/* */ October 2009 - MMA Ratings

October 31, 2009

Dan Henderson: The Bobby Hull of MMA

By E. Spencer Kyte (espencerkyte@mmaratings.net)

Dan Henderson is the Mixed Martial Arts version of Bobby Hull.

For those unfamiliar with the career and biography of "The Golden Jet," Hull was one of the NHL's preeminant stars, sniping goals from the left wing for the Chicago Blackhawks in larger quantities than anyone before him, including Maurice "The Rocket" Richard.

But in 1972, Hull grew unhappy with being chronically underpaid and threatened to sign with the upstart WHL. Even though his contract demands seem unreasonable, the owners banded together, came up with the money and landed one of the marquee names in the sport to help sell their brand.

Dan Henderson is Strikeforce's version of Bobby Hull.

Sure they already have the consensus top heavyweight the sport has to offer in Fedor Emelianenko, but ask anyone invested in the Mixed Martial Arts industry and they'll confirm for you that Joe Smith in Springfield has no idea who "The Last Emperor" is and therefore, his value is somewhat limited.

But thanks to The Ultimate Fighter, even the most casual of MMA fans is fully aware of Dan Henderson, even if only in his capacity as the coach of Team USA in their battle against Team UK.

While Strikeforce has been busy assembling a talented roster, including their recent signing of DREAM Welterweight Grand Prix champion Marius Zaromskis, having a stable full of unknown talents isn't going to convince the average fan to tune in to Showtime.

Though names like Emelianenko, Mousasi and Shields may be the true mark of talent in the organization, Henderson is without question the biggest name outside of the hardcore fans. He is a fighter that people who spend minimal amount of time reading blogs like this can name and a recognizable addition that could bring new fans to the growing organization.

At this stage in their development - and Strikeforce is still very much in the developmental stage and not yet near equal footing with the monolith that is the UFC - acquiring names to attract fans is part of the plan. Why else do you think the UFC was signing everyone under the sun over the summer? It sure wasn't to capitalize on all the Phil Baroni merchandise sales...

But now, the UFC is taking an undoubtedly well-calculated risk, as fellow Bleacher Report writer Darren Wong accurately broke down in his most recent effort. For them, Henderson is not worth the large financial commitment he is seeking, as despite his name recognition, he is not a major PPV draw.

With Henderson, Strikeforce gains the one thing they need most right now: a recognizable name that can draw the attention of casual MMA fans away from the UFC vacuum. Once you're watching, the even more talented members of the roster have the capability to captivate you.

Henderson wasn't heading into this round of contract negotiations with the intention of becoming the MMA version of Bobby Hull. Up until ten days ago, he still believed a deal could be worked out with the UFC and a change of address would not be necessary.

Bobby Hull probably thought the same thing when he told the Chicago Blackhawks he would leave if they didn't pay him what he thought he was worth.

But "The Golden Jet" flew to Winnipeg, bringing name recognition to the otherwise unknown World Hockey Association.

Can Dan Henderson do the same for Strikeforce?


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October 30, 2009

For The UFC, Less Could Mean More

By E. Spencer Kyte (espencerkyte@mmaratings.net)

When news broke earlier in the week that Brock Lesnar was forced to pull out of his UFC 106 title defense against Shane Carwin, Mixed Martial Arts writer Josh Nason asserted that the sudden shift in schedules highlighted a bigger UFC problem: too many events.

Let's make one thing clear right off the top: the chances of the UFC deciding that they're running too many pay-per-view events in a year are about the same as Bob Arum and Bernard Hopkins being next year's inductees into the UFC Hall of Fame.

But hypothetically speaking, what would 2009 have looked like if the UFC cut the number of shows in half, combining cards and assembling stronger lineups?

While the company bank accounts would be a little lighter thanks to seven less opportunities to collect $50 from thousands of people, fight fans would have been treated to some seriously stacked shows.

January - UFC 93 / UFC 94

Georges St-Pierre vs. BJ Penn for the UFC Welterweight Title
Rich Franklin vs. Dan Henderson
Lyoto Machida vs. Thiago Silva
Mark Coleman vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua
Stephan Bonnar vs. Jon Jones

Preliminary Card to feature Jeremey Horn, Rousimar Palhares, Alan Belcher, Marcus Davis, Chris Lytle, Nathan Diaz, Clay Guida and Jon Fitch.

March - UFC 95 / UFC 96

Quinton "Rampage" Jackson vs. Keith Jardine
Diego Sanchez vs. Joe Stevenson
Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Shane Carwin
Nate Marquardt vs. Wilson Gouveia
Josh Koscheck vs. Paulo Thiago

Also featuring Dan hardy, Demian Maia, Chael Sonnen, Junior dos Santos, Gray Maynard, Brandon Vera and Kendall Grove.

May - UFC 97 / UFC 98

Anderson Silva vs. Thales Leites for the UFC Middleweight Title
Rashad Evans vs. Lyoto Machida for the UFC Light Heavyweight Title
Chuck Liddell vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua
Matt Hughes vs. Matt Serra
Sean Sherk vs. Frankie Edgar

Also featuring Cheick Kongo, Luis Arthur Cane, Nate Quarry, Dennis Kang, Chael Sonnen, Dan Miller, Brock Larson and Kryzsztof Soszynski.

July - UFC 99 / UFC 100

Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir for the UFC Heavyweight Title
Georges St-Pierre vs. Thiago Alves for the UFC Welterweight Title
Dan Henderson vs. Michael Bisping
Rich Franklin vs. Wanderlei Silva
Marcus Davis vs. Dan Hardy

Also featuring Mirko Cro Cop, Mike Swick, Ben Saunders, Spencer Fisher, Jon Fitch and the debut of Yoshihiro Akiyama.

September - UFC 101 / UFC 102

BJ Penn vs. Kenny Florian for the UFC Lightweight Title
Randy Couture vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Anderson Silva vs. Forrest Griffin
Keith Jardine vs. Thiago Silva
Nate Marquardt vs. Demian Maia

Also featuring Chirs Leben, Brandon Vera, Ed Herman, Ricardo Almeida and Brandon Vera.

November - UFC 103 / UFC 104

Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua for the UFC Light Heavyweight Title
Rich Franklin vs. Vitor Belfort
Cain Velasquez vs. Ben Rothwell
Mirko Cro Cop vs. Junior dos Santos
Tyson Griffin vs. Hermes Franca

Also featuring Martin Kampmann, Josh Koscheck, Joe Stevenson, Anthony "Rumble" Johnson and Yushin Okami.

You wouldn't find many people complaining about putting out some of their hard-earned for fight cards with multiple title fights and the collection of creations pushing two cards together would have yielded.

As much as the UFC is clearly the big dog in the Mixed Martial Arts yard, there is no denying that they're currently in a bit of a crunch when it comes to finding names for the top of the marquee.

