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In addition to my Weekly MMA posts, I’m also instituting a new weekly post called Monday Morning Quarterback, where we’ll focus on one specific team and the pros/cons from their most recent game.

Since a main focus of ours is the LSU Tigers, New Orleans Hornets, and New Orleans Saints, let’s start with the now 1-2 New Orleans Saints.

Yesterday, the Saints played their 3rd straight down to the wire game TO START THE SEASON. After a opening week win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Saints have dropped back to back games to Washington and Denver. Let’s look at the Denver game.

PROS:

1) We have a Top 5 QB in Drew Brees. With leading receiver Marques Colston out for another 4 weeks or so, Drew Brees has been nothing short of amazing. He had over 400 yards passing and 1 touchdown yesterday in a losing effort. When Brees has time to throw, he’s a sniper, no questions about it, and behind the scenes, he’s definitely the glue that keeps this team together. As long as Brees is healthy and playing, the Saints are always in the game.

2) Great step up play from Zach Strief. Early in the 2nd quarter, starting left tackle Jammal Brown went out with a groin injury and the offensive line finished the game allowing only one sack. Zach Strief stepped in for Brown and didn’t miss a beat. Like I said before, the New Orleans Saints hangs in the balance of the line in most cases. If they open up holes for the RB’s and protect Brees, the Saints can play with anyone. And if they don’t… well let’s just hope Bush, Brees and Colston really like New Orleans as a place of living.

3) Robert Meachem has talent. From what I hear, Meachem struggles with blocking as well as learning the playbook, but from his pre-season play and the last two games, I think it’s safe to say he’s quite capable of playing on this level. If his progress continues, he’ll definitely be another target for gun-slinger Drew Brees.

4) Reggie…Reggie…Reggie… There was a ton of big talk before the season started from Reggie Bush. Talk of finally “getting it”. Talk of 4 digit yard totals. Talk of Pro Bowls. Well, while the season is still young with summer officially ending yesterday, and it’s probably too early to talk of Pro Bowls, but Bush is delivering. Thus far, through 3 weeks, this is a run down of his stats thus far.
– 3 straight games of 140+ all purpose yards.

– 3 straight games with a TD.

– 3 straight games with 60+ yards receiving as a RB

– He’s averaging 3.6 YPC, which if you multiply by 3, equals 1st down.

– 1 rushing TD, 2 receiving TD, 1 PR for a TD.

For now, the talk of Bush being a bust can subside and go back to being just nonsense. For now…

Now… for the problems…

CONS

1) DEFENSE. Let’s see. Since the season opener, they can’t get pressure on the QB. They can’t stop the run. They can’t defend the pass. Something has got to change, and if the Saints want to contend for the NFC championship, it’s got to change FAST. Where are all those crafty blitz packages from the Buccaneers game? Hell, let’s all be real. The secondary is sub-par on a GREAT day. But let’s break it down a bit more in-depth, because this is obviously the biggest problem for New Orleans.

McKenzie coming back was a huge help, but that’s like saying you have one real tire and 3 spare tires instead of 4 spare tires.

Jonathan Vilma is proving to be worth the money in the off-season, but one good middle linebacker isn’t going to help when the rest of your defense is struggling. With the cornerbacks they have, the Saints are going to have to risk putting their cornerbacks on an island in hopes that they can get some pressure on the opposing team’s quarterback

Stopping the big play is still a problem. This week makes two straight weeks where the opposing team throws a TD pass for 30+ yards. This week it was a 35 yard pass to Brandon Marshall in the 2nd quarter. Last week, it was the game winning touchdown to Santana Moss. I don’t know what the Saints safeties are thinking, but last I checked, the primary role was to make sure no one got behind you. NO ONE. With the offense being so hit or miss lately, the Saints can’t afford to give up 25-30 points per week and hope to win.

2.) Where the Hell is Deuce McAllister? Last weeks playing of McAllister was strange enough, as in he only got in on a handful of plays, but this week was much stranger. In another game where 2nd and 1 and 3rd and 1 plays were pivotal, why wasn’t the big guy in there to push the pile? If he’s hurt, he should be in sweats, that way we at least understand why he’s not playing. But to be frank, Pierre Thomas has played horrible the last 2 games, and I would rather Deuce have gotten those goal line carriers yesterday, as well as the 3rd and 1 carry late in the 4th. But if he’s not going to play, he needs to be traded, cut, or released. I know he’s a fan favorite, and one of the most successful players in Saints history, but he’s making too much money to be doing NOTHING.

3) Playcalling. I like Sean Payton. I think he’s a good coach. But sometimes, the timing of certain plays just baffles me. Such as the goal line tries that lead to the eventual safety to end the 1st half. After not getting the touchdown with Thomas on 2nd and 1 and the fumbled sneak on 3rd and 1, DO SOMETHING ELSE. Give it to Bush, throw it to Shockey, run a bootleg, I don’t care. Again, on the 3rd and 1 in the 4th quarter, Thomas failed to convert. I know everyone in the world is going to tell you that if you can’t get that 3rd and 1, you’re going to lose, and I agree, the running game needs to be fixed, but if you have Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, and Jeremy Shockey, you need to figure something out. There’s no reason you shouldn’t convert using any one of those three.

