How likely is it that Fabricio Werdum will beat Fedor Emelianenko? What event from the past ten days did you enjoy most from top to bottom? Will Cris “Cyborg” Santos beat Jan Finney faster than her husband beat Marius Zaromskis a week-and-a-half ago? What’s next for newly crowned Ultimate Fighter Season 11 champion Court McGee?
Keyboard warrrrriors….come out to plaaaay-yay!
If you’re reading these lines you’ve made it through another work-week and are back in the friendly digital confines of “Grappling with Issues”, our site’s resident Friday feature highlighting insight and opinion from Adam Tool and myself on six subjects plucked from the Mixed Martial Arts landscape. However, just because we staffers get the fancy set-up, please don’t feel precluded from dishing out your own thoughts on each matter in the comments section at the bottom of the column…
Best overall event – “Strikeforce – Los Angeles”, “Sengoku 13”, “TUF 11 Finale”, or “WEC 49”?
Adam Tool: I should probably start by saying that since I have neither a)HDNet or b) insomnia, I have yet to see Sengoku 13. I’ve been trying to track down a copy online but thus far I have been unsuccessful, so I’ll have to make my pick from the other three events which I did see.
Of those three my pick would be WEC 49. In terms of fight quality there was plenty of good stuff to be had on all three cards. While thinking back on those events I can’t point out a single fight which I considered boring, but it was the action in the WEC cage that kept me closest to the edge of my seat. The only knock I can make against WEC 49 would be the unsatisfying result rendered in the evening’s main event, but that only came about as the result of the incompetent judging of Cameron Quwek, the lone judge who scored every single round for Kamal Shalorus. Some blame could also be leveled against referee Josh Rosenthal, as I still can’t understand why he didn’t take another point away from Shalorus for the third low blow delivered in the final frame. Other than that though, WEC 49 was a barrage of non-stop action and tremendous performances from everyone involved.
I would also have to give the edge to WEC 49 in terms of the show’s pacing. During the two and a half hour event we saw seven fights, with what seemed like a minimal amount of commercial interruption. The Ultimate Fighter Finale featured five fights over the course of two hours, with some interminable commercial breaks, endless shilling of upcoming Spike programming, and an extremely dull interview with Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin. Strikeforce: Los Angeles was well-done from a production stand-point, but I still don’t understand why the show’s producers chose to air backstage interviews in between rounds of some of the fights. On top of that we saw once again that Strikeforce has no interest in promoting new stars of the sport, as the event ended a half-hour early without a single preliminary fight shown.
Brendhan Conlan: Though each broadcast featured moments of brilliance I tend to side with Tool as far as WEC 49 being the strongest overall show in the bunch. Sengoku’s action was top notch but primarily involved talent 1% of the English-speaking audience could have picked out of a line-up prior to it airing, Strikeforce had some highlight-worthy moments but also had issues related to the card’s E3-specific production and promotion’s continuing trend of going off the air early without promoting undercard competitors, and save for Court McGee‘s story and a fun scrap between Keith Jardine and Matt Hamill the Ultimate Fighter Finale was one of the least memorable in recent history. The scoring in Varner vs. Shalorus certainly detracted from the fight’s result but not from the entertaining battle that occurred during the fifteen minutes prior. Other than that, viewers were treated to the continued ascension of Josh Grispi as a top featherweight, late-replacement Danny Downes showing a ton of heart en route to a third-round submission loss at the limbs of Chris Horodecki, an edge-of-your-couch affair between Will Campuzano and Eddie Wineland, and a whole lot more.
True/False – Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos will beat Jan Finney tomorrow night faster than her husband beat Marius Zaromskis ten days prior?
Tool: I’ll go with “false,” although I have little reason to justify it. A quick peak at Finney’s record online reveals two things two things: 1) her nickname is “Cuddles” (seriously?) and 2) she’s only had one TKO loss on her record which came in the second round. Despite her unimpressive record and the overwhelming odds against her, I think it’s safe to assume that Finney is not the easiest opponent to put away. Cyborg is clearly the toughest opponent “Cuddles” has faced in her career and it would certainly be no surprise if the Strikeforce Women’s Middleweight Champion finishes this fight in under two minute, but unless Finney makes a crucial error (flying knee anyone?) I believe she’ll last a bit longer than Zaromskis did.
