By Eric Kamander
It seems that after every major MMA event questions about judging and scoring come up, and UFC 123 is no different. While most criticism always seems to fall on quality and education of the judges, the main event highlights something I've been saying for a long time now, which is that the rules are too ambiguous. How can we expect judges to supply reasonably consistent scoring when the rules are as so open to interpretation? I'm not saying that the 10 point must system is inherently bad. Nor am I suggesting that the scoring criteria be so granular that every move has a point value and all subjectivity is removed. But I am saying that the Unified Rules of MMA in their current form are difficult to sustain.
Ironically the last time I wrote about this was after Lyoto Machida's controversial decision win against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC 104. While others have debated about who won the fight, Machida's latest fight with Quinton "Rampage" Jackson provides us with a useful opportunity to take an in depth look at the scoring criteria, specifically what they are, how they are open to interpretation, and where they need to be clarified or changed.
The rules say that Judges shall evaluate MMA fights based on effective striking, effective grappling, control of the fighting area and effective aggressiveness and defense, in that order.
Effective striking is judged by determining the number of legal strikes landed by a contestant and the significance of such legal strikes.
This seems pretty clear cut on the surface, after all a cross is worth more than a jab. But how significant are leg kicks, knees to the thighs and foot stomps, for instance? How is volume compared to significance? Is significance determined by the type of strike or the effect it has on the opponent? Are strikes really more significant than submission attempts?
Effective grappling is judged by considering the amount of successful executions of a legal takedown and reversals. Examples of factors to consider are take downs from standing position to mount position, passing the guard to mount position, and bottom position fighters using an active, threatening guard.
One would have to assume that the example of a bottom position fighter using an active, threatening guard is meant to represent submission attempts. But why does one have to make such assumptions about something as fundamental to MMA as submissions? Are submissions really as significant as reversals? Is forcing a fighter to defend against locked in submission as significant as holding someone down?
Fighting area control is judged by determining who is dictating the pace, location and position of the bout. Examples of factors to consider are countering a grappler's attempt at takedown by remaining standing and legally striking; taking down an opponent to force a ground fight; creating threatening submission attempts, passing the guard to achieve mount, and creating striking opportunities.
Most of the criteria here seems like the things a fighter does to set up effective striking and grappling (and submissions). But some of the examples listed are exactly the same as effective grappling, such as passing the guard to achieve mount, creating threatening submission attempts and taking down an opponent. Does it count if a fighter counters an attempt at takedown by remaining standing and does not strike? Should the rules really indicate that a fighter is (or is not) a grappler? Rewarding fighters for dictating the pace, location and position of the bout requires that judges know every fighters preference for each of these aspects of the fight. Is this something judges should have to consider as opposed to what actually happens in the fight? Are judges expected to be able to interpret when a fighter is playing possum, is willing to fight off their back, or prefers to circle around the outside of the fighting area?
Effective aggressiveness means moving forward and landing a legal strike or takedown.
Since effective striking and grappling is listed above one must assume that this refers to ineffective striking or takedowns. I suggest this is worthy of some clarification. Where does a judge draw the line between what is effective and what is not effective, but is still somehow significant. Why is effective aggressiveness determined by moving forward as opposed to just attacking, regardless of the direction in which you are moving?
Effective defense means avoiding being struck, taken down or reversed while countering with offensive attacks.
The way the rules are written it is unclear whether 1) control of the fighting area and 2) effective aggressiveness and 3) defense are of equal or progressively less significance.
Should fighters have to change their fighting styles because the rules penalize them for throwing strikes while moving backward or sideways? Its not like they aren't attacking or are running away.
All of these questions are left to the interpretation of the judges, and the way each judge resolves these questions can account for wide disparities in the manner that rounds are judged. Consider the first two rounds of Jackson vs. Machida:
In the first round Rampage was walking Machida down for the first 90 seconds of their fight when Machida kicked him in the leg. Who was winning at the point? At 2 minutes in Machida's 4 leg kicks were the only strikes landed. That's when really turned on the aggression, but 15 seconds later Machida clinched Rampage up and the only other strikes that had landed were another of his leg kicks. In the clinch Rampage landed some foot stomps, knees to the thighs and some light punches to the body. What are they worth? With 1:55 remaining Rampage landed an uppercut, the first major punch of the fight. Nothing else of significance happened in round, with Machida landing one kick to the body and pushing Rampage against the cage and landing some knees to the thighs. The round boiled down Rampage's one uppercut vs. about half a dozen kicks from Machida. Rampage didn't really show any significant advantage in the fighting area control or effective aggressiveness areas as the only times he moved forward was in the beginning of the round when he was getting kicked in the leg and during a flurry later on, that didn't land any strikes. Machida was able to tie Rampage up multiple times and push him around. I can see giving the round to Machida, but a draw seems more appropriate.
Thirty seconds into the 2nd round they were tied up again, with both fighters having thrown strikes, but landing none. Its clinch seemed to be mutual though Rampage did have Machida's back to the cage and started landing knees to the thighs and punches to the body until Machida reversed him and a knee to the groin by Rampage separated them. At 3:30 remaining no more strikes had landed and Machida tied Rampage up. Rampage landed a knee to the body, Machida reversed up against the cage, Rampage landed a few punches and elbows to the body. At 3:10 Machida landed a knee to the body and Rampage used it to take Machida down. Machida sat up immediately and Rampage held his legs until Machida stood up at with 2:45 remaining. Machida immediately put Rampage up against the cage for another 15 seconds until the separated. Right after the half way mark Rampage throws a right hook, and Machida blocks it, clinches and pushes Rampage up against the cage. Rampage pushes off the cage, lands a knee to the body, pushes Machida's back against the cage and starts landing more elbows to the thigh and punches to the body. They quickly separate, Machida rushes in with a knee to the body and Rampage lands an uppercut. They walk each other out until Machida lands a leg kick and ties Rampage, pushing him against the cage. Machida fails to trip Rampage and they both land knees. They separate and right at the end of the round Rampage throws a right, Machida ducks and knocks Rampage to the ground. Rampage bounces back up and blocks a kick just as the bell sounds.