4) Running and Gunning…Well, just Gunning for now. The Saints have got to fix the running game. They’ve yet to have a 100+ rushing game from any running back and have only one game with more than 100 yards rushing total as a team (week 1 v. Tampa Bay). Now, I am a Reggie Bush fan so I may be a bit impartial, but I think the numbers speak louder than my impartiality. Bush had 73 yards on 18 carries for a TD yesterday. Pierre Thomas had 15 yards on 6 carries. Bush may not be an “every down” back, but for now, he’s got to be the guy with the ball on 3rd and short. If you’re not going to give it to Deuce at all, Bush is the next best thing because he’s a play maker.

Looking ahead to this week coming, The Saints have the San Francisco 49ers in the Superdome. I’ve not been impressed by the 49ers thus far. Like a few other teams so far this season (Broncos, Cardinals, Falcons), I think it’s been a lot of smoke and mirrors. Remember the 07-08 Lions? Yeah, expect more of that this year. The Saints beat the 49ers 31-10 a year ago in San Francisco, so they should be able to handle them again this year.

Looking at the rest of the schedule, Saints fans do not fret. While the schedule appeared rough before the season started, most of the teams on the schedule are proving to be more bark than bite.

Until Wednesday, have a nice week.

TGIF!

I’m back to report the outcomes of Wednesday night’s UFC Fight Night 15.

The winners are in bold:

Nate Diaz def. Josh Neer via Split Decision
Clay Guida def. Mac Danzig via Unanimous Decision
Alan Belcher def. Ed Herman via Split Decision
Eric Schafer def. Houston Alexander via Submission (Triangle Arm Choke) Round 1
Alessio Sakara def. Joe Vedepo via knockout (head kick) in round one
Wilson Gouveia def. Ryan Jensen via submission (armbar) in round two
Joe Lauzon def. Kyle Bradley via technical knockout (strikes) in round two
Jason Brilz def. Brad Morris via technical knockout (strikes) in round two
Mike Massenzio def. Drew McFedries via submission (kimura) in round one
Dan Miller def. Rob Kimmons via submission (rear naked choke) in round one

I went 2-3 with my picks, so needless to say, I didn’t do so well. However, that’s really the beautiful part about the sport of MMA. It’s sooo unpredictable. The two fights I did win, Diaz and Lauzon, were the two I was honestly the most confident in.

Diaz is like a cockroach the cage. If you don’t take him out early and fast, he just keeps coming back. His constant reversal of submissions and ground work in his fight with Josh Neer is what helped him secure a split decision victory.

Lauzon was simply just the more dominant fighter against Kyle Bradley. Although Bradley rocked Lauzon once or twice, Lauzon’s experience came into play and he was able to shake back to secure the 2nd round TKO. That’s two TKO losses for Bradley so don’t be surprised if guys continue to test his chin.

As far as the 3 losses I did not predict, two went to the judges and I have to admit, I wasn’t really pleased with either decision.

In the Belcher decision over Herman, it was a close fight, but I definitely think the judges made the wrong decision. It was a stand up war for the most part with both men doing an equal amount of damage standing. Both took some crushing shots that had the other fighter looking out on his feet, but the difference to me was the takedowns and ground work of Herman, specifically, his takedown and full mount in the last 30 seconds of the fight.

If you watched the fight, I’ll go ahead and agree that the fight was 1 round a piece going into the 3rd, with the last round the deciding round. While Belcher continued to work his stand-up, Herman kept advancing, doing some striking of his own and he secured a late round takedown that he eventually advanced to the full mount position, ending the fight pounding away at Belcher.

Personally, I think Herman took the last round with that late flurry, but apparently the judges felt otherwise and awarded the decision to Belcher. This should be a lesson that every fighter should learn early on. Never let the fight go to the judges.

In the co-main event of Guida v. Danzig, it was pretty similar to the Belcher v. Herman fight in that there was no clear cut winner in my eyes. Danzig was clearly the better striker on the feet and Guida took notice in the 2nd round and tried take the fight to the ground as much as possible.

My problem with the Guida decision is opposite of the Belcher decision. In the Guida fight, Guida secured a takedowns and slams against Herman, but the problem was, he never really caused any damage. Standing, Danzig clipped him throughout the entire 1st round and here and there in the 2nd and 3rd, and defended the ground the entire time he found himself there. There was no vicious ground and pound from Guida, no close calls in submissions, just a ton of wrestling. Hell, there was even a point in the 1st or 2nd round when Guida had slammed Danzig for the 2nd or 3rd time in a span of a minute and Danzig is spotted laughing to himself, because like the previous 2 times, Guida was unable to do anything but allow Danzig to make his way back to his feet.

Like I said, never let the fight go to the judges, but there needs to be some better judging on the part of the UFC sometimes. If I think there’s anything Clay Guida gets too much credit for, it’s exactly what happened Wednesday night. Guida takes punch after punch to the face, gets some takedowns, is over-hyper, and gets the benefit of the doubt for it. Either way, he’s still a great fighter, congrats to him on the victory.

In related news, Guida’s younger brother Jason is, err was, a member of the cast for TUF 8, which made it’s debut right after UFC Fight Night 15. However, Jason Guida joined the ranks of Gabe Ruediger as a guy who was taken off the show for failure to make weight. Of course, it was over-dramatized and Guida begged and pleaded, but I mean, hell, let’s be honest here. This is the 8 season of this show, you know you’re going to have to make weight.

Guida officially announced his signing with EliteXC yesterday. TUF 8 has been finished filming for a few months now, so Guida has been signed with EliteXC for a while now, but they had to wait until the show debuted before they could officially announce it.

