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5 Oz. of Pain Presents: The DUEL

You may be asking yourself why I’m hosting The Duel this week and not Huckaby. Funny story. Moments before the Affliction PPV started I received a frantic message from him asking me to step in and host this shindig due to his internet having died. Fast forward to midweek and I need a late substitute for one of the participants… and guess whose internet is back up. So that’s how we got here.

Battling head to head this week are two Five Ounces of Pain writers that know each other well. Perhaps even intimately. Yes, this week we have Michael Huckaby taking on the new guy, Brendhan Conlan.

Let’s Duel:

1) Josh Barnett will fair better than Fedor’s recent opponents, either by winning or by lasting into the third round.

Huckaby: TRUE. I was really flip-flopping on this one, going back and forth and making arguments in my head. Initially I was going with false because Barnett has obviously had trouble in the past with big punchers that don’t have a large lack of ground skill. Barnett has to know he’s going to be in a boxing match for a bit and he won’t be getting the best of it. On the other hand, Barnett will train for this fight like no other and will probably have a solid game plan going in. He can avoid submissions and probably stop from catching a looping hook on his way to getting routed in a decision.

Conlan: TRUE. One thing this fight definitely won’t be is an advertisement for washboard abs. That being said, Barnett will still walk into the bout sharing a height/weight advantage similar to ones possessed by Andrei Arlovski and Tim Sylvia, yet he doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses – something that can’t be said about either of Fedor’s victims in Affliction. While I’m not prepared to say he will defeat Fedor if/when they fight, I definitely feel “The Babyface Assassin” has an above-average chance of enduring Emelianenko’s assault for at least ten minutes en route to a probable loss. I think the always-entertaining Barnett’s grappling is certainly elite enough to handle Emelianenko’s submission attempts, and I think his stand-up is solid enough to weather most of what Fedor will throw at him.

My Five Cents: Maybe I’m too swayed by Fedor’s recent outings, but I see him winning and winning in fairly dominating fashion. Points to both Huckaby and Conlan for reminding me how game of an opponent Barnett is. Still, I’ll take Fedor in ten minutes or less.

2) Should Fedor defeat Barnett, Fedor still needs to capture the UFC heavyweight title to cement his legacy.

Huckaby: FALSE. Tuning in your Dana White earpiece this week? Fedor not only doesn’t have to be in the UFC to cement his legacy but he didn’t even need to beat Sylvia or Arlovski to do so. That was simply a bonus. I’m sure people would like to see Fedor/Couture or Fedor/Lesnar just for fun but the outcomes as of now would hardly be in any question. I really wish Fedor would retire after a potential Barnett fight because he’s bound to lose sooner or later. It’s no coincidence that most long time fighters go out losing 5 or their last 6 fights and the last thing I want to see is Fedor lose before he goes away for good.

Conlan: FALSE. I suppose it depends on how you view the word “legacy” as it pertains to Mixed Martial Arts. Does he need to step inside the Octagon and beat Mir, Couture, and/or Lesnar to solidify himself as the best of all time in the eyes of the mainstream media and the many Zuffa Zombies out there? Yes. Does he need to do so to in order to earn the same label from his peers, MMA journalists, and well-informed fans? Absolutely not. Dana White may be running the biggest MMA promotion out there, but the UFC is still a company awarding contendership to fighters with Brock Lesnar’s professional record and BJ Penn’s recent history in the welterweight division. Winning the organization’s heavyweight championship can in no way define the career of a man like Fedor Emelianenko. He is already the finest Mixed Martial Artist the sport has seen to date and chewing up Sylvia/Arlovski in record time was simply affirmation of his greatness. His status is essentially that of Michael Jordan coming out of retirement to win three more NBA titles.

My Five Cents: Great arguments by both. Huckaby with Fedor retiring before age catches up with him and Conlan bringing the point that people who know the sport already give Fedor the respect he deserves. Of course he doesn’t need the UFC title to cement his legacy.

3) Having now lost three of his last four fights, it’s fair to call Sokoudjou’s wins over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona “flukes”.