No disrespect to any of the four fighters set to headline the next two events, but are Randy Couture vs. Brandon Vera and Tito Ortiz vs. Forrest Griffin really the kind of fights that are going to sell pay-per-views and put more butts in seats than normal?

While UFC 106 would certainly do far better with the inclusion of the Lesnar - Carwin title fight, the fact of the matter is that Josh Nason is right; the UFC has been going so hard for so long that they're at a stage where one injury can take a card from being a "must-see" to a "you-must-be-kidding-me" event.

Even combining the two November events the way they stand now doesn't yield one of the best cards of the year, with or without a contracted schedule. Here's how it would look:

Randy Couture vs. Brandon Vera
Tito Ortiz vs. Forrest Griffin
Mike Swick vs. Dan Hardy
Josh Koscheck vs. Anthony "Rumble" Johnson
Michael Bisping vs. Denis Kang

While all of those are somewhat interesting fights, it's not a card that 600,000 people would spend $50 on, is it? Though 600,000 is a respectable number of PPV buys, the goal is to keep getting bigger and bigger and events with one or two truly engaging fights isn't the way to achieve that growth.

Opponents to this line of thinking will argue that a reduced number of pay-per-view shows would create less opportunities for the fighters who call the middle of the pack home and to an extent, that is correct.

Though they wouldn't have as many opportunities on PPV, cutting back on the multi-million dollar spectacles would free up a large chunk of change to expand the Fight Night brand or create a new avenue to introduce those fighters.

Truthfully, the casual fans aren't tuning into a UFC pay-per-view event to see Kendall Grove versus Ricardo Almeida anyway, so why not give them a chance to shine and gain exposure for free, while showcasing the best the company has to offer when you're asking the fans to open their wallets?

The evidence of potential success is there, as some of the more criticized cards of the year (UFC 97, UFC 102) get an impressive pick-me-up from their contracted companion. The Anderson Silva - Thales Leites fight would certainly have been a lot easier to stomach if it followed Lyoto Machida winning the Light Heavyweight title, while the Hughes - Serra grudge match would have fit perfectly as the #3 or #4 fight on the same card, instead of being a boring co-main event at UFC 98.

Does anyone actually expect the UFC to decide to reduce the number of mass moneymaking opportunities they offer each year?

Of course not, but in turn, the UFC shouldn't be surprised if fans decide to hold onto their money for a month or two, waiting for a truly great card like UFC 108 looks like it could be, while skipping the mediocre match-ups being offered in between.

More often than not, quality will win out over quantity or like my mom used to tell us all the time, "Sometimes, less is more."


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October 29, 2009

Welcome to the Official MMA Ratings Store


MMA Ratings, your source for in depth MMA analysis and opinion, and your only source for fight and event rankings, is now bringing you the best in MMA clothing and fight gear.

Make MMA Ratings your source for all your MMA gear and clothing. Our store is owned and operated by MMA fighters and fans who want to share their enthusiasm and love for the sport with our customers. Our passion is reflected in our store, and in the performance you can expect in all our products and in your shopping experience.

Special thanks to Scott Miller with a MMAadnet for his help with designing our new logo and banners. They really go the extra mile!

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October 27, 2009

Breaking down Machida vs Rua

Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio 'Shogun' RuaBy Eric Kamander

Yesterday I brought up the appearance of impropriety as the UFC's, and MMA's, single biggest obstacle. And specifically I was referring to this appearance as the result of inconsistent, or even faulty, officiating. As I mentioned it seems that after every event there is some controversy over the refereeing or judging. But how much of that is the fault of the officials, and how much is simply a matter of ambiguous rules. For now let's take a look at that some of the ambiguity that goes into judging for fans and officials alike.

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October 26, 2009

The UFC's biggest obstacle is evident at UFC 104

Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio 'Shogun' RuaBy Eric Kamander Subscribe to Articles by Eric Kamander

At this past weekend's UFC 104 I think we had a look at the single biggest obstacle facing the UFC today in their effort of constant expansion. While the main event was filled with controversy, it didn't start with Shogun's questionable loss the to The Dragon.

Let's look at some of the preliminary fights that were not scheduled to be televised. The airing Chael Sonnen vs. Yushin Okami was questioned and it was suggested that they could have shown Kyle Kingsbury vs. Razak Al-Hassan. And the topic of Zuffa's nefarious motives for making and airing fights are frequently discussed. I usually despise such talk, but this is the one case where I agree that Zuffa had a motive, but I definitely support it. And this touches on a few topics.

Sonnen vs. Okami was an entertaining fight. Far better than anything I ever expected from this matchup a "lay and pray wrestler" vs. "a slow starter." This fight really answered questions about the contendership of the middleweight division. I'm personally happy about the results as I've always felt Okami never deserved a title shot and was actually over hyped as a result of his DQ win against Anderson Silva and a result of the hype that always occurs any time a title shot is announced.

Put aside whether or not Okami actually deserved a title shot. When you consider the amount of talk of Zuffa improperly keeping Okami from a title shot, despite the fact that there have been many extenuating factors involved in Okami's lack of a title fight, it is perfectly reasonable that Zuffa choose to televise this fight. It answers questions to address the legitimacy of their match making.

On the flip side Kingsbury vs. Al-Hassan was a questionable decision and I think one agenda Zuffa has demonstrated is a reluctance to release (not just not televise) questionable officiating - and rightly so.

We always talk about other promotions competing with Zuffa, but the single biggest obstacle Zuffa has to be wary of is one which they have little control over: the appearance of impropriety. If the general public gets the impression that mixed martial arts is fixed, it will turn off the masses and the UFC.

Many people have decided that MMA is a sham after the scoring of the Machida/Rua fight. It seems that after every event the one constant is that there was some officiating mishap. While the Zuffa brass work internally to try and address this very legitimate concern as best they can, it makes perfect sense that, when given the option, they choose not to release a fight that only exacerbates the problem.

What Zuffa can do to actually address questionable officiating is a bigger issue, but take a look at the UFC 104 post event press conference and Cecil Peoples explanation for why he scored the Machida/Rua fight the way he did.


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October 25, 2009

Dream 12: The Cage of the Rising Sun

Dream 12Click the stars to rate how good you think this was.

Dream 12: The Cage of the Rising Sun, promoted by Fighting and Entertainment Group, took place October 25 at the Osaka Castle Hall in Osaka, Japan. The event marked the first time Dream used a hexagon cage. Fights consisted of three five-minute rounds, as used in the North American system, though elbows will remained illegal. HDNet broadcast the event live in the United States.

