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Grappling with Issues – 1/28/11

Which of Saturday night’s dual Strikeforce title fights will end faster? Did Mark Hominick’s performance against George Roop make you reconsider your stance on his upcoming fight against Jose Aldo? Are you actually interested in seeing Herschel Walker compete as a Mixed Martial Artist?Will Melvin Guillard make it the rest of the year without a loss?

Keyboard warrrrriors….come out to plaaaay-yay!

Welcome to Grappling with Issues, our site’s regular weekly feature highlight insight and opinion from myself and Adam Tool. As always, 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.

TRUE/FALSE – Melvin Guillard will remain undefeated in 2011 as promised after beating Evan Dunham this past weekend.

Tool: FALSE. I hate to be the naysayer here but we still don’t know for sure whether or not Guillard has truly gotten over his biggest weakness: a lack of consistency. The win over Dunham was plenty impressive, but prior to that he was on the positive end of a narrow split decision win over Jeremy Stephens. If he’s serious about jumping into contention then he’s going to have to start facing some serious competition. Guillard already seems to be angling for a bout with Kenny Florian and that’s a fight that I’d pick Kenny to win 9 times out of 10. If/when Guillard starts mixing it up with the top dogs in the lightweight division I have to be honest when I say that I don’t like his chances to remain undefeated for the next eleven months.

Conlan: Also false, and to be quite honest I’m not sure there are many people outside of Guillard’s camp and family who would rate his post-fight prediction as anything other than the offspring of wishful thinking and bravado. He definitely deserves credit for his win over Dunham, but in the big picture a fight is a fight and a well-placed or perfectly timed punch/kick/knee will end the evening of any competitor regardless of ranking. When it comes to striking he’s clearly one of the division’s best based on speed/power, but most of the UFC’s top lightweights are high-level grapplers and I need to see him survive, even prevail, on a regular basis when action heads towards the mat before I can buy him as having morphed into an unbeatable force as he seems to believe he now is.

Which promotion will be the first to hold an event in Japan: Zuffa-era UFC or Strikeforce?

Tool: At this point it’s clear that Dana White has his sights set on nothing short of world domination. The UFC has already held numerous events outside of the U.S. so the odds have to favor the bigger company. Strikeforce has some partnerships on the other side of the world that may lead to some sort of co-promoted event, but even that seems unlikely given the financial status of DREAM. The UFC already has several big-name Japanese fighters on their roster, along with a number of former favorites from the heyday of PRIDE. They’ve got everything in place to hit Japan so it’s hard not to think that they’ll be there sooner than Scott Coker & Company.

Conlan: Maybe I’m just a fan of the underdog or being a bit naïve but I think Strikeforce may actually beat Zuffa to the punch where promoting a show in Japan is concerned. As mentioned, there is already a talent-sharing relationship in place between Strikeforce and DREAM, and just because DREAM may be in financial limbo does not imply Strikeforce’s books are suffering as a result. The sense I get is that the way you treat others is extremely important to not only Japanese people, but the way they do business, and every indication I’ve seen says Coker is in good overseas. On the other hand, White himself has half-heartedly joked about his life being at risk the day he steps foot in the Land of the Rising Sun based on past transgressions with the Yakuza, and I’m not sure his personality goes over as well there as it does in America. With a heavyweight Grand Prix in place and a number of familiar faces on their roster (like Fedor Emelianenko) there’s no reason to think Strikeforce might not take advantage of the current climate and give it a go in order to be “first”.

Faster finish on Saturday night: Souza vs. Lawler or Diaz vs. Santos?

Tool: This is actually kind of a tough question to answer. In the middleweight championship fight we’ve got the ubiquitous “striker vs. grappler” match-up. “Jacare” may be more comfortable striking than some other BJJ champions, but he’s not dumb enough to get into a slugfest with somebody like Robbie Lawler. At the same time Lawler will be doing everything in his power to make sure this one stays standing as Ronaldo Souza is light years ahead of him in the grappling department. If either man is able to impose his will quickly enough we could easily see a first-round stoppage, but I have a feeling that this one will take a little longer to play out. I don’t think we’ll see a judges’ decision but I do think this one will last longer than a few rounds.