The 3rd round was pretty clearly Machida's so I won't go into it. But while watching the fight again, often in slow motion, what I found most interesting is how often, contrary to popular opinion, it was Machida that was controlling the space and pace, so often tying Rampage up and pushing against the cage, as well as defending.
Now that we've looked at what the judges need to look for, lets look at what the judges are supposed to do with that information as this is of equal importance and ambiguity.
Margins of the 10 Point Must System: Draws vs. Domination
The following objective scoring criteria shall be utilized by the judges when scoring a round;
1. A round is to be scored as a 10-10 Round when both contestants appear to be fighting evenly and neither contestant shows dominance in a round;
2. A round is to be scored as a 10-9 Round when a contestant wins by a close margin, landing the greater number of effective legal strikes, grappling and other maneuvers;
3. A round is to be scored as a 10-8 Round when a contestant overwhelmingly dominates by striking or grappling in a round.
4. A round is to be scored as a 10-7 Round when a contestant totally dominates by striking or grappling in a round.
Where does 'neither contestant shows dominance in a round' end and 'a contestant wins by a close margin' begin? Where does 'overwhelmingly dominance' begin? What's the difference between 'overwhelming' and 'total' domination?
How is it that in the spectrum of all possible fights outcomes and gradations of dominance we hardly ever see a 10-10 or a 10-8 round? What type of curve is being used to determine that almost every round is a 10-9? If the rules stipulate that judges have four grades to choose from when scoring a fight then we should see scores spread somewhat evenly across the spectrum even if they taper drastically at the ends. I can accept draws being rare and using the smallest criteria available to determine greater effectiveness. However, if that is the case then the bar for 'overwhelming' domination must be set correspondingly low. Conversely if draws are given out liberally and a significant amount of domination is required to win a round, then I can accept the bar for a 10-8 round being set correspondingly high. But neither is the case and that simply doesn't make sense. And what's more important is the lack of clarity offered in the rules.
On explanation for this is that in 3 or 5 round fights scoring a round 10-10 or 10-8 drastically increasing the chance that the fight will be scored a draw, and that's not popular with fans or promotions. There are various potential remedies for draws including more rounds, over time rounds, must decisions, full fight scoring and half point scoring.
These question might seem excessively picky, but these are rules and rules should be specific. If you think the rules do not need to be more specific then don't complain about the scoring or judges, because they might well be asking themselves these questions like a naked emperor wondering where are their clothes.
Full Fight Scoring
The FightMetric report shows that Rampage had a slight edge in round 1, the 2nd round was a draw, and Machida won the 3rd round by a large margin. Now whether or not you agree with the assessment of this particular fight, the possibility of this outcome is very real. The issue here, which is that not all 10-9 rounds are equal, plus the potential for a round being scored a draw, means that a fighter can do better overall, but still not win the fight. This has led many to mention how Machida would have won the fight under the Pride rules, which is ironic considering that Rampage used the Pride theme has his entrance music.
Does it make sense that a fighter can lose the fight, even if he beat his opponent? You can argue that those are the rules, but is that the way we want the rules to be or would we prefer to see rules that reflect who beat who up more?
Half Point Scoring
Another popular thought circulating recently and especially in reference the Jackson/Machida is Nelson 'Doc' Hamilton's half point scoring system.
One thing that is not obvious in the name, but is essential to this system, is that not only does it change the scoring, but it changes the criteria used as well. In this system the criteria are 1) damage, 2) effective striking and grappling (including near submissions as determined by the referee), and 3) cage control. This criteria seem to be far more appropriate to MMA than the current criteria in the Unified Rules. Although I don't know if I favor the referee having the additional responsibility of having to evaluate and signal to the judges whether a submission attempt is significant. But this can just as easily be determined by the judges without the referee's involvement. In addition this system introduces a fourth judge that evaluates the fight as a whole and only comes into play to eliminate draws. Whether or not a fourth judge or the three existing judges play this role this would eliminate the reluctance on the part of promotions to score 10-10 or 10-8 rounds. As for implementing actual half points, this will have the same problems as the current system unless the distinctions between each scoring gradation are clarified. There are many varieties of improvements that can be made to the current rules. Which do you prefer? Whichever it is, I hope you can agree that, even though there will always be an inherent amount of subjectivity in judging fights, the rules need to be specific.
November 24, 2010
By Eric Kamander
November 23, 2010
By Jay Jerome
I have good news, and I have bad news. The good news is UFC 123 includes some major MMA names such as Machida, Rampage, BJ Penn, and Matt Hughes. The bad news is that this is yet another UFC PPV that does NOT include a title fight. There aren't even any #1 contender implications involved in any of these matches. THIS is the type of card Zuffa should throw on Spike to get more eyes on their product to prove it's quality, NOT the lame cards like 122. All that does is make casual fans who don't drop dollars on PPV's, and people who stumble onto the event while channel surfing, think that the UFC is s**t. What the UFC is doing now, is like a crack dealer handing out free samples of crack, but all of those free rocks have been soaking in a port-a-potty at a construction zone all week.