Picks and Predictions for Dream 12: Caged Heat

MatchWinnerLoserMethodRoundTime
1Tomoya MiyashitaKeisuke FujiwaraDecision (Unanimous)35:00
2Kuniyoshi HironakaWon Sik ParkTKO (Eye Injury)15:00
3Yoshiro MaedaChase BeebeSubmission (Rear-Naked Choke)13:36
4Dong Sik YoonTarec SaffiedineDecision (Split)35:00
5Katsuyori ShibataTokimitsu IshizawaTKO (Punches)14:52
6Kazushi SakurabaZelg GalesicSubmission (Kneebar)11:40
7Marius ZaromskisMyeon Ho BaeKO (Head Kick)10:19
8Eddie AlvarezKatsunori KikunoSubmission (Arm-Triangle Choke)23:42
9Alistair OvereemJames ThompsonSubmission (Guillotine Choke)10:33

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Dream 12 - 9. Alistair Overeem vs. James Thompson

Heavyweight bout: Alistair Overeem defeated James Thompson via submission (guillotine choke) at 0:33 of round 1.

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Dream 12 - 8. Eddie Alvarez vs. Katsunori Kikuno

Lightweight bout: Eddie Alvarez defeated Katsunori Kikuno via submission (arm triangle choke) at 3:42 of round 2.

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Dream 12 - 7. Marius Zaromskis vs. Myeon Ho Bae

Welterweight bout: Marius Zaromskis defeated Myeon Ho Bae via KO (Head Kick) at 0:19 of round 1.

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Dream 12 - 6. Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Zelg Galesic

Middleweight bout: Kazushi Sakuraba defeated Zelg Galesic via submission (kneebar) at 1:40 of round 1.

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Dream 12 - 5. Katsuyori Shibata vs. Tokimitsu Ishizawa

Middleweight bout: Katsuyori Shibata defeated Tokimitsu Ishizawa via TKO (Punches) at 4:52 of round 1.

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Dream 12 - 4. Dong Sik Yoon vs. Tarec Saffiedine

Middleweight bout: Dong Sik Yoon defeated Tarec Saffiedine via split decision.

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Dream 12 - 3. Yoshiro Maeda vs. Chase Beebe

Featherweight bout: Yoshiro Maeda defeated Chase Beebe via submission (rear naked choke) at 3:26 of round 1.

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Dream 12 - 2. Kuniyoshi Hironaka vs. Won Sik Park

Lightweight bout: Kuniyoshi Hironaka defeated Won Sik Park via TKO (Corner Stoppage) at 5:00 of round 1.

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Dream 12 - 1. Tomoya Miyashita vs. Keisuke Fujiwara

Featherweight bout: Tomoya Miyashita defeated Keisuke Fujiwara via unanimous decision at 5:00 of round 3.

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Dream 12: The Cage of the Rising Sun (Predictions)

Dream 12Click the stars to rate how good you think it will be.

Dream 12: The Cage of the Rising Sun, promoted by Fighting and Entertainment Group, is to take place October 25 at the Osaka Castle Hall in Osaka, Japan. The event will mark the first time DREAM has used a hexagon cage. Fights will consist of three five-minute rounds, as used in the North American system, though elbows will remain illegal. HDNet will broadcast the event live in the United States.

Picks and Predictions for Dream 12: Caged Heat

Middleweight bout: Kazushi Sakuraba (184.8) vs. Zelg Galesic (187)
Welterweight bout: Marius Zaromskis (167.2) vs. Ho Bae Myeon(166.8)
Middleweight bout: Tarec Saffiedine (182.6) vs. Dong Sik Yoon (184.8) *
Featherweight bout: Chase Beebe (138.6) vs. Yoshiro Maeda (138.2)
Lightweight bout: Eddie Alvarez (153.6) vs. Katsunori Kikuno (154)
Featherweight bout: Keisuke Fujiwara (138.2) vs. Tomoya Miyashita (138.6)
Middleweight bout: Katsuyori Shibata (183.3) vs. Tokimitsu Ishizawa (183.3)
Lightweight bout: Kuniyoshi Hironaka (154) vs. Won Sik Park (154)
Heavyweight bout: Alistair Overeem (253) vs. James Thompson (277.2)

* Dong Sik Yoon will face Tarec Saffiedine, who replaces Paulo Filho after Filho failed to show up.

Preceding the official announcement of Dream 12, an unverifiable video showing a postcard advertisement for the event was posted on YouTube on August 10, 2009. Depicting the official date, location, time, and ticketing information for the event, the postcard, similar in appearance, and style to previous Dream handouts, displayed what could be an accurate representation of potential participants for the event on it's flipside.

On August 21, 2009, a brief promotional video for Dream 12 appeared on the official Dream YouTube channel. In the video, footage of a production meeting with Event Producer Keiichi Sasahara is intertwined with fight footage from previous Dream events.

ufc-betting

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October 24, 2009

UFC 104: Machida vs. Rua

UFC 104Click the stars to rate how good you think it was.

UFC 104: Machida vs. Shogun was held on October 24, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. As with UFC 103, a portion of the preliminary card aired live and commercial-free during an hour long block on Spike.

Sherdog Play-by-Play UFC 104 Play-by-Play
Picks and Predictions for UFC 104: The Machida Era
Sherdog preview UFC 104 Preview: The Main Card, The Prelims

MatchWinnerLoserMethodRoundTime
1Stefan StruveChase GormleySubmission (Triangle Choke)14:04
2Kyle KingsburyRazak Al-HassanDecision (Split)35:00
3Jorge RiveraRob KimmonsTKO (Punches)31:53
4Chael SonnenYushin OkamiDecision (Unanimous)35:00
5Patrick BarryAntoni HardonkTKO (Punches)22:30
6Ryan BaderEric SchaferDecision (Unanimous)35:00
7Anthony JohnsonYoshiyuki YoshidaTKO (Punches)10:41
8Joe StevensonSpencer FisherSubmission (Elbows)24:03
9Gleison TibauJosh NeerDecision (Unanimous)35:00
10Cain VelasquezBen RothwellTKO (Punches)20:58
11Lyoto MachidaMauricio RuaDecision (Unanimous)55:00

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UFC 104: Machida vs. Rua - 11. Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio Rua

Light Heavyweight Championship bout: Lyoto Machida defeated Mauricio “Shogun” Rua via unanimous decision (48-47, 48-47, 48-47) to retain the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship.

Fightmetric TPR Report FightMetric TPR Report

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UFC 104: Machida vs. Rua - 10. Cain Velasquez vs. Ben Rothwell

Heavyweight bout: Cain Velasquez defeated Ben Rothwell via TKO (punches) at 0:58 of round 2.

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UFC 104: Machida vs. Rua - 9. Gleison Tibau vs. Josh Neer

Catchweight (157 lb) bout: Gleison Tibau defeated Josh Neer via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28).

The fight will be held at a catch-weight of 157 pounds as both fighters failed to make their original contracted weight of 155 pounds.

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UFC 104: Machida vs. Rua - 8. Joe Stevenson vs. Spencer Fisher

Lightweight bout: Joe Stevenson defeated Spencer Fisher via TKO (strikes) at 4:03 of round 2.

