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The Calm Before The Storm: UFC 106

Anthony JohnsonRight off the bat, mad respect to Anthony Johnson for coming in at 170 pounds on the dot during yesterday’s weigh-ins that took place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

I was not alone in questioning the massive welterweight wrecking machine’s motivations in attempting to stay at a weight that he may not be able to make ever again. But AJ defied modern science again yesterday, somehow constricting his 220 pound frame down to a bone dry 170 pounds for what was likely no longer than 5-10 minutes.

Let’s not forget that “Rumble” fought less than a month ago, literally, and he wasn’t anywhere near weight for that fight. For him to make the weight limit just four weeks required the type of will power, self control and dedication that has allowed him to totally redeem himself in my mind. Fool us once, shame on you; Fool us twice, shame on us. Now don’t let it happen again.

I’m expecting a full blown war between these two with both Johnson and Josh Koscheck coming in at full strength looking to make an exclamation mark out of the other. Johnson is never more than a punch or head kick away from finishing any scrap, and it’s going to be Koscheck’s job to not allow him the space that would afford him that luxury. At the same time, let’s not pretend that Koscheck is anything less than lethal on his feet as well. His striking game has evolved to a point where could currently be considered a top ten striker in his weight class. Don’t blink.

As a side note: I fully expect for the future of Johnson’s weight division participation to lie in the balance of tonight’s bout. If AJ pulls it off, of course he stays at 170 pounds because a title shot is undeniably right around the corner. Cutting down to welterweight is tough for Johnson, but worth it if cutting means becoming a champion. However, if he loses there’s no reason for Anthony to continue to make the sacrifices required to make the welterweight division when he’s looking at a minimum of three or four wins to get back into title contention.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Tito Ortiz‘ fighting style. He’s great at what he does, don’t get me wrong, but pinning someone down, maintaining position and chipping away with elbows has never been my cup of tea. Regardless, I’ll be the first to admit that I get pumped when “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” makes his entrance, 60% of the time, all the time. Whatever “it” is, Tito has “it” in abundance. Love him or hate him, you just have to watch him; Tonight will be no exception.

Now whether Tito comes out on top in this rematch with Forrest Griffin is a huge question mark. There are a multitude of question marks surrounding this bout when you take a closer look. Has Tito recovered properly from his nagging injuries? How will Forrest handle coming back from the most embarrassing loss of his career? Is Ortiz suffering from Octagon rust? Can Griffin stop Tito’s takedowns? The list goes on and on. When the dust clears we should have a clear cut vision of where both of the longtime crowd favorites stand in their decorated careers. One man will make a push for the title when it’s all said and done, while the other will continue to draw large crowds regardless of the outcome.

Be on the lookout for Jacob Volkmann to turn a lot of heads tonight as he will likely put a beating on the Paulo Thiago that will leave the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt between a rock and a hard place with the UFC. I had a chance to speak with Chris Tuchscherer yesterday who told me that Volkmann more than holds his own with fighters such as Nick Thompson and Sean Sherk at Minnesota Martial Art, going as far as to state that Jacob can push him when they grapple, regardless of the 100 pound size difference. Volkmann is the goods. I’ve had my eye on this guy and tonight will be his coming out party.

If Rogerio Nogueira can drag Luiz Cane to the canvas and keep him there, there’s no question in my mind that he should be able to secure some form of submission, but I don’t feel like he’s going to be powerful enough. That being said, expect to see a slugfest in this one, that could very well end up being the fight of the night.

The Best Eva!!! is back and Amir desperately needs to show that his prior TKO defeat at the hands of Johny Hendricks was the fluke that many of his supporters believe it to have been. The deciding factor in this fight has to be the fact that I firmly believe Phil Baroni to be the better wrestler of the two. He’s going to use that advantage in the wrestling department to keep this fight standing up while transforming Amir Sadollah‘s head into a pinata.

Make sure to check back with all day and all night as we will have all of the latest live updates from UFC 106 as they take place, and most importantly, enjoy the fights!!!

