baltimoresun.com

« June 2008 | Main | August 2008 »

July 30, 2008

Does Liddell deserve a title shot?

Because it’s a slower week, we have a guest post today from a freelance MMA writer raising the question of what to do with the light heavyweight division. Kye Stephenson is a freelance writer and MMA enthusiast based in Baltimore.  He has contributed to the Baltimore City Paper, The Source, URB, Village Voice, Allhiphop.com.

Will we see Chuck Liddell vs. Forrest Griffin?

Kye Stephenson

After Forrest Griffin’s systematic defeat of Rampage Jackson for the light-heavyweight championship, many questions remain in that division.  At the forefront is the question of whether we will see the pay-per-view extravaganza of Liddell vs. Griffin.  Some MMA fans feel it is already a foregone conclusion that the UFC couldn’t pass up the revenue they would generate from matching up two of the most recognizable names in all of MMA. That is a very valid point and we all know that without PPV buys the UFC can’t survive.  But I’m not sold on the worthiness of Liddell getting a shot.  

Granted, with an impending fight against Rashad Evans on the horizon, this may become a moot point if he loses.  However, assuming he wins, should he be first in line to fight for the title?  In my opinion, even with a decisive victory over Evans, it’s still debatable. And not so much because of Liddell's last few fights, more so the fact that there are other fighters in the division that have stepped up.  For instance, Lyoto Machida seems to be on the top of everyone’s list these days when considering title contenders.  On the contrary, it can be said that Machida’s recent victories (over Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou and Tito Ortiz) don’t weigh as heavily as Liddell's overall track record of dominance in the division.  Instead of the “what have you done for me lately” thinking, the UFC may instead be looking at Liddell's previous victories over number one contenders and also what he’s meant to the UFC over the years.   Regardless, now that Machida is scheduled to fight another top contender in Thiago Silva, we should certainly have some questions answered about both fighters.  

In my eyes, now that both Machida and Liddell have top opponents before them, there should be a solid plan in place.  I think a Jackson-Griffin rematch should have been the first order of business.  But that might not be possible considering Jackson's recent arrest.  With Jackson doubtful, I think the winner of Liddell-Evans fights the winner of Silva-Machida.  If the stars align, we’ll see Machida fight Liddell and the winner going on to fight Griffin at the end of the year.

-Personally, if we’re going to have Machida and Liddell fight once more after their current bouts before getting a title shot, I think we have to have Quinton Jackson in the equation. He shouldn’t get an immediate rematch, especially after his episode, but if he can get his head together he should at least get a chance to be in that Machida-Liddell match. I think maybe Silva vs. Jackson again and then if Machida loses to Silva or Liddell loses to Evans, the winner of Wanderlei Silva-Quinton Jackson can step into that match to see who faces Griffin. At least, that’s how I would like to see it -- Mark

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 10:40 AM | | Comments (9)
        

July 28, 2008

Elite XC's Unfinished Business -- good card but smaller audience

The reports are in and EliteXC’s "Unfinished Business" show Saturday night did not fare as well as the first time around. A slight ratings drop was to be expected as CBS no longer had the intrigue involved with the debut of the sport on network TV. Also missing in action were the two biggest stars in the EliteXC, Kimbo Slice and Gina Carano.

It was a fairly decent show, actually. Adam Morgan from FiveOucnesofPain.com has a good writeup on the nitty/gritty from the show, which included some enjoyable bouts. Robbie Lawler and Scott Smith played out pretty much how I anticipated it. Cris Cyborg looked impressive and Jake Shields also had a strong showing. The problem was drawing an audience.

MMA Payout has more on the numbers and what they mean, but it looks like the show will garner close to a 2.0 rating. That means the ratings were down almost 40% from the first show. The next big card on CBS will be in October and will feature Slice and Carano again, but if the ratings don’t improve considerably, that may signal the end of EliteXC and CBS. This makes it all that much more important to keep up the facade of Kimbo Slice, when it’s revealed how important he is to developing an audience. They need Slice to keep dropping mediocre competition because one loss will shatter the allure around him.

If you managed to catch it, what did you think of Unfinished Business?

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 3:06 PM | | Comments (4)
        

July 23, 2008

Odds and ends heading into an EliteXC weekend

A few odds and ends. EliteXC makes its return to CBS this weekend with a main event of Robbie Lawler vs. Scott Smith in what will be a rematch of the most entertaining fight from the first event in May. There’s no Kimbo Slice here so the viewership should be down for this event. But to me, it’s the most important show. Any MMA promotion would’ve pulled huge numbers if they had the first show on network TV. I’m curious to see how EliteXC does without Kimbo Slice and the fresh factor helping them pull in viewers. It’s actually shaping up to be a very decent card, especially for network TV, and is definitely worth watching. Hopefully, the broadcast will be cleaned up a little and there will be a lot less lag time between fights. Honestly, I can’t see EliteXC lasting too much longer, at least in its current form, but competition is always healthy for the sport.

The UFC’s Fight Night 14 broadcast pulled tremendous numbers on Spike last weekend. The peak audience was more than 4.5 million for the main event between Anderson Silva and James Irvin. Very impressive.

In other UFC news, three more fights have been confirmed for UFC 88. Chuck Liddell vs. Rashad Evans is the main event for the show in Atlanta, but Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson will be on the card as well.


An intriguing fight has been added to UFC 89. A light heavyweight clash between Keith Jardine and Brandon Vera has been added to the card. That should be a great fight and will be important to both fighters.  Jardine needs a win after getting destroyed by Wanderlei Silva and Vera needs a convincing win at the light heavyweight level.

Affliction’s first event seems to have gone well, as far as PPV buys and gate is concerned. It’s still not clear if the promotion can compete with the UFC, but the first show was a positive start. Yahoo! is reporting Fedor Emelianenko will be back in action in October in a fight against Andre Arlovski. There are a number of fighters I’d like to see go up against Fedor and Arlovski is not one of them. I don’t think he has much of a chance, but he should fare better than Tim Sylvia did.


Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 11:00 PM | | Comments (1)
        

July 22, 2008

Q&A with Georges St. Pierre

With the two big events in the rearview mirror, it's time to focus on EliteXC next weekend and on the next major UFC event, UFC 87. UFC Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, widely recognized as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world, will defend his title against Jon Fitch. St. Pierre recently took some time to talk about the fight and a variety of different topics in the MMA world.


MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: How did you get started in martial arts?

GEORGES ST. PIERRE: I fought karate first. I was 7 years old. I was a big van of Jean Claude van Damme in the movies and I saw all the Arnold Schwarzenegger movies and I always wanted to be a martial artist. I didn't know what I wanted to do for living but when I saw the first UFC with Royce Gracie I knew that's what I wanted to do. I've been very inspired by Royce Gracie and I knew the sport was going to be big.

MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: How tough was it to get started in mixed martial arts?

