Monday, November 16, 2009
The replacement fight for the scratched Brock Lesnar/Shane Carwin heavyweight title fight, has now been broken up as well for UFC 108 as Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Noguiera has suffered a severe staph infection and will be unable to fight undefeated Cain Velasquez in their No. 1 contender showdown.
If you're keeping score at home, that is two top heavyweights now down for the count -- Lesnar and Noguiera.
Once again, this is devastating news for the UFC which can't seem to buy a break these days.
"Nogueira got staph infection, bad, to the point now it’s in his bloodstream, and he’s probably going to have to be hospitalized and intravenously given the antibiotics," UFC president Dana White revealed at the UFC 105 post-event press conference.
"It’s crazy," White said, "In nine years of being in this business, we haven’t had this many injuries in one year."
So unless White can scrounge up some other sort of main event caliber of fight, it appears that the Rashad Evans/Thiago Silva fight will be promoted up to main event and perhaps some other fight will be put together to boost the main card.
However, this is probably more disconcerting to Noguiera. This is now the second time in just under a year in which the great Brazilian fighter has fallen victim to staph. Do they not clean the mats down there in Brazil? I don't get it. It doesn't seem to be affecting any other fighter from that camp so maybe Noguiera just doesn't like to shower?
Whatever the case maybe, Noguiera needs to recover from this and recover fully to continue to be a force in the heavyweight division. If for whatever reason he is unable to get back to 100 percent, he will be passed over by guys like Velasquez, Kongo and Dos Santos.
Post UFC 105, Dana White talked about his heavyweight champion who has been scratched from two straight events and seemingly unable to shake whatever illness he has.
Speaking with the media during the post fight press conference at UFC 105, White indicated that Brock Lesnar will be out far longer than just UFC 108.
"He's in a hospital up in North Dakota somewhere right now," said White. "He went to Canada and some bad stuff happened to him, so we've got to figure it out.
"He doesn't want to talk about it publicly, but he's in bad shape. He's not well and he's not going to be getting well anytime soon."
Lesnar pulled out of the UFC 106 main event fight with Shane Carwin near the end of October when he realized the illness he had wasn't going away. The fight was then moved temporarily to UFC 108 and didn't stay there long when it was determined shortly thereafter that Lesnar still hadn't recovered.Now the champ is hospitalized with an undisclosed illness and appears to be out indefinitely.
"I am worried about it," said White of his biggest star's medical situation. "You know, I can't really talk about it right now, but he's in rough shape. He's in really bad shape … and we're going to have to do some stuff to take care of this guy. He is not well and he's not getting any better.
"We're going to have to send him to the Mayo Clinic or to Scripps, or one of those really good hospitals to figure out what's wrong with this guy."
Well I was way off. Out of the five main card fights, I correctly picked all of one of them. So while it was a dreadful performance by me, it certainly wasn't by the victors who included Randy Couture, Dan Hardy and Michael Bisping.
Actually, in the case of Couture, I take back the "non-dreadful performance" remark. While it wasn't quite the "Shogun robbery" of UFC 104, I have to wonder just what Couture did to earn a unanimous decision victory over Brandon Vera. Let's see: Vera opened with a combo that was more devastating than anything Couture threw all night and finished the round withstanding every Couture takedown attempt. Next round Vera drops Couture with another wicked combo that included a kick to the body. Again all Couture does is pin Vera up against the cage. Cool. Final round, Vera yet again denies Couture's takedown attempts and is simply pressed up against the cage. As the round closes both fighters unleash a flurry of attacks but Vera visibly hurts Couture again.
All I saw Couture, 46, do this entire fight was hold his opponent against the cage. How can you win a fight by holding someone against a cage? That isn't even fighting! You should be kicked out of the promotion for a performance like that. If it was anybody else I'm sure today, they'd be a free agent right now. Hopefully, at the very least, the UFC realizes Randy Couture just isn't the same fighter he used to be.
Contrary to the main event, Dan Hardy came out fighting in his No. 1 Contender match with Mike Swick. A nice right hand buckled Swick from the get-go and Hardy took the momentum from there and never relinquished it in dominating Swick 30-27 on all three scorecards.
After the fight Hardy and Welterweight Champion Georges St.-Pierre met in the Octagon and talked about their future fight. It will be an interesting one but I guarantee you St.-Pierre won't be unable to take the Brit to the canvas.
