Locked in the Guillotine MMA News Report 11.16.12 GSP Returns Edition
Greetings one and all, I’m back yet again. What a week it’s been huh? News aplenty, and a big, really big, fight card coming up. That’s the kind of week I like. The return of GSP is big news, and he’s not exactly facing some scrub either. With all of this to get through I’ll Lock you in the Guillotine faster than usual. Let’s get to the column.
Just a couple of quick notes from The Walking Dead this week. Rick going crazy with an ax on all those walkers was pretty sweet from a visual perspective. Of course that was topped by Michonne slaughtering the Governors captive walkers, and her subsequent scene with the Governor himself. The thing that sticks in my mind at the moment is the Governor’s notebook. Something is really wrong with him, but he is really good at hiding it from the casual observer. Was anyone else a little surprised at the shot of Darrel holding the newborn baby? Just wasn’t something I ever remotely visualized happening. Since Sara Wayne-Callies is still in the credits for the show I have to assume she’s on the other end of that rotary phone that likely exists only in Rick’s mind. Still looking forward to next weeks episode eagerly.
Alright, enough zombies, let’s look back at the UFC’s first show in China.
I was unable to watch the prelims for various reasons, I apologize for that and will be going just off of the excellent recap provided by 411’s Mark Radulich.
Fukuda gets a win: Riki Fukuda defeated Tom DeBlass by unanimous decision. Fukuda needed the win here after dropping his last fight to Costa Philippou. The fight wasn’t great, but Fukuda’s grappling proved the deciding factor here. Fukuda struggles against guys who can match his grappling, or who he can’t get to the ground. Nothing special here, but nothing overtly offensive either.
Urushitani goes down again: John Lineker defeated Yasuhiro Urushitani by unanimous decision. Lineker was just able to land the better strikes through the fight, and the end of the first round clearly helped his confidence while it shook Urushitani. Good win for Lineker over a guy who was considered one of the best at flyweight for a long time.
Bruce Leeroy gets a gift: Alex Cacares defeated Motonobu Tezuka by split decision in a fight that I thought Tezuka won. Cacares continues to improve as a fighter, but the reality is he’s not going to beat any top, or middle to top, fighters in the weight class. As for the fight itself, it was really forgettable after I went through the effort to track it down.
Mizugaki domination: Takeya Mizugaki defeated Jeff Hougland by unanimous decision, including one 30-25 score. I think the 30-25 was a bit harsh, but this fight was all Mizugaki. Hougland was unable to get on top of Mizugaki, and off of his back he had nothing to really offer in terms of offense. Good showcase for Mizugaki. One small thing that really pissed me off, at the start of the third round the referee told the fighters “don’t leave it to the judges”. Seriously? What the hell? You’re a referee, you don’t get to give advice to fighters, and you don’t get to spout famous Dana White-isms. Just do your job.
Zhang is a bust: John Tuck defeated Tiequan Zhang by unanimous decision in a pretty fun fight. The first two rounds were spent mostly on the ground, where Tuck was able to consistently obtain a dominant position. On the feet it was more even, with Zhang edging the third round in my estimation. I think the Zhang experiment is pretty much done now, the UFC will have to find a better fighter to be their great Chinese hope.
Gomi manages a win: In what was awarded Fight of the Night honors, Takanori Gomi defeated Mac Danzig by split decision in a close back and forth fight. The fight could probably have gone either way, and as such I don’t think either fighter has a legitimate complaint about the decision. This wasn’t really a return to form for Gomi, but he looked much better than he has in his other UFC fights. As for Danzig, he loses again, but he’s in kind of a win-lose pattern and with his being an ultimate fighter winner that will be enough to keep him employed.
The Donger grinds one out: Dong Hyun Kim defeated Paulo Thiago by unanimous decision in a fight that the south Korean completely dominated from start to finish. Kim’s grappling was superior to Thiago’s, and Kim was able to get and hold dominant positions that forced Thiago to do nothing but defend the entire fight. After the win Kim said he’d like a rematch with Demian Maia, something I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing. Pretty good win for Kim, even if the fight wasn’t full of action.
