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Snowden’s Five Things about UFC 96: Lack of Professionalism Reigns

Another UFC in the books, a card that delivered exactly the kind of tepid entertainment it promised, and we’re left with more questions than answers. Who is fighting whom? And when? It seemed fairly clear during the PPV broadcast that Rashad Evans would defend the light heavyweight title at UFC 98 against Rampage Jackson, while Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir would hook it up again at UFC 100 two months later. Apparently, despite advertising those fights to the fans on television, neither fight is set in stone. Just another unprofessional moment in a night full of them.

1. Yves Lavigne channels his best Mazzagatti:

It didn’t change the outcome of the bout, but referee Yves Lavigne’s decision to intervene in the Matt Brown-Pete Sell fight was truly a head scratcher. Brown had Sell reeling when Lavigne jumped in and corralled him. Fight over right? Not so fast: Yves took a second look at Sell and decided the fight could go on. After he had already physically restrained Brown! Yes, the stoppage would have drawn fire from many of MMA’s blood thirstiest fans. But you can’t go back once you tell a fighter to stop or put your hands on him. There are no do-overs. Can you imagine if that had happened in a fight that was actually important? Unacceptable, but hardly surprising. While the fighters get better and better, MMA officiating just gets worse and worse.

2. UFC channels its best WWE:

In the 1980’s and 1990’s it was a fairly common business practice for professional wrestling companies to sell tickets for shows by advertising stars who wouldn’t be on the card. Stars that they knew wouldn’t be on the card because they were injured, they were on vacation, or they weren’t with the company any more. Despite the pro wrestling overtones of UFC’s promotional strategy, despite Dana White’s bombastic public persona, despite the trash talking and backstage shenanigans, I’ve always held Zuffa to a higher standard than the WWE. Not anymore.

If Frank Mir is telling the truth, and there is no reason to believe he isn’t, Zuffa put tickets on sale for Mir-Lesnar II knowing full well that the fight wouldn’t happen at UFC 98. I understand they were put in a tough spot, but there is only one word for that kind of bait and switch: unacceptable.

3. Shane Carwin Wins; Fails to Impress:

Last week, I was tough on Shane Carwin. He was a prospect of unknown potential, thrust too early into a semi-main event fight. This despite never even appearing on the main card before! It seems strange to say, but after knocking out the impressive Gabriel Gonzaga, Carwin still has plenty of questions left to answer.
His knockout of Gonzaga was great, but let’s not forget that Gonzaga was steamrolling him right until the final punch landed. Carwin looked bad, getting knocked down and even taken down. For a prospect, he looks awfully old and slow. I remember being told backstage about the UFC’s plan to replace Randy Couture with three young wrestlers: Velasquez, Lesnar, and Carwin. After seeing them all fight, it’s clear that Carwin is the least of the three. But, we learned last night, he’s sure got a puncher’s chance.

4. Quinton Jackson Doesn’t Come Ready to Rumble:

I didn’t like Quinton Jackson-Keith Jardine as a PPV main event. It would be fine for a free television show, but for a show they’re asking $50 for, it seemed a little weak. A semi-main featuring a relative unknown just made matters worse. In this situation, you’d expect Rampage and Jardine to come in with something to prove. Instead, it was clear fairly early in that we weren’t getting either man’s best.

There’s no excuse, none, for a professional fighter in the main event of a pay per view broadcast to get tired before the second round is even over. But there were Rampage and Jardine, right before our very eyes, gasping for air and even putting their hands on their knees, in the second round. After an opening round that hardly set the world on fire. We got the hard sell from Goldberg and Rogan that we were watching a great fight. We weren’t. These were two great fighters, but two great fighters that didn’t come to fight. If that Jackson shows up in May, Evans is going to kill him.

5. Quinton and Rashad Take it to the Streets:

It wasn’t all bad news. Assuming that they actually run with Jackson-Evans, the promotion for the fight is off to a great start. The stare down in the cage after Rampage disposed of Rashad’s teammate Jardine was the night’s most memorable moment. Nose to nose, the two spit fire back and forth. The crowd remains cold to Evans, booing him anytime he’s on the big screen. Maybe this will finally be the fight that lets the fans embrace Rampage and give him the love he so desperately wants. Assuming Rampage even takes the fight.