Also, like I mentioned when referring to Nate Diaz in my last post, he did not disappoint in his post-fight interview by calling out EliteXC lightweight champion to fight his brother Nick, and then at the post-fight press conference, both Diaz brothers had to be escorted out after going on a 4 letter word filled tirade against no one in particular.

I have no problem with fighters being a little on the wild side, but when it comes to both Nick and Nate Diaz, I can’t wait until someone KO’s either of them.

Well that’s all for today, have a nice weekend. Let’s hope the Saints can de-throne the red-hot Broncos!

Tonight is UFC Fight Night 15 live from Omaha, Nebraska. For those of you who aren’t really familiar with MMA or have been interested, tonight would be a GREAT night to give it a shot. The show comes on tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern, and will be followed directly by The Ultimate Fighter: Team Nogueira vs. Team Mir. Now I know some of you have a disdain for reality tv as much as I do, but this is not the Real World or the Hills. If you want to learn about some of the newest up-and-comer’s in the UFC, this is the best place.

There are a ton of fights on tonight’s card, but I’m going to weigh-in on just the main card and one fight off the pre-lim. Here is tonight’s final card.

Josh Neer 155 VS Nate Diaz 155
Clay Guida 155 VS Mac Danzig 155
Alan Belcher 185 VS Ed Herman 185
Eric Schafer 205 VS Houston Alexander 205

Joe Vedepo 185 VS Alessio Sakara 185
Wilson Gouveia 185 VS Ryan Jensen 185
Kyle Bradley 155 VS Joe Lauzon 155
Jason Brilz 205 VS Brad Morris 205
Mike Massenzio 185 VS Drew McFedries 185
Dan Miller 185 VS Rob Kimmons 185

Let’s start with Kyle Bradley v. Joe Lauzon at lightweight:

This fight doesn’t make much sense for Lauzon, especially since he’s not even fighting on the televised part of the card. His only loss thus far in the UFC is to Kenny Florian, the man many, including myself, believe to be the #1 contender at lightweight. Lauzon also holds a victory over former lightweight champion Jens Pulver back in 2006.

As far as Kyle Bradley goes, all I really know is that he is fighting out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana (homer!) and is getting a 2nd shot in the UFC. In his debut at UFC:81, Bradley was viciously knocked out 0:33 seconds into the 1st round by Chris Lytle. Now there’s no reason to be ashamed of being knocked out by Lytle, whose nickname is “Lights Out” and is a UFC veteran. Also, I believe the fight was fought at Lytle’s weightclass of 170 rather than Bradley’s natural 155.

Outcome: Lauzon via submission in round 1. Lauzon’s skill level certainly exceeds Bradley’s, he’s fought tougher competition, and I don’t think I need to stress how much he’s likely improved now that he’s training full-time with B.J. Penn. Bradley’s only hope is to catch Lauzon early with some quick combo’s or it may be over not long after it started.

Now… on to the main card.

—————————————————-

Alan Belcher 185 VS Ed Herman 185

Another fight where I am really only familiar with one of the fighters. Belcher’s record since entering the UFC is 50/50 with 3 wins and 3 losses. Now normally I would not evaluate a fighter by his record because I think that’s a pretty inconsistent way of doing things, but considering I haven’t seen him fight more than once, I’ll make an exception.

The problem with Belcher’s .500 record is the way he’s fared against his competition. The 3 better fighters he’s faced, he lost, with his wins coming against the 3 less-talented guys. In Ed Herman, he’s facing a guy who would be in the caliber of the 3 guys he’s lost to. Herman, who also boasts a 3-3 record in the UFC, has been somewhat of a let-down in the UFC as many thought he’d have a little more success.

This is a must-win for both fighters, as the UFC doesn’t just keep everybody around these days, and it’s almost a toss-up because when job security and livelihood comes into the picture, talent and experience goes out the window and is replaced with heart and a well-executed gameplan.

Outcome: Herman via unanimous decision

—————————————————-

Eric Schafer 205 VS Houston Alexander 205

If the previous fight is a must win, then this fight is a must survive for Houston Alexander. Alexander exploded onto the UFC scene with back to back 1st round TKO’s over Alessio Sakara and Keith Jardine before suffering back to back 1st round TKO losses. It would appear that Alexander is either going to knock you out or get knocked out in the process. His chin has now come into question as being suspect, and that’s not going to help his duke it out style.

Eric Schafer made an outstanding debut at UFC:62 submitting Rob MacDonald in the 1st round. However, just like Alexander, he lost his last two fights in the UFC via TKO. The difference between Alexander and Schafer. Since his losses, Alexander has been dormant, training and preparing for what is the most important fight in his career to date. Schafer has been fighting in smaller organizations and has racked up back to back wins.

Outcome: Alexander via 1st round TKO. I’m gonna go with Alexander on this one. Don’t know why, but I have a feeling he isn’t the 1-hit wonder some think he is. Expect fireworks in the 1st round.

————————————————–

Clay Guida 155 VS Mac Danzig 155

This is gonna be a barnburner…tonight’s co-main event.

If you’ve been reading my weekly posts, you’ll remember a few weeks back when I mentioned both of these guys in regards to where they sit in the UFC lightweight division right now.

Guida, with a track record checkered with both wins and losses, is the gatekeeper to the Top 10 in the lightweight division. He’s fought some of the toughest guys at 155, and his wrestling is only exceeded by his never ending stamina, which was ever present in his last minute loss to Roger Huerta. Guida would overwhelm most fighters. However, Mac Danzig isn’t most fighters.

