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UFC 90 Leftovers: Alves a threat to St. Pierre; thoughts on the paper-thin lineup; whether Sherk is top ten; and more

A lot of people are looking forward to the Jan. 31 superfight at UFC 94 between UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and UFC lightweight champion B.J. Penn. And who can blame them? The first clash between them was fairly entertaining but the second fight should be even better, with Penn expected to come into the fight in much better shape this time around. It doesn’t get much better than St. Pierre at his best vs. Penn at his best.

The expectation that Penn will be better prepared for St. Pierre this time around has prompted quite a few pundits to predict that it will be the Hilo native who takes the rematch between the two. While I am undecided right now, Penn over St. Pierre at the very least is a prediction that’s hard to discredit. That being said, St. Pierre won the first encounter and has a good chance of improving to 2-0 against Penn.

If St. Pierre is able to get past Penn, the question I have is, will he be able to get past Thiago Alves? I’m not so sure. In fact, I’m beginning to wonder if Alves is on the cusp of becoming the number one welterweight in the world.

Alves’ credentials are impossible to overlook. He’s 16-3 overall and is currently on a seven fight win streak. His lifetime record in the UFC is now 9-2 and his last three wins have been against top-ten welterweights in Karo Parisyan, Matt Hughes, and Josh Koscheck.

All fighters in the top five have great credentials, but what separates Alves from the pack is his athleticism. St. Pierre is also an athletic freak but I believe that Alves might just be just as quick, fast, and agile and might actually be stronger. St. Pierre is well-rounded, but so is Alves. His Muay Thai is deadly and his ground game often is overlooked because he’s been finishing his opponents with strikes.

The only significant advantage I believe that St. Pierre has over Alves is when it comes to wrestling. But St. Pierre can only exploit that advantage if he’s able to get Alves to the ground. The problem is, Alves is so flexible and agile that putting him on his back is easier said than done.

If Penn is able to beat St. Pierre, I don’t think that’s a major problem because Penn vs. Alves is also a very marketable fight. And Alves would be just as much of a threat to Penn as he would be for St. Pierre.

Alves is supposedly guaranteed a title shot at 170, however, with GSP and Penn not set to do battle until Jan. 31, it’s likely that Alves will risk his title shot by taking another fight before he can be formally matched up with the winner of St. Pierre vs. Penn II. By not waiting, I don’t see Alves taking much of a risk because outside of GSP and Penn, I don’t think there is a fighter in the UFC’s welterweight division that poses a threat.

— A lot of people have asked that I elaborate on a comment I made during my “Silva’s friends in high places prove to be fair-weather” article in which I referred to the UFC 90 lineup as “paper thin.” I stand by the comment 100 percent. Sorry, but Anderson Silva vs. Patrick Cote is not a suitable headlining match for a pay-per-view telecast. I agree with the UFC’s decision to grant Cote a title shot after Yushin Okami was forced to pull off the card due to injury, however, Silva vs. Cote should have been second down on the bout sheet with a bigger main event signed to anchor the show.

On paper, the only other two PPV quality matchups were Alves vs. Koscheck and Sean Sherk vs. Tyson Griffin. While there’s no doubt that Fabricio Werdum vs. Junior dos Santos was an entertaining fight, dos Santos had just seven fights with no U.S. exposure coming into his Octagon debut and was not a proven commodity. The UFC rolled the dice in making that fight and came up aces but when you’re asking people to pay $44.95 and $54.95 to order your shows, your matchmakers shouldn’t be signing fights with the hope they will be good and instead should be signing fights with the expectation that they’ll be good.

Then you have Gray Maynard vs. Rich Clementi, which was really not an exciting fight to watch and was a matchup that wasn’t even expected to air on the telecast until it was promoted to the main card as a result of an injury. The UFC simply did not put its best foot forward on Saturday.

— Another area of disappointment was the fact that there were only five fights during a PPV with a three-hour window. The pacing of Saturday’s show was terrible, as there was too much preamble between bouts for my liking. I specifically thought most of the entrances were drawn out and it seemed like it took forever for fighters to get prepped and inside the cage. But even once prepped and inside the cage, a lot of camera time was spent on the fighters getting warmed up while we waited for the next fighter to enter. When Cote entered, it seemed like we got to hear his Linkin Park entrance music play in its entirety. Was that really necessary? It seemed like the shows had taken a step in the right direction as far as pacing but UFC 90 was a step backward in that regard.

— I have to agree with Dave Meltzer of Yahoo! Sports that the UFC’s production team might be overworked and lacking creativity due to the busy schedule in recent weeks. While the UFC did spend some time promoting UFC 91 during this past Saturday’s telecast, it seemed to me as if they treated Rachelle Leah’s pictorial in Playboy as a bigger deal. I’m not the first to point this out but you have Randy Couture in the building to corner Griffin against Sherk and don’t bother to interview him?