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UFC 104: Machida vs. Rua - 7. Anthony Johnson vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida

Catchweight (176 lb) bout: Anthony Johnson defeated Yoshiyuki Yoshida via (TKO (strikes) at 0:41 of round 1.

Yoshida agreed to a catchweight after Johnson weighed-in at 176lbs.

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UFC 104: Machida vs. Rua - 6. Ryan Bader vs. Eric Schafer

Light Heavyweight bout: Ryan Bader defeated Eric Schafer via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-26, 30-27).

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UFC 104: Machida vs. Rua - 5. Patrick Barry vs. Antoni Hardonk

Heavyweight bout: Patrick Barry defeated Antoni Hardonk via TKO (strikes) at 2:30 of round 2.

Patrick Barry and Antoni Hardonk were each awarded $60,000 bonuses for Fight of the Night. Patrick Barry was awarded a $60,000 bonus for Knockout of the Night.

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UFC 104: Machida vs. Rua - 4. Chael Sonnen vs. Yushin Okami

Middleweight bout: Chael Sonnen defeated Yushin Okami via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

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UFC 104: Machida vs. Rua - 3. Jorge Rivera vs. Rob Kimmons

Middleweight bout: Jorge Rivera defeated Rob Kimmons via TKO (strikes) at 1:53 of round 1.

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UFC 104: Machida vs. Rua - 2. Kyle Kingsbury vs. Razak Al-Hassan

Light Heavyweight bout: Kyle Kingsbury defeated Razak Al-Hassan via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).

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UFC 104: Machida vs. Rua - 1. Stefan Struve vs. Chase Gormley

Heavyweight bout: Stefan Struve defeated Chase Gormley via submission (triangle choke) at 4:04 of round 1.

Stefan Struve was awarded a $60,000 bonus for Submission of the Night.

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UFC 104: Machida vs. Rua (Predictions)

UFC 104Click the stars to rate how good you think it will be.

UFC 104: Machida vs. Shogun is to be held on October 24, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. As with UFC 103, the UFC announced a portion of the preliminary card will air live and commercial-free during an hour long block on Spike. Currently, the Ryan Bader vs. Eric Schafer and Antoni Hardonk vs. Patrick Barry fights will be shown on Spike in the U.S and ESPN in the UK.

UFC President Dana White originally confirmed that the winner of the Shane Carwin vs. Cain Velasquez fight will become the #1 Contender for Brock Lesnar's UFC Heavyweight Championship, however, on August 20 it was reported the bout was off and that Carwin would fight Lesnar at UFC 106 instead and Velasquez will fight against Ben Rothwell.

Picks and Predictions for UFC 104: The Machida Era
Sherdog preview UFC 104 Preview: The Main Card, The Prelims

Chase Gormley who was slated to face Ben Rothwell will instead face Stefan Struve. An injured Sean Sherk will be replaced by Josh Neer.

UFC 104 Weigh-ins:
Lyoto Machida (202.5) vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (204.5)
Cain Velasquez (238) vs. Ben Rothwell (265)
Gleison Tibau (157) vs. Josh Neer (156.5) *
Joe Stevenson (155.5) vs. Spencer Fisher (155)
Anthony Johnson (176) vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida (170) **
Ryan Bader (205.5) vs. Eric Schafer (205.5)
Antoni Hardonk (249.5) vs. Patrick Barry (237)
Yushin Okami (185) vs. Chael Sonnen (185)
Jorge Rivera (185) vs. Rob Kimmons (185)
Kyle Kingsbury (205.5) vs. Razak Al-Hassan (204.5)
Stefan Struve (243.5) vs. Chase Gormley (262)

* The Tibau-Neer fight will be held at a catch-weight of 157 pounds. Both fighters failed to make their original contracted weight of 155 pounds.
** Johnson vs. Yoshida will be held at 176 pounds after Johnson missed weight.

ufc-betting

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MMA World Expo

By Eric Kamander (EricKamander@mmaratings.net)

I just came back from New York City's first ever World MMA Expo.

It was filled with the usual things you would expect at this sort of event: grappling demonstrations, MMA clothing merchants, supplement dealers, scantily clad ring girl wannabees. Overall I have to say the whole things was a bit unimpressive. That said I still had a good time for the few hours I hung around.

Wanderlei Silva was there all day signing autographs in an octagon, and the line out side it was so long I think it might have taken me that long to get one. I settled for this picture from outside the cage.

I talked to Rich Clementi for a while. He was really cool. He has a fight coming up in Cage Wars. I asked him about the fight between Anthony Johnson and Yoshiyuki Yoshida at UFC 104 tonight (considering that Rich submitted Anthony Johnson at UFC 76). He was pretty down on Johnson for not making weight, but he predicted that Johnson will still knock out Yoshida, as this was why the fight was made. I'm glad I got to tell him that I for one enjoyed his fight with Gray Maynard (and that's the truth).

I met Phil Nurse, the trainer from Jackson's Fighting Systems who recently appeared in an episode of The Ultimate Fighter. He was really nice. I wanted to ask him if he would take a picture with me rubbing Vaseline on my chest, but after watching the Muay Thai demonstration he had done earlier I didn't think it was a good idea.

I got to meet Scott Jorgensen, who is currently ranked #10 in MMA Ratings' Bantamweight Rankings. Another cool guy, which I already new from his recent interview posted on MMA Ratings. It was good to meet him and let him know that all of us here at MMA Ratings thought he won that fight with Antonio Banuelos.

While I was there I met with Dr. Silk. He gave me a free posture check and realignment. It was all good. But I have to say that Miguel Charles from 24/7 Bodyworks, the man in the picture, really worked some magic on my back and gave me some words of wisdom that I really appreciated. I highly recommend looking him up if you have some back or neck pain!

When you're hitting the heavy bag, do you ever wish that the bag would move like a real opponent? Like when you throw a kick and then you have to step back and reset? I always wished I had a heavy bag that would move around when you hit it. Well these guys over at GlideBoxx have made that machine. If you look at the contraption holding the heavy bag, it allows the bag to move in every direction and adjustable bungees let you modify the give. We all tried it out and it works exactly like you would hope. Kudos to them.

There were also some cool Muay Thai, BJJ and Judo demonstrations. I was originally planning on going tomorrow, but I think I'll take my kids to the zoo if the weather holds up.


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October 23, 2009

Picks and Predictions for Dream 12: Caged Heat

By Nicholas Bailey (nbailey@mmaratings.net)

Dream 12 represents Fight Entertainment Group's concession to the modern age of MMA, adopting the cage (and no, they are not the first Japanese promotion to do so) and the standard three fives round system (and they are the last Japanese promotion to do so, Guy Mezger's disinformation campaign aside). While it is great to see ace fighters get a chance to fight in a proper venue (and don't even try to argue otherwise; the ring is wrong, end of story), it's frustrating to see that most of the top talent in the promotion will not be on this card, which features a lot of squash matches and filler fights that aren't even worth talking about. Fortunately, we at least have a few relevant and interesting bouts (Kikuno/Alvarez and Beebe/Maeda)in addition to the gross splatterfests we're sure to get from Overeem and Galesic.


