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Grappling with Issues – 4/13/11

Did Nick Diaz outperform Gilbert Melendez last weekend? Should Thiago Silva have kept his mouth shut in front of the NSAC? Are referees a bigger problem in MMA than judges? What weight-class would you most like to see a title unification bout in?

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 resident workhorse Jeremy Lambert whose “Walk Out” and “After Party” event-breakdowns can be regularly found on Five Ounces. As always, just because we staffers get the fancy set-up, please don’t hesitate to offer your own take on the topics in the “Comments” section below.

Are you willing to pay $54.95 for a PPV headlined by Fedor Emelianenko vs. Dan Henderson?

Lambert: I’m assuming I get the show in HD at that price considering that UFC PPVs are not that expensive unless they’re in HD. Really though, I’m the wrong person to ask this question to. I’m the same guy who paid for Tim Sylvia vs. Paul Buentello, Keith Jardine vs. Trevor Prangley, and Ken Shamrock vs. Pedro Rizzo. Hell, had I not been in college at the time of YAMMA Pit Fighting and Fedor Emelianenko vs. Matt Lindland, I would have ordered those as well. If it’s MMA, chances are I’m ordering it. So of course I’d order a PPV headlined by Fedor and Henderson. Both guys are big stars and it’s a very intriguing fight. Not only that but the undercard would probably be solid as well. So yes, I would order a PPV headlined by Fedor/Henderson, but I’d also order a PPV headlined by Tank Abbott vs. Dan Severn in a rematch of the first ever judges’ decision in UFC history. That either makes me a huge MMA fan or an idiot. It’s probably a little of both.

Conlan: The cable provider in my neck of the woods charges a flat rate regardless of the quality ordered but this topic is more about principle than price as is so it doesn’t matter if it’s $45 or $55 so long as the premium rate is being charged.

With that being said, I can’t commit to spending that amount of money on a PPV without knowing how the rest of the main card would look first. I’m “willing” to fork out the necessary cash but only if the circumstances are right, as I appreciate the contributions Emelianenko and Henderson have made to MMA, as well as their remaining abilities, but need more than a headlining bout with their names on it to sell me on a purchase. It’s a super-fight Strikeforce is looking to make out of necessity, not because the public called for the pairing to take place or had ever really asked to see it go down to begin with. Truly, how many folks have expressed a desire to see Emelianeno fight “Hendo” over the past few years in comparison to Brock Lesnar, Josh Barnett, Randy Couture, or Alistair Overeem? Not many.

Henderson needs a summer fight, Strikeforce doesn’t have a clear cut 205-pound contender, and Emelianenko could use a bit of buzz (and the advantage of being larger than his opponent) after being soundly finished in back-to-back fights. It’s a smart choice from a business perspective and I recognize the value of putting the two PRIDE icons together in a cage. However, without some other “must see” match-ups on the card, the value doesn’t equate to $54.95 for a fellow like me whose friends aren’t typically willing to split a PPV bill unless the letters “UFC” are stamped in front.

More impressive performance on Saturday night – Nick Diaz or Gilbert Melendez?

Lambert: I’m going to go with Diaz here for reasons that have nothing to do with Melendez. While “El Nino’s” performance was outstanding, I don’t feel that he fought the best Tatsuya Kawajiri possible. Diaz on the other hand fought his toughest competition in years, and not only did he beat him, but he beat him at his own game. Diaz stood with Paul Daley the entire fight, only going to the ground when Daley took things there, and showed tremendous heart by recovering twice upon being dropped. I thought he was out cold the second time Daley dropped him and yet he regained his composure and continued. Not only that but he finished Daley with strikes, becoming the first person in MMA to accomplish that feat.

Conlan: This question is like asking what scantily clad Victoria’s Secret model walked the runway the best because there is no wrong answer. As such I’ll go with “El Nino” since Lambert already talked up Diaz’s dismantling of Daley.

