The MMA 5&1 1.17.13: Bisping vs. Belfort & More Year End Awards
The Part at the Beginning
Welcome back to the latest edition of the MMA 5&1! My apologies for missing last week, but since it was short notice that I was taking over the column, I had some work commitments I needed to do. But do not fear, now that I am in the rotation, I have things worked out well so that I can sit down and write the column on a weekly basis. The schedule will be a bit erratic until February, but I should be hear each and every week. Now, ahead of their battle this weekend, Michael Bisping takes on Vitor Belfort in VS, we discuss my best and worst fights of 2012, my breakout fighter for the year and much more. Thanks again for popping into my little corner of the MMA Zone. I know I present a different look than Stewart did, but I hope you still enjoy the column.
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WHO YOU GOT: BISPING vs. BELFORT?
Anything Involving Bob Sapp: Before I discuss this, let me repeat something from last week. I am a huge MMA fan, but do not pretend to be an expert. This also means I am not some bastion of purity for the sport, but when I look back on the worst of 2012, I have to say that Bob Sapp was a complete embarrassment to the sport of MMA. We all know that Bob Sapp was huge in Japan, the man was a superstar there, but overall he was never looked at as a great fighter. But people still remember Sapp Time, they know Bob is charismatic and they know fans like him. That is why, in 2012, Bob Sapp fought SEVEN TIMES. He got paid to fight SEVEN TIMES, and SEVEN TIMES he lost. But not only lost, Sapp
essentially we’ll say “allegedly” took a dive in these fights. In 78 seconds he lost to Rolles Gracie by tapping to strikes. Rolles is 8-1 and has won the other fights by submission. Sapp lost to James Thompson in under two minutes when Sapp tapped out from falling on his ass and allegedly hurting his leg. From there a loss to Mariusz Pudzianowski in 39 seconds via TKO, a loss to Sao Palelei via TKO is 12 seconds, and another pathetic display of tapping to strikes in 89 second to Tolegen Akylbekov. A 2nd round (amazing there) TKO loss to Jong Dae Kim, followed my one more time tapping to strikes in 88 seconds to Dusan Panajotovic and that was the year of Bob Sapp. I know, who are these guys? Sapp is like the old time wrestler that used to be a star and gets paid to go into the territory and put over the hometown babyface. Some people say that Sapp should be applauded for getting work so regularly and getting paid; I disagree. I think it is insulting to the sport. Don’t get me wrong, I like some “pro wrestling aspects” in MMA, but I also think that Nick Diaz and Chael Sonnen getting their title shots are also shit. In a sport so young, that is surviving and starting to thrive, it is stuff like Bob Sapp being booked and paid to “fight” that hurts the sport. But that’s just my opinion.
Ronda Rousey: Last week I named Ronda Rousey my fighter of the year, and this week, she also earns my personal award for breakout fighter of the year. While gentlemen like Renan Barao, Johny Hendricks and Demetrious Johnson all had good years, I feel that Ronda Rousey had the biggest year in all of MMA. She defeated Miesha Tate to win the title, and then defended it against Sarah Kaufman to retain it. Both were fights experts said she was over matched in, that both had more experience and a more well rounded MMA game, too much for Rousey. But yet she beat them both via RD1 arm bar submission. In a sport where the women gained momentum with Gina Carano, and then lost it with her loss to Cyborg and departure, and then lost even more momentum with Cyborg’s drug test failure, Rousey came in and took the lead, and became the new face of the sport of women’s MMA. And it is all because of her rise in the sport that the women are coming to the UFC and that they are main eventing a UFC PPV. Some hate her attitude, but the facts are that without her rising up the ranks and taking women’s MMA by storm, the ladies do not make it to the UFC. I will say it again, one title, two first round arm bars, one new UFC contract, and the cover of the ESPN The Magazine body issue all add up to one of the most important fighter years in recent memory. That is breaking out in a big way.
Miesha Tate vs. Julie Kedzie, Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman: Joe Lauzon vs. Jim Miller got a lot of praise at the end of the year, and it was a great fight, but personally not my fight of the year. My fight of the year was Miesha Tate vs. Julie Kedzie. They faced off back in August, on the undercard of the Rousey vs. Kaufman fight. Most felt that this was an easy fight for Tate, but no one told Julie Kedzie. They waged war for the first two rounds, most felt in a fight that saw Kedzie getting the best of Tate. Julie Kedzie was on her way to victory as the battle continued, and then, in a piece of storytelling right out of pro wrestling or a good movie, Miesha Tate battles back and locked in an arm bar, the same hold she lost her title in the fight with Ronda Rosey, and made Julie Kedzie tap. This on the same card that would see Rousey defeat Kaufman with another arm bar, and on a night that should have set up a rematch. Unlike a lot of sloppy women’s fights (due to lack of skill) that go out there and throw wild shit and then get praised as the best ever, this was a great fight between two skilled fighters that is exactly the kind of fight that women’s MMA needs to go along with an emerging star like Rousey. Some may disagree, and that is cool, but this was my fight of the year.