Then there's Bisping. The Manchester native once again put on a career performance in front of his hometown crowd. And he needed it. After dropping the first round to Denis Kang, Bisping came out in the second and realized his opponent was winded. He didn't let him catch his breath. Instead he stormed Kang with an onslaught of strikes and quickly had Kang bloodied and even more tired. It wasn't long after that he got the stoppage.
It was a critical win for "The Count" who needed to show he can hang with the top middleweight fighters. Now, Kang isn't top five in the division but perhaps sits around 10th as a contender so let's not get carried away. On the other hand, Kang has now lost both fights to start his UFC career and you have to start to wonder where this leaves him.
UFC 105 was another good solid event that I'm willing to wager right now will be better than UFC 106 which is on pay-per-view. You can look forward to a breakdown of this event later in the week but I will just say right now that it is a very weak card with no real main event. The key takeaway for me from UFC 105 is that Couture is one fighter I don't want to watch fight anymore. All he's going to do is try to take guys down and if he can't get it (which he probably won't) is hold them up against the cage. I don't want to watch that.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Here is the breakdown on each fighter and what they weighed in at for their fight on Saturday night:
205 lbs.: Randy Couture (204) vs. Brandon Vera (204)
Main card (Televised):
185 lbs.: Michael Bisping (186) vs. Denis Kang (185)
170 lbs.: Dan Hardy (171) vs. Mike Swick (170)
170 lbs.: Matt Brown (170) vs. James Wilks (169)
155 lbs.: Ross Pearson (156) vs. Aaron Riley (155)
Under card (May not be broadcast):
170 lbs.: John Hathaway (170) vs. Paul Taylor (170)
155 lbs.: Terry Etim (155) vs. Shannon Gugerty (155)
170 lbs.: Matt Riddle (171) vs. Nick Osipczak (170)
155 lbs.: Denis Siver (155) vs. Paul Kelly (156)
155 lbs.: Roli Delgado (156) vs. Andre Winner (155)
205 lbs.: Jared Hamman (204) vs. Alexander Gustafson (203)
Once again, UFC 105 will be broadcast on Spike for free at 8 pm EST, 5 pm PST.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
This weekend the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) travels across the pond to London, England for its 105th pay-per-view quality event and although it does have the number to its title, UFC 105: Couture vs. Vera will actually be televised via tape delay on Spike at 5 pm PST.
The most attractive aspect of this card besides perhaps Randy Couture, 46, returning to the light heavyweight division, is the overall depth of the card and competitiveness of the three featured bouts.
Those three fights of course are the main event between Couture (16-10) and Brandon Vera, 32, who will be looking to continue his climb up the ladder of the 205 lb division. That climb is certainly a steep one as it is the UFC's deepest division, yet with a win over the ageless wonder, Vera (11-3) will have cemented his status as a top five light heavyweight and a force to be reckoned with.
The other two fights feature a welterweight number one contender match between Mike Swick (14-2) and Dan Hardy (22-6, 1 NC) with the winner projected to fight champion Georges St.-Pierre in early 2010 and a middleweight matchup between Michael Bisping (18-2) and Denis Kang (32-11-1).
Rounding out the televised portion of the card are Matt Brown (12-7) and Aaron Riley (28-11-1)who will take on James Wilks (7-2) and Ross Pearson (11-3) respectively as they each look to continue their rise in their respective divisions (welterweight and lightweight).
Again the great thing about this card is how competitive these fights these top three fights will be. In fact, other than the London native Hardy, all are listed as favorites in the betting lines. Hardy is just a slight underdog to Swick.
The other great thing about these fights is they all have major implications not only to their respective divisions but to each fighter's title aspirations. Bisping will be looking to bounce back after his first ever KO at the hands of Dan Henderson while Kang wants to get his first UFC win. Then there's Couture and Vera, both looking to climb into the top 5 in the 205 lb division. And we already know what's at stake for Swick and Hardy -- a match with St.-Pierre only the best welterweight in the sport and arguably the best fighter overall.
If it sounds like I'm excited for Saturday to come, it's because I am. Who do I like? Well, I'm glad you asked. I'll take Vera by unanimous decision, Kang by split decision and Swick by 2nd round TKO. In the other fights I like Brown and Riley.
Hope you all enjoy the fights.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
So without any more wasted time, here that is with my analysis of the news in italics.
