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Grappling with Issues – 8/24/11

What will it take for Yushin Okami to legitimately beat Anderson Silva? Will Mauricio Rua even the score with Forrest Griffin at UFC Rio? Do you see Pat Curran ever challenging for the UFC‘s featherweight title? Is Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira‘s stance on training with gay fighters an issue fans should be concerned about?

Keyboard warrrrriors….come out to plaaaay-yay!

Welcome to Grappling with Issues, our site’s regular weekly feature highlighting 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.

With the “Summer Series” in his rear-view mirror, how far do you see Pat Curran going as a featherweight?

Lambert: I see him challenging for the Bellator featherweight title in the future.

Alright, with my snarky answer out the of the way, I actually think he’ll fight again before he challenges for the belt because if he decides to wait for the winner of Joe Warren vs. ‘Pitbull’ Freire, he’s going to sit out the entire fall and part of the winter. Given Curran’s age and his clear desire to fight (he’s fought 7 times in 16 months in Bellator), I’m just not sure he’ll sit out the entire portion of Bellator Season 5. When it comes to challenging for the 145 title, I’d favor him against Warren but not against ‘Pitbull’. Even if he doesn’t win the belt though, he’s only 23 (He’ll be 24 in a week), so there’s plenty of time for him to improve and grow as a fighter. By the time he’s 26, he’ll be in the UFC.

Conlan: I see him challenging for a UFC title in the next three years unless Bellator’s contractual hold is that strong. Though I have no idea how many fights he’s still obligated to Bjorn Rebney and crew for, there’s little doubt in my mind Curran is a special talent after watching him cruise through the “Summer Series” while racking up wins over three widely respected opponents. He also holds a victory over Roger Huerta and looked better than Gray Maynard did doing it, plus he went twenty-five hard minutes against Eddie Alvarez who is a “Top 5” lightweight. The sky seems to be the limit for Curran, whose cousin and training partner Jeff Curran has ties to Zuffa, and given that the UFC is still trying to strengthen their 145-pound group I can’t see them passing up on any opportunities to sign the young rising star.

What was your reaction to “Minotauro” Nogueira’s recent statements regarding an aversion to training with homosexuals?

Lambert: Honestly, I didn’t really give them a second thought. I read them, said, “Well, that’s his choice,” and went back to listening to my Taylor Swift CD. A couple of days later, that’s still my stance. It’s his choice. He said he wouldn’t mind having a gay student at his academy but would rather not roll with them. Fine. I don’t think it makes Nogueira a homophobe and I didn’t take the comment as a gay slur or anything. I just look at it as a decision that Nogueira has made.

Conlan: I think his stance is fairly ignorant, but I respect the fact he was willing to speak his mind on the subject, and I’m pretty certain a lot of other fighters feel the same way but are afraid to say it out of fear of the public criticism it would undoubtedly elicit. He also made it clear he felt the same way in regards to grappling with females so I agree with Lambert in the sense that Nogueira isn’t homophobic – he’s just not enlightened.

Other than the big three at the top of the card, what bout at UFC Rio are you most looking forward to?

Lambert: I was working on my preview column for this event and when going through the fights, I realized that this card as a whole isn’t all that special. It’s a lot of Brazilians and most of them seem to be making their UFC debut. It could turn out to be great, and I actually think it will turn out to be great, but on paper I can’t say I’m pumped for anything on the Facebook card and even the Spike TV/undercard leaves something to be desired.

That being said, I’m pretty excited for Dan Miller vs. Rousimar Palhares. I know Miller is on a slide, but I’ve always been a fan of his because he’s a guy that just comes to fight. He’s not flashy, he’s not great at anything, but you know that he’ll stay in your face and won’t go away once the bell rings. Then there’s Palhares, who is one of the best submission grapplers in the sport. Palhares is still looking for that big UFC win, and finishing Miller would be huge, while Miller just needs to win.

Conlan: I think Edson Barboza vs. Ross Pearson has the makings of a terrific fight. Both lightweights are in their mid-twenties, love to strike, and have finished the bulk of the opponents they’ve beaten. Barboza is also undefeated, while Pearson is an Ultimate Fighter winner, so both of those outside factors add another layer of intrigue to the pairing.

What fight would you have headline the first UFC on FOX event?

Conlan: Obviously a lot of it will come down to who is healthy/available, but I’d love to see Vitor Belfort at the top of the card as a tribute to his presence on the UFC’s original offering on a FOX network. For those who don’t remember, “The Phenom” was featured in a headlining bout against Chuck Liddell at UFC 37.5 – a card tied in heavily with “The Best Damn Sports Show Period” on FoxSports. Possible opponents for Belfort could include the loser of this weekend’s match-up between Anderson Silva and Yushin Okami, Wanderlei Silva, or even Tim Kennedy (who is attached to Strikeforce but has publicly lobbied for a shot in the UFC on more than one occasion in the recent past).

