Archive for August, 2009

Weekend Wrap

August 31st, 2009
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First of all, Saturday night was the first boxing event I’ve ever covered and I was very impressed. Like MMA, one of the coolest parts of covering fights is that build up in anticipation when the main event fighters come to the ring. When Brian Viloria came out to the Hawaii 5-0 theme song, the place was electric and had the kind of atmosphere that makes these events so exciting to watch in person.

But then, to watch Viloria and Jesus Iribe stand toe-to-toe and get after it for 33 minutes, only to come out for that final round and bang away like everything was on the line, was truly an epic finish to a great night that really was viewed as the rebirth of boxing in Hawaii.

Only time will tell how much of a rebirth it really will be. Since we in the media are forced to estimate attendance figures, the exact number of people that were at the show is a little disputed. It was pretty empty when the first fight began, but in taking a glance around just before the main event, I thought it had filled up to the point that it was at least 50% capacity in an arena that fits 8,000+.

Either way, that number will ultimately tell the story of what is to come with boxing in Hawaii. But after a six-year hiatus and with the rise of mixed martial arts providing a major obstacle, boxing fans have to be happy with what they saw Saturday night.

******

Since I was at the boxing fights, I missed out on UFC 102. Hometown favorites Randy Couture and Chris Leben didnt fare well with Couture losing a decision and Leben losing by submission in the third round of his fight against Jake Rosholt, who picked up his first UFC win.

I was interested to see Couture signed a new six-fight deal with the UFC. That leaves five more fights in the future for the 46-year-old Couture?  I know he’s Captain America and people always get themselves in trouble as soon as they doubt the man but 46 is no 40 and Couture has been beaten up in his last two fights against Brock Lesnar and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. I don’t know if he has five more fights him in.

Meanwhile I hope Nogueira gets a shot at Brock Lesnar. All apologies to Shane Carwin, who is getting the next heavyweight title shot, but Nogueira is clearly the biggest threat in my opinion to Lesnar’s heavyweight title. He’s no slouch in boxing and might be able to pick and poke at Lesnar on the feet. Lesnar obviously has a huge size advantage and should be able to shoot in and take Nogueira down, but Nogueira’s submission game on the ground is ahead of even Frank Mir’s. Carwin’s best shot is to knock Lesnar out, but I think Lesnar runs through him and hopefully the UFC sets up Lesnar/Nogueira down the line because Nogueira has a chance to become UFC champion once again.

UFC 102, Viloria/Iribe and more

August 29th, 2009
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118-110, 117-112, 117-111, winner by unanimous decision and still IBF Light Flyweight Champion. Brian Viloria.

Dave Reardon: Good thing this fight is in Hawaii instead of Mexico.

We’re going to the judges. I’ve got it 116-113 Viloria.

Round 12: FINAL ROUND! Viloria salutes the crowd. Iribe ready to fight. Viloria explodes. A brawl is breaking out in the center of the ring. Viloria has thrown 50 punches. Iribe answers. Absolute slugfest. Place is going bananas. They aren’t stopping. It’s a STREETFIGHT! Wild round. Viloria going to work. Uppecuts galore! Crowd is abuzz. Iribe hurt. But lands a right to the temple. Viloria taking shots now. Viloria back now. THROWING BOMBS! Crowd is getting a treat to end this fight. BIG HOOK BY VILORIA! Both guys look tired. Big shot by Iribe! IRIBE WITH A MONSTER HOOK! Trading uppercuts. Iribe going to work. Big shots up on the ropes. UNREAL. BIG RIGHT! Viloria takes control. Iribe answers. 10 seocnds. PLACE IS ELECTRIC! BOMBS AWAY! ROUND ENDS! UNREAL ROUND (SB scores it 10-10 draw)

Round 11: This was Viloria’s magical round against Ulises Solis. Big shot from Iribe. Iribe connects early but Viloria answers with a shot to the head and a right to the body. Right hook from Viloria and a counter body shot from Iribe. Crowd getting antsy. Iribe countering well. Iribe works the body. Can sense some frustration from Viloria. Viloria needs to finish strong. Not much action. Iribe wants to the counter and Viloria slow to press the action. Right jab from Iribe. (SB scores it 10-9 Iribe)

Best round of the night. Iribe stole the round at the end. I’ve got Viloria up 97-93 as we go to the 11th.