While the Brit may have never been finished by strikes until running into Stockton’s favorite son, Kawajiri had only been TKO’d once before in a thirty-six fight career including bouts against the cream of his divisional crop. Melendez took a seasoned veteran known for power and tenacity and ran through him like a TUF castoff. The bout also marked another instance of Melendez wiping the floor with a highly respected adversary as was the case in previous bouts against Mitsuhiro Ishida, Josh Thomson, and Shinya Aoki. Additionally, the 29-year old was coming off a yearlong hiatus from the ring yet still performed at another level. Honestly, there was nothing about Melendez’s performance against Kawajiri that wasn’t impressive while Diaz at least took a couple nosedives into the canvas.

Then again, Stockton’s favorite son overcame said adversity to knock out a knockout artist, so maybe it’s best to sing the praises of both teammates rather than saying one was superior because each deserves credit for his showing on Saturday night rather than having any aspect diminished, especially by way of comparison to the other.

What Strikeforce/UFC title-unification bout would you like to see most – Melendez/Edgar, Diaz/St. Pierre, Souza/Silva, Henderson/Jones, or Overeem/Velasquez?

Lambert: After this past weekend, I have to go with Melendez vs. Edgar because I think that fight would be the most competitive. Unlike every other match up on that list, both Melendez and Edgar have been beaten or looked beatable in recent performances, thus creating an atmosphere of “either of these guys can truly win.” They’re also comparable in skill level. Both fight at a high pace, both very good boxers, and both outstanding wrestlers. I think the fight would be a back and forth battle and non-stop action for 25 minutes where both men will have to show their heart and determination to prove that they’re the best fighter at 155.

Conlan: I’ll go a division higher with Diaz and St. Pierre since it presumes GSP retains against Jake Shields later this month. Such a scenario would not only give Diaz the opportunity to avenge a teammate’s loss but would provide “Rush” with a much-needed opponent after having essentially beaten the rest of his relevant peers with 1-2 exceptions like Carlos Condit. Diaz has the boxing to trade with St. Pierre and the grappling to give the French-Canadian trouble after any successful takedowns. It’s also an extremely marketable match-up given the good guy vs. bad guy build the company could sell to the mainstream public. The other unification pairings have the potential to make for some solid fights; Diaz vs. St. Pierre has the makings of an all-time great.

Bigger problem in MMA: Judges or Referees?

Conlan: It could be argued athletic commissions are the larger issue since they are responsible for both of the aforementioned choices but given the two options I’d say judging is in more need of improvement. The opportunity for error will always exist in refereeing due to the fast paced nature of MMA and the stakes involved as far as fighter safety goes but at least the damage is controlled to an extent based on the fairly small number of officials out there. The fewer people used, the better the odds of getting someone who is knowledgeable and also likely passionate about the sport given their weekly dedication to it. They’re also held extremely accountable for their actions by the public and promoters because we see their faces and know their names.

With judging you’re talking about a group most fans couldn’t pick out of a police line-up even after one of their scorecards robs someone of a win in the ring. Their relative anonymity allows them to dish out points as they see fit without ever being taken to task for mistakes. There are also a ton of judges out there yet only a few who serve as repeat customers outside of their regular jurisdiction (and even those folks are sketchy at times). Additionally, there is more interpretation involved with judging than with a referee who has a set rulebook to work from, plus judges are removed from the action rather than knee-deep in it based on where they’re located ringside and don’t always have monitors to work with when watching fights unfold assuming they’re actually paying attention to begin with.

Referees might blow the occasional call or stop things prematurely but judges screw up scoring on a per event basis, as there will inevitably be one individual giving rounds to an undeserving competitor regardless of what bout or event it is. There’s a reason the phrase “don’t let it go to the judges” exists and not “don’t let the referee do his job”.

Lambert: Referees rarely ruin my enjoyment of a good fight. Example – John McCarthy didn’t ruin how much I enjoyed Diaz vs. Daley this past weekend because he may have stopped the fight three seconds to early. On the flip side, judges often ruin my enjoyment of a good fight. I absolutely loved the first Chan Sung Jung vs. Leonard Garcia fight but I absolutely hated the decision. Same can be said for Diego Sanchez vs. Martin Kampmann, Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua #1, and many others. No matter how good a fight is, if the wrong guy is given the victory it just leaves a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. The reason for that is people remember what they see last and if the last thing you see upsets you, you forget about the 15 (or 25) minutes of awesomeness that preceded it.