I know some people don't like when you b**ch about promotional procedures, but I'd like MY favorite sport to move in a different direction, one that DOESN'T involve a PPV model. I'd like a UFC or MMA premium channel which I'd gladly pay monthly to subscribe to (Barring a ridiculous price). This would open up the wonders of the UFC to a MUCH larger audience, and would remove the current conundrum of either dropping hundreds of dollars on a busy UFC PPV month, or risk pirating it (which removes your money from the Zuffa coffers entirely). Now I myself would NEVER (always) do something so immoral (F**k you Zuffa) and illegal (in Massachusetts, it's illegal to have a gorilla in the back seat of any car) such as pirating a copyrighted broadcast (pirates are a lot skinnier and blacker than they used to be), so I faithfully donate my hard earned dollars (which I most certainly do NOT earn by giving out handy's for pocket change behind Shoney's every Saturday night) by the wheelbarrow to Zuffa for each and every wonderful (Cro-Cop vs. Mir) PPV they offer me, but I understand the argument for pirating.
George Snuffaluffagus vs. Joe Lauzon: I call him Snuffaluffagus, and I have been for a few years now, so if you hear anyone else call him that, let me know and I'll murder them (I've killed spiders for less). Snuffaluffagus is one of my favorite fighters. There's nothing I love more in a fighter than an active and dynamic grappling game. Snuffy has this in spades. Joe Lauzon is a goofy nerd, and he has a stare that says "Don't leave me alone with your prepubescent children". He is however an exciting and dynamic fighter as well. George looks great here as usual, using his dynamic grappling to Sub Joe in R2.
Phil "Waffle and White B**ches" Davis vs. Tim Boetsch: Phil Davis is a true specimen. Know what else he is? f***ing BOOOOOOOOoooooooooring. If the crowd isn't booing, Phil Davis isn't in the octagon. He's really trying to be more exciting, and finish guys, but he's just SUCH a good wrestler, and just SO terrible at everything else. This is why anyone who has been reading my articles for awhile knows my policy. If all you can do is wrestle, you're boring, and I wish a Cancerous death upon you. Phil DOES get a Sub win here, but when he can start doing this to fighters who AREN'T cans, I'll start being impressed.
Paul Kelly vs. T.J. O'Brien: Paul Kelly is English. In English MMA gyms, they must call you a "Fokin Queer" if you try and take guys down, because in England, wrestling is a swear word. They teach 2 things over there. How to box, and how to talk with such a spectacularly fancy accent, that you require subtitles when you speak. Paul Kelly wins via TKO.
Maiquel Falcao vs. Gerald Harris: If I were a fighter, nothing would scare me more than any random Brazillian trained in Muay Thai. I'd rather fight a pissed off silverback. At least the silverback won't know Jitz. Have you ever seen a fat Brazillian? I seriously don't know how these guys haven't ran the table in MMA, and ran off with our women yet. They must be too busy oiling themselves up and frolicking on the beach in Speedos. There's a little sketchiness in this fight. In case you missed it, at the end of round 1, Falcao has Harris in a fight ending RNC, and the air horn that signifies the round ending goes off with 6 seconds left in the round! Harris wouldn't have lasted 2 more seconds, never mind the 6 that should have elapsed. Harris must be blowing the horn man. The best part about this ripoff, is that not only does nobody else in the broadcast notice this boo-boo, but Falcao is actually SCOLDED for holding the choke for a second or 2 after the horn. Justice is served though, as Falcao wins a UD.
Karo Parisyan vs. Dennis "Superman" Hallman: Karo says his problems in the past were due to anxiety, Hallman says his past problems were due to allergies affecting his stamina, it's time to watch excuses collide. Karo came in high on Xanax, Dennis came in snuggling a cat and eating peanuts. Before the fight starts, Godzilla rips the roof off the arena and just starts PEW PEW PEW'ing the audience with his atomic breath. Dennis quickly scurries to find the nearest phone booth. Unfortunately, nobody uses pay phones anymore, and the nearest phone booth is in Mexico. Karo is so high that he thinks Godzilla is his bitchy girlfriend, so he promptly gets to telling her to "STFU BRO! BRO! DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM!? I'LL F**K YOU UP BRO!". Godzilla indeed DOESN'T know who Karo is, so he steps on him. Dennis arrives in Mexico 2 days later, and everyone is long since dead. Not fully grasping the concept of the passage of time (due to his allergies), he doesn't know this, so he jumps into the first phone booth he sees and begins to undress. His head is found 2 weeks later in the Arizona dessert.
Matt Hughes vs. BJ Penn: How often do you get to see a farmer from Iowa fight a rich kid from Hawyee? 3 times apparently. BJ Penn is an MMA icon. He looks like a little brown Cabbage Patch Kid, and he has more fans than god. Despite having a mediocre record, he's still thought of as a "Prodigy". If you put me on a plane, told me the pilot was a "prodigy", but then promptly followed up by explaining that he's crashed a third of the planes he's piloted, we'd have to have a little chat about your frivolous use of hyperbole. Matt Hughes was once the baddest man on the planet. He still probably is, he's just been eaten by this shivering, frightened old man that now stands before us. We need to cut this pussy open and save the old Matt before he's fully digested. Hughes used to strut around the ring before the fight as if he just f****ed your mother, wiped his d**k on your curtains, and now wants to hold you down and make you smell his fingers. Now, he just nervously shimmies back and forth like he's waiting in line for a prostate check. BJ wins via KTFO in R1. Now quick, hold Matt down, I'll get the knife.