Danzig, winner of TUF 6, was the most dominant fighter on that season’s cast, and is also a former King of the Cage lightweight champion. From watching Danzig fight and train, if there’s anything noticed about him is that he’s like a machine. His training almost cost him a fight on TUF as he overtrains at times, but it pays off in the end. He’s very proficient in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and he’s a very impressive boxer. He’s also very meticulous during fights and doesn’t make many careless mistakes. It also doesn’t help Guida’s case that Danzig now trains at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas. Couture’s fighters are infamous for their perfect gameplans such as Forrest Griffin’s in his victory over Quinton Jackson. Do not expect Guida to overwhelm Danzig.

Outcome: Danzig via 2nd round submission

———————————————————–

Josh Neer 155 VS Nate Diaz 155

The other half of tonight’s main event, another highly anticipated lightweight match-up.

What we have here is a fight between a seasoned UFC vet and another impressive young former TUF champion.

Neer fights out of the Militech Camp, where they’re still consistently producing good fighters. He’s a Muay Thai/Wrestling specialist, so expect him to be prepared for a fight on his feet or the ground. He’s fought in damn near every organization out there, and with a record of 21-6, he’s got more impressive victories over talented fighters than damaging losses.

Not much can be said about Nate Diaz other than you either love him or you hate him. Like his brother Nick, a former UFC fighter, is known for being very brash, while still being a very talented fighter.

Diaz is extremely well-versed in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, being trained under the legendary Cesar Gracie. Diaz is an average striker with some boxing training,  but he’ll definitely want to keep this fight on the ground. Despite being generally aggravating individuals, the one thing the Diaz bros. have going for them is that they are very talented MMA fighters, especially when it comes to fighting on the ground.

I’d say the stand-up for both fighters is probably equal, with Diaz holding a slight advantage on the ground.

Outcome: Diaz via 2nd round submission

Well that’s all for today! Tomorrow I’ll come through with the results and we’ll see how my predictions went.

To start, I hope everyone is as excited as I am in the news that we will NOT have to evacuate due to Hurricane Ike. It’s looking like he’s heading toward south Texas, so as well as being relieved myself, my prayers now go out to everyone in that region who is about to deal with what we’re still dealing with here.

Now… on to the topic at hand.

Today I’m going cover solely the status of the UFC’s light-heavyweight division, which is going to be VERY INTERESTING for the next few months.

The UFC Light-Heavyweight Division

So coming off of this weekend’s victories by Rashad Evans, Rich Franklin, and Dan Henderson, the UFC’s LHW picture is a bit different than predicted.

Most were expecting a Liddell victory over Evans to set up a Griffin-Liddell championship fight, but Evans didn’t seem to like those plans too much, and instead snuck into Chuck’s spot.

Also, Rich Franklin moved back up to 205 and had a very dominating showing in a win over Matt Hamill, as well as a victory for Dan Henderson over Rousimar Palhares while moving back down to 185 lb.

These all factor into what’s becoming the most interesting weight class in the UFC. Let’s look at the top 10.

  1. CHAMPION: Forrest Griffin (16-4; 7-2 in the UFC)
  2. Rashad Evans (17-0-1; 7-0 in the UFC)
  3. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (28-7; 3-1 in the UFC)
  4. Lyoto Machida (13-0; 5-0 in the UFC)
  5. Wanderlei Silva (32-8-1, 1 NC; 2-3 in the UFC)
  6. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (16-3, 0-1 in the UFC)
  7. Chuck Liddell (21-6; 16-5 in the UFC)
  8. Rich Franklin (16-3; 8-2 in the UFC)
  9. Keith Jardine (13-4-1, 5-3 in the UFC)
  10. Anderson Silva (22-4; 7-0 in the UFC)

Now, before I get started, I know there are some guys you may on your list higher/lower than mine, as well as a guy I may have omitted. Understand this is purely my opinion and my decision made after seeing the fights I have.

Let’s start with the fights that have already been scheduled.

Evans (2) has earned himself a title shot against Griffin with his KO victory of Liddell, and that fight is expected to take place at the December UFC pay-per-view. Most would argue that Quinton Jackson (3) deserved an immediate re-match with Griffin, but I’ll have to say I’m against that notion.

For starters, despite what some think, Griffin won that fight without dispute. He clearly controlled the fight over Jackson, scoring points striking, on takedowns, and controlled the octagon. Also, Liddell did not receive an immediate re-match after his loss to Jackson, so I think nothing warrants Jackson an immediate re-match. Also, Jackson’s recent legal troubles did not help his situation as his future in MMA as a sport was/is in limbo with his legal situation not resolved yet.

Lyoto Machida (4) is considered by some to have been next in line for a shot following his victory over Tito Ortiz, but I’ll also have to disagree on that. While both he and Evans both have undefeated records, Evans holds the KO victory over Liddell, and many people have a problem with Machida’s fighting style, claiming he does as little as possible to win, while some see it as smart, technical counter-striking. Regardless of style, he’s still 13-0, and that puts him in line for a title shot within a year as long as he wins his next fight.

