Monday, March 29, 2010

An Open Letter to John Buccigross

Dear John,
What you did today on Sportscenter was inexcusable. During the Top 10 highlights for the weekend, Shane Carwin's knockout of Frank Mir was #9, and instead of giving Carwin the time and respect he deserved, you said "20 unanswered blows to the head, that's going to cause brain damage or something." You didn't even mention to say Shane Carwin's name. You painted Carwin to be a 'roided-up bouncer they pulled away from the bar who was fighting for his next drink. Did you mention Shane is a full-time engineer? No. Did you mention he was a Division II National Wrestling Champion? No. Did you mention that he is undefeated with all of his fights ending by stoppage in the first round? No! You simply just insulted one of the best athletes in the sport of mixed martial arts on national television. A sport which is getting a show on your very own network quite soon, I might add.

I am training to be a journalist myself, and the first thing I learned is that a journalists job is to report the facts, not personal opinion. So John, do your fucking job and report the news. If you don't like MMA, so what? You don't have to be so pompous as to share your opinion with the whole world. Do your damn job and report the facts, which in this case was that Shane Carwin had an impressive victory over Frank Mir for the UFC Interim Heavyweight Championship. If you want to talk about golf, get a show about golf. That way, only old men and people with insomnia trying to fall asleep will hear the sound of your insignificant voice. Leave the reporting of the real sports to the real professionals. So, on behalf of MMA fans who felt as outraged as me, I only have these last few words of wisdom: Shut the fuck up and fuck off!

A man who will probably take your job in 5 years :P

PS You're a jackass.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Small Show Round-up...Late March Edition

With all the recent big name free agents like Dan Henderson and Josh Barnett finally getting contracts, one may have forgotten that Roger Huerta remained without a job. However, he recently signed a contract with the fledgling Bellator promotion. This is huge for Bellator for a number of reasons. Bellator had been trying to gain an audience in Latin America ever since it's inception, and Huerta is the most well-known Latin American fighter, as well as one of the most recognized fighters regardless. While Eddie Alvarez may be the better fighter, Huerta is definitely the bigger name, largely due to the UFC hype machine. This also big because Bellator finally has the chance to put on a true marquee fight. Huerta vs. Alvarez would be huge for both the casual and hardcore fan alike. These are two guys that just don't quit. Huerta may be the less talented, but has the heart of a lion. Alvarez has been the 3rd wheel to Shinya Aoki and BJ Penn in the lightweight rankings, but being behind two superstars of that caliber is nothing to be ashamed of. With this signing, Bellator can now put on big fights that will attract a new audience, and finally be able to compete with the UFCs and Strikeforces of the world.

Seemingly riding on the coattails of James Toney's recent UFC signing, King of the Cage announced that Ray Mercer would be facing Ron Sparks at an event in April. Spark's 5-0 record may look good on paper, but four of those wins were against fighters who had never fought before or after their fights with Sparks. Mercer is 1-1 in his career, with a submission loss to Kimbo Slice (I still ROLFMAO when I see that video), but KO'ed former UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia in just 9 seconds in his last bout. Some people actually blame Mercer's KO of Sylvia as the reason many boxers have announced their involvement in MMA recently (Toney; Ricardo Mayorga has a fight coming up as well). At 49-years-old, it's hard to image what Mercer has to prove in the sport. Maybe it was that boxers can hang with mixed martial artists, or maybe he's just chasing another payday trying to stay relevant. With all that's going on lately, I wouldn't be surprised if Dana gave him a call asking him to come to the UFC. Mercer vs. Toney in a cage anyone? As sick as that thought makes me, this is MMA after all, it could happen...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Lost in the Crowd

Sengoku 12 was this past Saturday. It featured Impressive KO wins by up-and-coming Brazilians Maximo Blanco and Marlon Sandro, as well as a great five round Middleweight Title bout between Jorge Santiago and Mamed Khalidov. The problem is, does anyone know or care? Since the demise of PRIDE, there has been a struggle between four major organizations to gobble up as much talent as possible: UFC, WEC, Strikeforce, and DREAM. Sengoku is trying to hang tough as the fifth wheel, but a string of bad luck has seemingly plagued the organization. Takanori Gomi, the former PRIDE Lightweight Champion and the man who supposed to be a Sengoku poster boy, lost two straight fights for the organization, including a title fight to Satoru Kitaoka. After rebounding with two straight wins in Shooto, he signed a contract with the UFC. Kazuo Misaki, the PRIDE 2006 Welterweight Grand Prix Champion, was supposed to be another star for the organization. However, he lost the title fight to Santiago, and was recently knocked out by DREAM standout Melvin Manhoef.