Thiago finally gets a win: Thiago Silva defeated Stanislov Nedkov by submission with an arm triangle choke in the third round. This marks the first win for Silva since he knocked out Keith Jardine in 2009 after his fake urine sample following his decimation of Brandon Vera. I said in my prefight analysis that Silva would be well served to get this fight to the ground, because his chin is a tad questionable and Nedkov throws bombs. Nedkov spent the first two rounds pushing Silva against the cage, but wasn’t all that effective with his punches until a big one at the end of the second round. This was a much needed with for Silva, and could be a good learning experience for Nedkov. On the plus side we finally got a finish.
Franklin goes down hard: Cung Le defeated Rich Franklin by knockout in the first round to cap off the UFC’s first show in China. Franklin was landing leg kicks and combinations, but nothing was terribly clean and Franklin has always had a bad habit of dropping his hands when he kicks and leaving his chin up in the air, Le was just able to land the perfect right hook to punish him for it. At this point Rich Franklin’s career has to be winding down, I’d be surprised if he’s still fighting by this time next year to be perfectly honest. For Cung Le, this was a great moment. He’s forty years old, and unlikely to make any kind of legitimate main event run, but a win practically in his back yard via knockout has to be a highlight of his career. That was a nasty knockout, and I’m not a Rich Franklin fan so I could watch it over and over again.
Overall the night wasn’t too memorable, only the big knockout was worth paying attention to, everything else was just kind of there. Still, for a Fuel TV card that’s about what you have to expect.
Another season wasted: News broke on Wednesday that coach of the current season of The Ultimate Fighter and former UFC interim heavyweight champion Shane Carwin injured his knee and has to pull out of his upcoming fight with opposing coach Roy Nelson. This isn’t the first time a coach has been forced to pull out of the big blow off for one reason or another. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson got into a contact dispute with the UFC, Brock Lesnar had another serious bout with diverticulitis, Matt Serra injured his back, and last season’s coach Dominick Cruz injured his knee. Injuries happen in training, it sucks but it happens. When it happens to someone that the UFC is putting this much energy into promoting for a fight it really sucks.
Carwins replacement: There was a lot of speculation about who would fight Roy Nelson after Shane Carwins injury, everyone from Josh Barnett to Cheick Kongo. There was actually a lot of fan support to give the fight to Mark Hunt, a fight between Nelson and Hunt would be all kinds of train wreck awesome, but the UFC eventually went with Matt Mitrione. To say that’s a let down would be an understatement. Mitrione is a decent enough fighter for heavyweight, but he’s not a relevant fighter and I have no real anticipation for this fight now.
The Reem is back(kind of): Former Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem is scheduled to fight Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva early next year at UFC 156 in Las Vegas. There had been speculation that Overeem would fight the winner of the upcoming heavyweight title fight between Junior dos Santos and Cain Velasquez, but for whatever reason he’s now going to fight Bigfoot. That’s a relatively safe fight for Overeem, Bigfoot would have to land a big punch or get Overeem to the ground and pound him out. I don’t think either guy has a chance of beating Junior dos Santos, but people want to see the Overeem fight and this is a good way to give him a win and get the people excited about that fight again. All that assumes that Overeem will be licensed by the Nevada State Athletic Commission when his current suspension is up, and while that’s likely I would love to have them refuse to license him due to his past actions.
More Injuries: In a bit of fast and furious injury news, Gray Maynard was forced to withdraw from his upcoming fight with Joe Lauzon. That sucks for Maynard, because he actually had some fan support after his fight with Clay Guida but wont be able to capitalize on it. Maynard has been replaced with Jim Miller, and Miller has never been in a bad fight. Miller and Lauzon should have a barn burner. Eddie Yagin, who was scheduled to fight Dennis Siver, wound up injuring his brain during a training session. Yagin had a headache and vomiting following a training session and it was discovered his brain had begun swelling from some kind of blow. Replacing Yagin will be Nam Phan who will now fight Dennis Siver. That’s a lateral move in terms of fight relevance.