27 COMMENTS
  • Brendhan Conlan says:

    On the subject of lacking professionlism, let us not forget Kendall Grove mimicking Tito Ortiz’s “gravedigger” celebration while Jason Day was still unconscious, being attended to by ringside officials, and stiff-limbed from the KO.

  • mu_shin says:

    The one thing we both agree on is the Rampage/Evans stare-down: it was great, it was classic, it was reminiscent (if you’re old enough) of the way Ali used to taunt his foes, especially Joe Frazier. I also agree that if Evans fought the Rampage we saw last night, it’s a clear Rashad victory.

    What I would take issue with is your appraisal of the conditioning of Jardine in particular, who always hangs his hands like that, and always give the appearance, in his crouching hobgoblin approach, that he’s gassing, and just continues to come. Rampage seemed to have plenty of energy at the close of the third round to knock Jardine down yet again, and had he not been saved by the end of the round, I think Rampage would have closed the deal.

    Was this a sterling outing for the former champion? Was it a rousing affirmation of the figher we saw knock out Wanderlei Silva? Not really, but he did his job, he clearly prevailed, and now he’s probably most likely in all likelihood going to contest for the LHW belt…

    Carwin might not be the second coming, but to say he got steamrolled only tells half the story. Yes, he took a heavy shot and could have gotten rolled, but he absorbed the punch, and went on. Then Carwin ends up on the bottom, but he escapes a BJJ black belt and stands back up, shortly delivering a one punch knockout to a former top five contender, knocking him unconscious. I think Carwin showed a great chin, tenacity in the face of adversity, and the strength to put down just about anyone currently fighting in the heavyweight division of the UFC.

    Mr, Snowden, you betray the strength of your preconceptions, as no, there were not a lot of well known marquee fighters on this card, but to call these bouts “tepid entertainment” is unfair to the effort we witnessed. You thought Matt Brown was a forgettable throw-away fight? Vera might have fought a guy we’d never heard of, but he laid it down and made a lot of fans believers once again. Kendall Grove had a good night, as did Gray Maynard, and the last fight was also a good MMA matchup, featuring some good ground work in a night of knockouts.

    Finally, every event can’t be the Superbowl. We need the regular season to build up and lead into the climax, and I think with more regularly scheduled MMA events, we’ll see more events with fighters establishing a presence, building a reputation, and becoming the kind of well known personalities Rampage and Jardine have become. I think your appriaisal was overly critical, perhaps on the cynical side, and I for one, as a long time fan, felt very satisfied with UFC 96. Yes, Yves Levingne screwed up, but he’s a human being, not a robot, and his mistake did not affect the outcome of the match.

  • TheJuice31 says:

    The poster above touched on it and I’ll second his take in thinking you’re a bit off on your assessment of Shane Carwin’s performance. Without even delving into the specifics, it’s confusing that you label Carwin as a prospect, yet criticize him because a top-10 heavyweight gave him fits early on. Granted, I think we all expected this fight to answer far more about Shane than it did, but for your column’s sake, look at the positives beyond the finish.

    First off, Carwin did not get dropped. Not even close. He ate a clean pair of right hands and intelligently closed the distance and clinched with Gonzaga. He got taken down and granted Carwin has probably spent all of 4 seconds on his back in his MMA career, he carried himself quite well considering he had a BJJ black belt working on top of him. He was able to get back to full guard and despite being pressed against the cage, got back to his feet with relative ease.

    The knockout happened just moments later and the phenomenal part about it was the blow that crumpled Gonzaga was nothing more than a counter cross. It was hardly a power strike and yet, Gonzaga looked like Carwin cracked him with an aluminum baseball bat. It’s a bummer because I think we all wanted the fight to last longer. I wanted to get a better look at just what Carwin brings to the table. Does he have cardio? Can he strike (string together combos)? Takedown defense? Ground game?

    I want to see Carwin fight longer than two minutes as much as you do, but it’s a little silly to bag on him because Gonzaga’s chin wasn’t up to snuff to withstand an off-balance counter cross. It’s not Carwin’s fault he has insane punching power. But you and I both know that chalking all Carwin did up to nothing more than having “a puncher’s chance” is selling his performance short.