Are you looking forward to “UFC Primetime” with Georges St. Pierre and Jake Shields?

Conlan: Sure, I enjoy all insight into the preparation process regardless of the involved fighters because I find myself fascinated by MMA in general. I appreciate their sacrifices, respect their mindsets, and enjoy the product they deliver in the end, so the opportunity to learn a few things about two men on the level of St. Pierre and Shields is one I’ll gladly take tonight via the Spike airwaves. Also, I’m not up to date on my “French Rap” collection so there’s that aspect to the special series as well.

I think it’s a good move by the UFC too in the sense it will gives fans some additional exposure to Shields who is an extremely talented, hard-working guy who also happens to be a loving single father in his spare time. Regardless of whether or not he beats St. Pierre at UFC 129 people will know him as more than a guy who eeked out a victory against Kampmann.

Lambert: Honestly, not really. And I’m not even sure UFC is looking forward to it given the lack of promotion they’ve done for this show compared to previews installments of the series. No offense to St. Pierre but we’ve already seen him on this show two times and he was also a coach on a recent season of the Ultimate Fighter. I’m about GSP’d out at this point. He’s a great fighter, scratch that. He’s the most complete fighter in MMA but I can only take him saying, “I train to fight an army” so many times.

The Shields aspect is intriguing because it is a good move by UFC to promote him but after these Primetime shows with GSP, I feel like no matter what Shields does, I’m going to believe in him less than I already do because GSP is that good and trains that hard. A 30 minute piece on Shields during the Countdown show would accomplish just as much, if not more, than a three-week UFC Primetime special.

Given the length of Thiago Silva’s suspension in the wake of his admissions to the NSAC, is honesty always the best policy?

Conlan: Let’s not forget Silva was dishonest from the moment he had steroids injected into his back to his submission of a tampered urine sample and eventual post-fight denial of wrongdoing when reports first surfaced mentioning his omission from the NSAC’s list of cleared UFC 125 fighters. Just because he gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar and decides to cop to the crime while crumbs still line his mouth is no reason to offer him leniency.

To answer the question, yes – honesty is the best policy because being honest would have forced Silva to withdraw from the fight in the first place and consider a new line of work if his health issues prevent him from actively competing as a Mixed Martial Artist. Honesty would have prevented him from doctoring his sample and at least led to the admissions he made last week coming a month sooner.

Lambert: Bren pretty much nailed it. Honesty is the best policy as long as your honest from the get go. While it was stupid of Silva to take illegal drugs in the first place and he was better off just pulling out of the fight, I don’t really hold it against him for taking an illegal substance and then fighting. While it’s not being honest with your self or the “code” of MMA, I think it happens far regularly than reported. But if you’re going to do it and you get caught, just own up to it. Don’t doctor the sample and don’t make up a bunch of excuses, just say, “Yup, I did it. I did it to help me through as injury, it was stupid, it won’t happen again.” People will forgive you if this is your answer (see: Andy Pettitte) but if your answer is anything else, people will never trust you again (see: Roger Clemens).


  • Rece Rock says:

    – I would not pay that much just for that fight… give me one more superfight or oustanding match up and you got yourself a deal…

    -Neither performance was that big of a deal when considering the big picture…They both beat up guys they were supposed to… Both were spectacular finishes yes, did these fights push them to the next level… nah just left more questions of whats next for these under challenged champs.

    – all the unification bouts would be a major draw but I think I would like to see Diaz Vs. GSP… Diaz would be humbled by round 2.

    -Judges are the bigger problem cause they effect the outcome of the fight to a higher degree then the refs… yes a ref can deduct points or possibly stop a fight too early but nothing is worse for fans and fighters then decisions gone wrong…

    -If the primetime is as cool as the UFC 129 commercial then yeah I’m looking forward to it. Sad part
    is the primetime special will be better then the fight… guess i’ll just appreciate the technical side of the fight… oh joy… Hope I’m proven wrong though.

