1. Thiago Alves will defeat Matt Hughes and continue to push his way up the rankings.
Harrison: FALSE. As much as Matt Hughes looked incredibly human in his two losses to GSP and even his decision win over Chris Lytle, I’m still not completely sold on Thiago Alves just yet. Everyone seems to be riding his bandwagon after his win over Karo, but this is a guy that lost to Spencer Fisher and got tooled by Fitch. There’s a big difference between beating guys like John Alessio and Tony DeSouza by stuffing their takedowns and beating someone named Matt Hughes who has probably the second best wrestling in the welterweight division behind GSP. Win or lose, Hughes says that he has Serra next, but I highly doubt that he wants to go into that fight losing two straight so he’s going to be HIGHLY motivated to win. Look for Hughes to use his size to take Alves down and hold him down while punishing him with ground and pound for two or three rounds. Alves has a really bright future, but I just don’t think he has enough winning experience against quality opponents to be able to take Hughes out.
Newby: FALSE. I agree with my friend Mr. Harrison. Hughes is undoubtedly taking a lot of heat lately due to his two losses against GSP. But let’s remember something; this is Georges St. Pierre we are talking about. He beats up on everybody and makes them look terrible while doing it. The fact that Hughes had no answer for him certainly is not indicative that he will have no answer for Thiago Alves. Hughes is still one of the best MMA welterweights in the game until proven otherwise. You can hate on him and his country breakfast all you want, but he’s a great fighter and I believe he will surprise a lot of people in defeating Alves. Honestly, does anyone expect Alves to beat GSP if and when they ever meet? Yes, I know that is projecting on an unknown future, but honestly… take away Hughes’ two GSP losses and suddenly he has much more respect and people remember how good he is, ala Franklin with Silva. Add in that Alves’ last loss was to another strong wrestler, Jon Fitch. We have all the makings here for the Matt Hughes comeback tour folks. Next stop: Matt Serra.
My Five Cents: Excellent points by Newby. While I agree, I assume I’m not alone in hoping Matt Hughes gets some of that comeuppance that has been going around at recent UFC events.
2. The UFC did a great job in throwing together Bisping vs Leben for the UK show to replace Liddell.
Harrison: TRUE. I’d agree that they did because without Bisping I doubt this card would have sold out whatever arena they’re planning to have it in. The British have been crazy for all of the UFC cards that have been there so far, but they’ve all had a hook, either with Bisping, or the Champion vs. Champion bout, or Mirko Filipovic fighting. This card was going to be hook-free without Bisping on it, and I think that it was really the only move that the UFC could have made that would have saved them from a trainwreck across the pond. Bisping barely took a scratch in the fight against McCarthy and it’s probably going to be an exciting match against Leben, who never manages to have a boring fight, win or lose. The UFC was in a tight spot and they did the best that they could to keep the train on the tracks. This card has seemed to be snake-bitten from the word go, but here’s hoping they’re able to pull something together for a decent main event that will make things seem a little less dire.
Newby: TRUE. That is a great job indeed. Bisping/Leben is a great fight, particularly for the UK show. Leben is riding a solid two fight win streak and has people caring about him again with his smarter, more fluid fighting style. Bisping looks like he could be an absolute monster at 185… however when your opponent just blocks the whole time and you can throw knees as though you’re doing pad work in the gym that certainly does help. Still, what better litmus test for Bisping to see where he stacks up than the perennial middleweight gatekeeper? Particularly when your gatekeeper has suddenly found some new avenues to his game? And you know the fans will get a slug fest with these two, both of whom prefer to throw down fisticuffs over any of that “sissy wrestling crap” (copyright Heath Herring). This fight means a lot to both fighters and should be very exciting to watch. Between this, Hughes/Alves and Werdum/Vera we suddenly have a very interesting card to follow up UFC 84. Sure, not as good as Penn/Sherk, Machida/Ortiz, and Jardine/Silva but it’s really about as good as it could get. Hats off to Dana White and Joe Silva for pulling this one together. As an aside, what’s the line on the number of times we’ll see the Leben “glare, make a fist, and point at the camera” pose? I personally am hoping for zero.
My Five Cents: Major props to Joe Silva for getting this done. This also does alot for Chris Leben who has been reported to have turned down fights in the past.