ST. PIERRE: Well I was a karate guy first but then my teacher of karate died at about the same time so I decided to do Brazilian jiu-jistsu and from there I started wrestling and boxing and then I became more well-rounded and fought complete.

MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: Did you have to work in other areas when you got started or was fighting enough to pay the bills?

ST. PIERRE: Oh yeah. There was a time when I started my career that I was working three jobs at the same time. I was also studying at school and I was training for my fights and I was living in a very bad apartment. I didn't have a lot of money but those days are finished. I'm glad when I think about it because it was a very tough time for me but I knew at the time the hard work would pay off.

MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: What types of jobs did you have to work?

ST. PIERRE: I did a lot of jobs. First, just to give you an example, to pay for my study I didn't have a lot of money so to pay for my studies, my books and everything for the university, I became a garbage man for six months because it's a lot of money. So I worked full-time and I was training really hard and then I started studying and then switched to other jobs. I was working as a bouncer at a night club on the weekend and teaching government programs and I was working in recovery at a store and it was very tough.

MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: How did those struggles help you?

ST. PIERRE: When I see some people in the sport say "Oh, I don't have time to do this" and they complain and not only in the sport but in their life I laugh because I know I've done a lot. When you want something, you can go get it, you just have to use the tools and sometimes it's hard and you need to struggle hard for a couple months or a couple years sometimes like I did, but at some point if you do it well and keep going you will see the light at the end of the tunnel.

MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: Did you look up to any fighters when you first go into the sport? Do you look up to any now?

ST. PIERRE: Gracie is the best one. I really look up to many people. Royce Grace, Matt Hughes I used to look up to Randy Couture. Right now, I really like Houston Alexander.

MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: You mention Matt Hughes; how much do you think he has left in him?

ST. PIERRE: It all depends on Matt Hughes. No one else can answer that but Matt himself. If he wants to keep doing this for a long time he knows what he has to do. If he wants it and if he is still hungry and will sacrifice I think he will be very dangerous.

MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: What's the game plan for Jon Fitch?

ST. PIERRE: When you play cards, you don't want to show your hand. I have a great game plan but I think he's the best fighter that I've fought so far and it's a great challenge for me.

MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: There's a rumor of a potential fight with B.J. Penn on the horizon. Is that something you would be interested in?

ST. PIERRE: Of course, but right now all my focus is on Fitch because he's the most dangerous man right now.

MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: If you could fight anyone in the sport, who would it be?

ST. PIERRE: I think I would like to fight Jon Fitch, because he's the No. 1 guy for me. He's the guy to beat and after Fitch, I don't know.  Maybe we'll see what happens depending on the outcome of all the other fights.

MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: Have you ever had any crazy interactions with fans?

ST. PIERRE: Well, there are always some crazy fans. Something will happen where you see a fan who has been drinking or stuff like that sometimes, it's a little bit different and they ask you weird stuff. One guy asked me to hit him as hard as I could and I said no, you could sue me. I don't think it was a bright thing to do but he really insisted and wanted me to punch him.

MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: What's been the highlight of your career so far?

ST. PIERRE: Winning the belt in Montreal. That was my No. 1. I was fighting in front of my hometown fans for a world title. I couldn't have wished for a better scenario. Hopefully it's not the last time I get to fight there.

MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: Where do you have the most fans? Is it in Canada or the U.S.?

ST. PIERRE: The biggest fan base I have is probably the West Coast of the United States.

MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: What was the most frustrating part of your career?

ST. PIERRE: When I lost to Matt Serra. I was humiliated and it was the worst moment of my life but I think I went true like a man and it made me a better fighter and a better person, too.

MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: How long did it take you to get over that fight?

ST. PIERRE: I was fighting on a Saturday night, I came back Sunday and Monday morning I was in the gym pissed off. I didn't want to talk to nobody. For a couple days I wasn't in zone but then I thought about it and said you know what, it;s just a step back and let’s move forward and I put all the puzzle together and was better off for it and have been doing very well since then.

MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: How important is it for you to be recognized as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters?

ST. PIERRE: It's important for me. I want to be recognized as the best before I retire but for now I focus on my fights as the most important thing. I don't have a lack of challenge right now so I don't have to think much about what I need to do, there are so many challengers and I love it.

MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: Would you ever consider moving up to middleweight and going after both titles?

ST. PIERRE: Maybe one day, yeah, if it's good. But for right now, I'd never fight and my friend Patrick Cote is going for the title. If the way is clear and the timing is good, I would do it.

MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: How do you think Cote will fare against Anderson Silva?

ST. PIERRE: I think people will be surprised. He's very, very good and he's a way, way better version of what he was the last time he lost. He's an amazing fighter and I'm very glad he came from far. He didn't have an easy time but I'm glad all the hard work he's done has paid off and I'm very happy as a training partner and friend. It couldn't happen to a better person.

MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: What do you like most about the sport?

ST. PIERRE: I like the sport in general. It's like a chess game. It's very technical, you need to use all your tools and that's what I like.

MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: If you could change one thing, what would it be?

ST. PIERRE: I don't know. Maybe I would not put any rounds, it would be like 25 minutes or a time limit but no rounds. I'd also allow knees on the floor and that's pretty much it.

MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: What's one thing you want people to know about you that they might not already know?

ST. PIERRE: Fighting is not my life. Fighting is what I like to do in my life and it's part of my life, but it's not my whole life.

MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: What do you like to do away from fighting?

ST. PIERRE: I'm a very intellectual guy. I like to study about things like philosophy, archaeology and things like that. I'm a big fan of movies, too. I go to movie theater every week, sometimes twice a week.

MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: Who is  your favorite actor?

ST. PIERRE: It's … damn, what's his name? Forrest Gump … Tom Hanks. That's it.

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 11:00 AM | | Comments (5)
        

July 20, 2008

Eating crow on the Fedor pick

I am officially here to eat crow on my prediction that Fedor Emelianenko would lose to Tim Sylvia. Fedor was able to win the fight in less than a minute. It’s clear that he’s still the absolute monster fans remember him as. This is my mea culpa for suggesting he may be washed. It’s clear he hasn’t lost a step and now the UFC has a serious problem with its heavyweight division.

The top heavyweight fighter (Fedor) isn’t theirs and another top heavyweight (Randy Couture) is in litigation with the UFC to be released from his contract. It doesn’t help that other top 10 heavyweights, like Andrei Arlovski and Sylvia, aren’t among the current UFC HW-division ranks either. The UFC has some exciting prospects at the heavyweight level, but they have to sign some of the top fighters if they want to keep the division relevant.

Now, a few housekeeping notes. First, the way the comments work -- I need to approve each one individually before they go up. I was traveling this weekend so I wasn’t able to get to many posts as quickly as I usually do. If you post a comment and don’t see it up right away, this is why. I approve nearly everything, as long as it’s profanity-free.