I can’t honestly say the same thing about the main event. While Nick Diaz may have made his name with his jiu-jitsu he’s clearly more of a striker at this point in his career. Meanwhile you’ve got the male “Cyborg” who only has one speed: full-throttle. Expect these two to mix it up early and often, and while they could make it past the five minute mark I wouldn’t be a single dime on this one making it the full twenty-five.

Conlan: I agree there is cause to argue in favor of both bouts but I’m going with the middleweight match-up between Lawler and Souza. Though Evangelista Santos packs ether in his gloves, Diaz is known for his ability to take a hit…and not just from his favorite smoking device! But seriously, Stockton’s favorite son has a rock-solid chin and the kind of disposition that won’t allow him to quit unless his body unwillingly dictates the necessity to do so. I can see him landing a few crisp punches and crumpling Santos based on the Brazilian’s brand of wild brawling, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if Diaz attempts to duck under a punch early then take him to the ground in order to negate his powerful striking. However, Santos has only been submitted a single time in 31 fights, so his BJJ shouldn’t be slept on just because he prefers to throw caution to the wind while standing, and in that regard I can see their throwdown lasting into the second round.

As far as Lawler/Souza, I don’t envision it lasting longer than the opening frame based on “Ruthless” Robbie’s power in opposition to Souza’s otherworldly BJJ. Both of Souza’s losses are the result of a knockout while half of Lawler’s losses came by way of tap-out (two of them in the first round). I think he’ll come out guns blazing and either stuff Souza, then flatten him with a few shots or end up on his back and submitted shortly thereafter.

Take any one of the main card winners from this past Saturday night’s show and pick their next opponent.

Conlan: One of the first things I remember thinking after watching Guillard overwhelm Evan Dunham with his flash and force was how much fun it would be to see “The Young Assassin” mix it up with Takanori Gomi. Both men are in similar positions on the divisional ladder, so the match-up makes sense in that regard, and they share a love for unleashing leather meaning the pairing would undoubtedly deliver a highly memorable result from a stylistic standpoint. Beyond that, Gomi should be available as well after only taking moderate damage in his loss to Clay Guida at UFC 125.

Tool: I’m also going to do a little match-making in the UFC’s lightweight division, a surprisingly easy task given the depth of talent within the company right now. I thought Matt Wiman looked better than we’ve ever seen him this past Saturday night, and with a decent little win streak in progress now seems as good a time as any to give the kid a step up in competition. Tyson Griffin finds himself in the unfamiliar position of having lost two in a row (even though anyone who saw the fight knows that Griffin deserved a win over Nik Lentz), and his next fight will be a must-win. He’s a solid test for Wiman, and given the well-rounded skillset of each fighter I think this makes for a tremendous stylistic match-up.

Did you see anything in Mark Hominick’s win over George Roop that makes you think he has a chance against Jose Aldo?

Conlan: Yes – his power and precision. Don’t misunderstand me, as I appreciate Aldo’s abilities and don’t doubt he may very well cruise to victory at UFC 129. However, Hominick’s striking looked fantastic against always-game Roop who hadn’t been TKO’d prior to the Canadian’s ninety-second smackdown on Saturday night. While he’s a very good grappler, I think Hominick’s best chance against Aldo is to utilize his high-level boxing and catch the champ a few times on the chin in order to test its substance. If he can land half of what he did against Roop it’s going to be a very interesting night at the Rogers Centre in April.

