411 MMA Fact or Fiction 08.24.07: UFC 74
Welcome back to another, though non-traditional, edition of 411 MMA Fact or Fiction. We apologize for last week, we had some guest technical difficulties. This week we come back with an added bonus, a three-way UFC 74 Fact or Fiction. Joining me this week are the ever amazing Planet Tapout author Lotfi Sariahmed, I’d Hit It!‘s Don Abato, and one of our key newsmen, Mr. Bren Oliver.
Let us get to it:
1. Randy Couture will leave UFC 74 still holding the Heavyweight Championship.
Abato: FACT. I think he has one more big win left in the tank. The fact Captain America has acknowledged from the get go the kind of matchup problems Gabriel Gonzaga poses means he’s put together a topnotch game plan. The thing I like about Randy the most is he’s worked with BJJ wizard Mario Sperry. Mario is one of the best tactical thinkers when it comes to BJJers who do MMA. I think Randy’s octagon intelligence will make the difference. He’ll get the judges decision.
Oliver: FACT. Abato and I are on the same page with this one. While Gonzaga may be a stronger striker with top notch jiujitsu skills, Randy Couture is the thinking man’s fighter and I also believe his Octo-intelligence will make the difference in Saturday night’s championship bout. I don’t expect a war by any means, but more along the lines of Couture controlling the fight and eeking out a win on the scorecards. He certainly has the wrestling base and in-ring experience to do so.
Sariahmed: FACT. I’ve addressed this a couple of times in both the roundtable and Planet Tapout this week so I can’t flip flop now. There’s no doubt Gonzaga will be a heck of a test for Couture. He’s much heavier than Randy and has a ground game he didn’t have to deal with against Tim Sylvia. On top of that, all “Napao” did his last fight was knock “Cro Cop’s” head clear off his body. Does that mean Gonzaga all of a sudden has a striking game? Probably not. But Couture would be foolish to just write it off all together. BUT with ALL that being said we’re talking about Captain America here folks. He just beat the 12 foot 10 Tim Sylvia to win the belt. He beat Liddell when no one thought he could. He spanked Ortiz and made him look silly. I’m only allowed to doubt Couture one more time for the rest of his career and that will be for a potential fight with Fedor. As for UFC 74, Couture retains.
2. At 5-0 with a win on Saturday, the UFC needs to finally give Roger Huerta a contender.
Abato: FICTION. The UFC is a business first and foremost. They don’t have to do anything but build their product. Huerta is obviously part of a bigger plan to grow the audience. If you’re running a business that means you’re looking down the line. You don’t deviate from the plan. Roger Huerta’s role isn’t to drive the 155 division right now, leave all the title issues with the other veteran fighters. Huerta’s a figure the UFC realizes can be future star. In that sense all the UFC needs to do is ensure he continues to grow and bring in new fans.
Oliver: FACT. Sure, the UFC appears to have designs on Huerta doing for the Hispanic population what Michael Bisping has done for Brits, but as a fan and someone who writes on MMA, I have to say it’s time for Huerta to fight someone with name value (and reputation). I don’t doubt the UFC is a little worried about Huerta losing, especially after nearly being upset by Douglas Evans in his last fight, but you can only have a guy fight so many gents who are making their UFC debut after being undefeated in a podunk organization. I think White and Co. are underestimating the Hispanic population’s intelligence by continually pairing Huerta up against tomatillo cans. The most popular Latino athletes I can think of are not beloved by their countrymen for simply speaking Spanish, but supported and followed because they are good. How good is Huerta? Maybe we’ll find out whenever he faces better competition.
Sariahmed: FACT. Here’s the problem with your answer Don. Yes the UFC is a business and they have to market their fighters accordingly. BUT, while Huerta looks like a tremendous talent, he’s done it against Dent, Halverson, Garcia, Evans and Crane if he wins Saturday. That’s not exactly a who’s who in the 155 division. He needs a challenge and soon because if he’s somehow 10-0 or 11-0 and all of a sudden loses, well then the UFC just had a lightweight contender torpedoed down after so much work. Lets throw him in to the fire. Fact.
Score: …., I guess there is no score this time but Oliver said “tomatillo cans” when discussing the Hispanic fighter. That’s like 100 bonus points. Well done.
3. Frank Mir will get back on track with a win over Antoni Hardonk.
Abato: FICTION. It’s obvious Frank Mir lost a lot of the mobility and mojo that was important to his style of fighting. Antoni Hardonk may never be regarded as a top contender, but I think he will eventually put Frank away. Mir’s fighting days are over, he needs to focus on the announcing gig with WEC.
Oliver: FICTION. Wait, are we talking about “on track to a comeback”, “on track to a WEC announcing career”, or “on track to give Joey Chestnuts a run for his money at next year’s Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest”? I’ll assume we’re talking about Mir taking the first step towards reclaiming his position at the top of the UFC Heavyweight division. I disagree with Abato in terms of the Mir/Hardonk outcome, but a win over a guy who had a piss-poor showing against Justin McCulley isn’t exactly indicative of great things to come.
Sariahmed: FACT. This right here might get me kicked off staff at 411Mania. But I’ll put myself out on the line here. Hardonk beat a 55-year-old Sherman Pendergarst. That’s it. He has no ground game to speak of and all you have to do is look to his fight against Justin McCully for proof. And I know Mir has shown NOTHING since he’s come back from his accident but he has to do something here. Right? It’s really a much closer fight than I think fight fans and pundits alike want to admit. I just see this as a race. Whoever gases first loses. If Mir comes in ANY sort of shape I think he could take him down and he wouldn’t have to do much else. But again if not, pray for Planet Tapout because they could fire me.