Alistair Overeem (-1200) vs. James Thompson (+900)

BestFightOdds.com
Overeem is perfectly insulated here. He obviously outmatches Thompson, but Overeem’s shoddy chin has been an equalizing factor throughout his career. However, Thompson, as big as he is, is a very light puncher with an even worse chin, so chances are he won’t survive one of the 260-lb Overeem’s improved punches to throw back, and even if he does throw, he is such a bad puncher that it probably won’t land, and even if it does, it probably won’t be hard enough to rattle even Overeem.

So then, Overeem will either decapitate him with enormous punches or simply guillotine him to death after Thompson rushes into a clinch. Silliness all around, then. I guess Overeem needed this kind of fight to continue rehabbing his “injury” that has been keeping him out of Strikeforce. At least fans will get a chance to view the ever-improving physique and skill set of Overeem, who managed to pack on 30lbs of muscle over about 15 months while simultaneously learning to punch correctly. Alistair Overeem by KO round 1.

Some were taking Overeem at -700, but even then I feel that was far too much chalk to lay down for a fighter that’s had as much trouble remaining consistent as Overeem.


Zelg Galesic (-155) vs. Kazushi Sakuraba (+138)

BestFightOdds.com
This is a fight where neither man is capable of standing up to the other’s offense. Galesic is brilliant offensively, with brutal strikes of all sorts, but he’s a boom or bust fighter. He doesn’t have fantastic gas, and he trains for groundfighting at a kickboxing gym or something, so he either decapitates his opponent or falls over and gets submitted. Sakuraba obviously has the submission chops to exploit this, but he’s a very broken down old man that’s had brain problems. He has no chin anymore, and with his knees at about a Frank Shamrock level (that is, more shot that your typical Die Hard bad guy), he’ll have trouble completing takedowns on an athletic young man, even if Galesic can’t wrestle very well.

So, Halloween will come early this year, with Galesic wreaking untold horrors on a stiff and prone Sakuraba, making it all the more irresponsible when Dream tries to book him against Bob Sapp on New Years. Zelg Galesic by KO round 1.

If you follow my twitter, you might have been able to get on Galesic at +110, or at least -105, which represents an excellent bet, especially since you can make it risk-free with the current odds on Sakuraba. I’d suggest doing that, since you never know what kind of shenanigans can happen in Japan surrounding one of their stars, and Sakuraba does still have legitimate submission skills Zelg lacks.


Marius Zaromskis (-370) vs. Myeon Ho Bae (+300)

BestFightOdds.com
Zaromskis, despite his killer run through Dream’s welterweight tournament, is still a much more gifted offensive fighter than defensive, so if Myeon gets into the driver’s seat early he has a legitimate shot at picking up the win. Let’s not forget that Ikemoto took this guy to a competitive decision not too long ago. That said, Myeon Ho Bae is woefully unprepared for this kind of offense. Fighting primarily in the Mars promotion against low-level competition, he simply hasn’t ever dealt with someone that brings the kind of firepower Zaromskis does. He’s a tough fighter, but he isn’t tough enough to survive headkicks like Marius throws, so he’ll only be competitive until he gets tagged, at which point it will be all downhill. Marius Zaromskis by TKO round 1.


Chase Beebe (-140) vs. Yoshiro Maeda (+113)

BestFightOdds.com
A close, competitive fight, which is about the last thing Chase Beebe needs after being completely burglarized in the decision “loss” to Mike Easton a few weeks ago. Maeda has well-rounded skills, especially his striking. Beebe can probably hang on the feet, but his biggest advantage is in his wrestling and positional grappling. The fight will be nip-and tuck throughout, but Beebe should be able to take the more dominant positions and work from there. Beebe also has the advantage in that Maeda is more prone to making errors that get him finished, so if Chase stays aggressive and pressures Maeda, he might give up a submission or catch a big strike and go down hard. Chase Beebe by decision.

While I feel Beebe should be more than a -140 favorite, I also think that the likelihood of this fight going to decision introduces more variables than I’d like to see. Dream is experimenting with a lot of rule changes here, and experimentation leads to questionable decisions, so it really is a toss-up what the judges will see in a fight here, so I am staying away.


Eddie Alvarez (-355) vs. Katsunori Kikuno (+300)

BestFightOdds.com
This fight is too much too soon for Kikuno. The guy has a very interesting style, with the robot-stiff upper-body and wide Karate stance, and it’s hard to beat kicking someone’s guts in with a crescent kick as a “finishing move”, but Alvarez is just too much for him, experience wise. Anyone that can get repeated hard knockdowns on Joachim Hansen has an enormous amount of power in his hands, although Eddie doesn’t have a fantastic chin, so if he lands on Kikuno, it will likely be game over for the Karate fighter. However, Andre Dida is a better striker than Alvarez and similarly has enormous power, and Kikuno handled him easily. However, in his Bellator fights, Alvarez worked on his game by showing off the takedown/ground and pound game that he used when he was first fighting professionally. Kikuno won’t be able to defend against that, as he is still very green on the floor, so Alvarez will be able to ride him to a decision if he fights a smart fight, especially in a cage. Eddie Alvarez by decision.

If you’re a big Karate fanboy, you can do much worse than betting on Kikuno at +300, and I really think he could handle Eddie on the feet if Alvarez tried to make this a K-1 max bout, but I will stay off, with better bets available this weekend.

My Plays:
2u on Zelg Galesic at (+110) to win 2.2u

Place your bets:
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October 22, 2009

WADA Prohibited Substances

World Anti-Doping AgencyBy Katrina Belcher (KatrinaBelcher@mmaratings.net)

Sadly, we occasionally hear that another MMA fighter has tested positive for an illegal substance - like steriods or marijuana.

Some fighters, like Nick Diaz, admit to drug use. Diaz says smoking marijuana is part of his plan as it helps him to be “more consistent about everything.” Not much we can do about Nick; if he smokes the stuff, he won’t get to fight, period.

But then there are the fighters like Josh Barnet who claim the results of his test, showing he tested positive for steroids, are inaccurate.

Many fans were excited about the anticipated fight between Josh Barnett, and Fedor Emelianenko, who were scheduled to go toe-to-toe on Affliction's fight card in Anaheim, California this past summer (August 1, 2009.)

After he tested positive for an anabolic steroid, the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) announced Barnett would not receive a license to fight. Many people even claim this was the final straw that broke Affliction’s back.

Sadly, Barnett has previously failed mandatory drug tests, and in fact he was stripped of the UFC heavyweight title in 2002 after a positive test for boldenone, nandrolone and fluoxymesterone after his victory against Randy Couture. In this case the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) suspended Barnett for six months.