Next up at the middle mark, I have Wanderlei Silva (5) standing as the man fighting for a shot, but also keeping others from getting their own shot. Why Wandy you ask? Well, if you look on paper, he doesn’t even break .500 in the UFC. However, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll see that 3 of those fights took place over 8 years ago, so it’s safe to say we can go with his more recent record, with has him 1-1 with a loss to Chuck Liddell and a devastating KO victory over Keith Jardine (9). Jardine was poised to be higher on this list, possibly even at the #5 spot with wins over Chuck Liddell and current champion Forrest Griffin, but losses to Houston Alexander, whose proving that he might not even be UFC worthy, and Wanderlei Silva knock him back near the bottom.

I don’t have much to say about “Shogun” Rua (6) because frankly, I’ve only seen him fight once, and he got worked over and then submitted by a guy who supposedly “wasn’t ready for him” in Forrest Griffin. The Griffin fight was his last fight and that was a year ago. Recent comments from Rua have him stating that he would like to be the 1st to beat Rashad Evans, but I neither want to see nor believe Rua deserves that fight. He needs a win in the Octagon before I see him fighting anyone in the top 3. I would personally have him at #10 maybe even off the Top 10 altogether, but talking with experts in the sport, they assure me he’s the real deal. We’ll see.

You can’t deny talent or history and for that matter, I STILL have Chuck Liddell (7) in my Top 10. To be honest, the guy’s a former light-heavyweight champion, and despite losing in horrendous fashion a few days ago, he’s still got KO power, still moves well, and could take out any one of the other guys on this countdown on any given day. It’s the beauty of the sport. Chuck’s next fight should be the true decision maker for him. A win and he continues to chase the title one last time. Another loss? Well, then he ought to just get that retirement/Hall of Fame inductee speed ready.

Now the only two guys I haven’t mentioned yet are real enigmas in this situation. Rich Franklin (8) is the number one contender for the 185 lb title. Problem is, he can’t beat the 185 lb. champion Anderson Silva (10), who also makes our light-heavyweight list with his recent movie-like knockout victory over James Irvin, fighting at 205 lbs. For Franklin, it’s got to seem like a walking nightmare, with his biggest obstacle Silva following him up to 205, but luckily for him, Silva has already stated he is going to defend his 185 lb. title, as well as fight a super-fight against GSP.

For Franklin, the 205 lb. division makes sense. The transition back to 205 lb. was pretty seemless for him, and with another quality win at 205, he’s easily in the hunt for a title shot. The fight I’d like to see is Franklin vs. Machida, which I think would be a great match-up for Franklin.

I confidently put Anderson Silva at #10 in our countdown because frankly, while he could probably he higher, he’s staying at 185 lb. so I can’t rule him out, but I can’t move him up either.

Also, rumors have been stirring that Rampage may get a fight on the November pay-per-view, but it would not be a re-match with Forrest Griffin, instead a 3rd fight against Wanderlei Silva. Silva holds two crushing victories over Jackson when they were both fighting in Pride. A win over Silva could solidify that Jackson hasn’t lost his edge at all despite recent events, but a win for Silva could catapult him into the immediate title picture as most think Jackson is next in line behind Evans for a title shot.

So with everything stated considered, the match-up’s I’d like to see are:

Griffin v. Evans for the Title (confirmed)

Jackson v. W. Silva (rumored HEAVILY)

Franklin v. Machida

Rua v. Jardine.

and… the best for last.

Liddell vs…… Anderson Silva.

Chuck wants the Silva fight and I don’t blame him. In the immediate future, there is no one in that top tier that is open for a fight (Griffin, Evans, Jackson, Wandy) and the open guys would benefit from fighting other fights (Franklin v. Machida, Rua v. Jardine). I mean, imagine if Chuck Liddell does the unexpected and not only beats Silva, but KO’s him? It would throw Chuck straight to THE TOP of the Light-Heavyweight Division.

As far as Silva goes, the only fight really worth considering with him that’s even on the radar right now is  a Dan Henderson re-match, but I see that one going the same way the 1st one went, maybe quicker. And until the B.J. Penn v. GSP superfight takes place, we can’t even consider a GSP v. Silva fight, so what better way than to market the best fighter on the planet than by matching him with the best KNOWN fighter on the planet.

Alot to think about, I guess we’ll see how the rest of the year unfolds.

Well, that’s all for today.

Next time, Couture vs. Lesnar.

Wow.

That’s pretty much all I can say about last week in the world of MMA.

1st, I’ll give a brief run-down of the winners and losers at this weekend’s pay-per-view, UFC 88:Breakthrough.

-Ryo Chonan def. Roan Carneiro via Split Decision after 3 Rounds.
-Jason MacDonald def. Jason Lambert via Submission (rear naked choke) at 1:20 of Round 2.
-Tim Boetsch def. Michael Patt via TKO (strikes) at 2:03 of Round 1.
-Kurt Pellegrino def. Thiago Tavares via Unanimous Decision after 3 Rounds.
-Dong Hyun Kim def. Matt Brown via Split Decision after 3 Rounds.
-Nate Marquardt def. Martin Kampmann via KO (strikes) at 1:22 of Round 1.
-Dan Henderson def. Rousimar Palhares via Unanimous Decision after 3 Rounds.
-Rich Franklin def. Matt Hamill via KO (body kick) at 0:39 of Round 3.
-Rashad Evans def. Chuck Liddell via KO (punch) at 1:49 of Round 1.

I’ll be the first to admit, I didn’t watch all of the fights Saturday night. Just like most of you, at the end of the day, I want to be entertained, and I also have favorites, and with not many guys I go out of the way to see fight on that night’s card, I skimmed through it.

I did, however, notice some things of importance.