Next, I am aware that Tim Sylvia did not win. I deserve the laughs and ridicule for taking Sylvia. Fire away. Of course, I did say before the fight that the allure of this matchup was whether or not Fedor was still the same fighter he used to be. I’ve seen him fight before in Pride and I’ve seen some film of his fights, so it wasn’t like I was unaware of how good he was. I simply believed he wasn’t the same fighter. There is no debate, however, about the level of competition Fedor fought in the past 18-24 months. Sylvia has been fighting much better fighters. I thought that would matter but, alas, I was wrong. Dead wrong.

Of course, so was everyone who picked Quinton Jackson to stomp Forrest Griffin. I wasn’t one of them. I picked Griffin. Everyone who thought Matt Hughes would get back in the win column by overpowering Thiago Alves was wrong. I had Alves. Everyone who thought Anderson Silva would struggle with James Irvin -- also wrong. I had Silva with a first-round knockout.

In fact, my main event predictions have been pretty solid since I started them and I have a hard time believing there are too many people out there who were 4-4 in those fights.  I’m certain that the small sample size is the biggest factor in my high prediction percentage, but I will still be right more than I’m wrong.

Now, I probably will never be as wrong as I was with my prediction for the Affliction: Banned main event.  Fedor is one of the best fighters on the planet and he proved he’s still the top heavyweight in the world. And I’m always going to be the clown that said he was washed up and that Tim Sylvia would outlast him.

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 9:10 PM | | Comments (26)
        

July 17, 2008

Sylvia over Fedor, Silva over Irvin

Just handed in my predictions for the experts piece on FightTicker.com and I've listed them below. When the other people's picks are posted, I’ll throw them up for comparison’s sake.

Tim Sylvia over Fedor Emelianenko by unanimous decision. While technically not the biggest underdog on the card, I imagine Sylvia has little chance of winning in the eyes of most MMA fans. His fights are boring, he pushes people around and then just waits for a decision. Fedor, meanwhile, is the greatest fighter created in the history of combat. At least, that's what some people would have you believe.

Don't buy the hype. Fedor hasn't fought anyone in years. He might as well be fighting people in backyards on YouTube at this point. He was once a great fighter, but I'm not so sure anymore. I suppose that's the allure of this fight. If he smashes Sylvia, he hasn't lost a step. If he struggles, he's not the same man. If he loses, then he was washed up awhile ago.

I'm going with the underdog, Sylvia. Before you laugh and scoff, I'm 2-2 with my main event predictions since I've taken over this blog. Both were underdogs. Sylvia looked much better in his most recent fight (even if he did lose), which gives me hope in this one. I also heard a rumor from an MMA writer today that the UFC let Sylvia go just so he would knock off Fedor and then re-sign with the UFC. I think that rumor is hilarious and I want to believe it’s true (it’s not) so that’s another reason I’m going with Sylvia.

I don’t think he will knock him out, but he will get the decision and he will deserve it (no controversy here). I don’t know what Fedor is capable of anymore and Sylvia showed me enough last time out to think he can do just enough to win here.

Anderson Silva over James Irvin by first-round TKO. In the other big fight of the night, it means one thing if you pick Irvin -- you are not good at life. This is the easiest fight to pick, ever. Now, I understand why you may be hesitant. Irvin isn’t the type of fighter that throws down with Kimbo Slice on national television. He is actually a professional fighter. And, he’s decent.

Still, Silva is at the top of his game. His fights always end early and this one won’t go beyond the first round. Silva will knock Irvin around for awhile and will pick up the first-round TKO. When a fighter is in his prime, it's hard to pick against him. Of course, I did exactly that last time (Griffin over Rampage), but that’s because I’m brilliant. And because Griffin is underrated and is a major contender.

Irvin is alright, but he’s not that good. There’s a reason this fight is on free TV. It's partly to counter Affliction: Banned and partly to show off the world’s top pound-for-pound fighter to millions of potential new fans.

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 12:35 AM | | Comments (69)
        

July 15, 2008

Quinton "Rampage" Jackson arrested

The former UFC light heavyweight champion, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, has been arrested on charges of felony evading, reckless driving and hit-and-run. Several reports mention Jackson running red lights during the pursuit, driving on sidewalks and sending pedestrians fleeing in terror. Photos from TMZ.com appear to show police arresting Jackson at gunpoint.

In an interesting twist to this story, Yahoo! Sports is reporting that Dana White flew to California to post Jackson’s bail. Seems excessive to me, but it’s good to see White taking a hands-on approach to prevent things from getting out of control. Officers did say Jackson wasn’t intoxicated at the time of arrest, so he’s either literally crazy or incredibly stupid.

The UFC dodged an incredible bullet here. If Jackson was injured or, God forbid, injured someone else, it would’ve been a public relations nightmare. Inexplicably, the entire sport of MMA would be on trial in the court of public opinion. Because the sport is in its infancy on the sports landscape, every incident like this is going to be magnified.

Jackson should be able to bounce back from this with little long-term damage. There are a number of athletes in mainstream sports who have done far worse things and are still competing. Of course, it’s unfortunate that this storyline has to shadow the biggest weekend of the year for the sport.

It’s also unfortunate that incidents like this will draw coverage away from athletes like Anderson Silva (whose Q&A is the post before this! Cheap plug!), but Rampage will bounce back from this. I would be shocked if he didn’t fight again before the end of the year unless there is far more to this story than it appears.


Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 9:27 PM | | Comments (23)
        

Q&A with Anderson Silva

I recently spoke with the UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva through his manager (and translator) Ed Soares. Silva will make his UFC debut at light heavyweight Saturday against James Irvin in the main event at UFC Fight Night 14. The biggest thing I took away from this interview is Silva's desire to make great fights happen, which may mean we’ll see more of him at light heavyweight. Silva's respect for fellow fighter Rich Franklin also comes through at one point in the interview.

I’ll have much more on the two big Saturday events -- UFC's and Affliction's "Banned" -- in the next few days but Silva is the hottest name in the sport right now and is widely regarded as the top fighter in the world, so I figured this Q&A should take precedence. I also spoke with Georges St. Pierre late last week and will post that Q&A sometime next week. Again, the responses below are from Silva, as translated by Soares.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Has the UFC approached you about any more fights at the light heavyweight level?

Ed Soares, translating for Anderson Silva: You know what, right now in his career, what’s going on is he’s the 185-pound champion and he’s got two to three years left in him to fight. What he wants to do is create fights the world wants to see and the fans want to see, so basically if it happens to be at 205, then we’ll fight at 205. If it happens at 185, then we’ll fight there too -- nothing's speculated and nothing's in front of us, but we’ll take the challenges as they come.

MMA Stomping Grounds: If you could pick anyone in the sport to fight, who would it be?

Soares (Silva): He said no one in particular. He trains to fight against the best so whoever the best is at that time, that’s who he’d like to fight.

MMA Stomping Grounds: How do you feel about James Irvin’s comments that he’s going to win Saturday?