Huckaby: FALSE. Truth be told I picked Sokoudjou to knock out Babalu simply because he fit the mold of Little Nog and Arona. We all know and see the gaping hole in Sokoudjou’s game now but that doesn’t change the fact he bashed their brains in previously. You could argue they didn’t take him seriously and knowing what they know now they’d change their gameplan up but that doesn’t make the first fight a fluke. Yes, people made too big of a deal over a guy clinching and punching someone to death…. Houston Alexander does that. Sokoudjou is still young in the sport and he’s not on that top tier but those wins were earned and frankly I’d probably pick him over at least Arona again.

Conlan: TRUE. Using the word “fluke” to describe a fighter who trains to land a punch and does so to a victorious result makes me cringe, but for the sake of this topic I’m going to agree with the assessment that Sokoudjou’s wins over Arona/Nogueira were “flukes” in the sense he’s in no way the human dynamo he was made out to be after beating them. Arona has faced superior competition over his career, yet only has one more loss than the Team Quest judoka while owning eight more wins. Nogueira is in the same boat but with less losses and more wins. While it’s hard to say what sort of shape Arona is in after such a long layoff, I’m positive Nogueira would beat Sokoudjou more often than not if the two were to fight ten times, and I think the same could definitely be said of the Ricardo Arona fans came to know in PRIDE. Sokoudjou is certainly talented and is still in his early twenties, meaning that he has a great foundation upon which he can continue to build throughout his career, but he’s presently a Mixed Martial Artist with questionable cardio and confusingly bad grappling/submissions skills. He needs to compete against other fighters with similar records in order to give him the opportunity to increase his abilities, experience, and confidence. Meanwhile, “Little Nog” should be taking on the best 205-pounders available.

My Five Cents: I’m most concerned with Sokoudjou’s consistent lack of cardio. Once round one is over, so is he. Maybe it’s time to leave Team Quest.

4) Georges St. Pierre will finish B.J. Penn at UFC 94.

Conlan: TRUE. If fate plays out as I hope it might, at least based on Penn’s “UFC Primetime” statements regarding GSP’s loss to Matt Serra, not only will St. Pierre finish Penn but he’ll do so by making Baby Jay tap out via strikes. Personal feelings aside, I think Penn is by far one of the most talented fighters to ever call MMA his home. His jiujitsu and boxing skills are among the best in the sport if not the very mountain-top every other Mixed Martial Artist should be climbing towards daily in training. He is an icon in the sport and can easily be labeled an all-time great. That being said, he is often his own worse enemy courtesy of an egocentric approach to life that’s likely been fueled by his upbringing and the natural talent he’s been blessed with. He appears to feel he’s owed things in life; that success is not always something you strive for but that is usually handed to you on a silver platter. Why hit the gym hard and eat right when you’re the best in the world? Why treat opponents seriously when you few them as being inferior to you in every way? That sort of internal dialogue led to Penn showing up in less-than-stellar shape earlier in his career and seemed to be a ship he righted after losing to Matt Hughes. However, at least as it pertains to comments he’s made during the build to UFC 94, as well as what I’ve seen on “UFC Primetime”, the narcissistic BJ Penn is back and with him is a diminished approach to training and a gross underestimation of his forthcoming foe. If “The Prodigy” was to receive credit for his physical appearance as it pertained to having improved conditioning when he stepped onto the scales as a reborn lightweight, he deserves equal criticism for letting his physique slide on the road back to 170 pounds. MMA is by no means a bodybuilding contest but it’s foolish to think fitness counts for absolutely nothing when two individuals lock up in a cage. I don’t get the impression that Penn feels he needs to have added anything to his arsenal to beat St. Pierre in their rematch. I think he believes he can walk into the Octagon, repeat his performance in their first bout, and alter the outcome by attacking a slight bit better and defending a smidge more. What I feel he’ll find out is that Georges St. Pierre HAS been steadily improving over the past few years and is a stronger fighter both mentally and physically than the first time they fought. I see GSP wearing Penn down over the first two rounds and then pounding him out in the third or fourth frame. He may not have been able to finish Jon Fitch, but truth be told I’m pretty sure Penn wouldn’t either if he and Fitch faced off as welterweights.

Huckaby: TRUE. This one is painful because I still don’t believe St. Pierre has a great ground defense and he’s going to be tested by Penn so long as BJ doesn’t decide to get all cocky and exchange again. He’d hold his own but like last time he’d find himself on the bad end of a decision. In fact the only reason I can really go with true on this is due to the fact it’s a five round fight and I still don’t have enough confidence in Penn’s stamina until it’s proven otherwise. St. Pierre is better than he was the last time they fought. Penn is better than he was the last time they fought. A hungry Penn is a scary Penn but people seem to always hop from bandwagon to bandwagon when it comes to Anderson Silva, Fedor and GSP. Whoever happens to have fought last is the best p4p fighter in the world. A win by GSP on Saturday and he’ll go back to the top of the list.

My Five Cents: You’re both crazy. Penn’s going to win. I say this based on purely objective reasoning and without the influence of my mancrush on him. I promise.

5) The winner of St. Pierre and Penn is the rightful pound for pound king.

Conlan: TRUE. The MMA community’s viewpoint on both athletes’ pound for pound status is fairly consensus as ranking them both within the top four alongside Anderson Silva and Fedor Emelianenko. Some people might want to add a dash of Miguel Torres or pinch of Rashad Evans to the mix but for the most part you can always count on St. Pierre and Penn being labeled as two of the elite fighters in Mixed Martial Arts. Be that as it may, it’s only logical to think the winner of their bout at UFC 94 should be considered the cherry on top even though Emelianenko and Silva should be viewed as being in a photo-finish second place to whoever it is that emerges victorious this Saturday night.

Huckaby: FALSE. I’ve always had a problem with “best pound-for-pound” needing to be a small guy. Fedor and Anderson Silva are the two best p4p fighters on the planet right now and have been for a good amount of time. That’s not to say the GSP/Penn winner and Miguel Torres aren’t up there, they certainly are, but I don’t even a think a win on Saturday catapults either one of them to the top of that list after the carnage Anderson Silva and Fedor have left in their paths. Neither GSP nor Penn have the resume that Fedor, Silva or Torres have, nor do they have a fairly recent loss. A loss here is more of an elimination from the top 5 p4p in my opinion.

My Five Cents: Right now I’m inclined to go Fedor, but should GSP or Penn demolish and dominate the other (and not due to a quick KO) it’s going to be all the more difficult to decide. I get both arguments here. I just don’t know which is the right one.

6) You personally find Lyoto Machida fights entertaining and exciting.

Conlan: TRUE. I wouldn’t say I’ve found every single one of his matches to be edge-of-my-seat thrilling, but in large part I’ve enjoyed seeing Machida’s technical wizardry and methodic approach to earning his dubyas. His fights may not be packed with action from start to finish but Lyoto has delivered more than a few highlights in his career. When an undefeated fighter has knocked out Rich Franklin, landed a sick knee to Tito Ortiz’s ribcage that nearly did the same, choked Sokoudjou out, and dropped a couple jumping head-stomps on BJ Penn en route to victory, how can his bouts – at least for the most part – NOT be considered exciting/entertaining to watch?!?

Huckaby: FALSE. Oh wait, I’m an MMA writer so I should be forced at gunpoint to say true. Saying Machida fights are interesting is like the MMA equivalent of saying you like some lame indie band to impress all over your music geek friends. Lyoto is awesome and with a win over Silva he deserves his title shot…. that makes him good, not entertaining. I don’t mind a good majority of your fights being decisions, I just ask that at some point in the fight it looks like you might finish them when you’re completely dominating. He’s stylistic and methodical and that’s entertaining in the same way a well choreographed movie is entertaining. However sometimes instead of Citizen Kane you just want to watch some things blow up.

My Five Cents: Big points for the Citizen Kane line, I think that captures it quite well. I’m in the same boat. Machida’s fights are entertaining in the aspect where you wonder how long it will take someone to figure him out.

That’ll do it. Enjoy the fights this weekend and we’ll be back next week with two more MMA writers from somewhere on the interwebz. I’m sure there will be much UFC 94 fallout to cover… such as what happens now with one man holding two UFC titles at once. Hey-oh!

20 COMMENTS
  • takimeathead says:

    Wow.

    this is probably some of the best Feodor vs. Whoever break down that I’ve read in a while, only because it’s clear as day that any opponent that goes against him needs to step up their game if they wanna excel against him.

    Well done, guys.

  • Grappo says:

    1) False
    Barnett will do better than recent opponents, but not make it into the 3rd round.

    2) False
    Doesn’t need it to cement his legacy, though It wouldn’t hurt, and I’d love to see it.

    3) True
    Maybe false. Flukes in that I don’t think they would happen again now that people have figured him out.

    4) False
    BJ will surprise, and there’s nothing better than a surprise BJ.

    5) False
    My P4P doesn’t go up and down. Fedor is at the top and has been since I cared to make up my own P4P.

    6) True and False
    So Huckaby says, “false” then goes on to say Machida is entertaining. Is the false for his being “exciting” then? I don’t find him all that exciting to watch (though he has moments) but I do find him “interesting” and entertaining. That’s how I feel about most fights and fighters though. It’s a rare fight that I find exciting for more than a few seconds at a time.

  • I wanted to Rant a bit about 2 topics, 1 Fedor is the best ever period. He lost when rules were crap and he was cut then avenged that by basically killing the man months later. He doesn’t have an equal I don’t see any heavyweight alive beating him. The only way I could see him challenged is if Anderson went to Lhw and Fedor went down now that could be a war!!! 2. Machida is not exciting as far as I am concerned, I will go watch Sancho and Cung Le tool people for that type of excitement. I hope alves comes with his A game cause if he does its nite nite for machida and if he loses here he will go to from title shot to back of the bus!

  • Brendhan says:

    Clearly Huckaby would rather watch Michael Vick play rather than Peyton Manning. To each their own.

  • Lord Faust says:

    Until someone trains to defeat Machida’s specific style, he’s going to keep making everyone he fights look incredibly stupid. I do find his fights exciting; seeing a guy outclass his opponents in such a decisive fashion is interesting to me. Seeing guys like Ortiz get their faces busted up and then get frustrated to the point of saying stupid things like “he was running away from me” is awesome.

    I see a weird paradox here… Some complain that Machida is boring, but then others complain when guys like Lytle and Davis decide to have a K1 match instead of MMA. Machida wins without taking any unnecessary damage; that makes him one of the smartest / most successful fighters in the game. There’s no glory in taking excessive damage to win a fight.

  • Smatchimo the Trumpeteer says:

    I can’t make a great argument against fedor as the p4p champ, but I think that GSP is #2 without a doubt, and I actually lean closer to having him as my #1.

    While Anderson Silva is no doubt great, i don’t feel the competition he’s beaten has been as great as GSP’s tear through the ww division. He’s beaten every ww of consequence short of Thiago Alves and would probably beat him. Plus, he’s got 4 titleholders on his kill list. After that there’s nobody left.

    Yeah, Silva’s in the same boat, but the mw division isn’t nearly as deep as the ww. And I think that Marquardt would beat him in a rematch, though most people will probably disregard my entire other argument based on that statement.

  • Max says:

    You don’t believe GSP has great ground defense? The old cliche that the best defense is a good offense is absolutely true, and the fact that GSP so rarely ends up on his back is prove positive that his ground defense is incredible.

  • House says:

    Grappo…. #4…. amazing. Now I have to go meet with my boss to tell him why I was laughing like a little girl.

  • “Clearly Huckaby would rather watch Michael Vick play rather than Peyton Manning. To each their own.”

    You say this to the Colts fan from Indianapolis? For shame Bren, for shame.

  • Brendhan Conlan says:

    Actually, your love of the Colts is exactly why I said it. Peyton Manning doesn’t have the razzle-dazzle of a guy like Vick (or Vince Young) but his professionalism, methodical approach to the sport, and overwhelming talent are far more entertaining to me than a guy who can look good in a losing performance. In the same way I think Machida is an entertaining fighter even if he doesn’t have the flash of other Mixed Martial Artists. Maybe all he needs is a commercial for Fogo de Chao where he chants “chop that meat” before it’s okay to feel that way without giving the impression I’m trying to butter people up because I feel some sort childish peer-pressure to do so?

  • the myth says:

    fedor does not need the UFC to be considered a legend……BUT….imagine if he does come to the UFC and beats Mir,Randy & Brock – then he will be classed as the best martial artist who ever lived trancending era’s and skill sets – maybe he should sing a 3 fight deal for those three fights only (one can dream)

  • You are. No one can find Lyoto Machida “entertaining.” You can appreciate his movement and style but I find saying you certainly find him entertaining is very necessary to be in the cool kids club. It’s just predictable.