Keith Kizer, the Nevada commission's executive director, asked Barnett about the 2002 test when he returned to Nevada to fight for Pride in 2006, a bout for which he passed all tests.

Per Kizer: "I asked him, 'Did you ever find out why you tested positive in 2002?' He said, 'I did some research, and it turned out it was some supplements I took.' I saw some interviews he gave recently, and he said, 'I still don't know why I tested positive in 2002.' "

So which was it – he doesn’t know, or it was from some supplements? In a case like this, one can pretty much scratch their head and wonder “what is Barnett thinking???” Was it steriods or was it supplements or do you still not know? And if you get busted for doing steroids – that’s your wake up call! Listen to it and don’t do it any more.

And before we get all longing for better times, remember that even Royce Gracie tested positive for the anabolic steroid Nandrolone Metabolite back in 2007, when he fought and defeated Kazushi Sakuraba by unanimous decision at the K-1 Dynamite show, on June 2nd in Los Angeles, California.

I have to admit, once a person gets caught with ‘roids in their system, that's usually it for me. Just have a hard time believing it was supplements or that someone switched the blood work. Until now.

After reading the latest list of prohibited substances by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), I’m wondering if sometimes the test results may come back positive for steroids, when a fighter has not been beefing up.

WADA’s Executive Committee just approved their newest list on September 19th and announced the changes. It will go into effect on January 1, 2010. WADA says the “2010 List reflects the latest scientific advances and offers a number of noteworthy changes compared to the 2009 List.”

The WADA committee, which consists of a panel of scientists chosen for their international expertise, includes a subgroup of the WADA Health, Medical and Research Committee experts. This subgroup makes recommendations on the contents and revisions to the Prohibited List.

What is the Prohibited List you ask? Well, per WADA:

  • The Prohibited List (List) was first published in 1963 under the leadership of the International Olympic Committee. Since 2004, as mandated by the World Anti-Doping Code (Code), WADA is responsible for the preparation and publication of the List.
  • The List is a cornerstone of the Code and a key component of harmonization.
  • It is an International Standard identifying Substances and Methods prohibited in-competition, out-of-competition, and in particular sports.
  • Substances and methods are classified by categories (e.g., steroids, stimulants, gene doping).
  • The use of any Prohibited Substance by an athlete for medical reasons is possible by virtue of a Therapeutic Use Exemption.

It is particularly worthy to note the banning of Pseudoephedrine, which is commonly used as a nasal decongestant for those suffering from colds or allergies. According to Wikipedia, “Sudafed is a trademark for a common brand which contains pseudoephedrine hydrochloride, though Sudafed PE does not.” Until about a year ago, cold medicines containing Pseudoephedrine, such as Sudafed, could be purchased over the counter, but anti-drug laws are now being passed that no longer allow this practice.

On the new "prohibited substance" list, WADA says this about Pseudoephedrine:
  • Pseudoephedrine will be reintroduced to the List.
  • Until 2003, pseudoephedrine was prohibited in sport. It has been included in WADA’s Monitoring Program annually from 2004 on. (The Monitoring Program includes substances that are not prohibited in sport but are monitored by anti-doping laboratories in order to detect patterns of misuse.)
  • Results of the Monitoring Program over the past five years have shown a sustained increase in samples containing pseudoephedrine. The Program indicated clear abuse of this substance with high concentrations in a number of sports and regions. In addition, available literature shows scientific evidence of the performance-enhancing effects of pseudoephedrine beyond certain doses.
  • Based on the results of the Monitoring Program, as well as scientific literature and results of controlled excretion studies conducted by WADA, pseudoephedrine will be prohibited above 150 micrograms per millilitre.
So now I’m wondering, could it be these fighters really WEREN’T using steroids, but were taking Sudafed for a common cold? Or were they taking Sudafed because they knew what the benefits to them would be, and were abusing this substance as suspected by WADA?

I guess only the fighters will ever really know.

For more info:
2010 Prohibited List (This List will come into effect on January 1, 2010.)



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October 21, 2009

Picks and Predictions for UFC 104: The Machida Era

By Nicholas Bailey (nbailey@mmaratings.net)

Any time you get to see Lyoto Machida fight, it is a treat. The man is an absolute master and his style is fascinating. Add to that the fact that his opponent is none other than Shogun Rua, one of the most electrifying fighters ever to strap on gloves, and formerly the best in the world, and you have a must-see match. The fact that you get to see a blue-chip prospect like Cain Velasquez sternly tested on the undercard on top of a plethora of high-quality matchups makes this event a must-watch.

Lyoto Machida (-405) vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (+325) (for light-heavyweight title)
BestFightOdds.com
This is Shogun’s chance to re-establish himself as the best of the best at 205 pounds. Lyoto Machida has appeared nearly invincible, and Shogun has yet to recapture the magic that seemed to come so easily and naturally when he was fighting for Pride.

Shogun enters this fight as a heavy underdog, and rightly so. While he has a reputation as an elite striker, he has traditionally employed a wide-open and wild style that looked fantastic when he was crushing the likes of Hiromitsu Kanehara, but ran him into trouble against fighters with legitimate standup skills. Against Overeem, Diabate, Nogueira, and Nakamura, he lost until he took the fight down to the floor where he truly excels. Shogun can throw a variety of strikes and hits very hard when he lands, but the square stance and complete lack of guard meant fighters with the ability to really throw back at him made him cry and forced him to work takedowns. As we’ve seen from Machida’s other opponents, he can be a real litmus test that exposes the flaws in an opponent’s standup, which Shogun has in spades.

The X-factor here is that, against Chuck Liddell, Shogun employed a completely different stance. Gone was the wide-spread and planted legs leading to wild machinegun punches. He actually kept his hands up, protected himself, and used footwork to move around the ring in a controlled fashion (although he did finish the fight with what amounted to diving clothesline). Shogun is a really talented guy, so it wouldn’t be a shock if he continued to develop this style and came in to the fight with Machida with a polished and refined striking game, but a new style that’s only been battle-tested against a geriatric Chuck Liddell is a very dangerous thing to try out against Machida.

The other big deficit Shogun brings into the fight is his cardio. While he looked like some sort of plague victim against Mark Coleman, Shogun has never shown himself to have three strong rounds of cardio, let alone the five for a championship fight. At his best, he’s a real dynamo for the first seven or eight minutes of a fight, but slows down noticeably past that point. Lyoto has shown himself to have real staying power as well as the obvious economy of motion of his style, although he hasn’t gone into the championship rounds yet. If Shogun slows down, Machida will take him apart.

However, Shogun does have two dangerous weapons that make this fight more than a walkover for Machida. He has a versatile and powerful array of strikes, and he has a very slick and dangerous submission game.

While Machida should have a big advantage on the feet and is an expert at avoiding damage, Shogun is very unpredictable and fluid on the feet, making him harder to defend against, and he has the kind of big power in his strikes that mean you cannot risk a single one landing clean, as even the nail-tough Quinton Jackson found out when an early knee caused the rib injury that essentially took him out of the fight.