The UFC’s biggest draw, if you believe Dana White, finally returns and will take on interim champion Carlos Condit to again unify the welterweight championship. St. Pierre is himself a former interim champion, which he said at the time meant nothing to him, and will look to successfully defend his title again. The entire card actually has some fun fights on it, so let’s take a look at what the UFC is asking your hard earned money for.
Mark Hominick vs. Pablo Garza: The UFC is trying their hardest to make Mark Hominick into a big name or a relevant fighter, but he keeps fighting them at every turn. After his loss to Jose Aldo for the featherweight championship, Hominick never seemed to recover his fighting form. In his next fight he was knocked out by Chan Sung Jung, then lost a decision to Eddie Yagin. Hominick just isn’t a great fighter anymore, but the UFC is really trying to throw him a bone here. Pablo Garza has lost his last two fights, a submission loss to Dustin Poirier and a decision to Dennis Bermudez. Really if Hominick loses here he’s done in the UFC, and he should be. With the UFC trying to give Hominick a win, I actually think Hominick gets it here. Though I wouldn’t be shocked if Garza submitted Hominick either.
Nick Ring vs. Costa Philippou: Nick Ring is the anti-Dana White. White hates the judges, Ring loves them. Ring has twice been given questionable (read: horrible) decisions by judges, and his only hope here is that he survives with Philippou long enough for them to obviously favor him. Philippou has shown some great things in the cage, his boxing is crisp and he’s vastly improved his defensive grappling since his first UFC fight. Costa has power in his hands, and good technique, I really don’t see Ring winning this. Costa beats Ring up en route to a stoppage, late in the second or early in the third.
Francis Carmont vs. Tom Lawlor: Tom Lawlor still has a job with the UFC? I’m surprised. Lawlor is a decent grappler, but he’s nothing special there. His striking isn’t great, though he did manage a pretty big KO over Jason MacDonald in his last outing. Carmont is a dominant wrestler with good submission skills. Basically he’s a better, more athletic version of Lawlor. Lawlor has almost no chance here, look for Carmont to submit him in the first or second.
Martin Kampmann vs. Johny Hendricks: By all rights the winner of this fight should get the next title shot. Martin Kampmann has been on a bit of a role lately, winning his last three fights, should be four but the judges like Diego Sanchez’s wild punches that missed more often than connected. Hendricks is riding a four fight win streak and hasn’t lost since he was out wrestled by Rick Story, and Hendricks has improved a lot since then. Kampmann has some bad habits striking, he get’s into brawls and doesn’t properly protect his chin, which could be a mistake against someone with the punching power of Hendricks. Kampmann’s wrestling has improved a lot over the years, and his submission skills are actually pretty good. This fight could really go either way, but I think picking against Hendricks here is a mistake. Kampmann is likely to get caught and rocked, as he usually does, but Hendricks packs a bit more one strike power than Thiago Alves or Jake Ellenberger. I think Hendricks takes this one.
The main event is a big one, and I think it’s been too long since I’ve cracked out this feature. Take a deep breath, well as deep as you can, because we’re going from Joe Rogan deep, to really deep here.
Georges St. Pierre is finally back inside the octagon. I’m actually excited, because I love watching GSP fight. I understand that not everyone is a fan of the guy, and that remains a personal choice, but his technique and his strategy are as close to perfect as you can get in MMA. Across the cage is current interim champion Carlos Condit. Carlos Condit has been living up to his nick name, The Natural Born Killer. This is an intriguing clash of styles, so let’s take a look at the interim champion.