- Strikeforce's Fedor vs. Rogers event was a successful one. "The Last Emperor" was valiantly contested by Rogers but in the end, came through with another crushing knockout. It was also successful in that the event garnered 5.46 million viewers on CBS in the 9-11 pm time slot and scored huge with the 18-48 male and overall demographic. Absolutely huge for the sport.
- UFC 105 goes down this weekend from London, England as Randy Couture looks to return to the 205 lb division successfully against Brandon Vera. The weigh-ins will be live on Friday at 12 pm EST/ 9 am PST. Check out UFC.com or channel 101 on directv for the broadcast.
- UFC 106, which goes down next Saturday, November 21st, will once again broadcast two undercard fights on Spike prior to the pay-per-view broadcast. This time around the two bouts will feature welterweights Marcus Davis and Ben Saunders and a middleweight tilt between Kendall Grove and Jake Rosholt. Once again, this is important for the sport and the UFC as a whole. Continuing with this program is a must because it benefits everyone involved and continues to gain exposure for the sport.
- Fedor Emelianenko will be out up to six weeks due to a hand injury suffered in his fight against Rogers Saturday night. His next bout looks to be against Fabricio Werdum who also won last weekend (defeated Antonio Silva) sometime in early 2010. Important for Strikeforce in that the sooner he recovers the better. They need to be able to showcase their top fighter and probably the third best fighter in the world currently, as often as possible. Six months between fights is not an option.
- With injuries to all title holders sans BJ Penn who is scheduled to fight Diego Sanchez at UFC 107 on December 12, the UFC is left with Big Nog vs. Cain Velasquez and Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva as main events for its year end showcase on January 2nd. UFC 108 was supposed to feature Anderson Silva defending his middleweight belt against Vitor Belfort but needs more time to heal his elbow and the Lesnar/Carwin tilt has been postponed further as well. It's certainly disappointing to have to wait as long as we will have to now to see the top fighters like Silva, Lesnar and GSP in action but injuries are a part of this sport and you just have to deal with it. Hopefully the UFC will continue to load up this card with solid fights like the two already mentioned.
- Nate Marquardt vs. Chael Sonnen has been scheduled for UFC 110 in Sydney, Australia. With Dan Henderson still in contract negotiations and unable to fight, apparently Marquardt wasn't willing to sit around and wait. It'll be another big time middleweight contender tilt between two fighters on a roll. This is also good for Hendo if and when he decides to sign with the UFC in that he'll most likely not have to fight Marquardt since the soonest he would be ready after this bout would be May.
- Lastly, the UFC 105 Countdown show aired on Monday, November 9th but here it is in its entirety. Check it out.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
The main attraction is a heavyweight bout between Russian superstar Fedor Emelianenko (30-1, 1 NC) who will be making his Strikeforce debut against the undefeated Brett Rogers (10-0) which has title implications. In the other main attraction, welterweight champion Jake Shields will defend his title against Jason "Mayhem" Miller.
Emelianenko, 33, will not only be making his Strikeforce debut but also his debut fighting within a cage. Often regarded by many analysts and fans around the sport as not only the top heavyweight in the game but even the sport's top pound-for-pound fighter.
In Rogers he will be facing an up-and-coming heavyweight with heavy hands but essentially zero ground game. Rogers is coming off a knockout win over former UFC heavyweight champ Andrei Arlovski who just so happens to also be Emelianenko's latest victim. However, "the Grim" is still widely considered to be relatively untested with just Arlovski being an opponent of any consequence to his ledger.
The reason why Emelianenko is so highly regarded is his outstanding all around game. Not only can the Russian strike with the best of them due to his incredible hand speed, he is extremely adept on the ground. There really isn't any weakness in his game other than his physical size. At 6'0" and a little over 230, he's relatively tiny for a heavyweight especially compared to the UFC's heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar who is 6'3" and usually 285-290 by the time of the fight.
So whether this fight -- on paper -- can be seen as your classic mismatch, it is still being paid close attention to by the mainstream MMA media because it is Emelianenko's latest fight and first since beating Arlovski way back in January.
As far as the Shields/Miller bout, well let's just say there's a reason that "Mayhem" Miller isn't on the UFC roster despite being around along time and having friends in the rival promotion. In another instance of fight hype making a fight out of a classic mismatch, Miller is perhaps the worst title contender to be challenging for the Welterweight crown.
The event will take place on Saturday, November 7th at the Sears Centre Arena in Chicago at 7 pm PST.
The Fight Camp video from Showtime: