Locked in the Guillotine MMA News Report 2.22.13 Girl Fight Edition
Hello one and all, big issue this week here at the Guillotine. We’ve got a historic UFC 157 to preview featuring the first ever female main event in UFC history. There’s also looking back at the big fight between Renan Barao and Michael McDonald and that entire card. Plus there’s news, including some big releases from the UFC and some possible fights for the future. It’s a lot of stuff to go through, so you’d better get Locked in the Guillotine quickly.
Well that was fun: Tom Watson defeated Stanislav Nedkov by TKO in the second round of an early fight of the year contender. The first round was spent mostly in the clinch with Watson landing some solid elbows and knees before he got clipped and taken down by Nedkov who threw a bunch of punches in an attempt to finish. In the second it was more of the same, though Nedkov tried more wrestling but was unable to keep Watson down. Watson was able to finish after more strikes in the clinch, a nice combination of punches, and some ground and pound. This was a really fun fight, no complaints.
Castillo grinds one out: Danny Castillo defeated Paul Sass by unanimous decision in a fairly pedestrian fight. Castillo was able to use his wrestling to control the fight, either on the ground or on the feet. Sass had a couple of good moments, but was unable to mount any significant offense. Castillo continues to be successful, if totally unspectacular.
The value of pressure: Renee Forte defeated Terry Etim by unanimous decision. Forte used forward pressure to keep Etim off balance and landed some good power shots, dropping Etim in the second with a nice left hook. I think there was some ring rust for Etim here, being out that long certainly doesn’t do a fighter any favors. Hopefully he gets a quick turnaround as opposed to being out for another fourteen months.
Riddle wins: Matthew Riddle defeated Che Mills by split decision, though that fight had absolutely no reason to be a split decision. I don’t know how you could score two of those rounds for Mills, and everyone else would be well served to beware the local bias in judging. As for the fight itself, Riddle was disciplined with his attacks, he constantly clinched Mills and took him down. Mills had some really cool moments, but was unable to stifle the wrestling attack of Riddle enough to be effective. Good win for Riddle.
Te Huna comes back: James Te Huna defeated Ryan Jimmo by unanimous decision in a fun back and forth fight. Jimmo landed a nice head kick in the first round and came extremely close to finishing the fight in the opening stanza with a barrage of strikes on the ground. Unfortunately for Jimmo Te Huna displayed some incredible durability and survived. In the second Te Huna scored a takedown and controlled position and landed tons of elbows and punches. The third was more of the second and Te Huna took the decision. After being hurt that badly in the first seeing Te Huna survive and come back to win the fight was cool. I also have to somewhat credit Jimmo, he didn’t fight like the old Ryan Jimmo, he actually came to fight. Good win for Te Huna who called out a top ten fighter after the fight, and I wouldn’t mind seeing him take on a higher level of competition.
Nelson impresses again: Gunnar Nelson defeated Jorge Santiago by unanimous decision to remain unbeaten and impressive thus far in his UFC career. Nelson’s top game looked very good, especially his guard passing. On the feet he was able to land some nice punches, but he keeps his hands a little too low and his head a little immobile for my taste. Jorge Santiago actually looked good though, he never quit trying to win and was throwing and landing some nice punches as the final round ended. Good win for Nelson who looks to be a player in either welterweight or lightweight if he ever decides to cut weight.
Unfortunate injury: Jimi Manuwa defeated Cyrille Diabate when Diabate was unable to continue following the first round with a possible torn left calf muscle. The first round was won by Manuwa with takedowns and forward pressure, but Diabate was landing some nice knees to the body in the clinch and tends to find his range and rhythm in the second and third rounds. Really unfortunate injury because I was enjoying the way that fight was shaping up.
Swanson rolls on: Cub Swanson defeated Dustin Poirier by unanimous decision in a really fun fight. Swanson was landing solid strikes but also showed his diversity with some good grappling and some clinch throws on Poirier. Swanson’s takedown defense has improved a great deal, and his striking is still good. I was impressed with the improvements to Poirier’s overall game as well, his striking defense was much better than in previous fights. His head movement still needs some work, and his takedowns could use some improvement, but as young as he is I expect him to grow into one of the very best in the division. This was a fun fight all in all.