—-SWITCH IT UP??—-
4. Georges St. Pierre and Josh Koscheck will go to a decision.
Sariahmed: FICTION. If I said Fact that would mean I think Koscheck is going to win. But I don’t. GSP was embarrassed against Serra. He really overlooked Serra and paid for it. He knows it and he’s said a thousand and one times that he’s coming back with his head on straight. If St. Pierre has his mental game together there is no one better in the welterweight division. I think this Serra loss was the best thing to happen to his career. He’s going to come out angry and more than prepared for Koscheck. And I’ve said this before, if Koscheck can’t take St. Pierre down he stands no chance with GSP on the feet…none. St. Pierre will take the fight to Koscheck standing and he’ll overwhelm him to finish the fight. Fiction.
Oliver: FICTION. Well, I could look like a total douche and contradict my comments on the UFC 74 Roundtable, but I think I’ll elect for sticking to my guns. Koscheck is a great wrestler with improving hands. Thing is, St. Pierre has tooled wrestlers with comperable skillsets (Sherk, Hughes, and Trigg) and his striking is superb in comparison. I actually think GSP, assuming his mental state is as strong as it should be, won’t have as difficult a time as many may think when it comes to fighting Koscheck. I think Kos’ wins in the UFC haven’t been all that impressive in nature and even his lackluster win over Diego Sanchez was tainted by later word that Diego was suffering from a staph infection going into their bout. I like St. Pierre’s arsenal of punches, kicks, knees, and elbows, as well as mat prowess, to eventually lead way to a ground-and-pound TKO.
Abato: FICTION. This fight will not go the distance. If I’m envisioning this correctly, Koscheck is going to come out swinging right from the opening bell. Aggressive from the get go ala Matt Serra. Also, remember how strong GSP looked in his outings following the loss to Matt Hughes? Koshcheck will be looking for blood and he needs a highlight-type win for people to really consider him a title contender. St. Pierre has come back stronger from a loss, and I think that is his mindset again here. I can’t pick a clear cut winner, but I am confident this will not go to the judges cards.
5. If Sean Sherk is stripped of the belt and Stevenson gets a win over Pellegrino, Joe deserves a spot in the vacant title match.
Sariahmed: FACT. So I’m going to assume that Penn is guaranteed to be one of the two fighters in that title match. If that’s the case lets consider the other contenders. Huerta hasn’t fought anyone. Fisher is out with staph infection. Even if Kenny Florian beats Din Thomas at the Fight Night, I don’t think his resume matches up with Stevenson’s. And I’m sorry, but I think Florian is overrated to begin with but that’s a different story. So that leaves Joe Stevenson against Din Thomas. While I like Thomas and I do think he could give anyone fits in a lightweight title fight, he shouldn’t be in over Stevenson. He’s (Thomas) has beaten Jeremy Stephens, Clay Guida and Rich Clementi and Florian if he wins on the Fight Night. Stevenson has the better resume and the win over Pellegrino would cement his spot against Penn.
Oliver: FACT. Absolutely. Stevenson is talented and very marketable. He is the first TUF Champion with a legitmate shot at holding UFC gold. He’s young, charismatic, a good family man, and also feeds into the Hispanic demographic that Dana White so wants to infiltrate. On top of all those things he will have won four fights in a row and be 5-1 in the UFC coming off a beating a VERY game Pellegrino. Now, can Stevenson beat BJ Penn? “FICTION”. Huck, do we gain or lose points for answering our own questions? Gain points. Next question please…quickly…
Abato: FACT. Really a no-brainer. Stevenson has been a wrecking machine in the weight division since dropping from 170. And he beat Yves Edwards who was considered the un-crowned 155-pound champion. You could make an argument Stevenson already has kind of a hold on the belt. I protest any extra points Bren may incure. I’m calling my lawyers… they’re on standby.
Score: I wonder if Abato’s retainer is more expensive than Joe Lauzon’s.
6. Marcus Aurelio will make a successful UFC debut against Clay Guida.
Sariahmed: FACT. Much to the dismay of Clay Guida and his fans because he has been through some wars with some great lightweights. This one is pretty simple. It will be another great fight where all the action will come on the ground. As long as Aurelio doesn’t tire, he’s more talented than Guida and he’ll overwhelm him for the victory.
Oliver: FICTION. I think this should be a great fight that ultimately comes down to the judges’ scorecards and will likely be a split decision. Aurelio is very talented, but I think he’s still riding the wave of having beaten Takanori Gomi in 2006 when MMA is a “what have you done for me lately” sport. That’d be 0-2 in his last two fights. To be fair Guida is also 0-2 in his last two fights. Still, he has been competitive in every UFC appearance to date and I see no reason why Saturday night will be any different. I think his experience in the Octagon will pay off, and while I like that Aurelio trains at ATT with Din Thomas, a man who has beaten Clay Guida, I think “The Carpenter” will end up taking home the “W”.
Abato: FACT. Look for this match to be fight of the night. I don’t know if Marcus will win, but expect some crazy scrambles and transitions in this one. I’m expecting another exhibition of awesome ground skills with Clay finally breaking through with a win. I think the debut will be successful in a sense that fans will remember Aurelio. This is all depending on if the match even makes it on the telecast. So if Marcus ends up on the losing end I expect he’ll leave with a “moral” victory of sorts.
Join us back next week in our old traditional format. Larry Csonka and Lotfi Sariahmed will discuss results from UFC 74 and ShoXC’s second show.