Strikeforce presented their last event last weekend; here are some quick thoughts on the main bouts of the evening.
* Pat Healy def. Kurt Holobaugh via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27): Pat Healy spent the build up to the event complaining about hearing no offers from the UFC if he won his fight. Maybe he should have fought wit that aggression, because I felt that Pat Healy wasn’t impressive at all in this fight. He may get a UFC shot, but with the talent the UFC has in the lightweight division, I don’t see him going that far.
* Tim Kennedy def. Trevor Smith via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 3, 1:36: Tim Kennedy defeated Trevor Smith in a little longer than I thought it would take him, but Tim Kennedy did Tim Kennedy things and looked good in victory. I am anxious to see him get a shot in the UFC, and like Mark Radulich’s idea of Kennedy vs. Stann for July.
* Ryan Couture def. K.J. Noons via split decision (29-28, 27-30, 29-28) : Ryan Couture defeated K.J. Noons via split decision in a fight most felt that Noons won. It was an enjoyable fight, but I don’t like their chances in the UFC. Noons keeps thinking he is still a boxer, and hasn’t fully assimilated to MMA in my eyes. Couture has potential, but I think he needs more fights to gain more experience. At this time, I don’t see them going far in the UFC LW division, but they could have fun fights for sure.
* Ronaldo Souza def. Ed Herman via submission (kimura) – Round 1, 3:10: This fight went about as most expected, but I was still pleasantly surprised with Souza. While Ed Herman is not an “elite’ fighter, it was a nice step up for Souza, and he looked very impressive in the victory. I am very excited to see him in the UFC, and feel he could be a player there.
* Gegard Mousasi def. Mike Kyle via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 4:09: Gegard Mousasi closed out his Strikeforce run by winning his second straight fight for the promotion. He has talked about being more dedicated to learning the MMA game, and that is a good thing. Mousasi has an overall great record, but in the UFC LHW division, could quickly get lost.
* Josh Barnett def. Nandor Guelmino via submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 1, 2:11: Josh Barnett won quickly as expected, and then cut his pro wrestling style promo to complete his Strikeforce run. I am a huge Barnett fan, but highly doubt that he will end up in the UFC. This is partly because of Dana White, and partly because he wants to do outside things, like pro wrestling. I personally would love to see Bellator and TNA make a play for him, as he would fit the plans way better than King Mo.
* Daniel Cormier def. Dion Staring via TKO (strikes) – Round 2, 4:02: Daniel Cormier defeated Dion Staring, in what wasn’t the most impressive fight in the world. Cormier was never in trouble, but I felt he could have finished it sooner, and had roughly 14 times he could have had an arm bar. Cormier’s improvement is noticeable, but that and the timid striking (due to past broken hand) is worrisome. I did like the post match callout, at least he understands the business and didn’t do the, “I’ll fight whoever the UFC wants” bullshit.
* Tarec Saffiedine def. Nate Marquardt via unanimous decision (48-47, 49-46, 49-46) – for final Strikeforce welterweight title: Tarec Saffiedine defeated Nate Marquardt to become the final welterweight champion for Strikeforce. Leading up to the fight, Marquardt seemed sure that he was heading to the UFC with his victory. Unfortunately he forgot how to check leg kicks on his way to the cage and Saffiedine tenderized his leg like a piece of beef. Tarec Saffiedine is now 7-1 since 2010, and only lost to Tyron Woodley during the run. He has 17 fights in his career, but is only 26 and can still grow, but will be heading into a deep UFC WW division. He should change his nickname to the Spoiler, because he surely ruined the night for Marquardt.
Strikeforce went out with a whimper, but it was a promotion I enjoyed while it lasted. Leave the memories alone.
* Lightweight Bout: Thiago Tavares vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov: Nurmagomedov via Decision
* Heavyweight Bout: Ben Rothwell vs. Gabriel Gonzaga: Gonzaga via submission
* Middleweight Bout: Daniel Sarafian vs. CB Dollaway: Sarafian via Decision
* Middleweight Bout: Vitor Belfort vs. Michael Bisping: Bisping via Decision
* PLEASE feel free to make your main card predictions in the comments section!!
This week’s & 1 model of the week is Paige VanZant…