Barao retains: UFC interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao defeated challenger Michael McDonald by submission in the fourth round with an arm triangle choke. The transition to that choke from Barao was lightning fast, Barao might be the favorite if he fights Dominick Cruz, he’s that talented. McDonald had some good moments in the first round, but seemed too passive on the feet for my liking. He wasn’t throwing enough combinations, but his takedown defense and his active guard both looked pretty good. Barao was just the better fighter here, but this should be a learning experience for Michael McDonald and I personally think he’ll be champion eventually. Good win for Barao who called out Dominick Cruz after the fight. Overall a really good night of fights.
Rory out: Rory MacDonald suffered an injury in training to his neck and back. Because of the injury he was forced out of his upcoming rematch with Carlos Condit. This really sucks because a lot of people, including me, were really looking forward to that fight. Condit won their last fight when MacDonald gassed in the third round and was stopped with seven seconds left in the fight. With that injury Johny Hendricks, who was scheduled to fight Jake Ellenberger, will now fight Condit in the co-main event. Stepping in to fight Ellenberger in his UFC return will be Nate Marquardt. I’m sad that we wont get to see MacDonald and Condit fight, but these changes are the best of the situation and the fights are still very compelling.
Frankie stays at featherweight: Former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar is looking to fight either Dennis Siver or Cub Swanson next, which means he’ll be sticking around at featherweight instead of possibly cutting down to bantamweight. I personally favor Edgar over every featherweight not named Jose Aldo, but either of those fights will be quite fun to watch.
The UFC hates wrestling: On Wednesday word broke that the UFC had cut sixteen fighters from their roster. I personally assumed this was because Dana White had said that every guy from this season of The Ultimate Fighter would get a UFC fight and they had to make room, then I looked closer at the list of guys cut. That list includes, but isn’t limited to, Jon Fitch, Vladimir Matyushenko, Mike Russow, Che Mills, Jay Heiron, Jorge Santiago, Jacob Volkmann, and Josh Grispi. Again that list isn’t complete, but there is a slightly disturbing trend there. You see, absent from the list are names like Dan Hardy, Leonard Garcia, Brandon Vera, Fabio Maldonado, perhaps you can see the pattern?
Now the UFC has always been in a slightly precarious position, the attempt to balance the entertainment value of MMA with the sport of MMA. It is a very difficult balancing act, and one that has swung one way or the other on several occasions, but on the whole I have always thought the UFC did a good job of balancing them. Sometimes a worthy contender, such as Johny Hendricks or Chris Weidman, gets pushed aside for a bit in favor of money fights but that tended to be the exception. With this round of cuts the UFC has sent their fighters a clear message, we’d rather you lose in exciting fashion than win. Leonard Garcia hasn’t legitimately won a fight since 2009. His two “wins” after that were very controversial split decision victories over The Korean Zombie and Nam Phan and he lost both of those rematches. The reason for cutting Jon Fitch was given that his base salary of $66,000 for show and that he’s out of title contention. Brandon Vera draws $70,000 and is not now or ever will be a title contender, and hasn’t won a fight since a very weak unanimous decision win over Elliot Marshall and even then he was locked in a tight armbar in the third round and nearly lost. If I were a wrestling based fighter in the UFC I’d be very nervous right now, because the Zuffa brass seem to be on the warpath against fighters they think are “boring.”
I’m not sure I can stress enough how much I disagree with this type of mentality. Entertainment has always been an important factor in MMA, and it always will be, but if this is a sport and it is to be taken seriously as a sport then winning has to be the most important factor. Entertainment has to be a factor in any individual sport, it’s simply the nature of the beast, but I think winning has to be more important. Just how much more important is debatable and varies depending on the situation. I firmly believe that Johny Hendricks should be getting the next title shot at welterweight, he’s got the wins and after his knockout of Martin Kampmann he had the buzz. Instead the title shot went to Nick Diaz. If Diaz had another win, apart from his re-debut against BJ Penn, I could possibly understand that decision. Nick Diaz is an entertaining fighter and has a personality that draws in viewers, that has to be a consideration, but he also decisively lost his last fight and is coming off of a year long drug suspension. Those are not situations that should give someone a title shot. Chael Sonnen, who hasn’t fought at light heavyweight since the early 2000’s and was just finished decisively by the middleweight champion for the second time shouldn’t be gifted a title shot at light heavyweight. I generally try to understand and be patient with the entertainment as opposed to pure sport mentality that MMA in general has to take, but I am frustrated, annoyed, and more than a little angry by the type of message this sends to fighters in the UFC or who wish to be in the UFC.
