Archive for October, 2008

UFC 90 picks

October 24th, 2008
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Two UFC’s in as many weeks? It doesn’t happen often, but the Ultimate Fighting Championship is putting on its second card in seven days, headlined by a showdown for the middleweight title between champion Anderson Silva and Patrick Cote.

Let’s get to the picks for all the main card fights.

155: Sean Sherk (36-3-1) vs. Tyson Griffin (12-1)

Sherk isn’t a stranger to Hawaii fight fans. The former champion at 155 is coming off a three-round beatdown at the hands of BJ Penn. Griffin, 24 years young, has won four fights in a row in the UFC. Both guys tend to fight to a decision, and I don’t see this being any different. I compare Sherk to Hughes as two guys who dominated their weight division for so long, but have recently been knocked off their perch and struggle to get back into it. Just like Hughes lost to Alves, I think the best days of Sherk are behind him. Give me the younger, quicker, faster Griffin by decision.

HW: Fabricio Werdum (11-3-1) vs. Junior Dos Santos (6-1)

With Randy Couture returning to the UFC and Brock Lesnar getting all the hype, the man lost in the heavyweight shuffle has been Werdum, who is coming off impressive victories over Gabriel Gonzaga and Brandon Vera.  It’s a tough spot for Santos to make his UFC debut. I think this fight all comes down to Werdum. He looked a little out of shape at the weigh ins. Will we see a guy that feels slighted by being left out of the HW title mix and wants to prove a point, or a guy that feels slighted by being left out of the HW title mix and doesn’t care anymore. Werdum wins by decision, but an ugly one.

155: Rich Clementi (40-12-1) vs. Grey Maynard (6-0-1)

Surprised to see this fight so high up on the card. I’d at least expect Sherk/Griffin to occupy this spot. Maynard was part of the double KO at the Ultimate Fighter Finale 5 show against Rob Emerson that is probably the craziest thing I’ve seen happen live at a fight. Since then he’s won three fights. Clementi recently silenced the loud-mouthed Melvin Guillard and is 3-0 at 155. I think Maynard’s wrestling ability will be the difference in a second-round, ground-and-pount, TKO.

170: Josh Koscheck (13-2) vs. Thiago Alves (21-4)

Koscheck is a late replacement for injured Diego Sanchez. Alves is a very talented striker, who I think is currently the top 170-pounder that can challenge Georges St.-Pierre for the belt (excluding Penn). Koscheck has the ability to take Alves down, but Alves is one of the most deadly strikers on the ground as well. The winner of this fight probably gets the Penn/GSP winner. I think Alves puts on a show similar to his fight with Hughes. TKO in Round 2 for the Pitbull.

185: Anderson Silva (22-4) vs. Patrick Cote (14-4)

If Silva loses, I can no longer say I was at the last fight Silva lost (DQ, Rumble on the Rock at Blaisdell, Yushin Okami).  Cote was in the main event of one of the first UFC PPV’s I saw live, against Tito Ortiz. Cote lost that fight, AND his next three UFC fights, before winning his last four in the Octagon. He’s getting a title shot because frankly, the middleweight division is the weakest division in the UFC. Cote can earn a moral victory by lasting the first round, but I’d be surprised. Round 1 KO for the unstoppable freight train known as Anderson Silva.

My only hope is after Silva tears through Cote, with the EliteXC going out of business, Dana White grabs Robbie Lawler for a Lawler/Silva fight, because Lawler would give Silva a better fight than anybody currently in the UFC middleweight division.

OVERALL: 6-4
LAST EVENT (UFC 89): 3-2

EliteXC finished; Icon too?

October 21st, 2008
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News that EliteXC is going out of business was confirmed today by Icon Sport’s T. Jay Thompson. EliteXC canceled it’s Nov. 8 show, which was scheduled to feature Robbie Lawler vs. Joey Villasenor and Nick Diaz vs. Eddie Alvarez.

Icon Sport, which was bought by Pro Elite, the parent company of EliteXC, in 2007, and owned by Thompson, isn’t dead however. Thompson said he still plans on trying to hold a card in Feb. 2009, although a lot of it depends on the bankruptcy proceedings that could keep the company shelved for longer.

Of course, even if Thompson is able to continue running his show in Hawaii, regulation laws for mixed martial arts goes into effect on July 1st of next year, and increased costs to promote fights may make it hard for most local organizations to make any money, thus making it pretty difficult to run a show.

As for EliteXC, the big question now is where will its fighters go from here. Will Robbie Lawler return to the UFC? Will Kimbo Slice ever fight again? The end of EliteXC means a lot of free agents are looking for work. Will Affliction or Strike Force make a big play at most of these guys or will the UFC become the end-all promotion for MMA in the United States?

Bisping beats Leben

October 20th, 2008
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England’s Michael Bisping scored a unanimous decision victory over Chris Leben at UFC 89 on Saturday.

For those of you that saw the fight, it’s the perfect indication of how no matter how Leben fairs, win or lose, he will get to fight in the UFC as long as he wants. He’s exciting, he backs down from nobody, and he presses the action no matter who you are. Bisping danced and picked his shots and won a decision, but you have to give Leben credit for pressing the fight and not moving backwards.

At the end, I can see Bisping winning a decision. I thought he won Round 1 and you can argue he pulled out round 3, but I thought Leben clearly won round 2. 30-27 is a bogus score in my opinion. A fight that close, you can debate back and forth, and I can’t really say Bisping shouldn’t have won, but at the same time, 30-27 was a reach and TWO judges scored it that way.

