect Shogun to take this early and without working too hard. 

Rua KO Round 1 & earns #1 contender spot
I know what you're thinking, how can their be TWO number one contenders?!?!  The way I see it, none of these four men deserve a chance at Jon Jones, if he beats Henderson, with a single win at UFC on Fox 4. I expect the winners of these two fights to go up against each other for an interim title/number one contender fight while Jones takes a fight at heavyweight.  It won't be against a top guy, my best guess would be a Ben Rothwell/Cheick Kongo type.  That way Jones gets an intriguing fight and the 205ers have a chance to build some momentum before getting stomped by Jones again.

Could these two beat Jon Jones in a handicap match?
Credit: MMAmania

If you liked this article please leave a comment below and vote on the poll to the right.  Also, I started a weekly podcast called Split Decision on with my friend Ryan Penney, needless to say it is pretty awesome so you check that out too.