This Saturday the UFC makes history as the first ever female fight in the organization main events for the UFC female bantamweight title. But beyond the main event there’s plenty of good fights though, so let’s take a look at the main card and see what’s up.
Josh Koscheck vs. Robbie Lawler: Robbie Lawler returns to the UFC after ten years away, and returns to welterweight. Unfortunately for Lawler he’s fighting Josh Koscheck. Josh Koscheck doesn’t lose often, his striking has improved and he remains a good wrestler with serious athleticism. Sadly Robbie Lawler doesn’t have the wrestling or the athletic chops to really hang with Koscheck, his only chance is for Koscheck to get overanxious standing and to land a big shot and put him down. I don’t think that will happen, I just don’t think Lawler is good enough to beat Koscheck. I think Koscheck gets a decision, but would welcome a stoppage.
Court McGee vs. Josh Neer: I’ve got a soft spot for Court McGee because I saw him fight locally before he got on The Ultimate Fighter and it’s always cool to see someone you saw early in their career succeed. McGee will be fighting at welterweight for the first time in the UFC, which is probably a wise move because he wasn’t as big or as muscular as some guys at middleweight. He has a pretty easy fight here, Josh Neer was knocked out by Mike Pyle and McGee pushes a much harsher pace and has better wrestling. I think McGee finishes Neer, probably in the second.
Urijah Faber vs. Ivan Menjivar: I don’t like Menjivar’s chances here. The only advantage Menjivar has will be striking, and I find it unlikely that Faber will decide to engage in a fifteen minute kickboxing match with Menjivar. Really this is just a get well fight for Faber, and I think he grinds out a decision.
Dan Henderson vs. Lyoto Machida: This was originally scheduled to be the main event, but it dropping a spot on the card actually made me like Dan Henderson’s chances more. Hendo’s biggest enemy lately has been his defensive wrestling and his cardio, two things he shouldn’t have to worry too much about here. This fight really comes down to how effectively Dan Henderson can land his big right hand, because that’s the only chance he’s got. Lyoto Machida hasn’t been taken down very often, and he’s good at getting back up to his feet, and I doubt Henderson will be looking to get Machida on his back. Striking is where this fight will be won or lost, and while normally that is the wheel house of Machida, Henderson’s power makes it interesting. Machida will be looking to control the distance, get in and out quickly, and hope to hurt Henderson with a kick or knee to the body while avoiding the bombs of Henderson. It’s really hard to pick against Dan Henderson, he’s been fighting well lately, and even when he’s been in tough positions he’s found ways to hang on. That said, I’ve got to go with Machida by decision here, I don’t think Hendo is diverse enough at this stage of his career to deal with Machida, though him landing a big power punch and knocking Machida out isn’t at all out of the question.
Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche: The main event features bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey defending the belt against Liz Carmouche. Ronda Rousey has taken the MMA world by storm with her combination of looks and killer fighting ability, all of her professional fights have ended in the first round with her tearing off her opponent’s arm. Ronda Rousey excels at closing distance and securing a clinch, and from there throwing her opponent to the mat and tearing off an arm. She transitions so smoothly from throw to position to armbar, and so quickly, it seems otherworldly at times. Liz Carmouche is a tough fighter, she works great from top position, wears her opponents down with ground and pound, and never stops fighting. Unfortunately I think she’s in over her head here. Ronda Rousey has shown no appreciable weakness in her game, and I see no reason to expect anything different here. I think Ronda will sprint across the cage, clinch and toss Carmouche, grab an arm and force the submission, all within the first round.
The Champ will still be here
Alright boys and girls, that does it for me this week. I have every intention of being on the 411 Ground and Pound podcast this Sunday to discuss the fallout of UFC 157, so kindly give it a listen, we try out best to be informative. If you look elsewhere on 411mania I’ve contributed to the latest edition of The Long Road to Ruin over in the Movie zone, specifically discussing the Paranormal Activity franchise, so if that interests you at all the second part of that will be up next week as myself, Mark Radulich, and Sean Comber look at the ruin part of the series. I will of course be back next week, and I hope to see you all back here then, but you’ve escaped the Guillotine for this Friday.