Rampage vs. Machida: I could go for the easy layup, and make some piss drinking jokes, but that would be played out and hacky... Mhm... So... Machida should bottle his piss and market it as "Dragon Juice"... I wish MMA were bigger so we could see a SNL skit on a piss based sports drink commercial... I bet if Machida gave you a golden shower, your forearms would grow 3 sizes, and you could beat the s**t out of Bluto... Rampage is the epitome of a large scary black man, and a cartoon character... If cartoons could have 20 kids, and kill babies with their monster trucks. In conclusion, If drinking his own piss makes Machida so good, imagine what a destroyer he'd be if he ate his own s**t.
November 22, 2010
By Michael Ford
Rampage Jackson was a winner in more ways than one. BJ Penn is still a beast. Gerald Harris is no Phil Davis. These and more hot talking points coming out of UFC 123.
1. Rampage Jackson was a winner in more ways than one - When Quinton Jackson made the promotional rounds before this fight, I, like many other observers, thought he was lowering expectations in anticipation of a decisive defeat at the hands of Lyoto Machida, and setting up the narrative of "elusiveness" on the part of Machida being an impediment to having a "real fight" that would be entertaining to fans. However, Rampage was being more savvy than I expected; he was actually working the officials and fans, and lowering the bar, such that aggressiveness became the crucial determinant. No doubt it was Rampage's adept footwork and ring generalship that led two judges to rule close rounds in favor of him, rather than Machida, who was in fact performing better on the feet. However, the coup de grace was a Rampage who we expected to be surly in defeat giving tons of credit to a superior foe, and graciously campaigning for a rematch. If the Twitter trends are any indication, this card did quite well on PPV, largely through the force of Jackson's star power. By securing that win, undeserving as it might be, Rampage was able to stave off the criticism that he was no longer taking fighting seriously, and preserve his drawing power. And furthermore, the contentious nature of the decision can only make the rematch more anticipated. So big ups to Quinton Jackson, as the payoffs from this fight are probably something to howl about.
2. BJ Penn is still a beast - Just in case we forgot why we love the Prodigy so much, BJ Penn gave us a 22 second refresher, pasting Matt Hughes with superior boxing, and running around with exuberance and elation, while simultaneously offering respect to a fallen opponent. That whirlwind of energy, skill, and enthusiasm is infectious, and despite his willingness to wear the black hat, BJ is at his best when he is relishing in the glory, and embodying what mixed martial arts fans want to see. Presumably, we can hear more at bjpenn.com.
3. Phil Davis and the "WonderWing" - The line of the night in the spot where I watched the fight was, "Leave it to the Black man to go for the Chicken Wing." But racial politics aside, in his main card coming out party, Davis wasn't content to just be an "athletic & explosive" physical specimen against Tim Boetsch. He demonstrated solid leg kicks to control the standup, quality clinch grappling to control positioning, and a stellar wrestling base on the ground, such that victory was an inevitability. However, where he previously proved adept at the kind of front chokes that every good wrestler should have in his repetoire, this fight saw "Mr. Wonderful" employ a catch wrestling style armlock to finish "The Barbarian," a move that I've chosen to call the "WonderWing." Davis also showed personality and flair in his post-fight interview, a crucial component of getting noticed by fans, and generating momentum for their support. All in all, Davis continues to improve, and I hope that in a few months time, we'll be able to see the next step in his career's progression, most likely in an even higher-profile spot.
4. Gerald Harris is not Phil Davis - As one prospect's coming out party went swimmingly, another was pulled into the undertow, drowning in the pressure of the main card lights. "Hurricane" Harris was riding a big winning streak, and developing undercard buzz after winning his last fight with a highlight reel worthy spinebuster slam. However, his fight against Maiquel Jose Falcao Goncalves was disastrous. By all rights, he should have lost in the First Round, where apparently a clock malfunction led to him being saved by the premature bell. However, he fought through to a Unanimous Decision loss, as the fight was never in doubt after the opening round. A shame for Harris, but hopefully he can get it together, and get back on the winning track.
5. George Soriropolis won big - After an opening round flurry by Joe Lauzon, his well-documented cardio issues presented themselves, and a calm and poised Sotiropolis weathered the storm, and finished the fight easily. He is certainly in the Contenders’ Circle at 155, and might be one fight away from a title shot. Who’d have thought that the most credible prospect to emerge from The Ultimate Fighter in recent memory would be a guy who lost to Tommy “Bloomfield Event Center Furniture” Spears on the show?
6. Poor Karo Parysian - “The Heat” is no longer hot. He looked like a shadow of his former self, and was definitively handled by Dennis Hallman, who didn’t need to be superheroic to stop him in the first round. Maybe he’ll get another UFC fight, but he doesn’t deserve one at the moment. His personal demons need exorcising, and I’d rather see him on the smaller card circuit than getting TKO’d inside of 90 seconds.
November 20, 2010
Click the stars to rate how good you think UFC 123 was.
UFC 123: Jackson vs. Machida took place on November 20, 2010 at The Palace of Auburn Hills in the Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills, Michigan. This was the first UFC event in the greater Detroit area since UFC 9.
UFC 123 Reviews & Commentary
UFC 123 Play-by-Play
UFC 123 Previews & Predictions
UFC 123 Preview: The Main Card, The Prelims
|1||Nik Lentz||Tyson Griffin||Decision (Split)||3||5:00|
|2||Paul Kelly||T.J. O'Brien||TKO (Elbows)||2||3:16|
|3||Edson Mendes Barboza Jr.||Mike Lullo||TKO (Leg Kicks)||3||0:26|
|4||Dennis Hallman||Karo Parisyan||TKO (Punches)||1||1:47|
|5||Mark Munoz||Aaron Simpson||Decision (Unanimous)||3||5:00|
|6||Brian Foster||Matt Brown||Submission (Guillotine Choke)||2||2:11|
|7||George Sotiropoulos||Joe Lauzon||Submission (Kimura)||2||2:43|
|8||Phil Davis||Tim Boetsch||Submission (Kimura)||2||2:55|
|9||Maiquel Jose Falcao Goncalves||Gerald Harris||Decision (Unanimous)||3||5:00|
|10||B.J. Penn||Matt Hughes||KO (Punches)||1||0:21|
|11||Quinton Jackson||Lyoto Machida||Decision (Split)||3||5:00|
Light Heavyweight bout: Quinton "Rampage" Jackson defeated Lyoto Machida via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28).
