Locked in the Guillotine MMA News Report 8.10.12 Rematches again Edition
Welcome to everyone who has so graciously decided to click and read this. Seriously, thank you guys, because knowing that someone is out there reading and theoretically enjoying this provides a degree of motivation that can be lacking at times. I’m going to touch on that in my Final Thought this week, for a variety of reasons, but I shouldn’t give too much away just yet. There’s also the card from Saturday, which turned out to be a darn good night of fights, and the upcoming UFC 150 to look at. Seems like it will be a pretty big edition, so let’s get to it and Lock you all in the Guillotine.
Only one comment last week, but that seems to be the trend right now, especially since for some reason I got a picture of Nick Diaz next to my column last week.
TimE stopped by and mentioned that he didn’t think the FOX card would do horrible numbers, more on that below, and that with both Machida and Rua fighting you weren’t an MMA fan if you didn’t tune in. Much as I dislike all or nothing statements like that, the hardcore MMA fanbase is certainly the type to go out of their way to see guys like that fight.
Worst walkout music ever: John Moraga defeated Ulysses Gomez by knockout in the first round with a brutal combination of elbows from the clinch followed up by some uppercuts that put Gomez down and out. Good debut for Moraga, especially since flyweight is just shaping up and he could get people talking about him. As for the walkout music, Gomez came out to something by Justin Beiber and Moraga to Miley Cyrus. Yeah, at least the music couldn’t possibly get worse from here on out.
That went about as expected: Manny Gamburyan defeated Michihiro Omigawa by unanimous decision in a pretty forgettable fight. It wasn’t horribly boring, but was just kind of there. Neither guy did too much to raise their stock here, but it wasn’t a horrible fight. Thankfully the memory of UFC 149 has plenty of awful fights for comparison.
British heavyweights: Phil de Fries defeated Oli Thompson by submission in the second round. This was a pretty crappy fight. Neither guy has great technique, and the striking was downright painful to watch at times. Decent win for de Fries, mostly because he needed the win and if he couldn’t beat Thompson he had no place in the UFC. Next please.
Slick submission: Rani Yahya choked out Josh Grispi with a north south choke in the first round of their fight. Grispi may have had one of the hardest falls from grace in recent memory. He was scheduled to fight Jose Aldo at one point, but when that fight was called off because of injury to Aldo Grispi has done nothing but lose since that fight was called off. Yahya did very little on the feet, but on the ground he was clearly levels above Grispi. Good win for Yahya.
That sucked: Phil Davis accidentally poked Wagner Prado in the eye in the first round and it was determined that Prado couldn’t continue. The fight never really got going before the poke happened, and Phil Davis did nothing to endear himself to the fans with how he handled himself after the fight was called a No Contest.
Phan and Miller go at it: Nam Phan defeated Cole Miller by split decision in a fun little fight. Both guys struck for the entire fight, there was only one takedown attempt during the fifteen minutes of combat. Phan seemed to be the more consistent striker, though when Miller was fighting in the middle of the octagon and used his length to his advantage he did pretty well. This wasn’t a bad way to get the crowd back into the fights after the unfortunate situation with Davis and Prado.
Swick stages a comeback: Mike Swick defeated DaMarques Johnson by knockout in the second round after getting beaten up in the first. Swick caught a leg kick from Johnson, tripped him and followed with a right hand on the ground that turned off Johnson’s lights. Swick will never be a legitimate contender, but the win has to be considered a feel good moment for him and his fans.
Now that was a fight: Joe Lauzon submitted Jamie Varner in the third round with a triangle choke to finish off a great fight. Both guys were throwing heavy shots and had great grappling exchanges. Going into the third round it was even at one round a piece, but Lauzon used a sweep by Varner to lock up a triangle and force the tap. Given that Varner took the fight on short notice a performance like this has to be considered good, and Lauzon gets another win. Really fun fight. Unfortunately it turned out that Jamie Varner broke his right hand, which means it will be a while before we see him again. I didn’t think I’d ever want to see Varner fight, but the guy seems to have turned his attitude around and has been coming to fight in the UFC. Speedy recovery to you Mr. Varner.
The Dragon returns to form: Lyoto Machida knocked out Ryan Bader in the second round with a beautiful short right hand as Bader rushed forward. Machida looked to be back in top fighting form, his movement was good, his kicks were fast and accurate, everything that makes Machida a tough fighter was on display here. Great fight for Machida, and it earned him a rematch with Jon Jones.