Tool: Hominick’s laser beam punches that he used to put away Roop were certainly impressive, but I still have to rate the Canadian’s striking below that of the new UFC Featherweight Champion. Go back and look at the series of strikes Aldo nailed Manny Gamburyan with to finish their fight and you’ll see that same precision Hominick showed, only about 10 times faster. I still think Hominick has a puncher’s chance in his upcoming title shot, and if his chin can hold up to Aldo’s best shots he could very well make a fight out of it. Of course, if he hasn’t done so already it may be a good time to start drilling leg kick checks

On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being the highest), rate your interest in the continued MMA career of Herschel Walker.

Conlan: I’d say it’s currently hovering at a “5” with the potential for a “5.5” if he beats Scott Carson and improves his record to 2-0. I don’t view Walker as being any more of a threat to his division than Kimbo Slice was but I respect his lifetime dedication to Mixed Martial Arts as well as his interest in using his fame to benefit others rather than line his own pockets. Walker isn’t an ex-NFL guy out to prove how tough he is; he’s out to prove how tough MMA is.

Tool: Put me at a “2,” but we all know that Strikeforce didn’t sign Herschel Walker to keep hardcore fans glued to their seats. He was signed because he is, quite simply, the most famous person on the Strikeforce roster. He brings in casual fans the same way the aforementioned Mr. Slice used to, but it’s nearly impossible to imagine him as anything more than a sideshow attraction. If Walker and his employers had any aspirations beyond this wouldn’t they have slotted him in the upcoming heavyweight tournament? It’s interesting to speculate on what Walker’s mixed-martial art career would have been like had he gotten involved a decade or two earlier, but at this point let’s all just sit back and enjoy the spectacle.


  • fanoftna33 says:

    I think true for #1. Melvin is finally hitting his stride and with his power speed and takedown defense getting better daily he is going to go without a loss in 2011.
    Souza vs Lawler will end quicker. Lawler will be subbed early 2 nd round maybe first round but I dont see Diaz finishing Cyborg until late 2nd.
    Wiman needs to get another fight with Danzig for sure, that should be top of the list for both guys.
    Hominick has way more than a chance against Aldo, in fact I belive he will lite Aldo up like Couture did to a certian other Brazillian phenom back in the day. Vitors rise and Aldos rise are so similar it is uncanny. Both Great strikers with untested BJJ. Aldo has been great so far no doubt but against Hominick he is going against the better pure striker, coming off a injury and fighting for the UFC for the first time all that spells out trouble for aldo( who I guess I will just refer to as Aldo since announcers call him Joe say or Ho say and I dont know who is correct)
    I would say for the Walker fight my intrest is about a 6. I always liked watching him as a RB in football, and the guy is a freak for sure, but still very raw, I would really much rather SF showcase guys with a full set of skills like Beerbohlm or JZ, Gurgel even. But Walker is there guy and we get to see how long he can go at it. At least he is dedicated to the sport and a very respectful guy unlike sau Toney who wasnt worth a crap.

  • Vic88 says:

    I have a question kinda off-topic but was hoping someone could shed some light on this for me-I was watching some old PRIDE tourneys last night & remembered they had the yellow card for stalling & inactivity & my question was is there a rule or a regulation in place in the United States that would prohibit the use of the yellow card in UFC fights?

  • danw84 says:

    Melvin might win his next fight, but he’ll lose after that.
    Diaz will get knocked out first round, but Souza won’t get the sub until 2nd or 3rd.
    I’d like Mitrione to get his wish and fight Kongo.
    Aldo will wreck Hominick.
    8. I like some fights that just don’t matter and are interesting because of who is fighting rather than if they’re good, which is why I was a Kimbo fan.

  • Dufresne says:

    – Melvin has every tool needed to be an elite level threat and with him training with Greg Jackson he might be able to finally hit his stride. However, I don’t see him going undefeated for the next 11 months unless he wins his next fight and gets sidelined by injury at the same time. If he disposes of another contender like he did Dunham I think the UFC has to give him a top tier opponent and I don’t see him beating guys like Gray, Edgar, BJ, or Florian quite yet.