Soares (Silva): [Silva] said that’s normal, anyone who has a mouth can say what they want.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What challenges will there be fighting at a weight class different from your last few fights?

Soares (Silva):   Maybe a little bit of strength.

MMA Stomping Grounds: When the UFC asked you to move up to 205 for this fight, did you hesitate at all?

Soares (Silva): Not at all, not at all. As a fighter there was no hesitation, more hesitation by his coaching staff and sparring partners but when they presented the challenge he stepped right up without hesitation to take the fight. He wants to test himself in every fight and he feels moving up right now is the best fight he can have.

MMA Stomping Grounds: How important is the title of the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world to you?

Soares (Silva): He doesn’t feel he’s the No. 1 pound for pound. He feels he won’t be able to say that until he’s retired. While he’s fighting, it’s hard for him to say he’s the best pound for pound.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Who does he think is the top pound-for-pound fighter?

Soares (Silva): He doesn’t feel there is a perfect fighter. He doesn’t know who it would be.

MMA Stomping Grounds: UFC president Dana White claimed you came to him and asked to fight more, is this accurate?

Soares (Silva): Yeah.

MMA Stomping Grounds: How often would you like to fight?

Soares (Silva): He’d like to fight as often as his body will allow him.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What has been the toughest fight in your career?

Soares (Silva): His first Muay Thai fight in his career, the first of his career.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Who has been your toughest opponent in the UFC?

Soares (Silva): Rich Franklin. His game is what he felt the toughest to train for. His striking game was probably the most complex in the UFC.

MMA Stomping Grounds: If you could change anything in the sport, what would it be?

Soares (Silva): A few of the rules. He thinks there should be more rounds.

MMA Stomping Grounds: How did you feel after the UFC wouldn’t let you box Roy Jones Jr.?

Soares (Silva): He said he understands their point of view but it’s something on his mind that at one point in his life he would like to do.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Why do you want to box Jones?

Soares (Silva): He likes to challenge himself and there’s no one better to challenge himself in boxing than Roy Jones Jr.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Were you frustrated when the UFC wouldn’t allow it at this time?

Soares (Silva): No, no. He said he wasn’t frustrated. He was a little bummed because he wants this fight to happen but understands their point of view and hopes it happens someday.

MMA Stomping Grounds: How do you think you would do boxing against Jones?

Soares (Silva): He thinks it would be a great fight.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What is one thing most people don’t know about you that you want them to know?

Soares (Silva): You stumped him with this one ... hold on. You know what, he doesn’t think there’s really anything the world doesn’t know about him yet. Everything the world needs to know or wants to know about him, he thinks they know.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What’s your favorite thing to do away from fighting?

Soares (Silva): Play video games and hang out with his family and kids.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What’s your favorite video game?

Soares (Silva): Soccer.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What do you like the most about the UFC?

Soares (Silva): He likes the way he’s treated here.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What excites you the most about the growth of the UFC?

Soares (Silva): He said he’s excited he’s able to demonstrate his technique inside the Octagon and he’s happy the people here in the U.S. are happy to watch him fight. And, he’s excited about going in and making history in fights. ...

MMA Stomping Grounds: How many fights are left on your contract?

Soares (Silva): Six fights.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Are you going to try to organize the boxing match with Jones at the end of that or sign another UFC deal?

Soares (Silva): We take it one fight at a time.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Finally, what’s the game plan for Saturday’s fight with Irvin?

Soares (Silva):  He says he’s going to go in there and do his game. He’s prepared to take the fight wherever it goes and just try to capitalize on Irvin’s errors.

***

Check out photos of UFC Fight Night 14 fighters.

More recent MMA Q&As:

> Brandon Vera

> Tim Sylvia

> Brock Lesnar

> Dana White

> CBS announcer Gus Johnson

> View all Q&As

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 3:43 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Q&As
        

July 13, 2008

Q&A with Brandon Vera

UFC heavyweight Brandon Vera is moving down to light heavyweight to take on UFC newcomer Reese Andy July 19 on Spike TV. The main event of the UFC Fight Night card is middleweight champion Anderson Silva’s debut at light heavyweight against James Irvin. Vera is coming off a pair of losses to Tim Sylvia and Fabricio Werdum and is looking to get back in the win column against Andy, a former IFL fighter. I recently spoke with Vera about the fight and a variety of other hot topics in the MMA world.

MMA Stomping Grounds: How did this fight with Andy come together?

Brandon Vera: I told the UFC I wanted to fight ASAP. They came in with a whole bunch of different options and I guess you could say I just took it.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Did they offer you any other fighters besides Reese Andy?

Brandon Vera: They offered me Dan Henderson, Wanderlei Silva, Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, Lyoto Machida and then Reese Andy. I turned down Machida. He’s not someone you take on short notice. You gotta get ready for Machida. The other fighters turned down the other fights so that’s how we came to Reese.

MMA Stomping Grounds: With you moving down to 205 and with Rich Franklin and Anderson Silva moving up to 205, do you feel more pressure to win knowing this is the most stacked division in the UFC?

Brandon Vera: No, not at all. I’m not worried about it. I don’t succumb to pressure like that at all and don’t think about stuff like that. There are a lot of great fighters I’m excited to fight but I’m not feeling any pressure.

MMA Stomping Grounds: If you and Anderson Silva both win, would you be willing to fight him at 205?

Brandon Vera: I would be willing to fight anyone they put in front of me. [The UFC's light heavyweight division] is stacked like you said, for sure, so I’m down to fight any of those guys whenever.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Andy isn’t a household name for a lot of fans, so what can you tell us about him?

Brandon Vera: He’s a three-time All-American wrestler. He’s tough and likes to take people to the ground and pound them. He’s competed in Abu Dhabi a couple times so his grappling level is pretty good. And he’s always in shape.

MMA Stomping Grounds: How important is it for you to get back on the winning track against him?

Brandon Vera: I don’t worry about getting back on the winning track, I just worry about having a good performance and showing what I can do in every fight. It’s just another fight and every fight is equally as important as the last one for me. We’ve been training hard and I took five days off after my last fight and got right back into it.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What did you think of the Forrest Griffin-Rampage Jackson fight at UFC 86?

Brandon Vera: Honestly, I didn’t know who won the fight. I thought it was a coin toss. It was so close and I was very disappointed in the judges' unanimous decision, I thought that was [expletive deleted].  I didn’t think Forrest won that [by that] wide [a margin] but I was cool with either fighter winning. It was a great fight. For them to say it was that one-sided and unanimous, I thought that was [expletive deleted].

MMA Stomping Grounds: If you could fight anyone in the sport in your next fight, who would you want?

Brandon Vera: Fabricio Werdum. I lost to him last time because of a [expletive deleted]-call by the ref, so I for sure want to fight him again ASAP.

MMA Stomping Grounds: You beat Frank Mir by technical knockout at UFC 65 -- do you think he earned a title shot after defeating Brock Lesnar at UFC 81?