Rashad Evans is not just a wrestler. Like the current UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion and Evans’ next opponent (as confirmed at the press conference after the PPV by UFC President Dana White) Forrest Griffin, Evans has evolved as a fighter and increased his skill set in a matter of years. I did not see a stand up knockout victory for Evans as a possible scenario for his fight with Liddell.

Dana White was right about Rich Franklin. Franklin, an original 205 fighter, who went down and won the 185 lb title before losing twice to Anderson Silva, is probably the #1 185 fighter in the world, but the problem is the best fighter in the world PERIOD is in his weight class. Should Franklin decide to stay at 205 (GREAT idea, IMO), he’s definitely going to be in the pack for a title shot with one more quality win.

It’s damn near pointless to be a 185 lb. fighter if Anderson Silva stays at 185. A couple of top-tier 185 lb fighters fought Saturday night, including two of the top 5 in Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson, and a top 20 guy in Nate Marquardt. All coming out of Saturday with wins, despite Franklin fighting at 205, one would wonder who’s going to get the shot at Anderson Silva. The answer is, who cares? Does it even matter? My opinion, and the opinion of many others, experts included, is that the guy with the best shot to beat Silva is GSP, the current 170 lb. champion. Frankline and Henderson have both taken their ass-kickings (I didn’t say losses because along with being losses, the fights weren’t even close) from Silva, and no offense to Marquardt, but he’s not on Silva’s level. So call it the Middleweight division if you like, but from now on, until Anderson Silva gets old or dies, the 185 division will officially be referred to as Purgatory.

As far as what will be the after-effects of UFC 88, Dana White has already confirmed that Rashad Evans has earned a shot at the UFC light-heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin, more than likely to take place in December for the UFC’s year-end show.

Both Griffin and Evans are former TUF champions (Griffin season 1; Evans season 2) and have expanded their skill sets. Evans has become a more well-rounded fighter, adding impressive striking to his repertoire  that already includes world-class wrestling. Griffin, probably most well-known for his slugfest win over Stephan Bonnar to earn him the TUF Title, has definitely become more technically sound with his striking, learning that he doesn’t always need to trade punches to win a fight.

As far as the fates of some of the other winners, I think most immediate questions come to Dan Henderson and Rich Franklin. Both guys can fight at 185 and 205, and as I’ve already stated, there’s no point in going that 185 route, that is, if they are in search of a title. If they wanted to just keep getting paid, both guys could stay at 185, demolish every other fighter, and make sure they were the #1 and #2 contenders for all time. However, I think both men want to be champion, so as far as that goes, I definitely see both fighting at 205.

Franklin, more of real 205 fighter than Henderson, who probably looks more natural at 185, is probably in the top 5 as far as UFC light-heavyweights go, so with a good quality win in his next fight, he could definitely make a case for a title shot.

Lastly, in what might be the BIGGEST news of last week, Randy “the Natural” Couture has “returned” to the UFC to defend his Heavyweight championship against none other than Brock Lesnar. This was confirmed by both fighters’ camps and the UFC last week in the days leading up to UFC 88. Obviously with their being 2 heavyweight champions in the UFC now (Couture, the champion, and Nogueira, the interim champion), the winner of the Couture/Lesnar fight will fight the winner of the Nogueira/Mir fight to unify the championship.

That’s all for today, I’m worn down, but tomorrow I’ll continue evaluating the Light Heavyweight situation, as well as further discussing the Randy Couture return to the UFC.

Until tomorrow… I leave you with this.

This week’s edition of MMA Weekly is pretty much the exact opposite of last week’s edition, and focuses more on smaller organizations than last week’s UFC filled post. Today, I’ll give my 1st evaluations of the Kimbo Slice v. Ken Shamrock fight slated for October 4 on CBS.

Kimbo Slice v. Ken Shamrock

It’s official folks. Oct. 4, 2008 will see the battle between young and old live on CBS as Kimbo Slice (3-0) takes on UFC veteran ex-champion Ken Shamrock (26-13-2) as part of EliteXC’s 3rd live network TV broadcast.

Personally, I don’t see this fight leaving the 1st round. And while most of you may be thinking, “Shamrock’s got this in the bag,” or “Kimbo’s gonna murder this old guy,” it’s really not that simple. Let’s look at some factors.

Kimbo’s only been tested once. In three professional fights, only one has gone past the 1st round, and he won via a controversial stoppage over career tomato can James Thompson. Slice looked out of shape during the Thompson fight, and on the ground, it became very evident he was not comfortable. Against Shamrock, the ground is the last place Kimbo will want to be.

Ken Shamrock in 2008 is no longer the “World’s Most Dangerous Man”. He has not won a fight since 2004, and his last 5 fights have all been losses via KO or TKO in the first round. Needless to say, he hasn’t looked sharp in any of these fights either, and his last loss was to a Robert Berry, a guy I’ve honestly never heard of.

Age v. Experience. At 44 years old, Shamrock is TEN years older than Slice. Now is this were a 30 year old in his prime fighting a 20 year old, this wouldn’t seem like such a big ordeal, or even as much as a 34 year old fighting a 24 year old, but this is different. And while Shamrock’s career fight total is more than ten times larger than Slice’s, he’s also taken a ton of beatings recently.

The Boxer (brawler in this case) v. the Wrestler (grappler in this case). While the argument isn’t completely exact, this is pretty much what I think we’re gonna see. If Ken Shamrock wants any chance at beating Slice and saving not only face, but his career as well, he’s gonna claw and scratch Kimbo to the ground. Slice may not be a striking genius, but the man can throw a punch. A hard, fast, knockout punch. And history tells us that Shamrock’s jaw may be making the transition to glass.