  • notdanawhite says:

    WTF

    The Rampage / Dean of Mean fight looked more like a 50% sparring session. 40 bucks for that? I’ve seen much better fights at local productions in my town.

    Pathetic.

    Otherwise I’m a big fan! But dang. I’ll be more careful with my 40 bucks from now on.

    : )

  • MMAsubb says:

    I agree with the yves comments whole heartedly snowden but the comments about Carwin are way off base. I think the fact that he went on his back up against the cage against gonzaga strengthens an argument for him being the real deal. That and a 12 inch punch that hits like a tank…

    Sure the jackson/jardine fight wasn’t that great, doesnt mean the PPV wasnt worth it. I thought it was a great card and goes to show that often the main fight should NOT be the epicenter of the promotion or event.

  • aimres says:

    I have a couple of questions after watching the UFC 96.

    Why would Jardine and Rampage put on such a WEAK performance?

    Was Jardine taking one for team?

    Is Rashad scared of fighting Machida on short notice?

    Why would such a pathetic win by Rampage be rewarded with a title shot?

    Has Rampage improved with in his last 3-4 fights?

    Is there anyone who thinks Rampage could defeat Machida?

  • RU486 says:

    Mr. Snowden,

    You should reconsider your decision to commentate on MMA events, and perhaps get back to being a radio personality, as you have the most ignorant stance on event I’ve seen in some time. If mu_shin hadn’t put things into perspective so eloquently, this post would probably have an even more derogative annotation. Bluntly put, he took the words out of my mouth. But I will continue anyway, after watching these fights for the third time just now.

    1. You were right on the money on this one. The officiating by Ives Lavigne was inexcusable. But you should have stopped your critique right there instead of fumbling for 4 other topics to make a “cool little list” out of.

    2.

  • RU486 says:

    2. The Lesnar Mir rematch has been scheduled for months now. If Mir sustaining an injury 2 weeks ago propagates false ticket sales, perhaps you should have been reading these forums a little before you make such asinine remarks.

    3. What questions are there for Carwin to answer? Clearly he has answered them all in 13 mins. 2 sec. that he has performed over the course of 11 fights. He stops fights definitively. What else is there? Name another professional MMA fighter that has finished all 11 opponents in as little time.

    4. I picked Jardine to win this fight. Quinton has had trouble with guys that kick: Silva (2 times), Shogun, and Griffin. It is no secret that Rampage’s Achilles heel is keeping him distant and at bay. Take away the two cinder block weapons on the ends of both of his arms, and you win. Jardine followed his game plan going into this fight perfectly, but succumbed to a few of those mortar shells. You can’t question Rampage’s tenacity by winning a unanimous decision over a guy who has beaten 2 former LHW champions in as many years.

    5. Rashad Evans’ actions in the octagon after the fight are inexcusable as well. Matt Hughe’s anger towards his “showboating” is well justified. Remember when he kissed his hand and grabbed his jock in the Griffin fight? And then coming into the ring and trash talking the way he did was disrespectful to Jackson (who had just fought a hard 15 minute fight) and to the sport. Guys like Rashad are why the sport still have so many political adversaries. Quinton had the utmost class during the exchange, and I’m surprised he didn’t knock Rashad out for that crap like Heath Herring did when Nakao kissed him before the fight.

    I watched these fights in a bar and haven’t been so anxious during a fight since Liddell / Silva at UFC 79. It was everything I could do to contain myself during the main event. The undercard was not comprised of superstars, but all of those guys were good solid fighters. Jim Miller was on an 8 fight win streak, Gray Maynard undefeated, Brandon Vera was the most prospectful heavyweght ever seen a couple of years back, Tim Boetsch has been a wrecking ball for some time now. Anyone that knows the first thing about MMA or the UFC, would think this an amazing card. No it wasn’t comprised of fighters with household names, but the all the fighters are the cream of the crop in the next generation of MMArtists.

    Go read some books and watch a few hundred more events before you make any more posts that are as ambitious and ignorant as this one

  • JOe K. says:

    The Yves Leveigns thing was out of line.