Round 10: This is a 12-round fight. Not 10. Crowd has no idea. Straight left from Viloria. Iribe on his heels. Viloria works inside and hops back out. 1-2 lands by Viloria. Left hook to the head followed by one to the body. Bi straight right. Crowd erupts. Viloria on the offensive. Iribe temporarily stops him with a body shot. Little bit of defense from both fighters. Iribe lands a hook that staggers Viloria. Viloria counters and Iribe hurt. Back and forth round. Iribe throwing more punches now. Viloria snaps a left hook and a shot ot the body. Viloria on the ropes. Iribe landing. Very close round. (SB scores it 10-9 Iribe)

Round 9: Crowd gets loud and Viloria comes out firing. Nice combo from Viloria. Viloria goes to work with the jab. Viloria controlling everything this round with his jab. Ref warns Iribe for low blow and Iribe yells back. Viloria ducks under a big upper cut. 1-2 combo fro Viloria. And another. Iribe motions him to bring it on. Probably means he got hurt. Big body shot by Iribe. Viloria answers. Viloria stepping it up but eats two jabs. Left hook lands by Viloria. Overhand right. Left hook. Viloria wins the round in final 10 seconds. (SB scores the round 10-9 Viloria)

Round 8: As I try to dodge the bodily fluids, Iribe comes out with the first big shot of the round. Viloria has slowed down a little. Iribe’s right jab finding a home. Viloria’s corner yelling at him to GET BUSY. Viloria eats a body shot. Counter left hook by Viloria. Iribe starting to look up to the challenge. Some showmanship now by Iribe and the crowd starts to BOO. Iribe getting confident though. Viloria missing with most of his punches. Big 1-2 from Iribe. Iribe really moving. (SB scores the round 10-9 Iribe)

Viloria getting a tongue lashing from his corner worse than any Iribe right hook. Kawano spills the spit cup right in front of us. GOOD ONE!

Round 7: Viloria continues to work the body but neither fighter is landing much. Holy moly. Brian Viloria just threw 13 punches in 0.4 seconds. Right hook to the body. Big combo by Iribe. Viloria answers. Overhand right moves Iribe back. 1-2-3. Viloria dances in and out. Iribe shaking out his right hand. I wonder if he hurt it. Three left hooks by Viloria but Iribe answers. Ref stops Viloria for a low blow. Overhand right hurts Viloria. Quick dance-off from both guys. Round ends. I gotta give it to Iribe. (SB scores it 10-9 Iribe)

Bruce Kawano doing a wonderful job holding Viloria’s spit cup. Keeping us dry. I appreciate it.

Round 6: Huge combo of punches. Iribe is hurt against the ropes. Jabs, hooks and uppercuts like that. Non-stop from Viloria. Iribe regains himself but eats a jab. Catches VIloria with a hook. Viloria finding a home for his jab now. Iribe lands a low blow and the ref says nothing. Three-punch combo from Iribe lands. Viloria ducks out of the way of a monster right hook and lands his own. Corner wants Viloria to work. Counter straight right connects. Big left jab. Left hook to the body. (SB scores it 10-9 Viloria)

Round 5: Viloria pounds Iribe. Kyle Galdeira is sitting next to me and wips Iribe’s sweat off his brow. Dave Reardon has ran out of poiwer on his laptop. Viloria big shot. Iribe hurt. Viloria explodes. Corner tells him not to get too excited. Viloria working him over this round. Best minute of the fight for Viloria. Viloria doubles up on the jab. Iribe is all defense. Viloria trying to put a hole in Iribe’s stomach. Iribe isn’t moving. Standing right in front of Viloria. Viloria slows up a little bit. More body work. Iribe barely throwing. Big jab connects square by Brian. BRI-AN chants again. Almost a 10-8 round. (SB scores it 10-9 Viloria)

Round 4: Fighters mixing it up in the clinch. (Just heard Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira beat up Randy Couture). Viloria staying just outside of Iribe’s reach. Iribe catches a jab and fires back. Viloria opens up in the corner after stinging Iribe with a body shot. Iribe with a nice counter jab. Six punch combo from Viloria but Iribe answers with a good body shot. Big left hook by Viloria. Jabs connect from both. SEND HIM HOME chants from the crowd. Both guys connect with multiple power shots as round ends. (SB scores it 10-9 Viloria)

The Round 4 ring girl did a full-on sprint around the ring. Come on. Slow down a little bit.