    -Thiago’s best policy going forward should be to think before he acts or opens his mouth… I mean this guy had a rough life and fought to achieve so much to only throw it away over stupidity?? I mean c’mon… wake up! He could be back where he started in the blink of an eye… get your shit together Thiago.

  • Rece Rock says:

    Who do you guys want to see Royce Gracie fight at UFC Rio in August?

  • THEGUNNER says:

    Gracie vs hughs rematch

  • fanoftna33 says:

    I cant think of anybody I want to see fight Gracie, unless they bring in Sakuraba. I agree 100% that if primetime is anywhere near as good as the commericial for GSP vs Shields then it will be awesome.

  • Brendhan Conlan says:

    My preference would be that they feature Gracie in a grappling match rather than a MMA fight. Would be fun to see him and B.J. Penn roll or have a four-man tournament with them and two other comparable BJJ guys (Demian Maia for example).

  • Angry Mike says:

    Melendez was more impressive to me than Nick Diaz. Diaz got dropped twice by a guy who wouldn’t be the top contender in UFC. Diaz is a solid fighter, but I don’t think he’s on the same level as GSP, and I think he’d lose to Fitch, too. On the other hand, Melendez dominated, and his ability to swarm may be the answer to beating Edgar. (I’m high fiving myself on that last line.)

    I might pay for Fedor v. Henderson, but the rest of the card would have to be huge, and it would have to happen soon. In another year or two it’d be the MMA equivalent of the senior tour in golf.

  • MCM says:

    – No. I don’t think Hendo and Fedor carry a card by themselves. Who else is on it thought?

    – Melendez. Cause I don’t watch Diaz fights, and I read that he got dropped a couple time.

    – I know Gilbert needs to fight the cream of the crop in the UFC, but I’m honestly more interested in the Overeem/Cain fight. Too many people rave too much about Overeem (#1 HW *eyeroll*) that I think he needs to fight a legit HW and I’d be interested to see how he does against a powerful wrestler AND striker like Cain.

    – Judges by far are worse. I looked into being a ref and judge in California.
    To be a ref, you need to go through extensive training, learning all the rules of MMA and their deductions, some medical knowledge (to tell if a fighter is unconscious or cut too badly), along with a few other things.
    To be a judge, you’re also trained and supposed to learn most of the rules. But one of the parts of training is to attend a fight and judge it along with the other three judges. You judging is then compared to theirs, and if it varies too much from what the current judges have, then you’re not issued a license. To me, that indicates that it is next to impossible to change judging when to be a judge you have to agree with the current system.

    – I think not cheating is always the best policy, but I’m old school like that.

  • Probably, I work graves so I have to pick and choose what fights I get to watch on saturday nights and provided this was the best card that month, I may take the time to get that night off and watch that card. But only If there were other solid fights on the card.

    Im gonna say Diaz, mainly due to the fact that he got up twice…once after being glanced and being pushed over the first time as his downward ducking motion put him on the mat moreso than the punch, and the other time he was tagged big time, recovered and beat Paul Daley into oblivion. Im truly getting tired of everyone knocking Diaz, a year ago Daley was the next big thing in the UFC and was going to beat Kos and ONLY the fact that Koscheck is a solid wrestler saved us all from watching Daley take on GSP. If Daley isnt as good as he was a year ago, people need to take Thiago Alves off their top ten lists because he’s just a brazilian Daley.

    Im gonna once again go with Diaz vs. GSP once again on my ever present defense of Diaz. People love to point to him being decisioned by Sherk, Karo, Diego and Riggs…what they dont like to mention is Sherk was a former champ at the time with all of two losses on his record(Hughes and GSP) The Karo fight was an ultra close split decision, Riggs was huge and Nick wasnt a shell of the fighter he is now. NOW he’s one of the better boxers in MMA with an intense ground game an iron chin and the experience and will to win. Personally I think after he desposes of Woodley, he should be brought to the ufc where he will promptly whoop Josh Koschecks ass and then be handed a title shot.

    Judges…unless we’re talking specifically about Yves Lavigne. He’s the Cecil Peoples of ref’s.

    Im with MCM, not cheating is the best policy. If you dont cheat there’s nothing to get caught about.