    Its tough for the refs though–

    with the recent early stoppage of Josh Koschek the refs were being called into question of stopping fights to early (which sucks to watch).

    but then not a week later we see Marcus Galvao go into seizures from a late stoppage and the color commentator have to be restrained from entering the cage (screaming almost in tears) “You did this!!! You did this!”

    –You can’t have it both ways.

    I’m still not on the Carwin train and I was very pissed that Gonzaga lost. He’ll comeback.

    The Rampage Rashad stare down was the worst idea ever. Those never work well, especially when they are talking trash.

    It made Rashad look weak. He is very softspoken and Rampage thrives under the limelight. It was just a bad idea all around. (although I did chuckle when Rampage said “Theres gonna be some more black on black crime”).

    Its totally classless and almost everyone sees through it. I’m glad Strikeforce is up and coming and I and really grateful for these Japanese tournaments.

    Each passing day the UFC becomes more and more plastique and commoditized. The fact that they run there organization like the SS where they censor footage, fighters, and other organizations speaks volumes. We almost never hear fighters request fights anymore. We always get the line “I’ll fight whom ever they would like me too, its not my decision”

    The fights were pretty good (sans the main event). The lack of ground fighting is a bit disturbing but the UFC was just being the UFC and I’m glad I got to see some good fights (for free because I downloaded it because no way was i going to pay $50 for this card, call it getting my money back for UFC 90 and 93).

  • JOe K. says:

    P.S. “The Barncat” is awesome and his interview was Rogan was hilarious. I don’t care how un-professional that seemed because it was the real deal.

  • RU486 says:

    Tamden definitely called Dana out during that post fight interview did he not? The fact that fighters are censored from picking their entrance music is rather crappy, and I’m happy he pointed that out.

  • kidneybeans says:

    Good writeup, and though I don’t agree with you on everything I can understand that these are your opinions and nothing more. It’s nice to see someone point out a few of the things that can be improved upon. The UFC is great, but that doesn’t mean it’s pefect.

  • guil says:

    “Carwin looked bad, getting knocked down and even taken down.”

    I didn’t see any knockdown…

  • GetItOn says:

    Yes it is complete BS that the UFC is still stating that MIR vs Lesnar is still going to happen when in all actuality the internet owns the UFC at this point. Us veterans are pretty sure that fight won’t happen that soon.

    Shane Carwin did not fail to impress! What questions do you still have? He got punched in the face and took it, then taken to the ground and was able to stand back up. We had a fresh Gabriel Gonzaga who has not taken any damage before he was TKO’d. He couldn’t even hold Carwin on the ground! He has knocked out his 11 opponents in the first round of every pro fight he has! The only question I have in my mind is, when will this guy get a title shot? I say one more worthy opponent gets put in his way and then it’s off to the titles.

    Although the Jackson vs Jardine wasn’t the fireworks I expected it certainly was entertaining. Just because no one got knocked out doesn’t mean that they didn’t come to fight. Honestly dude, you almost sound like someone that is new to the game but I know you’re not so I’ll let it slide this time Jonathan. Much love brotha

    I replayed the Rampage Evans staredown word battle like four times. That shit was tight! I usually don’t really care for this type of situation because often times it seems fake and quite possibly rehearsed prior to the fight. *cough* Nick Diaz *cough* Rashad say’s “We’ll see who throws that first muh fuckin’ punch” or something along those lines. Quintin repeats like six times “I’m gettin’ mah belt.” Classic!

  • nigelzackit says:

    What questions are there for Carwin to answer? Clearly he has answered them all in 13 mins. 2 sec. that he has performed over the course of 11 fights.

    son, you funny man. yo, you ever heard of these guys?

    http://www.sherdog.com/fighter/Jason-Reinhardt-2347
    http://www.sherdog.com/fighter/Dan-Hornbuckle-16658

    it looks like they had answered all their questions for awhille, just like carwin and the bum parade that’s been the dude’s career. now he gets busted up and his wrestling credentials embarassed by some overweight ex-title challenger, and he’s the real deal? just cause homeboy was able to scramble to his feet and wing some desperation bombs?

    dana is gonna take kids like you to the cleaners in the next couple years building up dude’s records.