Brandon Vera: Hell no. It upsets me but you can’t dwell on it. It is what it is. The UFC has given him a title shot, so what can you do? The powers that be I guess.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What do you think about Lesnar?

Brandon Vera: He’s cool. I’m kinda disappointed he’s in the big league so far but I’d like to see him in the second round. He didn’t pay his dues and earn his way into the UFC -- he got in because his name is Brock Lesnar. I can’t hate on the guy, I don’t hate him, I’m happy for him. He’s doing his thing and making money. He’s in the UFC but I don’ t like the situation, how he got in.

MMA Stomping Grounds: With the UFC expanding globally, there’s a lot more opportunities to fight outside the U.S. If you could fight anywhere in the world for your next fight, where would you want to have that card?

Brandon Vera: In the Philippines. I’d want to fight there for sure. I’m Filipino, so I’d have to be on that card. The UFC is pretty good about stuff like that. It would be easy, they would put me on that card.

MMA Stomping Grounds: If you could change one thing about the sport, what would it be?

Brandon Vera: I don’t know. There are a lot of things going on I like and a couple things I don’t like. I guess, uh, the scoring and the refereeing. I’d adjust that somehow. There has to be a constant variable and not always a judgment call but then again, it’s MMA, you have to have judgment calls. I don’t know, something with scoring.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What’s it like to have a wife who is also a fighter?

Brandon Vera: It’s really cool that that’s what we do. It makes it easy for training and traveling and stuff.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What’s one thing most people don’t know about you that you think they should?

Brandon Vera: I’m a big geek. I’m a super geek. I have remote-controlled cars, Xboxes, and I watch kung fu flicks all day.

***

More recent MMA Q&As:

> Tim Sylvia

> Brock Lesnar

> Dana White

> CBS announcer Gus Johnson

> View all Q&As

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 11:07 PM | | Comments (1)
Categories: Q&As
        

July 11, 2008

Anderson Silva on fighting at light heavyweight

Anderson Silva recently did an interview with tatame.com that fightline.com translated into English. Silva claims he doesn’t plan on sticking around at the light heavyweight level after his fight with James Irvin at UFC Fight Night 14 July 19.

“I don't have intention to fight on this category and I’m only doing this because they (UFC) asked me and I think I can do it. I don't intend to fight for this belt, this belt belongs to Lyoto (Machida) and he already proved that. I'm going to fight because I like to fight and because I like challenges.”-Anderson Silva, Fightline.com

I don’t buy this. I can certainly understand his hesitance to go after the light heavyweight belt while a friend is blazing through the division. That isn’t uncommon. Of course, it goes directly against what UFC president Dana White said at the UFC 86 pre-fight news conference about Anderson Silva.

“He wants to hold both the 185 and the 205 pound belt and he wants to defend them both. Normally I won't let guys do stuff like that because it's just ... stupid. I'll let Anderson Silva do it.”-Dana White

I think, ultimately, we will see Silva fight more at 205. He claims he doesn’t want to but I’ve covered a few of Silva’s fights and after every one, when asked who he wants to fight next, he basically says “whoever they want me to” fight. He’s made it clear that he will fight whoever the UFC wants him to. Now, when journalists threw out Rampage’s name as a possible opponent, Silva quickly smiled and shook his head, laughing it off. But, if the UFC wants him more at 205, he will fight more at 205. And I highly doubt the UFC would bring him up to light heavyweight for one fight. They have to have bigger plans in store for him.

I'm talking to him Tuesday so hopefully I'll have more on the situation then. 

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 3:05 PM | | Comments (2)
        

July 8, 2008

Q&A with Tim Sylvia

Affliction has put together an incredible card for "Banned," the biggest mixed martial arts event of the year, which is scheduled to take place July 19 in Anaheim, Calif. Headlining the fight is Fedor Emelianenko, the man who has been considered the top fighter in the world for the past few years. He’s going up against one of the best heavyweights in the world, Tim Sylvia. Sylvia recently left the UFC and become one of the few high profile free agents in the sport. I recently caught up with Sylvia to talk about Fedor, MMA judging, Kimbo Slice, the growth of the sport and more.

 

MMA Stomping Grounds: How’s the training going for Fedor?

Tim Sylvia: Good, real good. I’m preparing the same way I prepare for anyone else, I train my ass off and may the best man win.

MMA Stomping Grounds: If you win against Fedor, do you think you would deserve the title of No. 1 heavyweight in the world?

Sylvia: Yeah, I’ve answered this question a couple times. I just don’t think, in MMA it’s hard to label someone as No. 1. I think the top five guys are all No. 1. It’s just so tough, we’re all so competitive. It’s so close and in MMA anything can happen at any given moment. I don’t care about being ranked No. 1, I care about beating the best guys out there.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What appealed to you about Affliction?

Sylvia:They are friends of mine, they had six of the top 10 heavyweights in the world, and with me they have seven. That’s the best place for me to be to fight all the best fighters out there, so I have to be there.

MMA Stomping Grounds: It’s been awhile since Fedor has fought a top heavyweight. Do you think that will factor into this fight at all?

Sylvia: I’ve fought top 10 guys the past three years and he hasn’t. His competition hasn’t been very good. He’s fought fat middleweights or he’s fought freakshows who weren’t good fighters. I think it’s going to benefit me a little bit.

MMA Stomping Grounds: There are some rumors floating around now -- I think Michael Bisping mentioned something about it -- that Fedor may be injured. Do you give any credence to stuff like that?

Sylvia: I don’t give a [expletive deleted] about any of that. We’ve all fought injured. It happens, so when it comes fight-time, if he’s injured, it won’t bother him at all.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Can Affliction compete with the UFC?

Sylvia: I don’t think Affliction is even considering competing with the UFC. They are just looking to put on quality shows, pay the fighters well and have a good time doing it because they can.

MMA Stomping Grounds: If you beat Fedor, who would you like to face next?

Sylvia: It doesn’t matter to me. I really don’t want to talk about those questions. Let the fight happen first and then I’ll be happy to talk to you about what’s next.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Down the line, do you see yourself back in the UFC or have you put that behind you?

Sylvia: Yeah, eventually I would like to be back in the UFC. Right now, I have other opportunities and there’s a chance for me to make some money as a free agent so that’s what I’m going to do right now.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Do you have friends in the UFC who are coming to you with complaints now that you’re currently out of the organization?

Sylvia: I was with the UFC for five years. I have a lot of friends in the UFC, eh, you know what, no comment. I eventually want to fight back there some day and I left on good terms.

MMA Stomping Grounds: If you could change anything about the sport, what would it be?

Sylvia: There’s a couple things. I would like to see knees and foot stomps allowed on the ground and I would like to see all the judges go to classes and get certified and have to re-certify every year. Just like fighters have to apply for licenses. I think judges have to take classes and know more about MMA. You can’t just have boxing refs judge doing MMA. It’s not working and fighters are getting screwed because of it.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What is the biggest misconception people have about you?