Round 3: Left body shot from Iribe and Viloria lands counter right hook. “Not from far away” Garcia yells at his fighter. Uppercut by Iribe. Another from Iribe. Viloria backs away. Lots of posturing now. Iribe lands a shot. Left/right jab combo by Viloria. Right hook by Iribe. Some dirty boxing by Iribe. Viloria works the body. Left hook by Viloria. Another. Fake jab, right hook lands by Viloria. Overhand right by Viloria. Viloria pulling away late in what was a close round. trade jabs. Double body shot and double hook by both. Referee yells about a low blow. Uncalled for. Let em fight. Round ends. (SB scores it 10-9 Viloria)

Round 2: Corner implores Viloria to stay patient, BRI-AN chants erupt from the crowd. Head movement by Viloria keeps Iribe from landing. Both guys missing on jabs. South-paw stance from Viloria. Iribe is looking for the right. Trade body shots. Trainer Roberto Garcia yelling at Viloria to throw his jab. Big body shot by Viloria. Viloria seems content to work the body. Iribe on the defensive as Viloria pounds away at his gut. Short jab by Iribe connects. Combo sends Iribe into the ropes. Iribe is going to need to come up with more offense if he wants to win a round. (SB scores it 10-9 Viloria)

Round 1: Iribe hesitant to throw early. Body shot from Viloria. Feeling out process by both. Iribe seems to be waiting to counter Viloria. Left jab by Iribe connects. Four-punch combo by Viloria. Hook, body shot combo by Viloria. Crowd erupts with every Viloria flurry. Right hook to the body of Iribe. 30 seconds left. Viloria stays out of Iribe’s reach on the jab. Round ends. (SB scores it 10-9 Viloria)

Jesus Iribe is in the ring. Here we go. Viloria set to make his entrance.

Hawaii 5-0 plays and out walks the champion. Crowd looks between 4-5,000.

7 p.m.: Aj Banal pulls out the unanimous decision victory.

6:05 p.m.: Three fights down here at the Blaisdell. Entertaining fight between Dennis Laurente and Zaid Zavaleta with Laurente winning a unanimous decision (100-90, 100-90, 99-91).

Viloria fight set to go around 7 and I will have a live play-by-play as it happens. Up-to-the-minute results available on the Star-Bulletin main web site.

Meanwhile at UFC 102, Thiago Silva knocked out Keith Jardine and Chris Leben was submitted by Jake Rosholt.

**************

About to head down to the Blaisdell Arena for tonight’s Island Assault card. If I can get a power cord where I’m sitting, I’ll do a live play-by-play of the Brian Viloria fight, which should start around 7 p.m.

I’ll also be updating the blog with results from UFC 102, featuring Randy Couture vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. I’ve always been a big fan of the PRIDE guys that moved over to the UFC, but I have to go with Couture in this one. Expect a lot of dirty boxing, clinching, and eventually Couture’s ground and pound.

(Update: Just spoke to someone who said BJ Penn will defend his lightweight title against Diego Sanchez in November, but it will not be at UFC 104 in Manchester, England. He said they are in the process of making an entirely new event specifically for a lightweight title fight. Hawaii anyone????)

Penn/Sanchez in November?

August 26th, 2009
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Sounds like you won’t have to wait long for B.J. Penn’s next fight.

While nothing has been made official, all signs are pointing toward Penn defending his UFC lightweight title against Diego Sanchez on Nov. 14 in Manchester, England, at UFC 105.

Even better is the fact that the event is slated to be broadcast on Spike TV for free (although on a same day tape delay). If the pattern of previous PPVs held overseas holds true, then the live fight would take place around 11 a.m. Hawaii time (and be available on PPV). But if you wait until the Spike rebroadcast at 7 p.m., you could watch it for free.

As for what’s going on now, UFC 102 is this weekend, featuring Randy Couture vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in the main event. Chris Leben, who runs a MMA school on University Ave, will also fight as he looks to bounce back from a loss to Michael Bisping and a subsequent drug suspension.

And locally, yes this blog has been all mixed martial arts, but Brian Viloria is back home to defend his IBF light flyweight title against Jesus Iribe Saturday evening at the Blaisdell Arena.