The S on my Chest (Size, Speed, Strength). Let’s be honest. Shamrock has no physical advantages in this fight. Slice is 3 inches taller and 35 lbs. heavier than Shamrock. Shamrock has made a career at fighting around 205 lbs. whereas Slice is usually around the 235 lb. mark. Also, Shamrock has naturally gotten slower over the years, so his ability to shoot in on Slice will not be as effective.

All things considered, right now, I’m leaning toward Kimbo Slice via TKO. But that’s subject to change.

Have a nice weekend!

P.S. Keep Louisiana in your prayers!

Your eyes are not deceiving you.

The latest rumor, coming from a confidential source inside EliteXC, has stated that Kimbo Slice will be fighting MMA legend and former UFC champion Ken Shamrock. The source has said that the press release is just awaiting approval and should be released sometime later today.

Just last week, Shamrock was no longer being considered as a possible opponent by most, including myself, because he has stated that he was concerned with fighting his brother Frank Shamrock and him only. However, EliteXC was never able to make that fight happen.

The leading candidate for the Slice fight appeared to be Sean Gannon, the only man to have ever “defeated” Slice in any of his famed YouTube battles. The re-match was supposed to be a huge sell for EliteXC’s October 4th card. But like the Shamrock v. Shamrock fight, apparently EliteXC wasn’t able to make that happen either.

I’m still unsure how I feel about this. I personally like Ken Shamrock, and I wish he would have retired after the 3rd Tito Ortiz fight, but I suppose he wants to go out on a win. Do I think he can take Slice? I’m not sure. Yes, he is a UFC and MMA legend, but he hasn’t looked sharp in any of his recent fights, most of which were losses via KO or TKO.

I’m not going to make my pick just yet, but I will say this. This is definitely a smarter move right now for EliteXC, whom many are saying is in financial no man’s land. Signing Gannon and making him a headliner against Slice would have pissed off many MMA faithfuls who already feel that Slice has no right being a main event guy, especially in a fight against another guy whose only famous due to street fighting. By pitting him against Shamrock, at least one of the two fighters has some substantial MMA background.

More on this later this week, when more information becomes available.

It’s that time of year. You know what I’m talking about. The time when office pools are started, Monday morning quarterbacking becomes habit, and alcohol consumption on both college campuses and on Sunday go up 500%.

Football season is here.

I won’t lie to you. Up until I’d say around 2005, I could have really cared less. I grew up a basketball player. For me, sports only existed between the months of November and June, with the occasional summer excitement every four years (like this one).

But it’s different now.

Before you assume that I’ve been brain-washed by the purple and YELLOW, let me assure you that it is not. (Newsflash: LSU’s colors are purple and yellow. If you need a reminder of what Gold looks like, see: The New Orleans Saints, Michael Phelps’ Neck, Floyd Mayweather’s waist, Flavor Flav’s Mouth.)

While it be that I am SOMEWHAT an LSU fan, I am nowhere near the die-hard that my comrade Casey is. I still hold student season tickets, mainly because I enjoy sports as a whole more now that I’m older, but for me, my love for football can all be accredited to five men.

Enter Sean Payton, Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, Marques Colston, and Joe Horn.

I still very clearly remember my freshmen year of college, in particular the college football season. It was the first time I regularly watched football. I don’t remember the professional season so well (selective memory), but I do know that the highlights consisted of Joe Horn’s touchdown dancing.

See, while I haven’t followed them religiously my entire life, if I ever had to “choose” a football team growing up, it was easy for me. The Saints. They were the hometown team so to speak. Plus, guys like Joe Horn made it easy for a cocky, arrogant sonofabitch like myself to enjoy.

So imagine my excitement when I found out the Saints had hired a new coach. Hell, I didn’t know shit about Sean Payton at the time, but I knew he wasn’t Jim Haslett, he wasn’t Mike Ditka, and he sure as hell wasn’t Jim Mora.

I think my excitement of finding out the Saints had a new coach was only matched by my near heart attack upon discovering the Texans had chosen Mario Williams with the 1st overall pick in that same year’s draft. Of course, history tells us that this lead to Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush landing with the New Orleans Saints. (FYI: I don’t care if he took the money. I KNOW college athletes who take money. It’s irrelevant. None of them are half the athlete Bush is.)

So combined with the Saints picking up a new coach and a new, exciting playmaker, they still had my favorite Saint (at the time), Joe Horn. Plus, they had somehow acquired another quarterback who was supposed to save the franchise, except this time it was more than just hometown fans wishful thinking. I was sure of what was to happen next. They were going to the Super Bowl.

Not quite.

In the end, the Saints did make it to the conference championship, only to drop that game to the Bears, who played so piss-poor in the Super Bowl that I still owe Rex Grossman a kick in the shin.

But, what did happen is that I found out that I do really enjoy football, that Reggie Bush and Marques Colston (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention him. In case you didn’t know, he’s a pretty big deal. And he was drafted one before last.) are my favorite players and that Drew Brees is a Top 5 player in the NFL.

Even despite the dismal year last year, I still ride and die with the Saints. And while the article contained hardly any sports knowledge or factual information, it explains how I feel about football, in a manner that is slightly different than that of my fellow contributors.

Thank you and good day.