  • Austin says:

    So anytime i see a Snowden article, i will now skip it, because Snowden = ignorant. Carwin used a very well timed clinch to recover. Randy Couture clinches at crucial moments. Its no small feat to get up after gonzaga gets you down. Then you saw an Anderson Siva or Scott Smith reeling punch. That is to say, he didn’t step into the punch a la Rashad Evans or Rampage Jackson. He He-man’ed it.. He aimed for the head, connected. ktfo’ed gonzaga. Had he stepped into it with his full body weight, Gonzaga would still be shitting himself.

  • Angry Mike says:

    The outcomes of the fights didn’t really surprise me. I fully expected Carwin to win despite the perception that Gonzaga has more experience. Looking at Gonzaga’s record, he’s lost in the bigger match ups. Couture manhandled him, so a bigger stronger grappler like Carwin looked like trouble from the outset.

    It was no surprise that Rampage beat Jardine, who’s always struggled with heavy hitters who push the pace. The surprise was Rampage’s inability to finish a guy who has been ko’d and can be ko’d. Rampage has some serious holes in his game, and they’ve been exposed. Rampage didn’t check the inevitable leg kicks and was unable to capitalize on take downs. Jardine caught him repeatedly with solid punches. Evans is quicker than Jardine, has one punch ko power, and is a better grappler. Evans hasn’t shown much in the way of leg kicks, but you have to believe that Greg Jackson will put them in his arsenal. And his game plan will include take downs and gnp, which are another weakness for Rampage. If Rampage fights Evans the way he fought Jardine, it’s Evans’ fight to lose.

    Jim Miller is one tough Jersey boy, but Maynard is just too big. And Maynard’s stand up was better than I expected. He’s improving, and he’s only one or two fights from a title shot. I’d love to see him square off with Kenny Florian. If Maynard beat Florian, he’d have to be first in line to fight Penn.

    Somebody needs to slap Kendall Grove. The “grave digging” schtick is sad for four reasons: 1) He stole it; 2) He stole it from Tito; 3) He used it on Jason Day for pity’s sake, not a guy at the top of the weight class; and 4) Grove’s an underachiever with no reason to showboat. Grove ought to show a little humility because he’s lucky he’s still in the UFC. My theory is that dropping him would reflect badly on TUF, which he won, so he’s getting more chances than most guys would. He’s somewhere in the bottom third of the weight class on his best day, and there are plenty of guys outside the org. to fill his slot.

  • idbi says:

    Does it really matter that Carwin was losing the fight for one whole minute before knocking his opponent out? The same thing was said back when Fedor KO’d Arlovski. Both Carwin and Fedor won their fights in pretty dramatic fashion. Fights are back and forth affairs. To say that a fighter was somehow showing weakness because they took a couple of hits seems silly. If every fight looked like Shamrock v. Clifton, they wouldn’t be worth watching.

  • Goomba says:

    1. Can’t argue there. He messed up big time, but at least he admitted it.

    2. Calm down, don’t be so uptight. I bet the government planned 9/11 and the crashing of the titantic, too.

    3. So what if he got rocked? He had the sense to recompose himself and acted like a professional when he got hit and survived. As for being taken down, he was rocked, as you said. The important thing is that he managed to get right back up again against a foe nearly weighing 260 pounds, a foe that is great on the ground.

    4. No he didn’t, but he got a few near-knockdowns. Don’t expect much more against Rashad, he’s been in a constant fight camp, going in almost right after 92, and almost right away for Rashad.

    5. See No. 2. Don’t be so tight, relax a little and have some fun with it. Maybe they should just kick Rampage out for being a showman. Make him not allowed to howl anymore, because its too WWE-like. Take away his chains too. People loved this stuff in PRIDE, but the UFC can’t do it?

  • RU486 says:

    ****dana is gonna take kids like you to the cleaners in the next couple years building up dude’s records.****

    I’m probably older than you. I didn’t pick up this game with the most recent airing of TUF nor do I equate MMA as UFC. I’ve been an avid follower of this sport for more than 10 years and followed all the organizations as availability would allow.