Sylvia: I think people just think I’m mean and hard to approach because I’m big. I’m not, I’m a good guy. I’m just more of a country boy, a redneck and I just like being with my friends and stuff. I find it hard to believe that people just want to get my autograph and get pictures with me. It’s really hard to fathom, even to this day. I’m just fighting for fun and it just happens that they put me on TV now and they pay me to do it. I just love the sport so much, I’m fortunate I guess.

MMA Stomping Grounds: When did you first really notice the fan appreciation and recognition?

Sylvia: After I beat Ricco Rodriguez. Overwhelming, it was overwhelming. I just could not believe it. I had his family taking pictures with me and getting autographs and stuff. It was my second fight in the UFC.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Have you had any weird encounters with fans before?

Sylvia: Oh, God yes. I’ve had fans offer me their wives before and just stupid stuff like that. Fans wanting me to sign their wife's boobs, guys getting tattoos of my signature on their arms. One guy told me was a huge fan of mine, I said ‘thank you’ and he said, ‘can we hang out sometime?’ I said, ‘what do you mean?’ He said, ‘grab a bit to eat, hang out, like friends.’ I’m like, that’s weird, I don’t even know you, man.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What’s one thing about you that most people might not know but that you think they should?

Sylvia: I’m a huge outdoorsman. A big, big hunter. If I’m not training and fighting I’m in the woods. I’ve got some farmland and I love being in the outdoors. I go to Canada to hunt black bear every year and I go all over the U.S. to hunt all species of turkeys. I’m a huge, huge bow hunter.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What do you enjoy most about the sport?

Sylvia: Just the level of competition. I used to play semi-pro football. If you lost the football game it was like, 'I lost but I could still kick your ass,' but [MMA] is the pinnacle. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, you know who the best guy is. It’s kind of a male thing, we want to prove our masculinity and see who the toughest guy is, and we really find out in this sport.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Do you ever have guys who try to prove their toughness by starting things with you?

Sylvia: I get guys running their mouths, hoping I’ll smack them and they can sue me and get paid. But, the majority of public knows I’m 6-8 and 250 pounds, and they know if they mess with me they will get their butt beat, but I do get guys trying to make a little bit of money.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What excites you the most about the sport’s growth?

Sylvia: Um, just being mainstream. And big sponsors are going to start coming in and then bigger sponsors and maybe the sport will be in the Olympics. It would be a huge accomplishment and I’d like to think I was a big part of it.

MMA Stomping Grounds: With the Olympics, is that something you hope can happen during your career?

Sylvia: That would be a lifelong dream but it’s not gonna happen while I’m still fighting. I would kill to be in the Olympics. That would be amazing. I think it’s still 10 to 20 years from the Olympics but I think it will be eventually and I will sit back, hopefully in the Hall of Fame then, and I can say I dug the trenches for this sport.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What’s the biggest misconception most casual sports fans have about MMA?

Sylvia: The biggest thing is they think it’s barbaric or they think it's fake. We need more mainstream coverage, bigger shows, bigger events. The UFC eventually getting on prime time, showcasing the superstars they have and not using Internet idiots to produce the sport and publicize it.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Speaking of Internet idiots, what do you think about Kimbo Slice?

Sylvia: I commend him for becoming somebody and making a living for himself. I’m not mad at Kimbo for making a living -- he’s a self-made man. They put his fights on You Tube and then they said, I wanna pay you $300,000 to fight on prime time TV. You can’t get mad at him for that. You gotta get mad at the people putting fights on TV. There are better guys to showcase, guys who have busted ass, who have fought for 200 bucks and had to get stitches and have paved the way for other fighters. A guy like Kimbo can walk in and be on prime time to fight a bum -- it’s not fair to the true mixed martial artists.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What do you think about Brock Lesnar?

Sylvia: I think once again, he’s a guy who it’s not fair to come in and be the co-main event. To have one fight and get half a million, it’s not fair to guys like me and guys like [Antonio Rogerio] Nogueira.  I know why they try to do this -- to get more fans -- but there are guys out there who have been loyal to the sport and when stuff like this happens it’s like a slap in the face.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What did you think about the decision in the Forrest Griffin-Quinton Jackson fight? Did you think Griffin won?  

Sylvia: No, I didn’t. I love Forrest, he’s a great guy and they are both good friends of mine, but that’s why I was talking about judges. I really believe Forrest won round two and I believe he won five, and Quinton dominated the first round -- maybe a 10-8 round -- and won rounds three and four 10-9, but judges just weren’t educated enough in MMA.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Looking back on your career, do you have any regrets, would you change anything?

Sylvia: Um, no. I’m pretty happy with the way my career has gone and the way I’ve been portrayed and I’m looking forward to the future and my legacy and this next big fight.

MMA Stomping Grounds: When you talk about legacy, do you have a plan in mind for the rest of your career or are you just going to keep fighting until you’re not on top of your game anymore? 

Sylvia: Yeah, I’m thinking three, four, five more years. As long as I stay healthy and I’m at the top. If I lose three, four or five fights in a row, I’m going to be done.

Photo: Tim Sylvia (left) and Fedor Emelianenko will square off in Affliction's "Banned" show on July 19. (Handout photo)

***

More recent MMA Q&As:

> Brock Lesnar

> Dana White

> CBS announcer Gus Johnson

> View all Q&As

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 10:54 PM | | Comments (2)
Categories: Q&As
        

July 6, 2008

Q&A with Brock Lesnar

With UFC 86 in the rearview mirror it’s time to look ahead to some of the summer’s other big fights. One of those will be a battle between UFC heavyweights Heath Herring and mixed martial arts newcomer and former professional wrestler Brock Lesnar Aug. 9 at UFC 87 in Minneapolis, Minn. Lesnar, who lives in Minneapolis-St. Paul, will be entering the Octagon for the second time in his career, following a first-round submission loss to former heavyweight champion Frank Mir at UFC 81. Lesnar's UFC 87 matchup with Herring was arranged after his original opponent, Mark Coleman, pulled out of the fight with a knee injury. Lesnar recently took the time to talk to me by phone about his career and his preparation for UFC 87.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Why did you decide to get into mixed martial arts? 

Brock Lesnar: Oh man, um ... originally it was the decision to be a part of the NFL because contractually I couldn’t fight in MMA, so I just knew I was done being a pro wrestler for the time being, at least for the company I was working for. (Editor's note: Lesnar played for the Minnesota Vikings for a little over a month during the 2004 preseason, before being released by the team).

MMA Stomping Grounds: How was the transition to MMA?

Lesnar: I’ve enjoyed it. I’m able to train at home and be at home every night. It brings me back to the competitive side of who I am. It’s something I wish I would’ve done a long time ago, but hindsight is 20/20.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What was your biggest concern with joining the UFC?