    – The UFC has already said it wants to promote a show in the next 18 months and I fully believe that they have the resources to be able to make that work. The question then is how soon will SF get there? With DREAM apparently having issues lately I wouldn’t be surprised to see a SF/DREAM or SF/M1 promotion in Japan relatively soon. In the end I’m still going with the UFC simply because once they decide they want to do something, they almost never fail at it while SF seems to run into a few more speed bumps when planning events.

    – I’m going with Lawler/Souza here and I’m predicting Lawler to come out ahead here. Souza has ridiculous BJJ but he’s also shown a proclivity lately to stand until he gets tagged. The problem is that if Lawler tags him he’s not going to be going for a takedown, he’s simply going down. If Souza gets this fight to the ground he can absolutely walk off with one of Lawler’s limbs, but lately Lawler has shown some pretty improved sprawls and he has the GnP to KO anyone even from inside the guard. I’m thinking Lawler flips Souza’s switch sometime around the 2 minute mark of round 1. I’m pretty sure Diaz will win his fight as well, but I think it’ll happen about the midway point of round 2 or early round 3.

    One of the first things I remember thinking after watching Guillard overwhelm Evan Dunham with his flash and force was how much fun it would be to see “The Young Assassin” mix it up with Takanori Gomi. Hell. Yes. Perfect matchup in my opinion. If Guillard loses it just shows that he needs more refinement but if he wins it shows he’s ready for a step up. At the same time if Gomi wins it furthers his momentum and name recognition in the US with a win over a dynamic up and comer, and a loss to someone with as much explosiveness as Guillard can be played down relatively easily.

    – Before taking out Roop without breaking a sweat, literally, I gave Hominick about a 20% chance of beating Aldo if they met simply because this is MMA and anything can happen. After that striking clinic I give him ~33% chance of beating Aldo. The only reason I put it that high is because Aldo got clipped by Gamburyan early in their fight and I’m pretty sure Hominick’s striking is better than Gamburyan’s.
    But man, Aldo is a freak. When he starts a flurry of punches it’s just not right. His first one or two punches come pretty fast, but at human speeds. Around his 3rd shot he seems to start accelerating and by his 5th shot you have to use slow-mo just to see what the hell he’s doing. And his kicks are some of the most vicious, destructive kicks in the business. He kicks like Cro Cop used to. Oh, and lets not forget the fact that he throws knees like some people throw jabs. Can you tell he’s one of my favorite fighters yet?

    – If you’d have asked me this last week I would have said 0, but after reading the article 5oz had earlier this week and reading his comments and how he views the game I have to say I’ve change my opinion on Mr. Walker quite a bit. I initially thought Walker was getting into MMA just to get his name out there again and to pull in a few bucks, and I wouldn’t care if that was his intent I just wouldn’t care about his MMA career. But after reading his desires to serve as a diplomat for MMA and his realization that the only way to do that was to actually compete in the sport, I have to say my interest has peaked up to about a 6.5. I’m not so concerned about if he wins or loses, I’m more interested in how he uses his MMA experiences to further the sport and his past experiences to help current fighters both in and out of the cage.
    Plus, anytime someone is legitimately competing simply because they love to compete I enjoy watching them. And if you go as far as to donate all your earnings to charity you can be guaranteed that will watch and support your career if for nothing else than to support the charity.

  • Dufresne says:

    I have a question kinda off-topic but was hoping someone could shed some light on this for me-I was watching some old PRIDE tourneys last night & remembered they had the yellow card for stalling & inactivity & my question was is there a rule or a regulation in place in the United States that would prohibit the use of the yellow card in UFC fights?

    As far as I know there’s no rule or law prohibiting the use of yellow cards in the UFC. There is a rule that allows Refs to deduct points from a fighter for refusing to engage, but it isn’t used very often.