FightMetric TPR Report
Welterweight bout: B.J. Penn defeated Matt Hughes via KO at 0:21 of round 1.
B.J. Penn was awarded a $80,000 bonus for Knockout of the Night.
Middleweight bout: Maiquel Falcão defeated Gerald Harris via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-28, 29-28).
Light Heavyweight bout: Phil Davis defeated Tim Boetsch via submission (modified kimura) at 2:55 of round 2.
Phil Davis was awarded a $80,000 bonus for Submission of the Night.
Lightweight bout: George Sotiropoulos defeated Joe Lauzon via submission (kimura) at 2:43 of round 2.
George Sotiropoulos and Joe Lauzon were each awarded $80,000 bonuses for Fight of the Night.
Welterweight bout: Brian Foster defeated Matt Brown via submission (guillotine choke) at 2:11 of round 2.
Middleweight bout: Mark Muñoz defeated Aaron Simpson via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28).
Welterweight bout: Dennis Hallman defeated Karo Parisyan via TKO (strikes) at 1:47 of round 1.
Lightweight bout: Edson Barboza defeated Mike Lullo via TKO (leg kicks) at 0:26 of round 3.
Lightweight bout: Paul Kelly defeated T.J. O'Brien via TKO (strikes) at 3:16 of round 2.
Lightweight bout: Nik Lentz defeated Tyson Griffin via split decision (29-28, 29-28, 27-30).
Click the stars to rate how good you think UFC 123 will be.
UFC 123: Jackson vs. Machida is expected to take place on November 20, 2010 at The Palace of Auburn Hills in the Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills, Michigan. This will be the first UFC event in the greater Detroit area since UFC 9.
UFC 123 Previews & Predictions
UFC 123 Preview: The Main Card, The Prelims
Quinton Jackson (205) vs. Lyoto Machida (205)
B.J. Penn (169) vs. Matt Hughes (169)
Gerald Harris (185) vs. Maiquel Jose Falcao Goncalves (185)
Phil Davis (205) vs. Tim Boetsch (205)
George Sotiropoulos (155) vs. Joe Lauzon (155)
Brian Foster (170) vs. Matt Brown (170)
Aaron Simpson (185.5) vs. Mark Munoz (185)
Karo Parisyan (170) vs. Dennis Hallman (170)
Edson Mendes Barboza Jr. (155) vs. Mike Lullo (155)
Paul Kelly (155) vs. T.J. O'Brien (155)
Tyson Griffin (155) vs. Nik Lentz (155)
November 19, 2010
By Nicholas Bailey
UFC 123: Jackson vs. Machida UFC 123 has a rousing undercard. There is quite a lot of punching power on offer here, and there should be a ton of big knockouts. The fighters on the televised fights for Spike TV are scrapping for continued relevance, and Karo Parisyan continues his long strange journey on the world's biggest stage.
PRELIMINARY CARD (Spike TV)
Matt Brown (+130) vs. Brian Foster (-140)
Matt Brown is a tough guy with no quit in him, but he doesn't have any skills to defeat truly elite fighters. He struggles when he is outwrestled and controlled and doesn't really have the kind of power to crush guys in a couple shots before he gets taken down. Foster has that kind of big natural power to just nuke an opponent very rapidly. He still has work to do on the ground, but Brown is not a particularly dangerous grappler, especially when he is pinned down by a dominant wrestler.
Brown is a better striker on the feet, so Foster will look to use his wrestling to maintain control and deliver some serious punishment on the ground. Neither man is known for having a lot in the tank in the late rounds (interesting trivia: neither one of them has ever won a decision) so the bout may become a race to see who wears out second. If Foster doesn't do a good amount of damage to Brown in the first two rounds, Brown may be able to threaten him in a sloppy third.
Overall this is a bad matchup for Brown, who will get outwrestled and cracked with some big power on the ground. Foster does have the pop to stop him, and that's probably what will end up happening. Brian Foster by TKO round 2.
Mark Munoz (-145) vs. Aaron Simpson (+135)
Mark Munoz is a physical powerhouse with big natural punching power, but he has a magnet for fists in his head and he has not translated his scramble-centric wrestling game to MMA well at all. He cannot seem to avoid getting hit, and doesn't have the durability to shrug off the big punches he always eats.
Aaron Simpson entered this sport too late to become a true great, but he does have good physical tools for the game. When he chooses to use it, his wrestling is effective in the cage, and he has huge natural power in his punches. His problems are a tendency to get into brawls that he loses and some questionable cardio. If he doesn't crush Munoz quickly, he might end up losing this in the third.
As it is, Simpson's wrestling is good enough to frustrate the desperate shots Munoz tries from range, and it's only a matter of time before Simpson cracks Munoz with something big that puts him down. Munoz is a gamer and won't give up, but he won't be able to recover from the kind of heat Simpson can put on him. Aaron Simpson by TKO round 1.
I really like Simpson as an underdog here. Munoz's chin and magnetic head are just a horrible combination against a guy that can compete with him in wrestling and put huge power on him.