At least it was fun to watch: Shogun Rua TKO’d Brandon Vera in the fourth round of a fight that saw both guys gas pretty hard in the second round. Both guys kept fighting, despite being tired, and it dissolved into a sloppy fight, but both guys kept going and that counts for a lot. I don’t think either guy has a chance of beating Jon Jones, you can’t afford to gas against a guy with the conditioning that Jones has developed. At least this fight didn’t suck and bring down the audience, so both guys should be commended for that.
The Dragon gets a title shot: Following the fights last Saturday Dana White announced that former champion Lyoto Machida would get the next title fight after Jon Jones beats Dan Henderson. I’m aware that Henderson has the power to put out anyone, except Shogun Rua apparently, but his power is the only thing going for him so I’m just assuming Jones puts him away at this point. Given Shogun’s decline, I think Lyoto is pretty much the number two light heavyweight in the world, but sadly he has very little chance against Jon Jones. Still, the title fight was supposed to go to the guy who won in the most impressive fashion following UFC on FOX 4, and while the Shogun/Vera fight was fun to watch, neither guy looked good and Machida rightfully got the title shot.
The Ratings are in: The FOX show didn’t do horrible numbers, and realistically it did about what you’d expect if you looked at it rationally. The more telling thing is that viewership increased through the night, culminating in a bit over 2 million viewers by the time the main event finished. The fights on the main card certainly deserved that type of viewership, and increasing numbers indicate that people were not only interested, but actively got more people to watch. Now the numbers don’t compare at all to the ratings the Olympics are doing, but all things considered this has to be a good thing for the UFC and Fox relationship.
More injuries: Yeah, more of them. Seems we can’t get a break can we? Anyway, two upcoming fights had to be rescheduled this week. The big one was the anticipated fight between Rory MacDonald and a returning BJ Penn was removed from UFC 152 after MacDonald suffered a pretty nasty cut above his right eyebrow. The only good news is that this is just a cut and not something more serious, so the fight could simply be moved back a month or so to accommodate the healing process and then be back on.
The other fight that was adjusted was a scheduled fight between Josh Koscheck and Jake Ellenberger. Koscheck has a bulging disc in his back that will require correction. That really sucks for Koscheck, because back injuries tend to have some long term effects and his window of time to really be a top fighter is closing. Koscheck will be replaced by Jay Hieron, who has finally made his way back to the UFC. Hieron has been on the receiving end of some raw deals, a scheduled title fight with Nick Diaz in Strikeforce was canceled because Diaz blew off drug tests, which he presumably would have failed. This fight is actually a rematch, Hieron was the first man to defeat Ellenberger back in the IFL, though both fighters have matured and evolved since then. As much as you can argue that Hieron is over matched by Ellenberger at this point, this fight has the potential to be a really fun scrap.
Junior dos Santos wants Overeem: Before the UFC’s fourth Fox event, UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos apparently told Dana White that while he has tons of respect for Cain Velasquez, he wants to fight Overeem. Overeem has been talking a great deal, and apparently Junior now has no higher goal in his immediate future than separating Overeem from consciousness inside the octagon. When the fight happens, and even if it isn’t the next one for the champion I have to believe those two will fight at some point, I think dos Santos will indeed KO Overeem. The issue here is that Overeem is currently unable to apply for a license to fight with the Nevada State Athletic Commission until the twenty seventh of December. The UFC does have one card after that date, their year end one on the twenty ninth. This situation has sparked some debate about what the UFC will do, because they’ve come out and said they wont schedule Overeem until he has a license from the NSAC, even though there are really many ways around them. I don’t mind this development in some ways, because while Cain Velasquez, the presumptive title challenger in Overeem’s absence, looked like a beast in his last fight, he’s just one fight removed from being KO’d by the champion and one more fight to continue rebuilding him wont hurt. Eyes will definitely be on this story as it developes.
Jon Jones gets huge deal: News broke on Wednesday that UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has signed an endorsement deal with Nike. This is of course huge for Jones, who stands to make a lot of money off of the deal, and for MMA fighters. Big name fighters like Jones or GSP signing deals like this may not immediately help all fighters, but seeing an MMA fighter being supported by corporations like Nike and Under Armor not only raises the profile of the sport, but opens doors for future possibilities with larger companies. Congratulations to Jon Jones on the deal.
Well, there’s yet another rematch in the lightweight division headlining a PPV for the UFC. This time it’s new champion Benson Henderson defending the title against the man he took the belt from, former champion Frankie Edgar. I don’t care who wins this, but I don’t want to see any more rematches at lightweight. The division has featured only four fighters in title fights over the last couple of years, Frankie Edgar, BJ Penn, Gray Maynard, and Benson Henderson. Please, no more familiar faces, rematches like this don’t generate tons of interest and right now the lightweight division needs something different to increase their drawing power. With that mini rant out of the way, let’s take a look at the main card and get my predictions.