Carlos Condit hasn’t tasted defeat since his first UFC fight against Martin Kampmann, and that was a somewhat controversial split decision loss at that. Condit brings a kill or be killed mentality into the cage, and he’s more than willing to eat a punch to land one. He was trading leather with Dan Hardy and easily got the better of those exchanges before landing a left hook that knocked Hardy out cold. Condit is also not afraid, he threw a flying knee attack at Dong Hyun Kim that led to the finish, and showed serious toughness in his comeback win over Rory MacDonald. He also demonstrated discipline in his fight with Nick Diaz, where Diaz was unable to adapt to anything Condit did and lost a pretty clear unanimous decision to Condit. Condit has power in his hands as well as his kicks and knees, and is a fearless fighter. In some ways he’s the type of fighter that could cause GSP problems, GSP’s mental game has been questioned in the past as has his chin. Of course it’s very difficult to actually hit GSP, but the guy doesn’t have a Nogueira chin by any stretch of the imagination. Condit does have a good chin, in fact he’s never been stopped by strikes in his entire career. Condit will also fight to the bitter end, GSP has mentally broken several opponents, Josh Koscheck, Thiago Alves, BJ Penn, and even Jake Shields all looked beaten when he was done with them. Everything GSP does just seems perfect, you can’t stop his takedowns, you can’t take him down, and his control over distance is incredible. All of those fighters had nothing to offer the champion, and by the time the fourth and fifth rounds rolled around they knew it. Condit wont be broken mentally. He lost two straight rounds to Rory MacDonald and came out on fire in the third, forcing a near last second stoppage to get the win. GSP can never count out Carlos Condit, because one slip is all it takes for him to hurt you, and if he hurts you there’s a good chance he’ll finish you.
Unfortunately for Condit, he possess a pretty big weakness in his game, and that weakness is wrestling. When Condit lost his UFC debut, even though it was somewhat controversial, it was Martin Kampmann’s wrestling that edged out the victory. Condits first UFC win was a controversial split decision over Jake Ellenberger, Ellenberger’s wrestling again caused problems for Condit. Since that time Condit hasn’t fought a strong wrestler, the closest he’s come is Dong Hyun Kim who was more of a judo player at the time and needed the clinch to secure his takedowns. GSP does not need to get the clinch to take you down. GSP has great timing with his takedowns, as well as a type of athleticism that you just can’t teach. Condit has a pretty good submission game, but it’s hardly spectacular and if GSP gets on top of him you can bet Condit will be stuck there. Georges St. Pierre is the best wrestler in the welterweight division at this point, unless this latest layoff has had more effect on his explosiveness than we can predict. GSP also has accurate striking. His jab is accurate and active, his leg kicks land when he throws them, and I don’t think there’s anyone better at mixing up striking and grappling that GSP. That’s a nightmare combination for anyone in the division, much less a guy who’s grappling defense is somewhat suspect. The closest Condit came to losing his fight with Nick Diaz came at the end of the fifth round when Diaz grabbed Condit’s back and dragged him to the ground and worked for an armbar. Now GSP doesn’t have the same type of submission game that Diaz does, but his wrestling is so much better it more than compensates.
Both men have been on the shelf for a while, true GSP has been out longer, but Condit sat out after beating Diaz and deliberately waited for GSP. This will certainly be a fight to remember, but at the end of the day I have no reason to pick against GSP. Condit is a great fighter, but Georges is the best welterweight ever and unless he’s seriously hampered by that injury he should be the favorite and rightfully so. I expect GSP to win this fight, likely by decision though if Condit get’s too wild GSP might find an opening to capitalize on.
That does it for me this week, I’ll be here next Friday with the results of the big fights, and all the news and quality you’ve come to expect from me. Hey, if I keep the bar low enough I can certainly keep up to those standards. You guys survived another Guillotine and have come out on the other side, hopefully still conscious. Until next week, to quote the great Bas Rutten, God Speed and Party On.