Machida has a black belt in BJJ, but Shogun has the kind of cutthroat submission game that catches blackbelts. Shogun may not have the technical wizardry of a Demian Maia, but when a fighter fearlessly and ruthlessly attempts submissions like dropping for a heel hook on Chuck Liddell or rolling for an omoplata on ADCC champ Ricardo Arona, he gives himself the kind of opportunities that can change a fight in a heartbeat.

That said, Lyoto Machida is the champion for a reason. He has no real flaws in his game and he has laser-like focus that allows him to capitalize on an opponent’s errors while committing almost none of his own. His ability to find holes in opponents’ styles and habits and drive entire trucks of whup-ass through them makes him legitimately educative to watch. I expect Shogun will come out aggressively only to be met by counter fire at every turn, causing him to yet again seek trip takedowns and groundwork, only to be stymied by the fact that Machida is about 15 feet away from his opponent at any given time and can typically shrug off the times a fighter can actually clinch up with him. Shogun has never been knocked out, but 25 minutes is a very long time to spend in the cage. One day Lyoto Machida will lose, but it’s unlikely that it will be this day. Lyoto Machida by TKO round 3.


Ben Rothwell (+280) vs. Cain Velasquez (-295)

BestFightOdds.com
It’s truly amazing how fickle the MMA community is. In the view of some, because Cain Velasquez was knocked down momentarily by MASSIVE shots directly to the chin from a very dangerous striker, he suddenly has no chin and no defense. These same fools also think that, because Cain, after stopping his first five opponents, did not stop a fighter that is very nearly bulletproof, he is a lay-and-pray fighter with no power.

The reality, of course, is that Cain has an iron chin if he can bounce back from legitimate kill-shots from a guy like Kongo, especially since those shots were about as clean and hard as it’s possible to be hit. Furthermore, Kongo, for all his shortcomings, is as durable as some kind of robot, and would have been finished if the third round of the fight had gone on for another minute. Velasquez may be very inexperienced, but he is an outstanding wrestler, with phenomenal cardio, a great chin, and the kind of ground and pound that grinds fighters up and snowballs to a late stoppage.

Rothwell is a huge guy, cutting to make 265, so he will have a 30 or 40 pound weight advantage on the 240-lb Velasquez. Although much of that weight advantage is additional fat, and this Rothwell won’t be significantly stronger than Velasquez, Rothwell does put the weight behind his punches very well, letting him truly hit like a 280lb man, to traditionally devastating effect. However, Rothwell is also slow and lumbering as a consequence, which, combined with punches that are heavier than they are clean, mean he will have a much harder time landing on a quick and mobile Velasquez than someone with the speed, reach, and crisp technique of a Cheick Kongo.

Rothwell does have the power to seriously hurt Cain, if he can connect, but Cain has pretty good head movement, as he showed against the slow and wild Denis Stojnic. Furthermore, Rothwell will have very few opportunities to land on Cain, as he will be repeatedly and quickly taken down. Ben had trouble stopping takedowns from Arlovski and Nelson, both of whom combined would still represent a worse wrestler than Cain.

On the ground, Cain has excellent control, using his riding ability to continually deliver punishment against fighters with poor ground skills. Rothwell is an experienced enough veteran to defend himself, but he’s not going to be able to throw up some kind of submission on Cain or stall enough to merit a standup. Any round he gets taken down in is a round he loses and takes a big amount of damage on the ground. Rothwell is a very tough fighter, but he’s also very used to being the bully and may run out of gas from trying to defend himself, so a TKO stoppage late in the fight is the likely outcome. Cain Velasquez via TKO round 3.


Josh Neer (+150) vs. Gleison Tibau (-190)

BestFightOdds.com
Tibau is a flake. He has run hot and cold throughout his UFC career, so it is hard to tell what Tibau will show up. Neer is an all-rounder that fights with reckless abandon and has the kind of toughness that takes the heart right out of opponents, as he did against Mac Danzig. Occasionally, as against Diaz and Pellegrino, his tendency to get out of position costs him rounds and a fight, but he is very tough and otherwise difficult to pick up significant points on. He has a very dangerous submission game, and while his strikes are little more than clubbing caveman blows, he can take a tremendous amount of punishment and throw back more than most opponents can endure.

Tibau showed some improved standup against Clementi, but he can’t bang with Neer. Neer has a solid chin and fights like he has absolutely nothing to lose and doesn’t care about being hurt. Tibau is an enormous guy for lightweight, but he doesn’t seem to have a significant strength advantage, so he won’t be able to simply overwhelm Neer and force a submission. He’s still dangerous enough to catch one, even on a skilled grappler like Neer, if Neer makes a mistake, but Tibau’s best chance is to run a takedown and control game on Neer.

This should be a tough, competitive fight, with both fighters having the opportunity to make a statement. Neer’s takedown defense will likely be enough to make Tibau have to work very hard to bring the fight to the floor, which will wear him out and allow Neer to accumulate damage with strikes. In the end, I think it will be close, but Tibau will not have enough success to win more rounds than he loses. Josh Neer by decision.


Spencer Fisher (+200) vs. Joe Stevenson (-245)

BestFightOdds.com
I had underestimated Joe Stevenson and Fisher both going into their last fights. Both showed improvements I didn’t think they would ever make. Against Caol Uno, Fisher finally showed improved takedown defense, which is what had plagued his career to that point. Stevenson, after training with the near-mythical Greg Jackson, showed the kind of improvement that is often expected from fighters training with a new, top-level camp, that so rarely materializes. He made a 180 degree return from fighting away from his limited strengths and employing no strategy to fighting an intelligent fight and capitalizing on his versatility, while simultaneously showing improvement in the areas he had long been stagnant.

Fisher has a big advantage on the feet here, as Stevenson has never shown any real ability to threaten with his boxing, whereas Fisher has a very deep repertoire of strikes and throws them all with nasty power. Unless Stevenson can reliably get this fight to the ground, he’s going to get beat up until he catches something big that puts him away.

Fortunately for Stevenson, he has one of the biggest takedown arsenals in the game; rather than getting stuck in a stuffed single-leg against the fence, he will not hesitate to roll into a spladle or some other finishing technique to get his man down. If Fisher’s takedown defense really has improved by leaps and bounds, Stevenson will have to use every trick in the book to get him down, and, while Fisher’s takedown defense has always been a bit limp, he’s no fish on the ground, so Stevenson will have extreme difficulty in finishing him unless Fisher dives straight into that crushing guillotine, although Fisher’s very weak skin makes a cut likely. It’s only by the narrowest of margins, but Stevenson should be able to get enough control to win rounds. Joe Stevenson by decision.

If you’re a strong believer in Fisher’s newfound takedown defense, he’s an excellent play. I’m going to be more conservative, however, and adopt a wait-and-see approach to a match between two fighters that looked unexpectedly good, to see if they can keep it up.