Lambert: As my dozens (and dozens) Twitter followers can attest to, I’ve been pushing hard for a Lyoto Machida vs. Dan Henderson and Clay Guida vs. Ben Henderson two fight FOX card. Lorenzo Fertitta stated that, even if there aren’t title fights on the FOX events, the will be very important to the divisions. With the exception of title fights, it doesn’t get anymore important than a #1 contender fight. With my Machida vs. Hendo and Guida vs. Bendo idea, we’d get two #1 contender fights, a chance for 2 new stars to be made in front of millions, and both have the potential to be pretty exciting contests. Let’s make it happen UFC. Hendo/Machida and Bendo/Guida. This discussion is Endo/See ya.

Will “Shogun” Rua avenge his loss to Forrest Griffin this Saturday?

Conlan: I’m not sure I can make a definitive pick until I see which Rua shows up on the scale later this week. When he’s able to put in a full, injury-free camp the explosive Brazilian has been nearly unbeatable. However, the opposite seems to be true in instances where health-related factors have gotten in the way of his training (i.e. the first Griffin fight, his lackluster performance against Mark Coleman, and his title-loss to Jon Jones). If Rua looks fit on Friday then I think the answer to the question is “yes”. If not, I expect Griffin to win his third straight bout and leave the MMA world wondering if “Shogun” – who is only 29– will ever return to the form earning him the distinction of one of MMA’s best light heavyweights.

Lambert: As Bren said, it’s really tough to get a read of Rua nowadays because of his knees. That said, I get paid the big bucks to make picks around here, so I’m going to say that “Shogun” will not avenge his loss to Griffin. The reason is pretty simple: I can’t count on Rua. When he’s on his game, he’s as dangerous as they come in the 205 division with his explosiveness, his technical striking, his power, and his grappling. But when he’s off his game, he’s as beatable as they come in the 205 division with his lethargic approach and wild striking. At least with Griffin, I know he’s going to show up to fight. He might not be great at any one aspects of the game, but he’s a guy who will stay in your face the entire time, even if things aren’t going his way. If Rua can handle that pressure, then could he win. But if he’s not in shape to handle it, he’ll definitely lose.

Fill in the Blank – Yushin Okami will beat Anderson Silva if he can _____.

Conlan: Channel his inner-Chael Sonnen. Okami is a solid wrestler who has the size/takedowns to control Silva on the ground but tends to stand a lot of the time rather than rely on his grappling. He’s never been submitted, a good sign in regards to Sonnen’s stumble against Silva, and has only been finished once in a 31-fight career (approximately eight years ago). If he avoids the temptation to throw caution to the wind in hopes of an exciting conclusion and focuses on purely becoming the one to dethrone Silva no matter how ugly it may look then I think Okami has an above-average chance of becoming middleweight champ.

Lambert: Slow things down. Okami is at his best when things are slow and kind of boring. He’s a grinder in the cage, and Silva hasn’t faced many grinders in his UFC career. Silva is at his best when guys are constantly attacking and fighting at a high pace, because he’s a guy who fights at a high pace. When he gets that “Silva Bounce” going, that’s when he’s ready to attack and he really turn up the pace. Okami can’t allow him to dance around and find his rhythm. He needs to try and put Silva against the cage to take away his hips and movement, and then put him on the ground to take away his striking and power.


  • MCM says:

    Pat Curran – I see him fighting for the UFC belt in less than 2 years

    Nogueira’s statement – Pure ignorance. I won’t even give him “respect” for speaking his mind. Hate is hate no matter how cordial you are about it. I’ve rolled with women, hell I’ve been put in triangle chokes by women, and never once did it become anything close to sexual. I don’t know if I’ve ever trained with a homosexual, but I can’t see how it would be any different for them.

    UFC Rio – gotta go Barboza/Pearson

    Fox Headline- completely agree with Guida/Bendo. This is gonna be an introduction to MMA for a lot of viewers, you wanna put you’re most exciting fighters on this card.

    Rua revenge – People forget that during that first fight, Forrest had a shoulder injury as well. I’ve always thought Forrest had this one in the bag regardless of what Shogun showed up, but with the way he’s been talking about fighting lately, I don’t know if he still has it in him. I think this fight depends more on which Forrest shows up. The one that phoned in a title defence against Rashad, or the one that begged Dana for a shot at the #1 LHW in the world.

    Yushin Okami will beat AS if he can – get him to the ground. Yes Yushin is a grinder, and I’m not opposed to that, but I think he’s got a good chance of TKO’ing Silva if he can get top position. Yushin hits harder than Chael and has pretty damn good GNP. Silva doesn’t have great TD defense and isn’t the best at getting back to his feet. I’ve always thought Okami had a 50/50 shot of beating Silva, we’ll find out this weekend.