Lots of stuff going on this week so stay tuned…

B.J. Penn: Inside the Numbers

August 14th, 2009
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I have to admit, I was surprised at the number of posts and e-mails I got disputing the notion that Penn is the best lightweight in the world. Diego Sanchez, Shinya Aoki, even Eddie Alvarez was mentioned. I stand by my point that there’s nobody even close to Penn at 155, and to prove it, let’s break down all of his fights.

Overall record: 14-5-1

Record at 155: 10-1-1
Wins (Joey Gilbert, Din Thomas, Caol Uno, Paul Creighton, Matt Serra, Takanori Gomi, Jens Pulver, Joe Stevenson, Sean Sherk, Kenny Florian)
Losses (Jens Pulver)
Draws (Caol Uno)

Record at 170: 2-3
Wins (Duane Ludwig, Matt Hughes)
Losses: (Georges St-Pierre x2, Matt Hughes)

Record at 185: 2-0
Wins (Renzo Gracie, Rodrigo Gracie)

Record at HW*: 0-1
Losses (Lyoto Machida)
(The Machida fight was actually an open weight fight. Machida weighed in over the 205-pound mark for light heavweights, thus making him a heavyweight)

Penn’s 10-1-1 overall record (9-1-1 in the UFC) at lightweight is incredible, and he avenged his only loss (a majority decision to Pulver) with a second-round submission win over him years later. And while Caol Uno handed him his draw, he also has beaten Uno in 11 seconds. He’s beaten a PRIDE champion (Gomi) and three UFC champions (Serra, Pulver, Sherk) at that weight and has won by TKO or submission in nine out of his 10 wins.

A total of four men have beaten Penn, and all of them have been UFC world champions (Pulver (lightweight), St-Pierre and Hughes (welterweight) and Machida (light heavyweight)) The only two fights Penn has been stopped in is the Hughes fight, where he says he was injured after winning the first two rounds, and the second St-Pierre fight, which is the only time he has been dominated in a fight. That includes going the distance with Machida, who weighed 220 pounds for their fight in Japan, is undefeated in his career, and has knocked out Rashad Evans, Thiago Silva and Rich Franklin.

Obviously, losing his last three fights at welterweight have dropped him down on the pound-for-pound rankings, but when you look exclusively at what he has done at the lightweight level, it’s impossible for me to believe someone out there is better.

Penn leaves no doubt

August 10th, 2009
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Can we finally stop with the B.J. Penn cardio talk?

Even though UFC commentators Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan wouldn’t stop talking about it, questioning Penn’s conditioning throughout his submission victory over Kenny Florian last night, I hope we’ve finally put to rest the talk of his stamina. When he defends his title next, presumably against Diego Sanchez, I hope, even BEG, that the UFC decides not to base the entire pre-fight hype on Penn’s conditioning.

After 15 minutes of failed Kenny Florian takedowns, Penn had plenty in the gas tank to pick up the challenger, slam him to the mat and work him over before finishing off the fight with a rear-naked choke. Even though Rogan and Goldberg seemed to be committed to finding a point where Penn looked tired, even saying he was “breathing with his mouth open” in round 1 like he was about to pass out and die, the champion showed no problems going into the championship rounds and finishing a fight.

The difference in fighting at 155 and 170 pounds was clearly evident. Florian tried the same strategy as Georges St-Pierre, leaning on Penn against the cage trying to wear him out, but guess what, that strategy is pretty worthless when you’re not outweighing your opponent by 15-20 pounds.

And when does failing over and over at takedown attempts win you a round? This talk that Florian should have won the second round? If you’re trying to take a guy down and he repeatedly shrugs off every attempt you make, why should you get the round? As soon as Penn landed the two big upper cuts followed by a left hook, and then countered Florian’s superman punch with a left that moved him back, that was more than anything Florian did in that round to earn the 10 points.

At the end of the day, Penn retained his title with a statement-making victory that leaves NO DOUBT he is the top 155-pound fighter in the world. All it took was one takedown and Penn had a fellow black belt in jiu jitsu tapping out before the round ended. Florian didn’t hit Penn with anything standing, couldn’t take him down, and had no answer when he finally found himself on his back.

The biggest question for me was how Penn would bounce back from the beating he took against St-Pierre and he answered it resoundingly. He bounced back like a champion would.