    And Rece….I would love to see Royce grapple or be in an MMA fight with Marc Laimon…see that bad blood from TUF 4 get avenged!

  • Angry Mike says:

    Lamon v Joyce! Outstanding suggestion!

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    “They both beat up guys they were supposed to”

    They both beat up top 10s, 1 comming off a win over J. Thomson and the other coming off wins over Hazlett, Kampmann, Misvidal and Smith. Kawajiri has wins over Edwards, Hansen, Azeredo, JZ, Thomson, Brennen, Ribeiro and others. Diaz is the only fighter to have ever stopped Daley with strikes and Daley has faced Kampmann, Misvidal, Liaudin, Ludwig, Weir and Smith who are all known for striking and/or KO power.
    Honestly if you think that standing and trading with Noons (32-6 in combat sports and both a pro boxer and kick boxer), Daley (a guy with 20 TKO/KOs), Santos, Zaromskis ( 11 of his 12 wins via KO/TKO) and submitting a guy who has only been submitted 4 times in 50 fights is not being challenged or doesn’t prove anything you are foolish to say the least.
    I can’t believe some of you don’t even watch his fights because you don’t like him, speaking of foolish, I guess you can’t comment on him then because you don’t really know WTF you are talking about if you let your feelings for him personally overide your love for the sport. Diaz is 1 of the most exciting fighters in MMA today and has a skill set that is matched by very few. I doubt Diaz would be finished by rd 2 Rece considering Diaz has only been finised once within the time (that wasn’t because of a cut) and GSP is not the biggest finisher having only finished 2 or 3 guys in the last 5 years.
    For those saying he wouldn’t compete against the top in the UFC i say Daley was beating some of the top guys in the UFC and was a UFC top 5er and has improved since losing to Kos in a UFC title contender elimination. Diaz is a top 5 in the world and fight matrix has him at 3.
    By the way they have Melendez at 2 and after wins over Thomson, Aoki, Kawijiri and Ishida and having no unavenged losses in his career and having fought nearly twice as many fights as Edgar and having finished 2 1/2 times as many opponents as Edgar, I think his positon there is justified.

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    By the way yeah Diaz got dropped but he recovered quickly and dropped Daley and won via TKO. Some of you saying this is not impressive also said if he stood with Daley, Daley would KO him.
    So now he wins via strikes you don’t see that as impressive?.
    Perhaps some of you should actually WATCH the damn fight instead of making a pointless protest against Diaz for being naughty by not watching him. It is not like Diaz is Kimbo or some kind of fraud. It is strange that those who don’t like Diaz are always the ones down playing his ability and call for him to go to MW instead of fighting a catch weight. Hmmmm I wonder if there is some kind of bias going on there.
    I hope Overeem fights the “striker” that Cain is. That dude is unreal. I mean he got dropped by Kongo twice,hit Kongo 250 times in the head and Kongo was fine and then there was that comical stoppage in which Rothwell kept standing up as the powerhouse striker that Cain is, was puching him over and over in the head with very little effect (a standing TKO in which the fighter was standing up after a take down? have you ever? the worst stoppage I have ever and will ever see), what a striker he is. i guess he did put away Lesnar after Lesnar ran like a little kid trying to get away from a wasp, a fight which was talked about as if Lesnar had disgraced MMA rather than Cain had proven anything by those unbias MMA critics. I believe Ruten said something about Lesnar not even knowing how to pull gaurd and looking away and shying from punches? An MMA fighter like that belongs in UFC 1 not UFC 100+. i would love to see the UFC fighters able to fight other non-UFC fighters but Overeem will probably never sign the exclusive contract. The most likely to SF vs the UFC fight to happen is… NONE!. They wont happen. No SF champ will face a UFC champ ever … unless they disband either of the 2 organisations. tell me what they have to gain by doing it and I may agree with you but as I see it they have nothing to gain by doing it and quite a bit to lose.

  • MCM says:

    Fuck it, since you’re directing everything at me anyway LOGIC, I’ll bite.