Lesnar: I didn’t really have any concerns. My biggest concern was, financially, making sure that I wanted to do it.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What was it like making your debut in the UFC on the main stage against a fighter like Mir?

Lesnar: Well, it was an honor. I’m glad the company thinks highly enough of me to put me in a co-main event and it was an exciting first fight for me. It was only 90 seconds long [and] an outcome that I would like to reverse, but I enjoyed it. It takes awhile for people to find exactly who they are, and I think this is definitely me, for sure. We’re all put on this earth for some odd reason and some job title and I think this is what I should be doing.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What do you like the most about mixed martial arts?

Lesnar: This is who I am and it’s a chance for me to live out, competitively, who I am and I enjoy the sport. It’s a growing sport and it's become very big -- and it’s going to get bigger -- and I’m just glad to be a part of it. Life is all about timing, too. I’m glad the timing has worked out for me to be a part of this.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What part of the UFC’s growth excites you the most?

Lesnar: We just signed a merchandising deal with a company to make action figures of myself and other fighters, and [the UFC] is growing in different areas. It’s becoming a legitimate contender to pro wrestling, hockey, basketball, football ... it’s becoming one of those sports. Before long I imagine there will be trading cards and all kinds of merchandise that give fighters another avenue to make money, instead of just fighting.

MMA Stomping Grounds: How would you respond to fans of the sport and fighters lower on the totem pole who believe you got a big push because of your popularity in wrestling?

Lesnar: Tough [expletive deleted], buddy. Get in line. That’s just the way it is. This is a business and it’s a sport, it’s entertainment and it’s all three of those words wrapped into one. [UFC president] Dana White and [co-owners] the Fertitta brothers didn’t buy this company to say, ‘Hey let’s see if we can run this thing into the ground and not make a dime.’ They bought it to make millions and make it what it is, and that’s what they are doing. I’m just trying to have fun and get a little piece of the pie. I really enjoy it. I’m proud and honored to be a part of it. And it’s not like I didn’t pay any dues either. I wrestled amateur when I was 5 years old and put more miles in airplanes and working out. I’m 31 this year and I’ve paid dues. If [other fighters] want to be mad I think they should focus on how they can become a big contributor. They are mad because they aren’t making any money.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What was your reaction when Coleman had to pull out of UFC 87?

Lesnar:  After looking at Mark, I respect Mark a lot but it worked out for the better. Mark, I believe, is over the hill and had been out of the league and regardless of the injured knee, I don’t think it would’ve made a difference.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What did you think when they proposed Herring instead?

Lesnar: Heath is a younger guy, he definitely has a lot of experience and he’s a tough SOB. He’s a brawler and brings to the plate a whole variety of things that we’re looking at as a fighter. He’s well rounded with hands, feet and it’s a challenge for me, and I accepted the challenge when Mark pulled out. I’m looking at this fight where I’ve got a lot to gain and he has a lot to lose.
My back is against the wall in this fight too, because I said from the beginning I wanted to fight credible opponents and that’s what Dana is handing me in Frank Mir and Heath Herring.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What do you think about another newcomer to mixed martial arts, Kimbo Slice?

Lesnar: I don’t have a comment on that. It’s not worth commenting on it.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What’s been the toughest part of your transition to mixed martial arts?

Lesnar: Well there’s one thing I’ve got that you can’t take away and that’s a huge wrestling background. Another thing too is I’ve been able to keep my mouth shut and my eyes and ears open, and my trainers will tell you that. I’m trying to learn and absorb as much of the fight game as I can to be a well-rounded fighter and prepared for anything. I’m just another one of the guys who has his sights on becoming the UFC heavyweight champion.

MMA Stomping Grounds: After seeing the success Cheick Kongo had in taking Herring to the ground, do you think your wrestling will give you an advantage? 

Lesnar: I would imagine it would, I hope so. For me, I’ve got to be well prepared on my feet too. I might run into somebody I won’t be able to take down so I’ll have to stand and bang as well. Wrestling has taken kind of to the backburner as I try to brush up with my jiu-jitsu, hands and feet to become well rounded so I will see no surprises when I get into the Octagon.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about you?

Lesnar: I don’t know. I don’t really care.

MMA Stomping Grounds: What’s one thing about you that most people might not know that you think they should?

Lesnar: That I love my family very much.

MMA Stomping Grounds: Are you looking forward to fighting in Minnesota?

Lesnar:  Oh, absolutely. Any time I don’t have to get on an airplane and to be in front of my hometown [fans] is great. The state of Minnesota has been great to me and now people that want to come and see this and witness a UFC event don’t have to get on a plane and spend a lot of money. It’s right in the backyard and it’s a good thing for the city and for the state.

***

Check out Ring Posts, The Sun's pro wrestling blog.

Photo courtesy of Zuffa, LLC.

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 11:13 PM | | Comments (14)
Categories: Q&As
        

Griffin-Jackson rematch on the horizon?

Forrest Griffin prevailed over Quinton Jackson at UFC 86 Saturday in what was easily the best main event of 2008. Some of the reaction from the fight has been downright idiotic, so let’s clear some things up. First, the “fix” was not in. I’ve heard this theory posited on several message boards and in a few e-mails from fans and it’s downright absurd. While Griffin is a homegrown champ, the UFC would’ve been fine with Rampage winning. It would’ve proven he’s a dominant champion at the top of his game. Additionally, the UFC has far too much to lose by fixing a fight than it would stand to gain by having Griffin win the belt. Third, the judges aren’t even employed by the UFC so it’s not like president Dana White is lording over these people. If you try to argue that this fight was fixed, you’re an idiot.

Griffin won the fight, though it should’ve been a little closer than it was on a few scorecards. Next, there should not be an immediate rematch. I’ve heard a few writers suggest this because Jackson did not lose convincingly and has had an impressive stretch lately. I certainly understand their point because it was a terrific fight and a sequel would be pretty awesome. It can’t happen, though. There’s just too much depth at light heavyweight in the UFC to have an immediate rematch. On one hand, I feel like Jackson deserves it. But one of the main reasons he deserves it is the controversy surrounding the scoring and an immediate rematch would be the UFC validating concerns over scoring, and I think that would send the wrong message.

On the other, there are a lot of great fights that can happen to set up a rematch. I’d love to see Rampage take on Wanderlei Silva first and for Griffin to defend his title against the winner of the Chuck Liddell-Rashad Evans fight in September. Of course, Lyoto Machida needs to figure into this somewhere, although I don’t think he deserves a title shot just yet (although I wouldn’t complain if he got one, either).

All in all, it was a great fight that saved a very average and disappointing card. It’s tough to figure the UFC out sometimes. You will get a stacked card worth plunking down nearly 50 bucks for and then one like this, with a whole lot of nothing until a terrific main event. The UFC has had more hits than misses lately and I think the next two events are huge hits, but this one was a one-fight show.  

