Archive for December, 2009

New Year’s wish list

December 30th, 2009

Happy New Year’s to everyone that checks this blog out from time to time. As we begin a new decade in the 21st century, here are the top five MMA-related wishes I have for the new year.

5. HDNET survives on TV

HDNet, which is showing the special K-1/DREAM Dynamite event from Japan live tonight (10 p.m. Hawaii time, will be shown tomorrow as well on a tape delay), has been the best channel for MMA in 2009. It’s provided fight fans an alternative to the Zuffa-owned UFC and WEC shows on Spike and Versus, and shows us just how diverse the sport of MMA can be.

With StrikeForce working directly with DREAM, this channel has provided faces you wouldn’t regularly see a chance to gain exposure before crossing into the United States. HDNet’s future on TV has been shaky at times, but the channel has done a ton of good promoting the sport and the longer it stays around, the better off MMA will be.

4. The injury bug goes away

By now we would have already seen Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin and chances are Anderson Silva would have recently made a title defense. Nogueira, Velasquez, Coleman would have been involved in recent fights and we wouldn’t have this void of top UFC fights to end the year. Injuries have killed the UFC over the last few months, and slowed down the title picture in multiple weight categories.

Here’s hoping 2010 is a little kinder to the athletes themselves.

3. StrikeForce is a hit on CBS

As big as the UFC is, the fact is, StrikeForce’s run on network television will ultimately tell how much staying power this sport will have in the mainstream. Until there’s a viable outlet on network TV for the entire country to watch fights on Saturday night and see what MMA is all about, then there’s no way this becomes the “biggest sport in the world” at the end of the next decade according to Dana White.

Unlike EliteXC, which put all of its stock into a flawed Kimbo Slice, StrikeForce has taken steps to ensure that even if legendary heavyweight fighter Fedor Emelianenko is beat soon (and trust me, it won’t be a 14-second knockout at the hands of Seth Petruzelli), they will still have draws to make up for it. Dan Henderson could fill the void, Gegard Mousassi is one of the top fighters of his weight class, and the middleweight division is stacked. At the end of the day, being entertaining is just as important for StrikeForce as anything else with their CBS cards, and if this December’s event on Showtime is a sign of things to come, the outlook is good.

2. StrikeForce/UFC co-promoted New Year’s Eve show

Obviously this is about as likely as Georges St-Pierre fighting BJ Penn at 155 pounds, but what a way to end the year. If StrikeForce can gain momentum from its 2-3 CBS cards, plus continue to put on unbelievable Showtime cards as it did earlier this month, maybe it can make a case. But think of the possibilities…Finally, Fedor can fight Brock Lesnar, Jake Shields can face St-Pierre, BJ Penn and Gilbert Melendez tangle, Gegard Mousasi vs. Lyoto Machida? Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio Rua? Brett Rogers vs. Shane Carwin? I could go on and on.

An annual Super Bowl between two large organizations (as long as StrikeForce continues to step up and prove it’s a valuable commodity), would be exactly what the sport needs to continue to grow and expand and become the premiere fighting sport in America.

1. UFC at Aloha Stadium

The regulations are in place and are up to Dana White’s standards. There’s no need to dance around anymore, it’s time for the UFC to come to Hawaii. Especially with BJ Penn’s comeback from the GSP fight to lightweight legend, the time is now to put on an event that surely would break the biggest attendance marks for a live MMA event ever in the United States.

If it does happen, I’d be shocked if St-Pierre agrees to a third fight with Penn in Hawaii. My guess is it’ll likely be a lightweight title defense against Gray Maynard or Frank Edgar. If it was a 170-pound fight though, the one that makes most sense for the Penn camp is a third fight with Matt Hughes. A very winnable fight for Penn against a big name and he can avenge his loss to Hughes.

Not to mention, who wouldn’t want to see the hometown crowd’s reaction to Matt Hughes as he walks into Aloha Stadium to the tune the Hank Williams song “Country Boy Can Survive”?

Enjoy New Year’s everybody. I’ll be back in 2010.

What’s next for Penn?