  • Spoken says:

    Why is it that Noguiera not wanting to put himself in a situation that he is uncomfortable with all of a sudden considered hate? I have no aversion to homosexuality and personally would have no problem training with a gay man in a completely non-sexual environment, but I am not Nog. He comes from a different place with a different cutlure with different opinions than you and I. That doesn’t equate to hate. I wouldnt’ be at all comfortable walking into a gay bar, so I choose not to go into one. That doesn’t mean I hate the people in that bar.

  • Rece Rock says:

    Pat Curran is what bellator is all about… and he can go as far as he wants as longas he puts in the work.

    Considering Nog is from Brazil which seems to be the home of sexual debatchary I’m surprised he’s not more open to all sexual orienations… hey it’s def. ignorant but I guess it’s his personal choice but he should probably be more cautious how he answers these questions mma fans and practitioners come from all walks of life and it’s not productive to close off different sects of the community.

    Miller vs Palhares will probably be a good one

    I agree with Lambert on the FOX card picks

    I’ll go with Forrest Griffin simply because I’m a fan… and with a win I think this is his last meaningful run at the top of the division

    Yushin Okami will beat Anderson Silva if he can become a Super Saiyan.

    Hey Nog I wanna take you to a gay bar, gay bar, gay bar…. Hey Spoken You’re a superstar, at the gay bar.
    (Lyrics credit: Electric Six)

  • danw84 says:

    I don’t understand how Nog is ignorant just because he doesn’t want to do something that makes him uncomfortable. If he had said he refuses to teach anyone, that would be ignorant and hateful. Some feelings are basically irrational and make people uncomfortable, judging them for it doesn’t help anything.

  • THEGUNNER says:

    The fact that everyone is taking sides on homosexuality is to much already. What happend to dont ask dont tell? This is something I cant relate to or understand. If nog rolled with a guy im sure thats fine but if the grown man comes in with pink tights, high heels, and all glitterd up as if hes trying to be a female maybe thats the problem.

  • adamsfamily says:

    The problem here is professionalism vs opinion. So he will instruct a gay guy but he wont roll? Rolling is part of training. That gives one paying (I assume) student less service than another. Whats next – no muslims? No ginger people?

    If you are in business, and in the business of making money from claiming to be a professional you should keep your opinions to yourself, do your job and if need be – rant about it at home.

    That said – its his ship to go down. So he can do as he likes.

    However – I cant wait for the first out of the closet gay guy to start beating some ass in the octagon..

  • MCM says:

    Spoken – don’t read too much into the word “hate”. I strongly doubt that Nog would condone much less participate in any hostile action towards homosexuals. I wouldn’t put too much emphasis on my use of the word.

    As far as him being “ignorant” and “uncomfortable”, what if he didn’t grow up in Brasil? What if he grew up in an affluent white neighborhood in Orange County where the only people of color he saw were the help? Would it then be acceptable for him to say that he doesn’t want to roll with Black people or Hispanics, or would that be an ignorant point of view?

  • THEGUNNER says:

    U should be the first addams .

  • hindsightufuk says:

    having thought about this i have to say i have never knowingly grappled with a gay guy, i reckon i may be a little dubious at the though of it but i know for sure once the guy got hold of me and tried to choke me unconcious or break my arm i would lose all that thought and just roll with it, shit i may even give him a tug in the shower if he beat me. unless he was ginger. in which case i wouldnt grapple with him. thats going to far. gay. fine. ginger. bollocks.
    and i’m sure this sport is as rife with racists and homophobes and society itself. if we kid ourselves that ‘our’ sport is any better than that we are idiots

    love grappling with women by the way

    except ginger women

  • hindsightufuk says:

    ‘as’ society itself

  • hindsightufuk says:

    i personally am looking forward to Felipe Arantes vs. Yuri Alcantara more than any other fight on the card, its gonna be brutal

  • adamsfamily says:

    Seriously hindsight, wheres the love for Ed Herman, Mark Bocek and Eric red Shafer?

  • Guthookd says:

    I can understand Nog not wanting to roll with homosexuals.

    I don’t like to roll with fat people, blacks, asians, people with developmental disabilities, people from Arizona, or Republicans. I also don’t appreciate midgets on the mat with me, or the blind, and don’t get me started on people who listen to Taylor Swift.


    Kidding. Just kidding. The only type of person I truly dont’ like to roll with is the kind of person who doesn’t wash their strap and rash guard before practice. Stink hurts us all. It feels good to choke a person no matter what kind of person they are…and that’s the truth.

    What will it take for Yushin Okami to legitimately beat Anderson Silva – A MOTHERFUCKING MIRACLE.