    I want to say that there were cards in PRIDE that resulted in a deduction from the fighter’s purse as well and I think that those might be prohibited since the governing body in a lot of places the UFC promotes is the local boxing commission.

  • bigbadjohn says:

    From what I remember Dufresne, the yellow card was an automatic deduction from the fighter’s purse everytime as well as their score in the round.

  • LiverPunch says:

    The UFC will not go to Japan. If they do I will be surprised. SF may go there in the form of a DREAM and SF co-promotion.
    Aldo will destroy Hominick.
    It all depends who Melvin faces doesn’t it?.

  • Rece Rock says:

    False Melvins riding high but he should try and remain a bit focused and grounded he’s looking to jump to the front of the line in a stacked LW division and if you think a guy like Florian is a stepping stone he will prove Melvin wrong 8x out of 10 in my opinion. Melvin slow your role your time will come.

    SF is talking about putting on a show on Japan April 9th… See what happens.

    I see lawler if he’s on getting a faster finish than Diaz I think cyborg is tough and won’t get finished in the 1st

    As pointless as it is I’ll take guillard vs florian just for shits n giggles…

    Agree with Brendhan hominicks power and precision of his striking

    I guess a 3 for walker …my interest for him is as an extrodinary athlete & a great example at any age u can be healthy and be competitive but the actual fight doesn’t really ring any Bells for me.

  • BiG BaD BuLL says:

    I’m a huge tyson griffin fan, but didn’t he lose 3 in a row? Dunham, gomi, and then Lentz?

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    Alsitair overeem vs Fabricio Werdum
    Josh Barnett vs Brett Rogers
    Gilbert Melendez vs Tatsuya Kawajiri or Aoki

    Will be the first Strikeforce event in Japan at a guess. SF has everything in place to go ahead and do it including co-promotion and fighter exchanges. The TV deal will not be a massive issue but it could prove to be a sticking point. Strikeforce’s fighters are just as big if not bigger in Japan. Overeem, Mousasi, Aoki, Manhoef, Melendez, Diaz, JZ, Jacare, Kharitonov, Barnett, Werdum, BigFoot, Fedor, Hendo etc are big draws in Japan. Dream stage entertainment does not get … bothered by the yakuza and Coker wont be taking his life in his own hands by going to Japan. If SF has a trump card over the UFC it is this. Whether it is time to play it or not…?.
    I think the news about the UFC going to Japan is more of the UFC trying to counter what Strikeforce is close to doing. I just think too many toes were stepped on in Japan by the UFC and instead of deals being made they were broken. Unless the UFC is willing to grease a whole lot of palms (some with no little finger) they will get nowhere. The people that the UFC may have betrayed or pissed off in Japan do not forget easily and they don’t appreciate turf invasion. One thing is for sure and that is that by going to Japan the UFC will either be breaking an agreement or returning to a place where a deal has already been broken.

  • mu_shin says:

    As great a job as Mark Hominick did in the Roop fight, and as far as he has come in his development as a fighter, I’m not sure there are any featherweights currently active that have the combination of explosive power and instinctive brilliance that Jose Aldo brings to the ring. I know Aldo is recovering from injury, and will have to re-establish his primacy when he returns to the fray, but at present, I don’t see anyone out there who matches up stongly with the champ, who I believe is just 24…

    Personally, as an aging athlete and former martial arts instructor, I’m really interested in seeing a guy in his late forties illustrate that it ain’t over ’til it’s over, just because you’ve had so many birthdays. I saw a blurb in an AARP magazine (I’m 53) about a guy in Canada who got in the ring at 70 and beat a much younger opponent, becoming the oldest MMA competitor to win a pro fight. No, I don’t think Herschel Walker will contend for the title, and no, I don’t see him threatening the likes of Overeem, Emelianenko, or Werdum, but I see him showing all of us that learning lasts a lifetime, enthusiasm can be contagious, and “if you argue for your limitations, you get to keep them”, a quote from author/pilot Richard Bach.


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