3. The winner of Aoki/Calvancante (Aoki) will actually fight again 2 weeks later in the second round of the DREAM GP.
Harrison: TRUE. It’s unfortunate that it would happen that way, but barring any major injury I see it happening. It’s Japan and they don’t seem to be quite as concerned about “taking time off after fights” or “medical suspensions” or if you believe everyone who talks about it “steroid testing”, but they also have to think about the integrity of the tournament. If they want to have the tournament continue on as planned and not have things end up staggered like they have been so far with this last tournament bout having to wait until the second card, they need to make sure that whoever wins this fight can end up on the next card in May. It might not be fair to whoever wins, but they don’t really have much of a choice because they have to get the tournament back in order. If they don’t then there will be complaints from all of the rest of the fighters in the field who will feel like the winner is getting preferential treatment by getting extra time to recuperate. There are probably already complaints that they’re getting to have a “do-over” match and that both men get to stay in the tournament despite it being a no contest, and lord knows that with all the problems DREAM seems to be facing, they don’t need disgruntled fighters added to that list. If the winner is healthy, he fights and there’s no way around that.
Newby: TRUE. I’ve got to come clean. Unlike Randy who wrote his answers before DREAM 2, I am writing after the fact and have the benefit of knowing who won. So in the interest of full disclosure I must say that when the fight was still to be decided I was going to go with a FALSE. Reason being that I had big doubts as to whether JZ and his camp would go along with a fight only two weeks later, should he win. Particularly with Calvancante’s recent statements about needing unified rules in MMA making the blog rounds, I pegged him as particularly feisty right now and unwilling to be put at such a risk. Then he lost. So it’s down to Aoki now, and if one were to believe Dana White (and really, why shouldn’t we?) Aoki would firmly be a part of those “crazy Japanese” and thus would be the type to fight on two weeks notice without regard for prep time, recovery, or safety. That, and he most likely is assuming that he’ll get a weaker opponent in the next round, hand picked for him by DREAM management.
My Five Cents: Caleb should automatically lose for sharing that he changed his answer after results. Most assumed JZ would win, therefore making the answer likely to be false. The fact Harrison said true either way makes him a real man. Unlike Newby, who is a girl. Though I will say solid point that DREAM will hand pick his next opponent and that makes it easier.
—-SWITCH IT UP—-
4. The UFC will get a network deal with FOX.
Newby: TRUE. Strongly tempted to go with a False but I’ll stick with True if for no other reason the process of elimination. UFC is looking for a network deal, and there are only so many out there. CBS is hooked up with EliteXC while NBC is on board with Strikeforce… more or less. That leaves us ABC, FOX, CW (Ha!) and MyNetworkTV (double HA!). I don’t think either MyNetworkTV or the CW even count as a network, so let’s scratch them. That leaves FOX and ABC. You tell me, which network seems more likely to take on “Ultimate Fighting”? ABC, home of Lost, Ugly Betty, Grey’s Anatomy, and Dancing with the Stars? Or FOX, proud home of The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Idol, and Moment of Truth? Lest we forget that FOX also tried out Who Wants To Marry A Multi-Millionaire, FOX certainly seems to be the more appropriate home for male oriented MMA action.
Harrison: FALSE. There have been many false starts in regards to the UFC and network television deals or deals with HBO and ESPN, and as such I won’t really believe a deal until I see it. The rumors are getting louder, but they were practically screaming with the HBO deal and that disappeared into thin air soon enough. I’m also a little loathe to guarantee anything like that because the network deals that are already in place aren’t exactly very good deals, and the UFC will never make a deal they can’t be guaranteed to make money off of. EliteXC got onto CBS because CBS was desperate for content, looked to their sister network Showtime, and signed the contract during the writers’ strike, while Strikeforce is paying for their shitty timeslot on NBC, using it like an infomercial for their product. They’re far too smart to end up in a situation where they have to pay to get on television and they won’t be reduced to some add-on in the network structure. The only organization that has seemingly had people courting them for TV in the past couple of years is the UFC, and they’re going to play it to their full advantage. If Fox comes out on top, they’ll be on Fox, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see them elsewhere like on ABC/ESPN with smaller shows on the cable side and then bigger shows on the network a couple of times a year. Since there’s still so much left up in the air, it’s false for me based on the question specifying only one certain network.
My Five Cents: I’m going with Harrison 100%. I didn’t understand the immediate thought that the deal was done when 20 other deals like it have been discussed and never finished. Plus Newby didn’t mention Paradise Hotel in his rant. That’s just poor form.