And would it have killed anyone to have Brock Lesnar there? Having lived in Minneapolis at one time, I can tell you that the trip from the Twin Cities to Chicago is one of the most painless flights you’ll ever experience. As soon as you get up to 10,000 feet, it’s already time to begin your descent. Had the UFC been willing to charter a private jet, Lesnar could have trained at home in the morning and slept in his own bed the same night as the event.

Not to mention, Sherk is trained by Greg Nelson, who also works with Lesnar. So you have two wrestlers from Couture’s camp and Lesnar’s camp facing each other in what is essentially a mini-preview of Couture vs. Lesnar but no words from Couture and Lesnar? That’s a huge mistake because Lesnar is money on the mic and if you saw his interview on ESPN’s E:60, he started to get a little personal towards Couture by questioning his sincerity in regards to his claim that he’s stronger now than he was ten years ago. Lesnar went so far as to call the statement a lie. Why the UFC didn’t fly Lesnar in and stick a mic in his face and ask him a followup is beyond me. He might have said something very inflammatory that could have fueled even more media attention.

— Sherk fans will be happy to hear that when I update my rankings sometime this week, he’ll be in my lightweight top ten. The reason why I didn’t have Sherk ranked in my top ten was due to the fact that in the last three years, he’s had just one legitimate win at 155 (against Kenny Florian at UFC 64) because had his UFC 73 fight vs. Hermes Franca been contested in Nevada, it would have been declared a no contest. All along I’ve felt that Sherk was top-ten caliber but that he lacked the recent credentials needed to garner a top spot. But a win over Tyson Griffin is a meaningful one and enough to allow him to break back in.

— Dos Santos’ knockout against Werdum was no doubt impressive but I will refrain from jumping on his bandwagon just yet. Aside from that monster uppercut, name one other thing that dos Santos did that impressed you? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying he had time to show us more than he showed us, but it is what it is: a quick knockout in which little was learned other than he can take someone’s breath away if they are moving their chin downwards while a massive power shot is coming their way. The fact that both Ed Soares and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira was in dos Santos’ corner speaks volumes and I’m sure he’s going to continue to impress, but I still think the jury is out. Trust me, I’ve learned my lessons after Houston Alexander and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou in that you can’t truly evaluate a fighter based on a few minutes of highlight reel-style fighting.

— As for Werdum, I was really surprised to see how heavy he was. Usually he comes into his fights looking much trimmer. Was he trying to bulk up? Or did he take dos Santos too lightly?

  • Duncan Hamilton says:

    The way Dos Santos shrugged off Werdum’s takedown attempt was pretty nice. There’s something he did that was impressive.

    I’m not saying he’s the second coming of Jesus or anything but he’s a lot better than both Alexander and Sokoudjou.

    Werdum appeared to be fat… real fat. He must have just thought too much of himself and didn’t train like he should of instead of trying to rub in the UFC’s faces that he deserved a title shot.

    UFC 90 was looking to be one of the better cards of the year up until Silva vs. Cote fizzled out. Sure Maynard vs. Clementi was a flop, but it looked like it was going to be an exciting fight on paper.

    There was just some bad luck, there is no need to rag on this card and the main event so hard.

  • Patrick says:

    I’m still confused on how Maynard/Clementi was a flop, that fight was great technical groundwork, big slams, and some pretty wild sweep/escape attempts by Clementi. Was it one sided? Yes. Was it all groundwork? Yes. But this isn’t kickboxing, it’s mma.

    I enjoyed all of the fights, even Silva clowning around (until Cote rolled his knee), was a fun night, some really entertaining matches. Also, the Thales Leites submission was amazing.

  • dpk says:

    I disagree with the paper thin argument. #1 PfP headlining. A WW #1 contender fight. The guy who was next in line to fight for the HW title. The guy who just lost to the LW champion in May fighting a top up and coming lightweight. And a solid LW match between a young undefeated fighter, and a solid veteran gatekeeper. I thought it was a good card, with the potential for alot of implications on the top 10 rankings in every UFC division except 205.

    Everything else though was spot on. I think that Alves will fight again before his title shot, maybe on the GSP – Penn undercard for too reasons 1) to stay active, I could see him fighting Sanchez around that time, and I think Fitch is going to fight Shields when he comes to UFC 2) I’m sure UFC wants to see him actually hit 170 and not 171 on the scales before he fights for the title.

  • vitaminD says:

    @dpk: I agree about the card. Not great, but not bad, and a very deep card with good undercard matchups. I think it may seem thinner than it it because there wasn’t a lot of heat between the fighters apart from Franca and Aurelio, which was on the undercard.