Whatever the case, Leben has nothing to worry about. He’s a crowd pleaser and one tough fighter, and he’ll have plenty of fights to come in the UFC. Great main event in what turned out to be a great card. Here are the results:

Michael Bisping def. Chris Leben by unanimous decision
Keith Jardine def. Brandon Vera by split decision
Luiz Cane def. Sokoudjou by TKO (round 2)
Chris Lytle def. Paul Taylor by unanimous decision
Marcus Davis def. Paul Kelly by submission (round 2)
Dan Hardy def. Akihiro Gono by split decision
Shane Carwin def. Neil Wain by TKO (round 1)
David Bielkheden def. Jess Laudin by unanimous decision
Terry Etim def. Sam Stout by unanimous decision
Jim Miller def. David Baron by submission (round 3)
Per Eklund def. Sam Schiavo by submission (round 3)

UFC 89 predictions

October 17th, 2008
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UFC 89: Bisping vs. Leben

Here we go with the predictions for the main card of UFC 89, which will air on Spike TV (Oceanic Dig. 559) tomorrow at 6 p.m. on a 3-hour tape delay. I’m going to keep a running tally of how I fare to see if I really know anything about MMA, so let’s get to it.

Overall record: 3-2
Last event (UFC 88): 3-2

170: Paul Kelly (8-0) vs. Marcus Davis (19-5)

This is Kelly’s second fight in the UFC and first in 10 months since a unanimous decision victory over Paul Taylor. Davis is 6-2 in the UFC, but is coming off a loss to Mike Swick in June. Davis is more experienced and the better striker, while Kelly will probably look to try to get the fight on the ground. I think Kelly has more holes in his game and Davis is looking to rebound from a tough loss to Swick, so give me Davis by TKO in round 2.

170: Paul Taylor (9-3-1) vs. Chris Lytle (35-16-4)

Pretty easy to figure out the experience advantage. Lytle has lost to some great fighters in the UFC, including Robbie Lawler, Matt Hughes, Matt Serra, Karo Parisyan and Thiago Alves. (He also beat Hawaii’s Ron Jhun in the Octagon). Taylor just recently eeked out a split decision over Jess Liaudin. Good chance these guys are going to stand and bang in a possible fight of the night and I think somebody goes down in round 1. Give me the more experienced Lytle by KO.

205: Sokoudjou (5-2) vs. Luiz Cane (9-1-1)

More fireworks in this bout. Sokoudjou put his name on the map with a stunning knockout of Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in a PRIDE event that I still call the best fight card from top to bottom I’ve seen in my 4 years of covering this stuff. He didn’t look very comfortable against Lyoto Machida, but nobody does. Cane has jiu-jitsu skills, but preferes to fight standing, which from what I’ve seen with Sokoudjou, isn’t a good idea. Another fight ending in KO in my opinion, give me Sokoudjou by first-round KO.

205: Brandon Vera (9-2) vs. Keith Jardine (13-5-1)

Which Jardine is going to show up? That’s the question. Will we see the guy that beat Chuck Liddell and light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin, or will we see the guy that got overwhelmed by Wanderlei Silva in his last fight. I’ve never been a Vera fan since he stubbornly held out against the UFC for nearly a year wanting more money, but he does own a win over Frank Mir. Mir wasn’t in great shape then, and I was very disappointed with his fight against Fabricio Werdum. Not sold on Vera, so give me Jardine by a decision that gets a few boo’s from the crowd.

185: Michael Bisping (17-1) vs. Chris Leben (18-4)

Do I have to be bias toward the guy living in Hawaii? This is a tough fight to call, and I’m surprised Bisping is as big of a favorite as he is. Yes, he has two TKO victories at 185 pounds, but they have come by overwhelming opponents on the ground with strikes. Does he have the knockout power necessary to finish Leben? Leben has one of the strongest chins in the division, and if you do happen to catch him on the button, it only seems to make him stronger (ask Terry Martin and Alessio Sakara). I can’t see Bisping finishing Leben, so if he wins, it means he’ll have to avoid Leben’s strikes for 15 minutes. Leben will probably struggle to catch him early, but the longer the fight goes, the more it turns into his favor. Leben has a knack of pulling out wins in the final moments, I think he does it again. Leben by KO in the third round.

There you go, those are my picks. Am I right? Am I wrong? You guys tell me.

Leben vs. Bisping this Saturday

October 14th, 2008
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A couple years ago, the name Chris Leben wouldn’t mean much to MMA fans in Hawaii.

Unless you were an avid watcher of the Ultimate Fighter, you probably wouldn’t even recognize his name.  But for over a year now, Leben has become an influential figure in the Hawaii fight game. As the head instructor at the Icon Fitness Gym in Niu Valley, Leben has trained some of the best up-and-coming fighters on Oahu.

Now it’s his time to shine in the biggest fight of his career. Leben is part of the main event for Saturday’s UFC 89 card in England, when he takes on Michael Bisping in a big-time showdown in the 185-pound weight division. With the UFC void of viable candidates to Anderson Silva’s middleweight title, the winner could be the next in line for a shot if Silva beats Patrick Cote later this month.

Leben is coming off an impressive knockout of Alessio Sakara  in February while Bisping has won both fights since dropping from the light heavyweight to middleweight division. The fight was originally scheduled to take place in June, but before Leben could leave the country to fight in the UK, he had to clear up a DUI case in Oregon in which he spent time in jail.

Refreshed, refocused, and a self-proclaimed new man, Leben will bring his wild style and crazy knockout power to the cage Saturday night. The fight is live on PPV Saturday morning, but a same-day replay beginning at 6 p.m. on Spike TV is free.

I’ll post my predictions on this fight, as well as the entire main card, later this week, but what do you guys think? Can Bisping knock out Leben or will “The Crippler” win his third fight in a row?