    As for Reinhardt and Hornbuckle – I commend you on your answer to my challenge. I’ll give you Reinhardt, but not Hornbuckle. But the difference between either of these guys and Carwin is neither of them knocked out a Mundial champion that has lethal strikes from all four appendages.

  • nigelzackit says:

    I’m probably older than you. I didn’t pick up this game with the most recent airing of TUF nor do I equate MMA as UFC. I’ve been an avid follower of this sport for more than 10 years and followed all the organizations as availability would allow.

    yeah that’s great, son. welcome to the club and all that. then you probably realize as a long time fan that dudes like neil wain aren’t exactly superstars. carwin beat one good fighter in his whole career and spent most of that fight getting smashed or taken down by a dude with a fraction of his supposed wrestling skill. then kids (not necessarily you) come out here and talk about “well timed clinches” like they know what they’re talking about. lemme break some knowledge off for you and them; when you get hurt standing you’re supposed to close the distance and grab/hold. what questions did we get answered? that he is easy to hit in the face, that he can get caught cold, and that his wrestling isn’t as good as advertised. i guess he hits hard though, so that what, makes him about as good as dos santos?

    maybe if gonzaga had come into the fight in shape instead of what, 15-20lbs over his best weights, he could have done more or worked faster. but i wouldn’t want to not let that get in the way of giving dap to carwin for beating a guy who was barely in the top ten if at all.

  • Jstew3785 says:

    I am so sick of everyone ragging on Carwin because his first ten opponents weren’t world class fighters.
    Alexander Otsuka, Alex Stiebling, Roan Carneiro, Hayato Sakurai, Israel Albuquerque, Tetsuji Kato, Claudionor Fontinelle, Jose Barreto, Luiz Azeredo. Anyone every really heard of any of these guys?? These are the first 10 opponents that Anderson Silva, probably the # 1 pound-for -pound fighter in the world faced. You don’t see people ragging on him. Carwin is still new to the game and has finally made it to the big leagues. Give him a break!!!!!!!

  • Sergio Hernandez says:

    “Alexander Otsuka, Alex Stiebling, Roan Carneiro, Hayato Sakurai, Israel Albuquerque, Tetsuji Kato, Claudionor Fontinelle, Jose Barreto, Luiz Azeredo. Anyone every really heard of any of these guys??”

    It’s not our fault you only watch UFC and haven’t heard of Mach, Azeredo, Kato and Carneiro (although he’s fought for the UFC for the past 2 years or so).

    And 10 guys? By my count, you mentiond 9 with the 10th being Carlos Newton, former UFC “welterweight” champion.

    So the reason people don’t rag on Silva is because he was fighting legit guys, even early in his career.

  • nigelzackit says:

    comparing carwin to anderson silva? what you thinking, dogg? carwin has one ok win down and about 15 to go before he catches up to silva. by the time he might get within close to what silva’s done right now, he’ll be 47.

  • Jstew3785 says:

    I’m not comparing them by any stretch, I was just saying that most people haven’t really heard of any of the guys he faced early on. I’m not talking about the real hardcore MMA fans, I’m talking about the casual fan. I’m not an expert on MMA, but I do watch more than just the UFC. Yeah Sergio, I missed one. I thought I had 10 on there. Maybe Carwin will be a huge flop and be cut from the UFC next year. I don’t think he will accomplish what Silva has accomplished if he fights to be 100. I just think he should be cut some slack.

  • kidneybeans says:

    Jstew…………..Whether casual fans have heard of them or not has no bearing on their ability to fight. If your not comparing them to Carwin’s first ten opponents what’s the point of bringing them up?

    Most of Silva’s first ten fights were against very skilled opponenets, whether the casual fan has heard of them or not is irrelevant. The point being made about Carwin is that his first ten opponents weren’t very good, not that we haven’t heard of them.

    I also just wanted to point out that I don’t really agree with the knock on Carwin, but I certainly understand it.

    And anyone that hasn’t heard of Mach Sakurai needs to pull their head out of their ass. He’s not only one of the most popular fighters in the world, but also one of the most entertaining.

  • Dr.Stoppage says:

    It’s weird, but your article on the UFC’s lack of professionalism seems to lack professionalism.

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