Anthony Johnson (-315) vs. Yoshiyuki Yoshida (+300)

BestFightOdds.com
Johnson is absurdly enormous for 170, weighing as much as 220 when he doesn’t have an upcoming fight. He uses this strength to do things like shrug off takedown attempts and crush Tom Speer into a origami version of himself. However, when the cut goes wrong, he gets handled by the likes of Rich Clementi. Yoshida is a skilled and well-rounded fighter, but it’s hard to believe in someone after they are utterly slain as Yoshida was against Koscheck.

Johnson’s takedown defense and power may be masking a continued deficiency in his submission defense, as he either throws opponents off or beats them senseless before they get a chance to school him like Clementi did. Yoshida is a savvy grappler with a solid repertoire of submissions, although he prefers ground-and-pound. Working in his favor is the fact that his takedowns come from a judo base, which will be a different look for Johnson than the traditional freestyle wrestling he is used to defending against. It will be very difficult to contain Johnson, especially as Yoshida uses a freewheeling and aggressive style rather than an airtight control game on the ground, but he could easily win this fight if he can toss or trip Johnson to the floor. On the whole, however, Johnson is just too explosive not to fend off Yoshida and beat him up most of the time. Anthony Johnson by KO round 2.

While Johnson is definitely the favorite, I feel +300 is putting too little weight on Yoshida’s skills, so a small bet is a good value.



Ryan Bader (-435) vs. Eric Schafer (+355)

BestFightOdds.com

It’s very simple. Bader hits harder, is better on the feet, and has much better takedowns. Schafer doesn’t take damage well (being stopped by Bonnar and Bisping is all the proof of that you need) and is a top-position grappler that won’t ever be able to take top position. Unless Bader completely falls asleep at the wheel, he should be able to punished Schafer on the feet, take him down, and pound him out. Schafer will catch him if he makes some huge blunder, but he doesn’t have the guard game to seriously slow down Bader. Ryan Bader by TKO round 1.


Patrick Barry (-105) vs. Antoni Hardonk (-120)

BestFightOdds.com
This fight is going to be a complete gong show. Barry has UFC 1 level ground skills (and no, I’m not talking about Royce) and is about five feet tall, but has legitimate high-level kickboxing skills. Hardonk looks like a complete zombie when he wrestles or grapples, but he does have some jiu-jitsu, which will be more than enough to submit Barry unless he’s made big improvements. Hardonk also has the size to knock over the diminutive Barry and start the submissions.

The most interesting part of this match is going to be the striking. Hardonk is supposed to be a very good kickboxer, but his K-1 experience mainly consisted of getting knocked out, and Eddie Sanchez and Cheick Kongo nearly caved in his face. There’s no doubt that he hits extremely hard and has brutal leg kicks, but he hasn’t matched up well against big hitters, even those that throw like Sanchez does. It wouldn’t be shocking at all if Barry roughed him up and dropped him, although if Barry goes into Hardonk’s guard, he could very well get swept in embarrassing fashion. Patrick Barry by TKO round 1.

This is a very high-variance fight, since Barry could easily get KO’d by the power of Hardonk or get armbarred on the ground, but he should have a significant striking advantage and represents a good play. I’d suggest holding off until just before the fight, as I expect the line to move towards Hardonk.



Yushin Okami (-220) vs. Chael Sonnen (+195)

BestFightOdds.com
Two of the most defensive, control-oriented fighters in the division will unsurprisingly struggle against each other on the undercard. Okami is a more well-rounded fighter, with acceptable standup and some submission offense, but Sonnen’s wrestling game should not be underestimated. If Sonnen can get takedowns at will, he shouldn’t have much problem cruising to victory against Okami.

However, Okami is more than a simple wrestler, and he’s a very experienced opponent. If he tests himself against Sonnen and cannot match his wrestling, he will be able to work other games: staying away and using his reach to control the cage, or clinching Sonnen into the fence, where Okami can use his height, size, and strength to control and wear down Sonnen with physicality. In the end, Sonnen, despite his wrestling, has too many other weaknesses for Okami not to be able to take this fight off of him. Yushin Okami by decision.


Rob Kimmons (-110) vs. Jorge Rivera (-120)

BestFightOdds.com
Rivera is on the way out, and Kimmons will help him. Rivera is pretty old at this point, but he’s still strong and has power. His submission defense has never been sterling, and Kimmons is an aggressive and skilled submission artist. Unless Rivera puts on a masterclass of defending takedowns and working him over in the clinch, Kimmons will get him down eventually and submit him. Rob Kimmons by submission round 1.


Razak Al-Hassan (+130) vs. Kyle Kingsbury (-160)

BestFightOdds.com
Amazingly ridiculous-looking armbar victim Al-Hassan returns to determine once and for all if he’s someone that’s cartoonishly unprepared for high-level professional fighting or if he just suffered from stage fright under the bright lights. Kingsbury looks the part well enough, but he failed to get a single win in his entire TUF career, losing to Bader, Soszynski, and Lawlor. He’s athletic, but he hasn’t really shown he has much else to offer aside from some power in his hands. Al-Hassan was billed as a grappler, but he looked completely lost on the ground, even drawing an “Oh Man!” from Joe Rogan during a moment of spectacular ineptness.

So then, the fight will probably come down to whoever has the sharper and harder standup. Against Steven Cantwell, Al-Hassan had a very unusual style, almost pure TaeKwonDo, which got him hit a lot but kept Cantwell backing up. Kingsbury isn’t as strong defensively as Cantwell is, so expect Al-Hassan to have more success and beat Kingsbury up. However, with such porous defense, don’t be surprised if Kingsbury is able to blast him down and out. Either way, it won’t go past the first round. Razak Al-Hassan by KO round 1.

I think this fight is going to be a real mess, so I’m only making a small play on Hassan


Stefan Struve (+185) vs. Chase Gormley (-225)

BestFightOdds.com
Struve is a 14 year old on stilts. He’s 6’11”, but only weighs around 240. Despite his height, Struve still gets hit square in the face by much shorter opponents, and has no sense of distance at all. He has good submission skills, and can throw some decent strikes, but he’s seriously handicapped by the lack of defense. Gormley is taking a big step up in competition here, previously fighting complete cans, but with his punching power and wrestling, this is a very winnable fight for him. The one thing he’ll have to watch out for is Struve’s submission chops. Chase Gormley by TKO round 1.

I think the most likely outcome is Gormley bashes Struve up, but when someone is taking a big step up in competition and facing someone with real finishing skills, this becomes close to a 50/50 fight, so there’s good value in a play on Struve at these odds.


My plays:

.5u on Yoshiyuki Yoshida at (+300) to win 1.5u
1u on Josh Neer at (+150) to win 1.5u
1u on Stefan Struve at (+185) to win 1.85u
.5u on Al-Hassan at (+130) to win .65u

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