December 13th, 2009

Let’s be perfectly clear. B.J. Penn is the best lightweight fighter in the world, and it’s not even close.

With that said, what’s next for Penn? Kenny Florian showed me a lot by destroying Clay Guida on Saturday night. And if Florian couldn’t do anything to Penn, who at 155 can?

Nobody. Gray Maynard? Frankie Edgar? Come on now. One thing that hurts is that the best contenders at 155 to Penn’s title aren’t in the UFC. I’d put Shinya Aoki, Josh Thomson, and maybe Eddie Alvarez as more legitimate threats to Penn than any UFC fighters at 155.

But even those guys aren’t in Penn’s class.

Penn has cleaned out the division and it’s time for him to prove his pound-for-pound greatness by moving back up. If someone pulls off a couple of impressive lightweight victories in a row, then maybe they get a shot at Penn, but that’s not happening any time soon.

Welterweight has a lot of options. A third (rubber) fight between Penn and Matt Hughes would sell. Josh Koscheck is an intriguing opponent, and maybe the best guy for Penn to fight, although not flashy, is Jon Fitch. I think you give Penn one or two legitimate welterweights and if he runs through them like he has Florian, Sanchez, Sherk, etc., then it’s time for a third St-Pierre fight.

It’s really hard to justify Penn getting a third shot at St-Pierre, who has already beat him twice, including the way he destroyed Penn in January, but what else does Penn do? He isn’t just beating guys at lightweight, he is destroying them. Penn’s the best striker, the best jiu-jitsu fighter, the best at takedown defense, the best at just about every aspect of fighting at 155. He’s so much better than everyone else that it’s time for him to explore welterweight again.

Give him one or two fights against a Fitch or Koscheck type. If he blows through them, the hype for a third St-Pierre fight will be too much to pass up. If he doesn’t get it done, then he can go back to destroying everyone at 155. Either way, B.J. Penn has left no doubt he is one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time. The St-Pierre loss has officially been wiped clean, and two more performances like this one, especially at welterweight, should be enough to get his third (and final) crack at Georges St-Pierre.

Sanchez’s nightmare comes true

December 12th, 2009

During the fourth round of last night’s UFC lightweight title fight, commentator Joe Rogan asked the question quickly creeping into everyone’s mind.

“Who the hell is B.J. Penn going to fight next?”

Granted his bout with Diego Sanchez wasn’t technically over, but the only drama left was to find out if Penn would become the first fighter to stop Sanchez in the allotted time limit.

He did exactly that, opening an ugly cut that forced the ringside doctor to stop the fight at 2:37 of the fifth round, giving Penn (15-5-1) a TKO over Sanchez in the main event of UFC 107 last night in Memphis, Tenn.

“I was keeping my mouth shut, but I’ve always wanted to fight Diego Sanchez,” Penn said after the fight.

Penn destroyed his fifth straight opponent at 155 pounds as Sanchez joined the ranks of Kenny Florian, Sean Sherk, Joe Stevenson and Jens Pulver in failing to come close to beating the UFC’s lightweight king.

The fight was so one-sided that it has opened the door for Penn to possibly move back up to 170 pounds, the division he lost to Georges St-Pierre 11 months ago.

Sanchez (23-3) had never been knocked down in a fight in his career, but it took Penn less than a minute to floor Sanchez with a right hook. Penn followed up with a series of punches, but Sanchez escaped a possible quick-end to the fight.

He never fully recovered as Penn continued to take it to Sanchez, winning every round and nearly every exchange. Without a legitimate standing attack to counter Penn’s efficient counter-punching, all Sanchez had left was a series of failed takedown attempts that Penn fought off over and over.

Penn turned up the heat in the final round and caught Sanchez with a kick to the head that opened up a gash similar to the cut he opened up on Stevenson at UFC 80. As soon as the fighters got to their feet, the referee immediately stopped the bout to check on Sanchez as blood poured down his face. It took the doctor mere seconds to stop the fight after looking at the cut that engulfed the entire left side of Sanchez’s forehead.