5. Jeremy Horn will suffer his third straight submission loss to Dean Lister at the TUF 7 finale.
Newby: FALSE. Though I wavered again. First things first, I expect Lister to win. So how does this one play out? Well, we know that Lister isn’t exactly much of a striker so this should end up as a ground battle. But if Horn doesn’t have to worry about being worked on his feet, he *should* escape to a decision, win or lose. And we all know Lister isn’t exactly on a tear himself lately. He lost to Marquardt (no shame in that) and grinded out decision victories over Jordan Radev and Yuki Sasaki. This really screams decision to me unless the hushed rumors are true and Horn just doesn’t care anymore. Then he’s just here to collect a paycheck and go back to coaching.
Harrison: TRUE. If this was Jeremy Horn of five years ago, I’d say not a chance in hell, but lately Horn looks like the years and years and the hundred-plus fights have worn on him. Lister knows how to work things on the mat and while he’s not setting the division on fire with his performances, he has more than enough skills to know what to do when the opportunity to finish someone presents itself. Horn has been making mistakes and getting submitted by guys and Lister is just going to be the next guy on that list. It might not be the most exciting fight in the world, but I think that Lister is going to be able to catch Horn napping, if only for a moment.
My Five Cents: Caleb, I believe I might have started the rumor that Jeremy doesn’t care and is doing it for a paycheck. Though you do have a solid decision argument but Harrison correctly points out it takes one small mistake and Lister could tap him. I’ll call this one a solid tossup.
6. Chuck Liddell would indeed currently take Kimbo in an MMA fight.
Newby: TRUE. Really, why would you take Kimbo over Liddell at this point? Chuck has the technique advantage and we know he has the power. If his last fight against Wanderlei Silva is any indication, he may also be moving past his one dimensionalness and be adding his wrestling ability back to his game with takedowns. Even if it was a lock to be standing the whole time, you’d have to take the experienced Liddell and his counterstriking over Kimbo. Add in that Chuck may take things down if need be and Liddell should be a strong favorite. Kimbo hasn’t fought anyone near the skill level of Liddell. A fight now against Chuck would kill all of Kimbo’s momentum he’s built up. Let’s talk about this in a few years when Chuck is a little older and Kimbo has faced tougher competition to gauge him by.
Harrison: TRUE. By far, the easiest of the six to answer. Sure Chuck “throws his punches from CRAAAAAAZY angles”, but he’s still got years of kickboxing training behind him, not to mention his collegiate wrestling background. Kimbo has some sloppy stand-up and heavy hands. Kimbo’s style is tailor-made for someone like Liddell because he just bulls forward and, as far as we know, has no ground game to speak of. Sure, there’s always the chance that Kimbo could tag him on the chin, but my guess would be that Chuck would keep to the outside with some kicks and use his counter-punches to keep Kimbo at bay while looking to set up his big right hand. The other thing you have to consider is that Kimbo has fought for a grand total of a minute…a minute and a half tops? What happens if Chuck takes him deep into the second round and every gasp of oxygen that Kimbo takes isn’t filling his lungs but instead moving to his overly-muscled physique? I’ve always thought that Slice could stand to lose a little mass and in this case I think his size would work against him against the smaller Liddell. Guys with size advantages tend to use them to grind and wear on their opponents on the mat, or to work the clinch game against the fence and make their opponent carry their weight. Kimbo would never be able to get the fight down to the mat, so for the most part his size advantage would be negated. I didn’t even get to the part about how Liddell has faced guys like Randy Couture and Tito Ortiz, while Slice has beaten up Bo “High Dive” Cantrell and Tank Abbott. If this fight ever happens, Liddell counter-strikes and wrestles, Kimbo swings and gasses and The Iceman comes out on top.
My Five Cents: Fine, it was an easy throw away question. Got me. Though I think everyone would pick Liddell because of the wrestling and ground game. If people had to pick Chuck vs Kimbo with knowledge it would be full standup…. I’m not so sure Chuck would be the unanimous favorite there. It’s not like he has a historic chin. I certainly haven’t seen Kimbo crumpled much.
And that does it for THE DUEL. Join us next week when two other MMA writers will battle it out for your votes. As always remember to pick the person you believe won over on the left side of the main page. It makes them happy if you love them.