PRELIMINARY CARD (un-aired)
Dennis Hallman (+135) vs. Karo Parisyan (-155)
Karo Parisyan is in a very bad place. It's hard to imagine a worse career for someone with severe anxiety problems than fightsport. It is as if the entire scenario is concocted for the purpose of causing as much tension as possible. Karo will be under phenomenal pressure coming in to this fight. He has to fight to make a living, and screwing up this chance would be extremely costly. It seems inevitable that all of the pressures of this fight will wear on Karo, even if he still manages to enter the ring. Karo has also physically deteriorated while he's battled these demons. He's never been known for exceptional physical conditioning, but in his recent fights he's looked like a diminished athlete.
Dennis Hallman, meanwhile, is in the midst of a career resurgence. Formerly little more than an interesting historical footnote because of his twin rapid submission wins over Matt Hughes, Hallman has created a role for himself in the UFC with some good performances.
Hallman will have trouble taking down a fresh, well-prepared Karo, but as Karo slows down and the fight goes on Hallman could find ways to employ his grappling to control and threaten the judoka. Hallman's improved boxing should also be enough to tag Karo, who has always relied more on his toughness than his technique. Karo will probably just look unprepared and unfocused as Hallman works him over. Dennis Hallman by decision.
Karo's troubles can be MMA bettors gain. Hallman was available at +195 at open, and remained available at +155 for a while. He should take this handily, since those lines reflect a Karo that no longer exists. I'd still take him at the +135 of today.
Edson Barboza (-500) vs. Mike Lullo (+375)
Edson Barboza is a real talent. He has excellent groundwork and is devastating on the feet. Lullo is a part-time fighter brought in on very short notice as a replacement. Barboza is going to put a big hurting on Lullo very quickly. Edson Barboza by KO round 1.
Paul Kelly (-160) vs. T.J. O'Brien (+145)
This is a bad matchup for O'Brien. Kelly isn't about to set the world on fire, but he's a very solid fighter that is quite defensively sound. O'Brien is a one-dimensional grappler that will just end up stuck underneath Kelly as Kelly works the lukewarm ground and pound that brought him to the big show in the first place. Paul Kelly by TKO round 2.
Nik Lentz (+170) vs. Tyson Griffin (-210)
Nik Lentz is being punished for putting on a boring fight. Tyson Griffin is the chosen executioner, as a win should also put him back on track after he was absolutely crushed by Takanori Gomi. This is well known. The UFC is not EliteXC though, so they are not depending on their preferred outcome coming to pass. If Lentz is able to defeat Griffin, having that name in his list of scalps gives him a relevance and importance that would counter-act the boring reputation to some degree.
Griffin is a much more dynamic fighter than Lentz, with solid enough wrestling to resist Lentz's takedowns and a great scramble game to keep from getting trapped underneath Lentz for any period of time should he be taken down. Griffin will use his versatility to push a frenetic pace, create scrambles, and take control of the fight with his solid striking. Tyson Griffin by decision.
1u on Dennis Hallman at (+155) to win 1.55u
1u on Aaron Simpson at (+135) to win 1.35u
November 18, 2010
By Nicholas Bailey
Before Americans stuff themselves with turkey, fight fans will be able to stuff themselves with quality MMA. UFC 123: Jackson vs. Machida is the antithesis of the hapless
UFC 122: Marquardt vs. Okami. The card has star power from top to bottom and is full of the kind of fights that create new conversations in a division. The card would be worth watching if only to see where the four former champions participating are headed, but the long list of prospects and developing fighters make it truly fantastic.
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson (+220) vs. Lyoto Machida (-260)
These men meet at a career crossroads. Machida, formerly an undefeated champion with an invincible mystique, was absolutely crushed in his last fight. Quinton Jackson is struggling to reclaim the fighting form that propelled him to the top of the division in 2007. If Rampage puts on the kind of fight that he did against Rashad, he'll probably never again vie for the title, remaining a former champion become an also-ran. If Machida is knocked out again, he'll be dismissed as a gimmick fighter that has been figured out, and his confidence may never return.
At his best, Lyoto Machida is a finely-tuned countering machine, trapping and parrying punches and delivering punishing counters. Opponents who become over-aggressive are quickly punished (Thiago Silva, Tito Ortiz at times) while those who become passive and play a waiting game (Rashad Evans) cannot compete with the master of such tactics and eventually find they have created an opening for Machida to exploit. At his worst, Quinton Jackson is eminently predictable, repeatedly throwing the shoulder roll left-right combination that he is so destructive with, only to have even extremely hittable opponents see it coming and avoid it. If that's the Rampage that shows up, Machida will not get hit at all, and Jackson will get busted up badly by counters.
At his best, Quinton Jackson is a devastating striker that tempers his aggression and slugging power with sound defensive practices. In the best performances of his career, his first fight with Chuck Liddell and his epic tilt with Dan Henderson, he used his wrestling and punishing ground and pound to keep opponents off balance while picking crushing power shots on the feet to ensure he came out on top in every exchange. At his worst, Lyoto Machida is flat-footed, planting to counter, with his head straight up in the air because he's not expecting a follow-up strike to the one he just defended.
The mental state for each fighter is a huge unknown at this point. Jackson has a well-earned reputation for being a basket case mentally, fighting far below his abilities, coming into a major fight woefully under prepared, and otherwise handicapping his own success as a professional athlete. Machida does not have that kind of history, but he has been placed in an extremely high-pressure situation right after an ego-crushing loss. It will be a significant feat to fight with the level of confidence in his skills that his style demands. Machida is a very focused and centered individual, so he will probably manage to right himself and fight up to his ability. Rampage has at this point firmly established that he will always be a flake, so he will probably just get frustrated with Machida and lunge around the cage trying to catch him with a telegraphed hook.
