Monthly Archives: September 2013

R.I.P. Yushin Okami’s UFC Career

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I’m still reeling from this one. Yushin “Thunder” Okami, who Dana just proclaimed “the greatest UFC fighter from Japan” not too long ago just got his walking papers today. Wow. Should I be worried about my near-minimum wage job any time soon?

Okami is a top 10 middleweight. He’s listed as #6 middleweight in UFC.com.

UFC Ranks

He was on a three-fight win streak and has a 13-5 UFC record overall. Most of these losses have come against middleweights who held the title or have fought for it. To say his release is shocking, inexplicable and questionable is… understated.

Dana “Explains” Okami’s Release

Dana during UFC 168 media day attempted to explain Okami’s release. In short, that sounds to me like along the lines of “if you’re not a title contender, you’re cut”. I guess he still sees Michael Bisping as a title contender. Is that why he suddenly pulled out against Mark Munoz? All joking aside, it seems to me that Okami wore out his welcome in the UFC. Did they expect him to be a title contender? Kind of hard when that division was ruled by two UFC Hall of Famers in Rich Franklin and Anderson “The Spider” Silva.

Wrestling is Boring but Necessary

With all due respect to Okami, his wrestling heavy style was… boring. To say the least. I mean the IOC removed wrestling from the Olympics in 2012 because of the same reason (among others). Pure wrestling honestly is just not a crowd pleaser. Georges St. Pierre, future Hall of Famer and top 5 MMA fighter all time has drawn the ire of many fans due to sporting a similar style. Not too long ago, Jon Fitch, a top 10 welterweight was also let go after a decision loss to Demian Maia. If Gray Maynard gets humiliated by Nate Diaz in The Ultimate Fighter 18 Finale in a few months, I won’t be too surprised to see him cut loose as well.

The UFC is a sport. But it’s also a business. Frankly, guys like Okami don’t draw a lot of fans in. I won’t lie, I usually zone out every time an Okami fight comes on. Same with a Gray Maynard fight or a Jon Fitch fight. From an entertainment stand point, they’re terrible and deserve to be cut. But this isn’t just about entertainment. It’s a sport and at the end of the day, as a pro MMA fighter trying to pay the bills and feeding yourself and your family, I don’t blame them for employing such sleep-inducing tactics.

“Slavery” comments from Ortiz Resonate:

Bad timing from a humanitarian PR perspective. This firing is coming not too long after Tito Ortiz (among many others) have constantly berated Dana White and the company for mistreating their fighters even going as far as mentioning “slavery”.

http://msn.foxsports.com/ufc/story/tito-ortiz-on-dana-white-i-thought-slavery-was-over-a-long-time-ago-082913

But it’s business. Fighters have to recognize the risk and their expandability but this Okami firing has ratcheted things up a whole new level. There was an unwritten unofficial “rule” somewhere that usually losing two or three fights in a row is the death knell for most UFC fighters. For under carders, maybe one or two bad losses could spell their doom but top carders and upper tier fighters where Okami belongs in don’t usually just get fired after losing a match to a top 5 opponent and future title contender.

There really isn’t a solution to this issue. Most of the power lies in the hands of one Dana White and his evaluation process of a fighter’s job security is as stable as a Diaz brother. The business will go on, Okami will find a job elsewhere (World Series of Fighting and One FC appear very keen) and this news will be forgotten and people move on.

It would just be good to have a more official stable of rules regarding fighters’ job security but until someone lobbies or advocates for it, each UFC fighter – or MMA fighter – leave the fate of their hands to the hands of a few who primarily makes decisions on subjective factors whose guess God only knows.

It’s more likely a totally hypothetical combination of entertainment value, profitability, record and overall quality of work. I would say Okami arguably has a good record in most of these but apparently in Dana’s eyes, he does not and I think most “just bleed” fans would agree with him.