Conlan: Zaromskis lives and dies on his feet, as evident by four of his five career losses coming by way of TKO, so it was inevitable he or “Cyborg” (XY Chromosome version) was going to sleep sooner than later in their bout. That’s not the case with Finney – ahem, “Cuddles” – so I think I’ll also have to go with “false” on this. Granted, Santos is unlike any other striker let alone overall fighter in women’s MMA. However, Finney has been in the ring against a few females with above-average hands (Erin Toughill for example) and remained conscious throughout save for a single loss to Julie Kedzie. Her grappling is good enough to lock onto “Cyborg” if need be and her stand-up is decent, so as long as she avoids going toe-to-toe with the champ she should be able to make it past the 2:38 mark.
Should Cung Le retire from MMA and focus on acting if he loses to Scott Smith a second time?
Tool: To be honest, I’m not really sure. Thus far Le’s acting career has yet to really take off. He’s played smaller roles in some big-screen releases, although his work in the film Tekken has yet to be seen here in America. He would probably have better luck in Asian cinema as a straight-forward martial arts action star, as there’s little call for someone with his particular talents in the current Hollywood system.
While Le took a large chunk of time off from MMA to focus on acting, the loss to Smith seems to have re-lit the competitive fire within him. He certainly believes that he’s a better fighter than Smith (and up until the final seconds of their first fight, he was) and with the (presumably) impending departure of Jake Shields the door could be wide open for Le to try and regain the Strikeforce Middleweight Championship. After all, he never lost the belt. Of course he never had a chance to lose it since he didn’t defend it, but that’s beside the point.
Le could very well lose to Smith a second time. It’s unlikely, but certainly possible. He’s pushing 40 years old so he doesn’t have all the time in the world to get better in the sport, and as such retirement from competition probably isn’t too far off anyways. His exciting fighting style and built in fanbase in the San Jose area will allow him the opportunity to continue on as long as he wants, but if he’s trying to be the best in the world then his chances to do so will live or die on Saturday night.
Conlan: I’m a firm believer fighters should hang up their gloves when they are ready to do so unless there are health-related reasons at play. Yes, Le is 38 and power/speed are typically the first thing to deteriorate with increased age. Yes, he’s only been in the ring three times since June 2007. Yes, he’s a one-trick pony as far as being 100% stand-up based. However, losing his rematch with Smith would only drop him to 6-2, and it’s not as if “Hands of Steel” is some out-of-shape, over-the-hill can they plucked from the street. He’s got 3X as many fights as Le and beaten some notable opponents in his career. He has the striking to put any adversary to sleep and a solid jaw of his own to boot as indiciated by Smith’s only career TKO losses coming to Robbie Lawler in 2008 and James Irvin in 2004. If he walks away victor again this Saturday night it should in no way be considered a slight on Le’s talent but rather a credit to his fellow soft-spoken Californian’s. As Tool said, Le is a huge regional draw and possesses an incredibly entertaining style, so as long as he is still interested in stepping into the ring and competing he should be allowed to do so.
Using a percentage, how much of a chance do you give Fabricio Werdum of beating Fedor Emelianenko?
Conlan: 1%. Don’t get me wrong – Werdum is a world-class competitor on the mat and has some solid Chute Boxe-based striking to compliment the skill. He’s beaten a number of ranked opponents and only been finished once in eighteen fights. However, we’re talking about frakking Fedor here. He’s weathered punches that would have dropped most for the count and worked his way out of any tough position he’s ever been put in. He’s gone to decision less than 1/4 of the time he’s fought, is on a ridiculously long win-streak, and…well…I probably could have stopped at “frakking Fedor”, because the reality is if you’re reading this paragraph you already know the Russian phenom’s resume. There will always be a chance Werdum could perfectly time a punch and pull a “Matt Serra”, so he at least deserves “1%”, but beyond that I don’t see there being any way he comes away from the event as the first fighter to legitimately beat Emelianenko.