Rampage could emulate the strategy that Shogun worked so well. Machida is frequently unhittable, but when he chooses to engage he relies on his counter landing to stop his opponent's offensive output. Machida is a solid and accurate puncher, so this is usually sufficient. Shogun, however, is extremely durable and basically walked through Machida's punches to flurry and create a chaotic situation that Machida could not control with his distance or parrying. Rampage is one of the toughest guys in the division, but he usually doesn't punch in great volume, looking for single shots or two-punch combinations, so he will have to make a concerted effort to swarm on Machida. Shogun is also a complete master of kicking, bringing a very versatile arsenal to the table, making Machida's defensive work more challenging. Rampage is much more limited in his offense, only removing his feet from the ground to throw knees in the clinch at this point, and moving away from the straight punches he employed in fights earlier in his career in lieu of a focus on powerful hooks and overhands. With such a limited and predictable arsenal, Machida should be able to pick him apart.
Another weapon Rampage has abandoned is his ground and pound. He's very naturally strong and a talented wrestler, and he can really wear on opponents when he gets a hold of them. Lyoto is very good in the clinch, but he's also not as big as Jackson and could be out-muscled. This could lead to an interesting dynamic given Lyoto's propensity for diving into the clinch with his trademark ducking punch. Lyoto is also a very slick grappler and wrestler, so Rampage will not be able to get much going on the floor.
If Rampage doesn't bring anything more to this fight than he has to his other recent bouts, it will be a showpiece for Machida's best skills and a brutal embarrassment for Jackson. Lyoto Machida by decision.
Matt Hughes (+145) vs. B.J. Penn (-165)
What to do with a high-profile fighter without a clear place in a division? The traditional answers are to create a grudge match or change their weight division. Here both strategies are being employed. It's unclear where Hughes really belongs in the welterweight, but it's been clear for a long time that BJ does not belong in the division at all. He can compete there, because he's such a preternatural talent, but he's at a definite size disadvantage. That size disadvantage compounds what has always been Penn's downfall, a tendency to come into the cage with a body that isn't prepared to live up to his talent. For a while it seemed like he was finally completely serious about his physical preparations, training with the controversial Marv Marinovich and putting on some of the most impressive fights of his career, but he soon tired of being ordered around and forced to endure hellish workouts. It's no coincidence that his recent poor performances have coincided with BJ Penn taking the reins of his own training camps, as in the past.
Hughes is having physical problems of his own in the twilight of his career. He is still as strong as a mule, but his shot is less explosive and his reactions are slower. Despite rattling off three straight victories, Hughes has looked like a classic MMA fighter ready for the “masters” division instead of fighting young guns like Thiago Alves. He is still making technical improvements, but he is simply slowing down.
Hughes has made improvements in his boxing, but he will still be massively outclassed by Penn on the feet. Even if Penn neglects to use his excellent jab, an extremely effective tool he all but abandoned against Edgar, he will still pick Hughes apart. BJ is also still worlds better than Hughes on the ground, and a good enough wrestler that it will be a real struggle for Hughes to take it there.
In their last meeting, Hughes dropped the first two rounds to Penn, then finished a very gassed and possibly injured Penn for the first time in the Hawaiians career. It's very unlikely that Hughes gets another finish on Penn, since Hughes is not a big hitter from any position, and BJ is incredibly durable and basically unsubmittable. Hughes is not going to be able to put the kind of pressure on Penn that GSP was able to, and Hughes only has three rounds to work with. Even a tired Penn can survive a third round after winning the first two.
On the other hand, Penn can definitely finish Hughes at any point in the fight. Penn has power in his hands and Hughes can definitely be knocked out, and, with his ability to take the back and stay there, Penn can threaten any grappler in the division with submissions, even one as skilled as Hughes. The late-career surge of Matt Hughes comes to a crashing halt here. BJ Penn by TKO round 1.
Joe Lauzon (+200) vs. George Sotiropoulos (-225)
This is a terrible matchup for Lauzon. Sotiropoulos is better than him wherever the fight takes place and has more staying power to boot. Lauzon is a guy that can threaten top-flight opponents with his sheer aggression and versatility, but comes up lacking when a fight settles down and isn't a chaotic brawl. Sotiropoulos should be able to take Lauzon apart on the feet as Joe tries to flail around with haymakers, and he's a better grappler, who will escape and take dominant position if Lauzon tries to dive into a leglock, in his traditional risk-taking style.
When Lauzon gets dominated, as he will in this fight, he crumbles and gets finished. Sotiropoulos will wear on him until he gets beaten down for a TKO or gives up position and gets choked. George Sotiropoulos by submission, round 2.
Tim Boetsch (+450) vs. Phil Davis (-580)
Time Boetsch is a massive underdog in this fight, and rightfully so. Boetsch isn't a particular standout in any respect, but he's a solid all-rounder with a natural knack for the fight game and some good physical tools. Unfortunately he's running into a supreme athlete that has already developed far more technical acumen than Boetsch.
This is a good fight for Davis to get much needed experience. Boetsch is greatly outgunned, but he's durable and dangerous with both strikes and submissions. If Davis screws up, he could actually lose this and give Boetsch a huge boost. He'll have to take some risks and get aggressive to actually finish Boetsch, or run a very tight control game to go the full three rounds without any scares. Davis should be able to do either of these things. Phil Davis by submission round 2.