Former Olympic Judo Gold Medalist Hidehiko Yoshida, who is a huge star in Japan, announced he is retiring from the sport in April. Aspiring MMA fighter and 2008 Judo Gold Medalist Satoshi Ishii was signed, but doesn't look like he has what it takes for MMA. While Sengoku has been able to feature good talents such as Hatsu Hioki, Mizuto Hirota, Marlon Sandro, Satoru Kitaoka, Masanori Kanehara, and Jorge Santiago, they lack that "big name" headliner that fans wants to see. It also doesn't help that Michihiro Omigawa, a featherweight underdog that has risen into a top-10 prospect, has been on the favorable side of some controversial decisions (watch the Sandro and Hioki fights).

However, there is hope. Sengoku and DREAM collaborated for Dynamite!!! 2009, which was a huge success. DREAM and Strikeforce also have an agreement to exchange talent, so if the three of them continue to collaborate, Sengoku may finally be able to build a name for itself. However, rumors of poor ratings and the threat of going out of business have run rampant with Sengoku recently, and it will be an uphill battle for them to hang tough. Still, they have good talent that should be showcased. They are still making good moves to expand their audience. But the fact remains: How much longer can Sengoku play the fifth wheel with four other power-hungry organizations gobbling up top talent? Good luck Sengoku, hang in there.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The fall of Miguel Torres

Up until WEC 42, Miguel Torres was considered among the top pound-for-pound athletes in the world. He was racking up quite a streak as the WEC's Bantamweight Champion, and had just come off a fight of the year performance against Takeya Mizugaki at WEC 40. Then, things started to fall apart. Torres lost his title to Brian Bowles at WEC 42 via KO in a fight it looked like he was winning until the KO, and just recent lost to Joseph Benavidez this past Saturday by submission. Throughout the fight, it looked to me that Torres couldn't deal with the speed of Benavidez, getting caught numerous time with punches and looking sloppier than usual on the ground. Eventually, Benavidez cut Torres with some vicious ground and pound, and finished the fight via Guillotine Choke in the second round.

This is two straight losses for the formerly vaunted champion. It didn't look like he was prepared for the speed and pace of Benavidez, much like Bowles looked against Dominick Cruz the same night. For Torres, he needs to keep learning from his mistakes and not let this streak get to him. He still has a very well-rounded skill set and a wealth of talent. It's not over for him. What this does do is likely set up a rematch between Cruz and Benavidez, this time for the title. The last fight was very fast paced and exciting, and both have looked even better in their most recent bouts. This is definitely shaping up to be quite a fight. Still, Torres needs to find it in him to stay strong and get back on the right track after this latest setback. There's no reason why he can't re-climb the ladder and get back into the pound-for-pound conversation. He has the tools, but he needs to learn how to use them better.

Friday, March 5, 2010

James Toney signs with the UFC...and I just puked

That's right, former boxing champion James Toney officially signed with the UFC last week. The thought of this makes me sick. At least Kimbo went the TUF route, and Lesnar was a ground specialist. The fact of the matter is boxers do not translate well to MMA. While it is true Toney is probably the most talented one to make the transition, an article on broke down beautifully the failure rate of boxers who have transitioned to MMA previously. Will Toney have the best hands out of anyone in the UFC? Unquestionably, but the fact of the matter is the ground game is much harder to grasp for strikers transitioning into the sport. Kit Cope, a vaunted Muay Thai practitioner, never had success in MMA because of his failure to adapt to the ground game. Ray Mercer, a former Olympic gold medalist in Boxer, was submitted by Kimbo Slice (yes, KIMBO SLICE!)in his first go at MMA. Guys that are experts in wrestling of jiu-jitsu typically have more success early on because they understand the aspect of control when it comes to combat.