The biggest question Penn will now face is whether he jumps up in weight or is content defending his lightweight belt. He said repeatedly during the week that he wants to fight St-Pierre a third time, but UFC President Dana White countered saying he’d have to beat one or two other guys at 170 pounds before a fight with the champion.

That leaves possible opponents in Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck or even a third fight with Matt Hughes should Penn and the UFC decide he has effectively cleaned out the 155-pound division.

On the undercard, Hilo’s Shane Nelson lost by unanimous decision to Matt Wiman. Nelson lost 30-27 on all three scorecards and suffered his second straight defeat in the Octagon.

UFC 107: Penn vs. Sanchez
FedEx Forum, Memphis, Tenn.
UFC lightweight title fight

BJ Penn def. Diego Sanchez by fifth-round TKO (doctor’s stoppage)
Frank Mir def. Cheick Kongo by first-round submission (guillotine choke)
Jon Fitch def. Mike Pierce by unanimous decision
Kenny Florian def. Clay Guida by second-round submission (rear naked choke)
Stefan Struve def. Paul Buentello by majority decision
Alan Belcher def. Wilson Gouveia by first-round TKO (strikes)
Matt Wiman def. Shane Nelson by unanimous decision
Johny Hendricks def. Ricardo Funch by unanimous decision
Rousimar Palhares def. Lucio Linhares by second-round submission (heel hook)
DeMarques Johnson def. Edgar Garcia by first-round submission (triangle choke)
T.J. Grant def. Kevin Burns by first-round TKO (strikes)


December 9th, 2009

UFC 107: Penn vs. Sanchez
Schedule of Live events
Thursday, Dec. 10

Pre-fight press conference, 9 a.m.
Friday, Dec. 11
Weigh-ins, 11 a.m.
Saturday, Dec. 12
Post-fight press conference, approx. 7 p.m.

Hilo’s BJ Penn has wasted little time getting back into the cage. Just four months after his submission victory over Kenny Florian, Penn is back defending his UFC lightweight title against Diego Sanchez on Saturday night at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn., live on pay per view.

The weigh-ins, pre- and post-fight press conferences, and various fight videos will be shown here on the video player above. The full fight card, which also features Hilo’s Shane Nelson against Matt Wiman, is below:

Main Event
UFC lightweight title fight

BJ Penn (14-5-1) vs. Diego Sanchez (23-2)
Frank Mir (12-4) vs. Cheick Kongo (24-5-1)
Jon Fitch (23-3, 1 NC) vs. Mike Pierce (9-2)
Kenny Florian (13-4) vs. Clay Guida (25-7)
Paul Buentello (25-10) vs. Stefan Struve (22-3)
Undercard bouts (may not be telecast)
Alan Belcher (13-5) vs. Wilson Gouveia (12-6)
Matt Wiman (10-5) vs. Shane Nelson (13-4)
Johny Hendricks (6-0) vs. Ricardo Funch
Rousimar Palhares (18-2) vs. Lucio Linhares
DeMarques Johnson (14-7) vs. Edgar Garcia (7-1)
Kevin Burns (8-3) vs. TJ Grant (14-3)

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Upcoming MMA events

December 4th, 2009

The Ultimate Fighter finale

December 5, 2009
Winner earns UFC contract:
Roy Nelson vs. Brandon Schaub
Jon Jones vs. Matt Hamill
Kimbo Slice vs. Houston Alexander
Frankie Edgar vs. Matt Veach
TV: Tape delayed in Hawaii on SPIKE (6 p.m.)

UFC 107: Penn vs. Sanchez

Saturday, December 12
UFC lightweight title fight:
BJ Penn vs. Diego Sanchez
Frank Mir vs. Cheick Kongo
Jon Fitch vs. Mike Pierce
Kenny Florian vs. Clay Guida
Shane Nelson vs. Matt Wiman (may not be televised)
TV: Pay per view

WEC 45: Cerrone vs. Ratcliff

Saturday, December 19
Donald Cerrone vs. Ed Ratcliff
Chris Horodecki vs. Anthony Njokuani
Joseph Benavidez vs. Rani Yahya
Scott Jorgensen vs. Takeya Mizugaki
TV: Tape delayed on VERSUS (6 p.m.)

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