  • crane_style says:

    Minotauro is Brazilian, and without sounding like Chael Sonnen, it is a different world. A lot of practices that North Americans might think of as “gay”, i.e. kissing on the cheek, plastic surgery, “Brazilian” wax jobs, the culture is still very much dominated by machismo.

    So, if Minotauro doesN#t want to get sweaty and roll around on a mat with a someone who is gay, I can can understand. It may hurt his futurea as a coach, but at least he’s not being two faced about it.

    However, does he thinks he knows when a fighter is gay? It might not be out in the open, but other pro sports have a gay population and I doubt MMA is any different.

    Just because it’s not in the open, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. It wasn’t so long ago that actors never came out of the closet…

    Looking forward to Palhares vs Miller. Always interesting to watch a fighter try and keep his leg intact.

    A Fox first fight? How about Brock vs. Overeem. That would do a few viewers for a title eliminator.

    Rua will beat Griffin. He was coming off surgery and a long layoff. Forest would have to fight the perfect fight to win, but Shogun has a bunch of ways to beat Griffin.

    Okami beats Silva if he can…go the distance. People all say what awesome condition Silva is in, but when was the last time he looked good in the 4th or 5th round?

  • Guthookd says:

    hindsightufuk – you’re been renamed “ginger”

    You actually make a good point my friend. Gay is fine, but the only reason your class or instructor would know you were gay would be that you’re a fucking idiot about it. If you’re gay, be gay; don’t act like a douche bag. In my experience the few gay people I’ve met have been perfectly normal people and far from interested in straight people. If there’s a gay dude in your BJJ class he’s there to learn how to fight, not to get a date.

  • adamsfamily says:

    hear hear

    My only prejudice I have is for ignorant, rude people. NO shortage of them in all walks of life regardless of race or sexual orientation.
    As it happens the mma community, have met with at events – at least the true fans are mostly switched on people interested in the pursuit of excellence (with violence as a bonus)

  • I see Pat Curran eventually challenging for and possibly holding the UFC FW title. Kids a beast and he’s so young that all he has time to do is improve. I could be wrong, look at joe stevenson.

    I had no reaction, I didnt even know he said that. As far as things go i could care less. If Nog doesnt want to roll with gay people, good for him. He might have said that as a tounge in cheek joke, and somehow its become a serious thing because any and all anti gay, black, brown and truthfully anything but white sentiment is regarded as serious. But its fine to make fun of us honkies..who cares about us right? Either way if his remarks are true then once again at least he’s not being a hypocrite about it and if it starts to hurt his business, then its the consequences he faces. If he chooses to lose out on money because of his own personal feelings that’s his fault.

    Tavares vs. Fisher…both have good standup and both are good on the ground except for wrestling itself. I see an absolute war between those two. comin.

    I hope not. Im pullin for forrest in this one. I just cant vote against the guy even when my better sense tells me to. He comes to fight everytime(except against Silva), He’s entertaining, he’s funny, Im a proud owner of the pair of books he’s written. Now that being said Im with the writers, lets see what Rua shows up. Im not so sure the injuries or the layoffs are what get to Shogun, I think it might be that he like Cro cop, doesnt do well when he’s bullied and guys like Forrest and Jon Jones came running at him. Hell Coleman faired fairly well due to him trying to push Rua at the beginning of things. Rua is one of those guys that i feel has all the ability in the world but once something isnt going his way, he folds. Forrest doesnt have that problem. Im stickin by the original Ultimate Fighter.

    Magically make Anderson drop dead of a heart attack before he gets into the ring. Okami has one way to win this fight and that’s to slow Anderson down and control him against the cage take him down and grind on him. Basically the chael strategy but the problem with that is Okami isnt Sonnen. Sonnen shoots and pushes and insane pace, Yushin plods forwards fights to clinch and then uses his usual size and strength advantage to maul you to the ground. He doesnt have that size or strength advantage against Silva and he certainly doesnt have the speed to shoot from the outside. He might get the Spider down a few times, but in the end the champ will prevail.

    oh and as to when Anderson looked good in the 4th and 5th rounds? Dropping Chael with a single elbow in the 4th and tapping him out in the 5th sound pretty good to me.

  • Spoken says:

    I don’t really think that having an emotional response to a situation, even if it is irrational, qualifies as ingnorance. If a white girl gets raped by a black man as a teenager, and afterwards gets scared when a black man touches her, I wouldn’t consider her racist or ignorant. Its an irrational emotional response that says nothing of her opinion towards that man or the black community. I realize thats a pretty extreme circumstance, but things like that can be triggered by much more subtle events like culture, parenting, trauma, etc. In Nogs case, he has a feeling of discomfort when on the ground with his body pressed against a homosexual man’s. Just an irrational defense of his sexuality.

    Or maybe he’s homophobic, I don’t know. I can only call it like I see it and I didn’t see anything but an expression of what I just described.


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