Maiquel Falcao (+210) vs. Gerald Harris (-260)
Maiquel Falcao has a gaudy record, but it has come against regional competition in Brazil. He has never fought as solid an international competitor as Harris has become. It's always a big challenge for a guy used to quickly dominating lower-level opposition to fight someone that doesn't collapse quickly and just take a beating. Falcao certainly has big power, and if Harris gets clipped early, the Chute Boxe product will be in his element and lay down a beating. Harris is too technically sound a boxer for that to be very likely though, and he will be able to use that and his wrestling to wear down Falcao and beat him up in the later rounds. Gerald Harris by TKO round 2.
November 17, 2010
By Jay Jerome
How do you know when you've taken something you like, and turned it into an obsession? Allowed it to so consume you and change who you are, that those around you start to cringe at your behavior? Just like getting fat, you just wake up one day, and say to yourself "OMG... I'm a PoS". If you haven't come to that realization yet, allow me to expedite that process for you.
We're all hardcore MMA fans. We annoy those around us who aren't. Why? If you don't know, then you've probably spent your whole life being an annoying PoS, and you're numb to the feelings of those around you. It's for those people in particular that I've decided to make this list. Those fohawk havin, Tapout wearin, tough-guys who think they're awesome, and everyone else thinks so too. Sorry man, but you're a PoS, and so am I. Here's why!
10 signs that you watch too much MMA.
#10. You like to show everyone you watch MMA: Your entire wardrobe consists of t-shirts full of skulls, tribal, and shiny illegible cursive writing. It wouldn't matter if you had a court date, you'd still be showing up in a T that featured a rhino mouth fucking a samurai.
#9. You troll forums: You somehow find many hours in each day to post on MMA forums. In real life you're introverted and wouldn't speak up if you saw your own mother being beaten to death with a shovel, but on your favorite MMA forum, you're a flaming keyboard warrior. You have opinions, you're going to shout them at everyone, and you're quick to tell everyone else where to shove theirs. Sure, you COULD be calm and nice, but where else can you tell another adult male to blow their grandpa, choke on his d**k and die, without consequences? Nowhere, that's where.
#8. You become a high roller: You make $10/hr stocking s**t at Wal-Mart, but you find room in your budget to spend $100 a month on UFC pay-per-views. Sure, your wife threatened to leave you if you don't get the water turned back on, but f**k that. No way you're missing Mir vs. Cro-Cop. The neighbors have a hose, and I'm pretty sure they don't watch it 24/7. Problem solved.
#7. You start ordering BJJ DVD's: You really want to learn how to choke people out, but you don't want to learn it at the place in the strip mall next to Dunkin Donuts. Mostly because you don't like to wash your balls more than a couple times a week, and you have a feeling that might be an issue. Your solution is to order a BJJ DVD, ... And another pizza. Sure, you might learn more effectively from the guy at the strip mall, but nothing beats choking your cat the f**k out with a d'arce in your pajamas.
#6. You lie to your co-workers: You've never stepped your fat-a** into a gym of any kind, yet everyone you work with thinks you know some s**t. Since they're all too ignorant on the subject, and have no idea how to use google, you've convinced them all that you've won a grappling tourny, or know Muay Thai. In reality, the only submission you know involves an ether rag and a jogger, and you cried the last time you accidentally kicked the dresser.
#5. For the ladies: You used to watch 90210 and Buffy, now you lift weights and strut around like you have a pecker swingin between your legs. When you go to live events, you're the loudest motherf***er in the stands. You love to yell inane things like "F**K HIM UP!", And "KILL HIM!" just so everyone around you knows you like violence too. You love having something in common with your guy friends, and now you're pretty sure you can beat some of them up. You're pretty much a dude now, a very small, emotional dude.
#4. You fancy yourself a writer: You start writing serious 8 paragraph MMA articles on public forums. Yeah, you're gonna make it big by impressing all the other forum trolls with your cookie-cutter MMA commentary. Wow, really? You think whether or not Belfort wins depends on "Which Belfort shows up that day?" STFU. Everyone knows the only way to become famous MMA blogger is to s**t on fighters, tell your readers what retards they are, and make lots of d**k jokes. Get on that, retards.
#3. You lie about what a n00b you are: You tell all your friends and forum acquaintances "I was renting UFC tapes back when I was 10. I've been a non-stop fan of MMA from day 1." ... STFU. You're a f***ing liar. Go kill yourself. We're all sick of hearing you stupid a**holes say this. We all rented the tapes back in the day, but nobody picked it back up until PRIDE and TUF showed up on our TV's. Now I want you all to say you're sorry, bow your heads in collective shame, and go back to lying about how many chicks you've nailed.
#2. MMA is all you care about: You used to watch boxing. Now you'd need to do an 8-ball, staple your eyelids to your forehead, and get blown by Arianny to stay awake during a boxing match. When you ARE watching MMA, if everyone around you doesn't STFU, you're going to murder them with the remote. Instead of playing with LEGOS, and learning to count to 100, your 5yr old is going to BJJ class to learn how to choke a b**ch. Your DVR might as well be sponsored by Tapout, because it is overflowing with MMA. Screw your kids' Dora recordings and your wife's stupid a** One Tree Whatever, daddy has to record every show even vaguely having to do with MMA.
#1. You now think you can fight: You're 5'7", have man-titties, and have never been in a fight that didn't end with you bleeding and crying, yet you walk around like you just WISH someone would mean-mug you, so you have an excuse to pull off that awesome flying armbar you keep picturing yourself doing in your head. This is the most common symptom of becoming obsessed with MMA. I know watching anything 1000x can make you feel more confident in trying it yourself, but trust me, you can't fight. Ever seen 2 pussies fighting on YouTube? Yeah... You look like that when you fight. You'd be out of breath, on an adrenaline dump, and vomiting after 30 seconds. All you can hope for is that the dude you're trying to fight is ALSO an MMA watching pussy.