I’ve never been a fan of Okami and would admit enjoyed seeing Tim Boetsch and Jacare plant him. But this release now has me (sort of) writing his obituary

R.I.P. Yushin Okami’s UFC Career

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Jones-Gustafsson Rematch Should Happen… But Not Yet

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September 21, 2013 will forever be remembered as the night Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson achieved legend when he broke down the godly aura of Jon “Bones” Jones. As an 8-1 underdog, many had Gustafsson losing within the first 3 rounds either by TKO or submission. The Mauler would simply go on to put a brilliant display of boxing, rearranging Jones’s face – including bloodying him – like no one has ever seen. Everything changed.

In spite of a furious Jones rally in round 4 and takedown in round 5, Gustafsson looked to be in prime spot to score the upset of the ages…

But not so. A tightly contested match left to the judges and they gave it to the champion. I didn’t dispute the decision but many did and I couldn’t blame them entirely. Gustafsson looked more impressive than Jones, taking him down in round 1 and landing significantly more head strikes.

But take another look. This time with fightmetric’s tally:

http://blog.fightmetric.com/2013/09/jones-vs-gustafsson-official-ufc.html

By fightmetric’s scoring of significant strikes and total strikes, Jones would have won 4 of the 5 rounds. You can argue Gustafsson had significantly more head strikes versus Jones’s ineffective leg kicks. But you can also counter argue that Jones did more damage to Gustafsson in round 4 alone than Gustafsson did the whole fight. Jones also took Gustafsson down in round 5 to get back that takedown he surrendered to him in round 1. Point being, it was too close to be a robbery as some people would think so.

A rematch will and should happen… but not right away. This is different from the Lyoto Machida-Shogun fight from UFC 104 where fightmetric and everyone including their mom had that fight for Rua.

This was Gustafsson’s coming out party. He’s vastly improved and truly showcased his footwork, boxing and even wrestling. He should be back in the title fight as soon as two fights later. The light heavyweight division is his playground now as well. Meanwhile, future contender Glover Teixeira is somewhere salivating over Bones’s apparent weakness to boxing. But at the end of it all, the champion showed heart and got the job done. Both fighters’ stocks rose dramatically and so did the UFC. Amazing fight. Everyone’s a winner (except those who bet on Gustafsson, oh well).

This fight wasn’t a robbery, it was a blessing for fight fans everywhere.

Link

Light Heavyweight Championship: Jon Jones (C) vs Alexander Gustafsson (#1)

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I’m wholly aware the UFC likes to angle on The Mauler’s size “advantage” over Jon Jones yet doesn’t mention how his 76 inch reach is still dwarfed by Bones supernatural 84 inch reach advantage. Only 7 footer Stefan Struve from the Heavyweight division ties Jon Jones’s reach. Everyone else has shorter reach. But this won’t even be a focal point in the fight between both these two goliaths.

Gustafsson, while being a worthy contender, has bullied his way into a title shot by using his size over his smaller opponents. His last fight against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua saw him practically manhandle the former Light Heavyweight Champion. He’s done the same to Thiago Silva and has either knocked out or submitted all the rest with one glaring exception: Phil Davis, who used his superior grappling and wrestling to give the big Swede his only career loss. But it’s a loss that is a foreshadowing to his fight with Bones.

Gustafsson has improved his overall game but Jon Jones is the faster, longer, bigger and superior version of Phil Davis. Jones is a fighter on his own level – he is virtually undefeated (only loss came via DQ) and has never looked close to being in danger of losing. Seemingly, the only new “weapon” Gustafsson brings that Jones hasn’t met yet is his size and the fact he wasn’t a former light heavyweight champion or title contender but a hot young prospect just as hungry if not hungrier than the champ.

While I dream of an upset of colossal proportions, I can’t picture a scenario outside of Gustafsson catching Jones with a punch to put him out that would favour him. Bones just has him beat on every level – striking, grappling, wrestling and athleticism. This fight will go as far as Jones wants it to and it won’t reach the championship rounds.