  • islandguy says:

    “I’m not the first to point this out but you have Randy Couture in the building to corner Griffin against Sherk and don’t bother to interview him?”

    Couture is undoubtedly still “on probation”… Or maybe it was he that refused since he has no contract except to fight any more.

    Either way I’m sure they would have interviewed him but for some politics.. it’s too obvious.

  • Kingmaker says:

    I’m not sure how Sherk got that decision and not sure what fight those judges watched, as I had Griffin by two points.

    Either way, after that fight I didn’t have any interest in seeing either of them or Cote fight again.

    Alves was the big show at UFC90.

  • Jackyl says:

    It also depends on what you call a paper thin card. While it was a little short on name recognition, the overall card had some pretty good matchups. I agree that Silva vs Cote could have got second billing with a more marquee matchup at the top. So is a thin card one that is short on name recognition? Maybe. But it could also be a card stacked with poor or boring matchups. Even worse are matches with no implications. Basically filler matches. The thing is that the UFC has enough depth now that there doesn’t need to be any filler matches. Give us four big time matches that are either title fights or fighters in contention. Everyone else can sweat it out on the undercard. I know I’ve mentioned this before but they would do well to learn from the pro wrestling business model. If they could secure a weekly tv deal they could showcase some of the mid to lower tier talent while pushing their monthly pay per view. The preview shows, All Access, etc. could all be integrated into this weekly show. With all this international expansion they are going to have to do something to get their fighters more than 1 or 2 fights a year. They are also in danger of becoming too comfortable and offering pay per view events that are not really worth the price. I am glad I decided to skip UFC 90 and hold out till 91. Sure they had some decent fights. But was the whole event worth your $50?

  • Stan the Caddy says:

    Lol @ calling this a paper thin card. Dude, you need to extract your head from your ass. P4P champion Silva, number 2 and 3 welterweights fighting each other for a title shot as well as top 10 lightweights Griffin, Sherk, and Maynard. Not to mention top 10 fighters Werdum and Leites. The UFC can only make the matchups. Unlike your former employer ProElite, the UFC doesn’t pay people money to turn fights into some 3rd rate kickboxing match that rednecks seem to enjoy so much.

  • Gabber says:

    I think Alves, while decent, didn’t show me enough to make me worry for him vs GSP. I’d say GSP is faster and stronger quite possible bigger as well. I wasn’t impressed with him as he was unable to put Kos away, even when he was rocked hard. GSP ground it out to a decision but he absolutely manhandled Kos at his own game. I’d have faith in GSP’s striking and reach advantage against a very game Alves.

    GSP has also dismantled Fitch for a five round beat-down. Alves last major loss, no?

  • glock says:

    I’m @ work so i’m just gonna go with what stan and gabber said.

    I’d hardly call it paper thin, if Cote’s knee didn’t blow, that fight might have given us A LOT to be talking about now…

    look @ all the sh!t we’re talking now about 2 rounds of “nothing”….

    Styles make fights, but I still think GSP’s toolkit is superior, though I still question his chin, as I do Silva’s…. which is a non-issue if no one can overcome the offenses to test them.

  • Shatner says:

    Stan the Caddy the rednecks are at the UFC show all the time there the ones who no nothing about the sport and boo at anything because there filled up on beer,they try and start fights in the crowd and can’t focus there attention on ground fighting for more than 15 seconds .First the crowd in Atlanta now Chicago the UFC keeps setting record gates at these new venues let’s see how long before there back there hopefully no time soon.

  • Rich S. says:

    i would love for one of you guys that thought Griffin won to just give me a breakdown, and explain why you thought he won..


  • Nick Travaglini says:

    @ Rich S. – While I need to watch the Griffin- Sherk fight a second time to give you a detailed breakdown, from what I remember I scored the fight the first round for sherk and the last two for Griffin. I just didn’t think Sherk did enough on the feet to win the rounds. It was close, but I just saw it as Griffin landing the more meaningful strikes and pushing the pace and being more aggressive. Just my two cents anyway.

  • Imbecile says:

    Paper thin?


    Anderson Silva needs to defend his belt against someone, and Cote was the only legitimate one after Okami was injured.

    And then you aren’t the least bit pleased by the excellent match-making of Sherk/Griffin and Kos/Alves. You just brush those off as inconsequential since they don’t conveniently serve to bolster your hyperbole in criticizing the entire card.

    Yes, Werdum/Dos Santos was a bit of a stretch for the main card, but some fights get promoted when there are injuries.

    And there were six fights televised, not five. Did you forget the Leites/McFedries fight they threw in there?

    It may not have been the best card ever, but it was certainly not “paper thin.” Pacing was poorer than usual, but the card itself was not poor.

    Oh, and I’m sure Sherk is very grateful to you for including him in your top ten, which is still dominated by above-average fighters from Japanese organizations that are nowhere near his level.