Sorry, as always, my title needs work.

Moving on, I’ve decided along with my daily (er, semi-daily) opinion posts, I’m also going to make a weekly post giving my opinion on the latest in MMA, as well as what I think should and shouldn’t be happening in MMA. I know this is the initially what I should have been doing, but I believe I’ve gotten more time in my schedule now to be a little more structured with it. And here…we…go.

Read the rest of this entry »

I know.

The title could definitely use some work.

But, to be honest, in my humble opinion, the topic I’m covering today might be the most controversial of them all.

A few nights ago, the Women’s team gymnastics final came down to Alicia Sacramone of Team USA performing well on both the beam and the floor exercise. To the distress of her teammates, two untimely falls cost Sacramone and the USA the gold medal, which eventually went to China.

Here’s the problem. That might not even matter, depending on who you ask.

According to numerous US media outlets, members of the Women’s Chinese gymnastics team, the team that won gold a few nights ago, are ineligble.

Without getting into to much detail, because you don’t read my column to read every inch of what’s going on, you read it for the CliffNotes version, here’s the meat and potatoes:

China won the gold medal in the women’s team overall. Team USA finished in 2nd. In articles dating back as far as Nov. 2007, gymnasts from the Chinese team are documented as being as young as 13 at the time, which would make it impossible for them now 9 months later to be 16.

The IOC (International Olympic Committee), whom is in charge of making sure all athletes competing in the games are eligible, claim they are not responsible for determining whether or not the gymnasts in question are in fact of age.

Apparently, all you need to claim your eligibility for the Olympics is a passport showing your age. Whom issues these passports? The government of each country. So, China issues Chinese passports, the United States issues US passports, etc.

The IOC is claiming it is up to China to investigate the issue, stating that they reviewed the passports and all the girls were age eligible.

Here’s my question.

So you expect the government of a China to investigate it’s own team, risking shaming not only its team, but its team’s country AND its country as a whole since they are the host country, when no one else can prove otherwise?

Yeah.

(Cue: Rafael Palmeiro’s “I have never used steriods, period.”)

Just like Palmeiro admitted to using steriods after he’d been caught, too.

You want to know what’s the sad part.

The IOC won’t do anything about this. They’ve said they won’t, and trust me, they really won’t. They’re too scared to.

Whether it be from the backlash from the Chinese people, the Chinese government, or just China as a team, country, and host of the Olympics, they’re scared. They don’t want to cause an uproar.

Here’s the problem with that logic. They’re too late.

The Chinese people might not be upset, but the American people sure as hell are.

The double standard is becoming a common trend in this year’s Olympics. Not only with Women’s gymnastics, but with Men’s basketball as well.

Before the Redeem Team completely demolished Spain Saturday (we’re on China’s calendar, remember), the Spanish team is also in the midst of its own controversy.

(enter picture of Team Spain doing something very stupid, a team with NBA players on it)

 In what I can’t describe as anything other than a lack of judgment, or a complete act of stupidity, the men’s basketball team posed for a picture in which everyone on the team pulled back the skin near the corner of their eye’s, in order to appear slant eyed.

Here’s the kicker: The photo was taken as an advertisment for the team’s sponsor, Li-Ning, a Chinese company.

Spokespeople for the team have claimed it was all in good fun, that the picture was taken to show their connection with the Chinese people?

Are…you…fucking…serious? (pardon my language folks)

I, personally, am appalled that

1) Any of these gentlemen, whom should all be intelligent enough to know that this was a dumb idea, went through with this

2) Pau Gasol, who claims he was “broken down mentally” into doing it, was not man enough to not do something that his words dictate he knew was stupid

3) A newspaper in Spain would consider running such a photo.

4) David Stern has not issued some statement, or started reprimanding the NBA players involved in the photo.

Jason Kidd said it best, that if Team USA did that, they would already be out of the Olympics. That suspensions and fines would be waiting for them when they got back home. Basically, that they would be looked at as an embarrassment to not only themselves and the NBA, but the entire United States of America.

Instead, the people of Spain, as well as members of the team, as trying to defend their actions however possible. Take Toronto Raptors guard Jose’ Calderon.

“We thought it was something appropriate and that it would be interpreted as affectionate. Nevertheless, some of the European media did not see it this way. I would like to say that we have a huge respect for the Orient and their people, some of my best friends in Toronto are from China and one of our Spanish national team sponsors is the Chinese brand, Li Ning.”

It’s a double standard of being American. We’re supposed to know better, whereas because of the differences in culture, the Spanish get a pass. But that should not stop the NBA players involved from being disciplined.

The players of the NBA know all too well, when you’re in Stern’s league, you’re on the clock all-day, everyday. The Gasol brothers and Calerdon do not deserve a free pass on this, because believe this, Carmelo Anthony would not get one, and neither would Allen Iverson.

In all honesty, it’s been quite hard to enjoy the Olympics with such controversy swirling around it. Aside from Michael Phelps everyday superman-like performances, and the re-birth of American dominance in men’s basketball, I’ve stayed away from the Olympics.

It’s the same reason why I worry about professional basketball, and now, why I cannot look at the Olympics the same.

If the two sporting events I enjoy the most have even a shred of doubt as to the fairness of the games, I can’t enjoy it.

But that’s just me.

The following two photos are the ones in question. As an Asian man, you’re not convincing me those girls are 16. Hell, they don’t look 13. And as far as the Spanish Men’s basketball team.

Damn.

 

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