  • Bmur says:

    Great Duel guys.
    Can you elaborate on what your definitions are of a Zuffa Zombie? It’s gotta be good for some laughs.

    As far as Fedor coming to the UFC to solidify his legacy, nah not necessary, but it would be nice to see it happen anyways, since after Barnett there isn’t really anyone else out there I’d like to see him fight outside of the UFC. Unless Verdum or Overeem vs Fedor gets you hot and bothered, but to me they are no challenge.

  • Brendhan Conlan says:

    Zuffa Zombie is a term I use to describe fans of “Ultimate Fighting”, not “Mixed Martial Arts”; people whose only association with the sport is what they see inside the Octagon without ever recognizing the wealth of MMA talent/history out there that has nothing to do with the UFC or Dana White.

    I can’t defend against your elusive logic, Huck. You win.

  • Caleb Newby says:

    That’s exactly the reason I asked the Machida question. I have no doubt that some people legitimately find him entertaining (albeit in a different manner than most fighters), and significantly less find him exciting. The number of people that will admit to it is the real curious part as we are expected as the hardcore MMA audience to say we are so refined in our appreciation of the sport (and therefore “real” fans) that we take great joy from the nuances of Machida’s style. It’s kind of like when we started watching MMA. UFC 1 for everyone!

  • Cathedron says:

    1. Barnett’s probly going to put this one on the ground immediately. His standup is good enough to survive Fedor at least. I think we’ll see Rd 3.

    2. I really want to see Fedor in the UFC, but he really doesn’t need the UFC at all.

    3. Surprising an opponent with your wreckless aggression isn’t exactly a fluke. It isn’t exactly a gameplan either. Sokoudjou has plenty of talent, but he needs some experience to put it all together.

    4. I think BJ’s gas tank at 170 will not be enough to last into the 4th and 5th Rds. GSP has proven that he doesn’t gas easily. He’s just too much of a natural athlete. Tough one, but I think the last three rounds will be all GSP.

    5. Um, no. But, both will still be top 5 to me. They might switch places on the list, but I don’t see how it pushes one of them out or suddenly elevates one all the way to the top. If you’re #2 and you beat a #3 guy, that’s what’s supposed to happen and you’ve proven why you’re ranked #2. If the #3 guy beats you, he just takes your place and moves you down a notch.

    More important than subjective P4P lists, the UFC is trying to make great matches happen. Let’s all push for GSP vs Silva, BJ vs Faber, Faber vs Torres, Silva vs the next LHW champ. If GSP vs Penn does really well, the UFC will have to consider these huge superfights.

    6. As a former music reviewer, I loved Huck’s point about the indie band. Dead on. I personally don’t hate Machida as much as 90% of MMA fans, but I am annoyed with how much he lacks a killer instinct. For example, Florian, Liddell, and Silva are all primarily counter fighters, but they will take risks to finish an opponent and they are fun to watch. Still, it’s MMA and every form of martial art should be represented. I mean, BJJ can be far, far less exciting than Machida’s karate style, but submissions became an essential element to the evolution of the sport. I think the same thing is happening here.

  • Patrick says:

    As far as the P4P list goes Fedor has to be on top. I find it hard to mention Anderson Silva as the best fighter in the world. He fights in the most watered down division in the UFC and does not fight top fighters on a consistant basis. Dana hypes him up so much. If he is that good put him in with Rampage or someone else close to Rampage’s ability. Just because you bet a sloppy striker like Franklin or a Henderson who gassed after one round does not make you great and the guy he is going to face Thales Leites lost to Martin Kampmann who now fights at welterweight.

  • Imbecile says:

    Conlan wins on his accurate assessment of BJ Penn alone! Finally someone not afraid to call him as everyone should have seen him for a long time – supremely talented, and incredibly self-centered and entitled. Oh yeah, and pretty lazy, too.

  • Brendhan Conlan says:

    Unfortunately, that also means BJ Penn will probably pimpslap me if I ever meet him in person. :(

  • Grappo says:

    Once again I lose to one of Huckaby’s patented sweeping proclamations.

    I’ve always wanted to be in the Kool Kids Klub (KKK) though. Bittersweet to learn that i’m only in because I’m faking my enjoyment of Machida’s style. Maybe one day I’ll make it on my own merit.

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