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 10:28 PM | | Comments (13)
        

July 5, 2008

Anderson Silva wants to fight ... a lot

MMAWeekly.com has an interesting news item on Anderson Silva. During the UFC 86 news conference, president Dana White claimed that the winner of the Patrick Cote-Ricardo Almeida fight would be in line to take on middleweight champion Anderson Silva in the near future. MMAWeekly.com followed up with White, who said the fight could actually happen this year. So, if you’re scoring at home, Silva moves up to 205 to fight James Irvin on July 19. Then, Silva plans to defend his middleweight championship in early September (potentially) against Yushin Okami. After Irvin and Okami, provided he’s healthy, Silva wants to defend his belt again two months later, which would mean the Cote-Almeida winner would get a title shot in November. After that fight, Silva wants to move back to 205 to continue his quest to hold both championships. Dana White seems to be in favor of Silva’s plan.

“When I talk about real fighter, this is the kind of guy I'm talking about," White told MMAWeekly.com. "This guy sat down in a meeting with us, literally, two months ago and said you're not fighting me enough, I want to fight more. And he wants to keep proving himself. He's one of these guys that said my window is this big and I want to get everything in before this window closes.”

I love watching Silva fight and he is the top fighter in the world right now. But, this is a pretty ambitious plan. Neither of the middleweight fights should concern him too much but his debut at 205 will be interesting. I don’t know if he could make a realistic run at holding both titles like he plans. This would be different if he wanted to cut down to welterweight because light heavyweight is the deepest division in the UFC right now. At welterweight he’d have Georges St. Pierre, possibly B.J. Penn and a few other challenges but it would be easier than blazing through the light heavyweight ranks while also defending the middleweight championship.

***

Click here for photos of UFC 86 fighters.

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 4:12 PM | | Comments (2)
        

July 4, 2008

Thiago Alves vs. Diego Sanchez at UFC 89?

UFC 89 will be held in England and features a main event of Michael Bisping versus Chris Leben.

I’ve never been the biggest Bisping fan, so I can’t say I’m thrilled about that. I am happy because of another match on that card.

According to MMA weekly, Diego Sanchez will face Thiago Alves. Sanchez is coming off an impressive enough win in The Ultimate Fighter Finale and Alves is coming off his TKO of Matt Hughes.

Fiveouncesofpain.com also has the report that UFC 89 could be free on Spike! TV. Alves vs. Sanchez might as well be the main event of that show because that should be one heck of a fight.

******

Click here for photos of fighters scheduled to take part in UFC 86.

 

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 2:55 PM | | Comments (0)
        

UFC 86 odds and ends

MMA Mania has posted the odds released by the Mandalay Bay on UFC 86 and Jackson is a -260 favorite. I think that’s about right, but I expected it to actually be a little higher. I’ve had a lot of success with my MMA predictions lately, but I think I may have taken too big of a risk in this Quinton Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin fight. I think Rampage is near the absolute top of his game right now. That being said, we’ve had bigger upsets in the past year and Griffin is a very good fighter as well. While internally I’m waffling a little on my prediction of Griffin submitting Rampage in the third round, externally, I’m still on board with it.

And, not for nothing, here’s a lengthy breakdown of one of the top main events we’ve had this year. Of course, it ends with this quote “This fight is impossible to predict.” Still, there is some good analysis from the UFC’s website.

And, finally, some great UFC 86 stories.

Carlos Arias has a great piece on Juanito Ibarra, Rampage’s trainer, for the Orange County Register.

Neil Davidson, of the Canadian Press, has an interesting read on Forrest Griffin.

*****

Click here for photos of fighters scheduled to take part in UFC 86.


Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 2:48 PM | | Comments (1)
        

July 2, 2008

UFC 86 predictions and more

This will be a busy week with UFC 86 on the horizon. We’ve got some interesting things in the works here for next week as we move beyond Saturday's big pay-per-view event but first, a few things on this week.

And, because it’s that time of the week, here's my pick for the UFC 86 Main Event. I’m taking Forrest Griffin over current UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. I may be the only person without Griffin as a last name to pick Forrest but someone has to go with the underdog.

I think it’s obvious that Rampage is coming into this fight as a heavy favorite, which is exactly what has me concerned about this fight. It seems so simple on paper. You pick the more experienced and talented fighter. On paper, at first glance, it seems like an easier pick than the Harlem Globetrotters over the Washington Generals (a bet that always makes me cash). That being said, I think Griffin upsets Jackson in this fight.

To do that, I’m fairly certain he’ll have to submit Jackson. Rampage proved his cardio isn’t a concern in his last fight. Then again, it’s been a long time since he’s been submitted as well. Rampage is the better striker and has the edge in wrestling as well. Yet, everyone in the world is picking Jackson, so on a hunch, I’m going out on a limb and going with Griffin with a fourth-round submission.

And really, it’s the smartest pick you can make. You pick Griffin and he wins, you are a genius. You take him and he loses, then no one cares because everyone picked Jackson.

More MMA links

Here are UFC 86 predictions from CBSSports.com writers.

MMAjunkie.com reports that Rich Franklin is looking to fight at UFC 88 in Atlanta, according to a source close to the event, who said the search for his opponent "is in full swing." MMARated.com then reported yesterday that Franklin's opponent will be light heavyweight Matt Hamill.

According to both links above, he’ll be fighting at 205, or is at least considering it. That move doesn’t make much sense. The current middleweight champion, Anderson Silva, is moving up to light heavyweight for several fights, so it looks like Franklin can’t escape him. I like the idea of Franklin at 205 if Silva stays at 185 because there are some intriguing fights for him at 205. I’d love to see him fight Henderson at 185 though, but other than that there isn’t much else for Franklin at 185. He’s good enough to beat everyone in the division except for the champ, who he’s lost to twice. He’s got to do something to change up his career and this could be interesting for him. He may have some more juice left but I can’t see him winning the light heavyweight championship.

Georges St. Pierre has been nominated for an ESPY. UFC.com has the news on its home page and asks reader to vote for St. Pierre.

And here's an outstanding Q&A with Jorge Gurgel, who is fighting at UFC 86 this weekend.

Check back later. I'll have more on UFC 86 later today and a Q&A with one of the fighters from the card. 

Posted by Mark Chalifoux at 12:28 AM | | Comments (1)
        
Keep reading
Recent entries
Archives
Categories
About the blogger
Kevin Richardson has been a fan of mixed martial arts competition ever since UFC 3, when 600-pound sumo wrestler Emmanuel Yarborough was beaten by Keith Hackney. Kevin will cover the world of MMA — in Baltimore, nationally and internationally. He plans to take readers into the locker rooms and MMA schools, where they'll hear from local fighters and trainers. If you have a news tip or suggestions for the blog, please e-mail him.

-- ADVERTISEMENT --

Poll
Sign up for FREE local sports alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for local sports text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Categories
Blog updates
Recent updates to baltimoresun.com sports blogs  Subscribe to this feed
Stay connected