Conclusion: Jones via round 2 submission

Interim Bantamweight Championship: Renan Barao (IC) vs Eddie Wineland (#4)

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I feel the need to promote Eddie Wineland. He is truly the “workman’s fighter” as he suggested paving a humble but solid MMA career that has seen him beat the likes of Brad Pickett, George Roop and Scott Jorgensen. Wineland’s a tough nut and hasn’t been knocked out in 29 fights (his single TKO loss was due to injury). He’ll bring the fight to Barao and go for the knockout.

Barao on the other hand is just on another level and I feel he’s on a class of his own  similar to Jones in the light heavyweight division. Barao has also never lost since dropping his first professional MMA fight way back in 2005. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert (who also trains with Featherweight Champ, Jose Aldo) has won almost half his fights via submission (14) and the decisions he won were barely close. His speed, technique and poise are just phenomenal.

Wineland is going to give Barao a big fight similar to fellow brawlers Pickett and Michael McDonald but he’s just not on his level. He will ultimately succumb to Barao’s advanced grappling within the first three rounds.

Conclusion: Barao via round 2 submission

Heavyweight Bout: Brendan Schaub vs Matt Mitrione

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Let’s call this right away: Mitrione by first round knockout. I like Schaub a lot better and he’s on a good winning streak but his three most recent losses (all by KO) suggests he can’t take hits as well as he can dish them. Add the fact Meathead is a one of those prototypical top-heavy fighters with heavy fists and this fight is big trouble for Schaub.

Schaub can win if he fights smart and keeps his distance from Mitrione, “out-pointing” him because he is the faster of the two but Mitrione is tougher. This fight may end up mimicking the Vera-Rothwell fight one PPV ago where Vera outstruck Rothwell for the majority of the fight but eventually let Rothwell get too close and score the big knockout. I don’t see this fight lasting all three rounds and I see Schaub hitting the mat in a heap within round 1 or 2.

Conclusion: Mitrione via round 1 KO

Middleweight Bout: Costa Philippou (#7) vs Francis Carmont

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I don’t know too much about fighters and it’s because neither one has really had a fight that’s been memorable. Costa’s biggest win came against Tim Boetsch a few months ago, utterly dominating him and finishing him in round 3. Carmont on the other hand has been on the better end of controversial decisions most recently against Lorenz Larkin, a fight that saw him fail at multiple takedown attempts and get kicked around.

My heart suggests Philippou, who appears to have more knockout power of the two, will finish off Carmont once he finds his striking range but the rangier Carmont  has the better grappling game and is tenacious with his takedown attempts. Having GSP at his side is also an “intangible” that’s clearly worked in his past fights.

Conclusion: Carmont via split decision

Lightweight Bout: Pat Healy (#10) vs Khabib Nurmagomedov

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I’m tempted to buy into Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov’s hype. He’s undefeated and has absolutely manhandled the four fighters he’s faced in the UFC. He’s the type of fighter as Dana loves to say, “wrestle f*cks” you to oblivion with his triple threat background of sambo, judo and wrestling. Scoring a big win over Healy would vault him up the lightweight rankings and a title shot would be within striking distance.

Healy on the other hand is one of MMA’s more underrated fighters. His “grind you to death” style of wrestling/fighting is not too unlike Nurmagomedov and while he doesn’t have the Eagle’s pedigree he has twice the experience (46 fights versus 20) and has even fought at welterweight beating the likes of Paul Daley and Dan Hardy. Since moving to lightweight, Healy has gone 8-1-1 with his NC decision being an original Submission of the Night win over the gritty Jim Miller. Healy’s only loss came to Josh “The Punk” Thomson, who is now fighting Anthony Pettis for the lightweight title.

The Eagle has a bright future in the UFC and is one of the better prospects but he hasn’t fought an opponent of Healy’s caliber and experience and “Bam Bam” rises up to usually overcome his underdog status. Chalk another big win for Healy.

Conclusion: Healy via unanimous decision