Max Holloway vs. Justin Lawrence: Justin Lawrence got a bit of notoriety for his head kick knockout at the last TUF finale, but I think he’s in trouble here. Max Holloway displayed some serious striking skills in his last two UFC fights, and unless Justin Lawrence has been sandbagging something in his arsenal I’ve got no reason to pick against Holloway here.
Buddy Roberts vs. Yushin Okami: Wow, can you say squash match? Buddy Roberts is stepping in on short notice for this fight after Okami’s original opponent, Rousimar Palhares, was injured and had to pull out of the fight. I can respect someone taking a fight on short notice like that, but Roberts is way out of his depth here. Despite his last loss to Tim Boetsch, Yushin Okami is still a top level middleweight. If Okami loses this he should seriously reconsider what he chooses to do for a living.
Jake Shields vs. Ed Herman: Dustin James’ man crush Ed Herman is in action against former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields. While James is no doubt picking Herman by submission, this actually has some interesting dynamics to it as a fight. Shields is one dimensional, but his grappling is exceptional for MMA, and while his wrestling isn’t powerful and dynamic, he is very good at getting guys down and working his game plan. Ed Herman has looked good since returning from injury last year, but this is a much different fighter than those he’s been matched up with. The last time Herman fought a talented grappler he was submitted by Demian Maia via mounted triangle choke. That said, Shields is a very different grappler than Maia, Maia is comfortable off of his back while Shields is more of a top oriented grappler. If Herman can avoid fighting on the ground with Shields he will have a substantial advantage striking. This fight is actually closer to a coin flip than I initially thought, but I’m going with Herman by decision. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Shields return to form now that he’s cutting less weight, but I think Herman has a really good shot here.
Donald Cerrone vs. Melvin Guillard: Everyone’s favorite member of team no-jitsu, Melvin Guillard, is back in action against former training partner Donald Cerrone. Both Cerrone and Guillard are known for striking, Guillard for his power and Cerrone for his diverse attack. The difference here, if Cerrone chooses to use it, is grappling. Cerrone has done a lot of work on his offensive wrestling and if he gets Guillard down, he could submit him rather quickly. Cerrone also has a chin that has yet to be really cracked, though he gets hit far too often. I’m thinking Cerrone takes this one, though the question is if he wants to fight on the ground at all or if he chooses to keep the fight standing and use his reach and kicking techniques to win a decision. Either way I think Cerrone takes this one.
Benson Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar: So just how in depth should I make this preview? The first fight between these two went about as I figured it would, though Edgar did a better job of avoiding the clinch than I thought he would. By contrast Benson didn’t quite cut off the cage as effectively as I thought he could. This time around both guys will likely be looking to use more wrestling, as Frankie had success scoring takedowns but little success in keeping Henderson on his back. Edgar seemed hesitant to stay in close quarters with the bigger Henderson, something that likely happens again because Henderson is a monster if he gets you against the fence. Both men have good cardio, but Benson seemed much fresher in their first fight than Frankie did, and Henderson knows how to use that to his advantage. Now neither man will likely gas, but Henderson did a good job of slowing Frankie down with body kicks and knees, plus the broken nose from that up kick had to hamper Edgar’s breathing. I think Henderson gets another decision in this fight, and then I hope Dana White places a ban on rematches for the lightweight belt for at least twelve months.
Something was said to me on Twitter during the UFC on FOX event that really got me thinking. Todd Bergman, a 411 MMA luminary, accused me of being part of the problem as far as negativity in MMA writing. Now it’s no secret that there’s plenty of negativity to go around on the internet (shocking right?) but I never really considered myself part of that. Maybe because I’ve been a really negative person for long stretches of my life and my basis for comparison is therefore a little skewed. So I’m going to take a little investigative journey for the next few weeks, why is there so much negativity or apathy when it comes to MMA journalism. If I am indeed part of the problem as far as continuing to bring down the general tone of writers here on this site and in general, I think it’s time I try and become part of the solution. So next week we’ll start looking at Why All the Hate. That title is certainly open to being changed between now and then, but it’ll work for now. So I hope you’ll all join me in looking at that, and your input and suggestions will as always be welcome as we begin looking at negativity and how to try and change it around.
That does it for this week, I’ll be back next week of course. In fact, next week will the 50th edition of Locked in the Guillotine, which is about fifty more than I figured I’d put out here. No, that isn’t a precursor to me retiring, or even taking a lighter schedule, just my own personal amazement that I haven’t been told to pack it in by the guys here. I’ll also have a review of UFC 150 next week, so I’ll see you all back here then. My arms are spent, you’ve endured long enough to escape the Guillotine again.