    Saying I don’t watch Diaz is a new thing for me. I have watched Nick Diaz and commented on him. In fact, I spent a lot of time commenting on his beef with Miller, and it got me to thinking….why? I don’t like Diaz personally and I don’t care for his fights. It’s not that I don’t love the sport, but I don’t find it enjoyable to watch him. Now, I don’t know why you watch MMA, but I watch for fun. If I’m not having fun watching a fighter, why would I watch him? Since I decided not to watch him, I have also not commented on him. Look it up, I haven’t said anything since before the Cyborg fight, and I think the worst thing I said about that was that it was a dumb match up made by Coker.

    Cain is 9-0 with 8 TKO/KO’s, he’s been mistaken for a professional kick boxer by pro kick boxers and beaten professional kick boxers. So yes, he’s a striker. He’s also face much, much better MMA competition over the past two years than Overeem. Now Overeem is arguably the best striker in all of MMA not just the the HW division, but he hasn’t been able to showcase his skills in the cage like he did in K-1, especially with the level of fighter he’s been fighting.
    If you look closely, you’ll also notice that in between the words Striker – Wrestler there is a capitalized “AND”. Overeem has never faced, yet alone beaten, anyone with the skills, both of them, of Velasquez. And (see what I did there) I think, as a viewer, it would be fun. It doesn’t matter if it ever happens or not, it’s fun just guessing.

    Fun. It’s a good concept, you should try it out.

  • Mad_Hatter_XX says:

    I don’t think they should have Royce Gracie fight anyone in RIO. What they should do is come up with some sort of award or commendation/lifetime achievement award for his contributions to MMA and BJJ. Have a bunch of students and family come out and just sing his praises. No need putting him in with some young hungry opponent looking to make a name for himself.

    Being on his home turf the crowd would eat it up , chant his name and cheer and everyone would get what they want with out having to see an icon get beat up for no reason.

    AS far an champ vs champ I think any of them in any weight class would make a good fight but, Diaz/GSP and Frankie v. Gil would likely be the best fights of the bunch.

  • First of all..I cant believe that I agree with MMA Logic almost to a T about the Diaz talk and also about the Ben Rothwell stoppage. That was a horrible stoppage second only to the stoppage of Aaron Reiley vs Shane Nelson 1. I also find it strange how nobody ever mentions that the first punch Cain dropped Brock with was straight to the back of his head.

    Now back to my usual self of half arguin and half agreeing with my boy MCM.
    If you watch MMA for the fun of a good fight I dont grasp how you cant absolutely LOVE Nick Diaz. The guy was out there boxing with Robbie Lawler before anyone had ever dared to do such a thing and he dominated him for a round and a half before knocking him out with a gorgeous left hook. Since then he’s gone on to do everything logic said and then some. The guy talks trash and then beats the hell out of one of the most vaunted strikers in MMA today in what would’ve been fight of the year so far(MAAAYYYYYBBBEE second only to Frankie vs. Gray) and also showcased that its not just his pepper punches that he packs, but he can set down on them now and can hurt and stop someone as tough as Daley. Then he shows his true humility and plugs his mentors BJJ school.
    What’s not to like?

    NOW onto the Overeem and Cain hypothesis. It would be awesome and one of those fights where a winner would be so hard to pick. Cain showed his chin by getting buckled by clean punches from Kongo and then went on to dominate a guy who’s only been KO’d by one of the best strikers(and biggest cheaters) in MMA in Yvel. Overeem hasnt fought anyone top tier in awhile and we’ll see his mettle tested against Werdum. In the end I think Cain’s overwhelming pace would get the demolition man, but I for one wanna see it happen as well.

  • Rece Rock says:

    Sry logic but right now I got nobody coming out Of japan as top 10 so Gilbert didn’t beat up a top ten and if crusher is top ten then I guess a guy like Frankie Edgar or Maynard is unstoppable, cause crusher did nothing in that fight but set Japanese mma back yet again…
    And Daley may be top 15 but really who has he beaten as of late some scrubs in bamma and SF

  • I think he’s referring to his crushings of Martin Kampmann and Dustin Hazett.
    Which are pretty legit. Its sad he suckerpunched Kos like the little bitch he is…Could you have imagined a fight betwen Daley and Alves? WHOOOO


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