The puck dropped on the NHL season this past Thursday and I hear that there is some big MMA event this weekend in Texas called UFC 136. While I usually never miss out of a big UFC event, I have to make a slight exception this weekend when the Colorado Avalanche open their season against the Detroit Red Wings. Luckily I have two TVs in my room, so I’ll be able to catch all the action in the cage and on the ice.
With this being a big sports weekend in my house, as my two favorite sports going head to head, it got me thinking about fighters on the UFC 136 main card and who their NHL counterparts would be.
*Frankie Edgar – Mike Richards: Both guys have a ton of heart and give it all they have with every fight/shift. I’m a big fan of Richards and he’s a guy that I would want on my hockey team. Conversely, while I’m not a huge fan of Edgar (although I have nothing against him), he’s a guy I would want in my gym because he works hard and makes his training partners better. Also, both guys are very active. We all know about Edgar’s movement and all-around activity in fights, but Richards is a guy who plays all three zones and contributes on special teams.
Final Reasoning: Heart, activity.
*Gray Maynard – Loui Eriksson: Many hockey fans don’t realize how good Eriksson is because of the team he plays for, just like many MMA fans don’t realize how good Maynard is because of his fighting style. Eriksson is a consistent player in the NHL and a guy you can count on to put up 50-60 points every season. While Maynard isn’t the most exciting fighter in the world, you can’t argue with results. He has wins over good lightweights, is undefeated in the sport, and is a guy you can count on to give you a tough fight.
Final Reasoning: Consistent but under the radar.
*Jose Aldo – Steven Stamkos: Aldo is one of the top five fighters in the sport, he’s young, and he’s exciting to watch. Stamkos is one of the top five players in the sport, he’s young, and he’s exciting to watch. I love watching both guys when they’re in action, not only because I love watching the best in their sport, but because I know they’re going to do something exciting. They can either get it done quickly or methodically and when they’re in action, they’re an absolute treat to watch.
Final Reasoning: Young, talented, exciting.
*Kenny Florian – Joe Thornton: After losing to Maynard at UFC 118, Dana White labeled Florian a “choker.” That’s a term that Thornton has dealt with for awhile during his NHL career. One of the best players in the regular season, Thornton rarely shows up come playoff time. Florian has that same kind of history, getting it done in lesser fights, but coming up short when a title is on the line. Sometimes they show flashes of brilliance under the brightest lights, but the end result is always the same: their hand doesn’t get raised.
Final Reasoning: Doesn’t perform well under pressure.
*Chael Sonnen – Jeremy Roenick: Ok, so Roenick is retired while Sonnen is still fighting, but my initial option for Sonnen, Sean Avery, has actually won a Stanley Cup while Sonnen failed to win the his sports biggest honor. Plus Avery is third line player who is now in the minors. When he played, Roenick was one of the biggest trash talkers he backed it up with his brilliant play on the ice, unless he was facing Patrick Roy. Sonnen is definitely one of the biggest trash talkers in MMA and he usually backs it up in the cage, unless someone wraps their legs around his neck.
Final Reasoning: Talks trash, usually backs it up.
*Brian Stann – Ryan Miller: In 2010, Miller became a hero to all the US hockey bandwagon fans who jumped on during the Olympics with his performance in Vancouver. Stann is of course a real American hero, having served time in the military. As a player, Miller struggled in his early NHL career, found himself in the minors, and has turned into one of the best netminders in the league. As a fighter, Stann struggled at light heavyweight, found himself at Greg Jacksons, and is now a top contender at middleweight.
Final Reasoning: American heroes, found themselves after early struggles.
*Melvin Guillard – Martin St. Louis: MMA fans know all about Guillard’s story. Blessed with the world in potential, “The Young Assassin” went through some hard times in his career before finally living up to that potential in recent years. St. Louis might not have been blessed with Guillard’s psychical talents, standing just 5’8’’ but he was a late bloomer in the sport. He was undrafted, didn’t produce in Calgary and then went to Tampa Bay where he’s gone on to win the MVP award. Like St. Louis, Guillard uses to his speed to burn his opponents.
Final Reasoning: Late bloomers, speed.
*Joe Lauzon – Steve Mason: In his first year in the league, Mason won the rookie of the year award as a goalie and carried the Columbus Blue Jackets to the playoffs for the first time. In his second and third seasons, Mason became a very average goaltender and hasn’t come close to bringing his team back to the playoffs. Sounds a lot like Lauzon, who starts off very fast in the 1st round and then fades in rounds two and three. At least n one calls Mason “Creepy” as a nickname.
Final Reasoning: Starts fast, fades faster.
*Leonard Garcia – Erik Cole: Garcia’s style isn’t pretty but it involves a lot of power and aggression, which leads him to getting decisions that maybe he doesn’t earn. Cole is the same type of player on the ice. He’s a power player who takes the puck to the net and draws penalties because of it. Granted Cole earns those calls while Garcia benefits from blindness, but the style is essentially the same.
Final Reasoning: Powerful, aggressive, earns calls that maybe they shouldn’t.
*Nam Phan – Patric Hornqvist: Both guys are just serviceable in their sport with the ability to surprise you. Hornqvist isn’t well known around the league but he’s the type of player who can score a hat trick in any game even if he hasn’t done anything for weeks. Phan is the type of fighter who can give anyone a solid fight, even though his record isn’t all that great.
Final Reasoning: Serviceable but effective.