  • Luis says:

    I dont know why all the sh*t against the ufc, this card is better than any other card from another promotion in the us, there were a lot of fighters and bouts scratched from the card due injuries. sherk/griffin fight was awesome, kos/alves a really good fight(2 week notice), werdum /dos santos (is really ufc fault that werdum gained so much fat before the fight?) dos santos comes from the blackhouse, enough said.
    this was a really good card, if anderson silva knocks cote out in the first minute, everybody would be saying what a great card this was and bla bla bla

    i’m gonna stop reading crap from sam caplan

  • JollyDV says:

    I noticed the extended fighter entries when Tyson Griffin came in to “Eye Of The Tiger”. I was singing along with the song and I realized that I was singing the second verse. I remember thinking, cool, because I love that song. lol.

    Rich S. I am with Nick. I would have to watch the fight again, but if you go back and click on the UFC 90 PBP entry, you will see that I called the fight pretty accurately and scored Rd. 1 for Sherk, and Rd.’s 2 and 3 for Griffin. I realize that doesn’t mean much as I am not a trained MMA judge, but I am pretty spot on when I score a round in a fight. The fact is that two people can watch the same thing and not “see” it the same way. So anytime it goes to the judges……..

    I feel UFC 90 was worth the PPV cost. I enjoyed the card. Sure there was some let down when Cote hurt his knee, but stuff happens. I also think I am a bit more mellow than the majority of the posters here. It isn’t that I am less passionate about the sport, maybe it is hormonal or possibly because I am a bit older? I am the voice of reason. hahaha!

  • ryan says:

    finally the things i have been saying for ever about these ufc cards that are really a rip off to us fans
    they have a roster of fighters to have deep cards every time but they set their guys up to win.
    for example why wasn’t Hendo v franklin on the atlanta card i understand the politics but there comes a point where the shit is just getting old
    i mean i get DREAM events on HDNET for free and they are better cards as a whole and you get like 13 fights
    WHy doesn’t the ufc use the whole PPV block i mean we pay $55 for fights in hd and there event end with an hour and a half left that they could use to show more than one undercard fight and not wast half the ppv with self promotion

  • ryan says:

    have you heard of MMA????
    you see the UFC is not MMA
    it is a promotion that puts on MMA fights
    so maybe you should watch some other shows
    ufc 90 was worse than ufc 89

  • Ronnie Liddle says:

    ‘I don’t think there is a fighter in the UFC’s welterweight division that poses a threat….’

    Jon fitch is still running around in the UFC, isn’t he? and before Fitch lost to GSP how many did he win (including against Alves) in a row?

    Posslbe big call there, champ.

  • ryan says:

    bottom line the card could have been much better
    just watched it for the thrid time and was even more upset than the first two
    and before you start attacking me its nothing personal
    also i know what i’m talking about i have trained in bjj for 3 years thai boxing for 2 and i get out wrestled at least twice a week HAHA
    so im just saying we deserve much more. i order all fights from all promtions. Japan/asia and watch even smaller ones on networks like HDNET .
    but i am very excited for ufc 92 and 94 there is now way they can let us down
    FOR THE FANS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Big Chuck says:

    wait a minute …

    You seem to be putting Alves out there as a bigger threat to GSP than BJ Penn?

    dude … really now … if and when GSP gets past BJ (which i think he will) … i don’t think theres’ anyonelef for GSP … isn’t that why they’re bringing BJ up to fight him in the first place???
    no offense to Alves… but BJ is more of a threat, IMHO

    peace out

  • Jennifer says:

    I agree Big Chuck, Alves is definitely not nearly as much of a threat as BJ. Alves is talented, but I don’t think he has what it takes to beat GSP…at least not right now. I can’t imagine who would be able to at this point, really. Jon Fitch put up an excellent fight, but even he couldn’t put him away.

    I was at UFC 90 live with my husband and a couple friends and I have to say, the crowd here was outstanding and everyone was REALLY into the fights. I don’t think you’d hear any of us complaining about it being a paper-thin card! If it wasn’t for Cote’s injury, I think that may have been a fight worth talking about for a long time. No one has lasted that long in the Octagon with Anderson Silva. I am not a Patrick Cote fan, but I have to give him props for that.

    I really like Tyson Griffin, but I do not think he won the fight. It was a good fight, but it was obvious from where we were sitting that Sean Sherk won.

    When you have fights going on once, sometimes twice a month… it has to be difficult to make EVERY card a “blowout.” I think we can give the UFC and Dana a break on this one, huh? This card was more exciting than the one a week prior in England, IMHO. Meanwhile, we already have our sights set on the next Columbus fight…. the first 2 were ridiculously stacked…. we already have our hotel booked just in case!


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