Tool: I’ll be a bit kinder to Mr. Werdum and go with 10%. Obviously I’m still backing Fedor to win, but Werdum does have at least one avenue to victory. His striking isn’t quite good enough to give Fedor trouble, but there can be little argument that he’s one of the best pure grapplers in the heavyweight division. Fedor has never really been close to being submitted, but then again it’s been a long time since he’s faced anyone that’s on Werdum’s level in BJJ. I still can’t see Fedor tapping out, but if there’s any opponent in the world that can do it I think it’s Werdum.
Do you think that Jamie Varner and Kamal Shalorus should have an immediate rematch?
Conlan: Though I’m typically in favor of immediate rematches when a particularly poor decision is rendered, this situation is different because Varner is going to miss a good deal of time with his broken hand/foot. Shalorus, however, was relatively uninjured after their original bout and isn’t scheduled to sit on the sidelines beyond his regular recuperation/training period. Based on that, it’s likely he’ll be ready for action before Varner is so it doesn’t make sense for him to twiddle his thumbs while waiting for the former lightweight champion to recover. As such, I could see a date with Donald Cerrone at a future event.
However, if WEC is determined to pair him with Varner again, I have a suggestion on how “The Prince of Persia” can kill his new-found time. There’s a new James Bond movie on the horizon that’s certain to need evil henchman and if ever an individual was born with the physical attributes to play a role…
Tool: Let’s also not forget that the recent Prince of Persia film was a resounding success, so perhaps Shalorus could have a role to play in a potential sequel? Shalorus vs. Gyllenhaal: book it!
As for the topic at hand, I believe that a rematch should be made as soon as both fighters are healed up and ready to go. I can point to no less than three reasons why this should happen. First, this bout was intended to determine the next #1 contender for Ben Henderson’s WEC Lightweight Championship. That honor will likely now go to the winner of the upcoming Shane Roller/Anthony Pettis bout, but right now there’s a serious lack of competition for the company’s “Smooth” young champion.
The second reason I would like to see a rematch is due to the decision rendered in the first fight. Clearly a draw does nothing to further either man’s career, but on top of that it’s a decision that has not sat well with a majority of the fanbase. Just about anyone that watched that fight could tell that Varner won, but obviously that’s not the case. Look at it this way; if it hadn’t been for the point deduction in the second round Shalorus would have won a split decision, and the controversy would have been even greater.
Finally I say match these two up again because their first meeting was simply a great fight. Groin shots aside, these two kept things competitive for the majority of the fifteen minutes. Shalorus’ strategy of staying in the pocket and slugging it out with Varner may not have been the best gameplan but it certainly kept things entertaining. I say let’s have rounds four, five, and six.
Who would you like to see Court McGee matched up with for his first post-“TUF” fight?
Conlan: I have a feeling McGee may actually drop to welterweight for his next in-Octagon appearance since he’s only 5’11 and size is crucial in a promotion as deep in talent as the UFC. It also makes sense considering a number of past seasonal champions have done the same thing. The Ultimate Fighter is a great opportunity and often fighters are willing to risk competing against bigger guys to earn a contract, plus it makes maintaining/making weight easier.
As far as when Court will be in session again (you’re welcome Mauro Renallo), there are ton of opponents at 170 pounds for “The Crusher” to, well, crush. He clearly can’t be matched against one of the division’s top fighters but he also deserves better than a “gimme” dubya. Amir Sadollah seems possible based on his status as a former TUF winner himself and the fact that, at 3-2, the master of “Baboo Baby” technique could use a semi-winnable fight. Season 9 champ James Wilks is also in a similar position but ended up on the right side of a decision at UFC 115 instead of the wrong one, as Amir did at UFC 114.
Tool: I’m not so sure that McGee will drop down in weight, since he’s not yet announced any plans to do so. I’m going to try and pick someone at middleweight, and furthermore I’ll try to follow the UFC’s traditional model of giving their “TUF” champs a somewhat “lesser” opponent in their first post-show fight.
With that in mind my pick goes to Joe Doerksen. Doerksen is the very definition of a journeyman fighter, with enough name value to provide McGee a nice little boost with a win. At the same time if McGee comes up short in this fight it’s a bit more understandable given the fact that he’s facing an opponent with such a depth of experience. Stylistically the two match up well, as neither man is technically proficient in striking even though they are willing to stand and trade. McGee would have the wrestling advantage, but Doerksen could present a problem with his jiu-jitsu skills.