This signing completely baffles me. Dana White preaches over and over how he hates freak show fights. He'll rip on guys like Herschel Walker, and even Kimbo in his early days, and then he goes and does something like this. Granted, Toney came to him, but just like our parents used to say: just say NO! This is nothing more than a sideshow attraction. Toney hasn't been relevant in boxing in years, and at 41-years-old, his success rate can't be that high. Rumors have by flying since the signing of who Toney will fight. Names such as Couture, Griffin, and Kimbo have been thrown around. If the UFC wants any chance of Toney getting a win, they'll match him up against someone who will be dumb enough to stand and trade with him. Any threat of a takedown will endanger Toney's chances of survival.

When I sit down and think about it in the sense of a sport, it would be cool to see an NCAA Division 1 Champion wrestler like Brock Lesnar face a boxing champion like James Toney. However, Toney will have to earn the right to face a man like Lesnar, and who knows if he'll make it that far. Kimbo, Toney, what's next Dana? The Green Ranger??

Monday, March 1, 2010

Overeem finally fighting for Strikeforce

Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem hasn't fought for the promotion he is champion of for almost two and half years. Instead, he has opted to fight K-1 kickboxing and MMA matches in Japan. Ever since his dismantling (albeit a "No Contest" due to accidental groin strikes) of Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic in Dream and his knockout of premier talent Badr Hari in K-1, people began to see the potential in Overeem. However, his lack of facing top MMA talent recently has left MMA fans yearning for a chance to see if Overeem can prove himself and legitimately establish himself as a top heavyweight.

The wait is over. Overeem is scheduled to face Brett Rogers Strikeforce's May 15th event. This fight makes a lot of sense. Rogers has beaten Andrei Arlovski, and gave Fedor a run for his money in his last fight. Rogers powerful stand-up game and ground defense will prove to be a great test for Overeem, and a win will likely put him next in line against Fedor. This is very important because many fans, including myself, feel that Overeem and Josh Barnett are the only tests for Fedor outside the UFC, and we all know it doesn't look like Fedor will end up there anytime soon (unfortunately). It looks like a lot of questions will be answered on May 15th, as this will be the litmus test to see if Overeem really does have what it takes to hang with the big boys.

Tim Sylvia: The Downward Spiral

It was just about two years ago when Tim Sylvia fought Fedor Emelianenko at Affliction: Banned. At that time, Sylvia had just been axed by the UFC after a loss to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, but was still considered a sought after free agent. Affliction announced its foray into MMA events, and the fight was set up. The fight had huge hype surrounding it. It was Fedor's first fight against a top heavyweight in some time, and many thought Sylvia's style and size could derail Emelianenko.

Not quite. Emelianenko choked out Sylvia in less than a minute. What followed next can only be called bizarre. Sylvia was set to headline Adrenaline MMA 3 in a boxing match against former Olympic boxer Ray Mercer. Then, the fight was changed to an MMA fight days before the event. Then, it happened. Mercer knocked out a noticeably overweight and out-of-shape Sylvia in just 9 seconds. Yes, the same Ray Mercer that was submitted by Kimbo Slice in his first fight in the sport. After beating up and comer Jason Riley at Adrenaline MMA 4, it seemed that Sylvia was ready to take another shot at climbing the ladder.

However, it now seems that Sylvia knows his best days are behind him. He turned down a fight with top (although marred) heavyweight Josh Barnett, and his next choices of opponents are baffling. There's former World's Strongest Man Mariusz Pudzianowski, and Ultimate Fighter 10 alum Wes Sims. These choice are absolutely ridiculous if Sylvia wants people to take him seriously. Pudzianowski may be strong, but Sylvia will likely have the technique and experience to exploit the strongman with relative ease. After an embarrassing performance on the Ultimate Fighter 10, Sims had an equally humiliating performance against rising star Bobby Lashley in his last fight. After those performances, there is seemingly nothing Sims can offer Sylvia, and serious promoters should just let Sims fade away at this point. Both these fights are nothing but "freak show" fights, hardly something Sylvia should do since he constantly has to prove to fans that he is a top heavyweight. If he really wanted to prove he still has it, he would have taken the Barnett fight. The downward spiral ends here Tim. Welcome to rock bottom.