  • nate says:

    cory another great article and i agree with everything you write most of the time but there is one topic id like to touch on if i may. Paulo Thiago. id like to talk about the kos ko.. first we all know Thiago was brought in an unknown feeder mouse for the fast rising kos (who as you pointed out & i agree kos is a top 10 ww striker.) now let me make it clear i was shocked & pissed when kos got dropped and i as well thought it HAD to be a fluke etc. etc. however after re-watching the fight i respectfully disagree about the notion that is was luck and more or less a perfectly timed and placed counter-punch. his eyes were open, feet planted. and twisted his hips into a powerful uppercut. taken in the context that it wasnt a fluke that makes Thiago a very underrated a lethal striker. given that train of thought i think voelkmann will have his hands full. granted my actual knowledge on voelkmann is slim i dont know what to expect i just feel paulo thiago deserves more credit than he gets. matt serras win over gsp was luck. unfortunately for me & other kos fans thiagos’ win was more than luck.

  • Dufresne says:

    I agree that the shot Thiago landed wasn’t a fluke, my problem with that fight was the ref stopping the fight as soon as he did. I know the number one job of the ref is to ensure fighter safety, but it appeared to me that Kos recovered extremely quickly and it seems like he was not given much of a chance to show that he could intelligently defended himself.

  • Makington says:

    You make valid points nate, but I disagree with your disagreement. I think Paulo’s KO was less actual striking skill and more ‘anything can happen in MMA with those little gloves.’ You have to remember this was his lone KO in his career and he was getting absolutely picked apart all the while leading up to it. Kos loves to go with a haymaker overhand right, to the point where he is predictable with it. Paulo tried the same uppercut quite a few times before it landed. He couldn’t really land that punch on many other fighters. It was a smart move by Paulo but he showed so many cracks in his stand up before he landed the one punch he could land. For instance, he had very poor footwork and only moved vertical to his opponent instead of lateral. He dropped his hands to his waist after almost every punch. I hold fast to my belief that people are looking over Paulo’s striking with good reason. I’d be worried about his ground game. Props to him for landing a big shot, but I attribute it to luck rather than pure striking skill.

  • Guy Gaduois says:

    It seems pretty evident that Forrest needs to go back to staffing his fight prep to the same game planning that went into his fight with Quittin Jackson. He was a tight, efficient fighter in that, more patient than I’d seen him in the past. I don’t know for sure, but I thought I’d heard he’d worked quite a bit with Randy before that fight.
    Forrest needs to get back to that style and planning.
    While Tito and Forrest have the same win/loss record, Forrest’s fight resume is much more suspect than Tito’s. Without better fight planning, we’ve seen the best Forrest has to offer and it’s all down hill from here.
    Tito’s fight against Machida is actually one of the better showings against Machida. Until Rua, there hadn’t been a better game plan going against Machida. Tito looked slow and less than explosive, but Machida had made everyone look like they were moving in mud. If the reports of Tito’s health at that point are to be believed, Tito at closer to 100% could have made that fight very, very interesting.
    Tito’s going to have to deal with re-acclimating himself to the Octagon, but if he’s hesitant in the first and lets Forrest out of the first round, it can be a great fight. If Forrest slow starts again, Tito could finish this up early and Forrest will become more ambassador for the sport than competitor. I don’t believe the UFC would ever jettison Forrest, but he could be relegated to “Oh remember him when” status with a loss.

    If Johnson only has a couple more fights at Welter, he’d like to fight GSP sooner than later. I just wonder if all the exigencies will align to allow that fight. If he loses tonight and has to rebuild, I agree that it would be best to rebuild in the Middleweight division where his length and speed would be very compelling.

    Good card tonight, just not $60 worth for me. Going to the pizza place and nurse a brew. Watch with the j-holes assembled there. I freaking hate that, but Obama doesn’t seem to want to bail out my PPV Fund.

  • nate says:

    make – i also agree with the amount of upper cuts he threw he didnt land many..however how many overhand rights did kos try and miss? all im saying is on that night an unknown supposed submission guy out struck a top rated striker. factor in it was that mans ufc debut against a man that by all means on paper should have mauled him. im not detracting anything from kos i love him is great has a long great career ahead of him. i just wanted to express my added respect for a guy i felt had everything in the world against him perform exceptionally that night. i just dont feel he should be written off yet.

  • CatchWrestling101 says:

    Guy, if you don’t think this card is worth $60.00 don’t even look at the ones coming up. UFC 107……ok card but I don’t even want to talk about UFC 108. Lets just say the only way I would watch this is if it was free on Spike!!!!

  • bigbadjohn says:

    Ugh. I fogot what it feels like to drop 60 bones on an event after the 105 and SF shows. Oh well, with a couple extra people it will probably end up being cheaper than watching it at the pub, especially if I want to drink more than a couple…

    I’ve heard Dana talk about exploring network deals, I wonder if UFC could ever abandon PPVs all together?


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