Tag Archives: boxing

14 MOST LOPSIDED “RIVALRIES” IN MMA

Ideally, mixed martial arts competitions should be competitive and evenly fought to bring about maximum entertainment and value for both us sports fans and competitors alike. However, there’s been more than enough one-sided ass-whoopings in the MMA world I had to compile a few that stood out.

A “rivalry” like the competitions would be a lot better if both fighters were actually evenly matched and hurt each other equally. That isn’t always the case. So here are 14 of the most lopsided affairs between two MMA fighters who fought each other on multiple occasions. Please leave comments or accusations if I missed any or ranked some too high!

14. Frank Mir vs Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera

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Both fighters are considered two of the greatest submissions specialists in the heavyweight division (30 combined submissions). Yet when they finally clashed, not once but twice, it would be Mir who would hand Big Nog his first TKO and submission losses, the latter being arguably the greatest submission in UFC history when Mir literally broke Nog’s arm. Ouch.

13. Dennis Hallman vs Matt Hughes

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Matt Hughes was the welterweight division’s kingpin for quite the time. Only a handful of UFC fighters can say they beat the legend and Hallman probably has every single one beat. In their two contests, Dennis Hallman needed only a combined 37 seconds to submit Hughes. Today, Hughes is a UFC Hall of Famer and Hallman is toiling the local circuits. Still, 37 seconds is probably a record somewhere.

12. Urijah Faber vs Champions

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“Always the bridesmaid, never the bride”. Every single one of the California Kid’s seven career losses came in a title fight. Since he dropped his WEC Featherweight title to Mike Brown, Faber has gone 0-6 in his last six title fights. This may not be the traditional “rivalry” in a sense but Faber’s consistent losses to title holders represented a metaphorical dragon he can’t quite slay even to this day.

11. Matt Hughes vs Frank Trigg

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Matt Hughes was no friend to Frank Trigg. The two fights between Trigg and Hughes were close and Trigg would come close to beating Hughes. He almost finished him in the second fight after an unnoticed knee to Hughes’ groin. Yet both times, Hughes would end up choking out Trigg in dramatic fashion leading to many fans mockingly renaming the choke, “Rear Naked Trigg”.

10. Mauricio Rua vs Alistair Overeem

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Once upon a time, Alistair Overeem was not a steroid-abused heavyweight. Once upon a time, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua fought Alistair Overeem and knocked him out. The beaten Overeem decided to move up to heavyweight. A few wins later and the ‘Reem decided to go back to light heavyweight where Shogun would once again, beat the crap out of him. Having had enough, Overeem went back to heavyweight, never looked back and ate Barry Bonds.

9. Cain Velasquez vs Junior Dos Santos

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Junior Dos Santos would dethrone Cain as the UFC’s heavyweight champion giving him his first and only loss in his career. So what does Cain do? Give JDS one of the most savage beatdowns not once but twice, beating his face into that of a troll from Lord of the Rings. The only reason this lopsided rivalry is ranked this low is because of JDS’s first win. In hindsight, the “damage” Cain took in that fight seems like a teardrop compared to the river he poured on poor JDS.  

8. Anderson Silva vs Rich Franklin

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Rich Franklin was 22-1 into his UFC career finishing the majority of his fights by stoppage. He looked every bit like one of the most dominant fighters of his time. Then along came a spider. Anderson Silva would hurt Rich Franklin more times in their two brief fights than Franklin has been hurt his entire career to that point. The best Ace could do was apologize for “hurting” Silva’s knee with his face.

7. Fedor Emelianenko vs Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

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Antonio “Minotauro” Nogueira was Pride’s first ever Heavyweight Champion and its resident top dog. Then a dude named Fedor came and thoroughly punished the bigger Nogueira en route to winning his belt. Big Nog would rematch Fedor twice but neither resulted in success. Though Fedor didn’t finish Nog, he became the first man to twice beat who otherwise was known as (arguably) the best heavyweight at that time.

6. Quinton Jackson vs Chuck Liddell

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For a decade, Chuck Liddell was possibly the most dominant light heavyweight in MMA with twenty wins, most coming by knockout. He would avenge his earlier losses to Randy Couture and Jeremy Horn but not Quinton Jackson. Rampage would beat Liddell into retirement in their first Pride fight then knock him out and take his belt in the UFC rematch. Poor Chuck was never the same after the second loss.

5. Ronda Rousey vs Miesha Tate

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The most heated rivalry in MMA today. Rousey and Tate brought a new meaning to the word “hate”. It started in Strikeforce when Rousey would break Tate’s arm and win her title. It carried on to the UFC reality TV series, The Ultimate Fighter. Tate would successfully piss off Rousey with her constant mind games and Rousey would retaliate by mauling Tate and armbar her a second time in the rematch. As consolation, Tate became the first woman to survive Ronda in the first round.

4. Chuck Liddell vs Tito Ortiz

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Chuck Liddell owned Tito Ortiz like no UFC fighter has. Despite Tito’s antics and excuses and Liddell’s injured MCL in the second fight, Chuck would knock out Ortiz in both fights. The two were supposed to fight a third time after The Ultimate Fighter yet Ortiz would pull out for unknown reasons. Who are you kidding, Tito? Everyone knows you chickened out from getting your butt handed to you a third time.

3. Wanderlei Silva vs Kazushi Sakuraba

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Kazushi Sakuraba was fresh off of his sweep of the Gracie clan and was writing his own legend until the Axe Murderer brutally beat him not once, not twice, but three times. Wandy was the much bigger and stronger fighter and punished Sakuraba either breaking his bones or leaving him a mangled mess. It was truly one of the most lopsided rivalries not only in Pride history but all of MMA.  

2. Tito Ortiz vs Ken Shamrock

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The most popular rivalry in UFC history also turned out to be the most lopsided in UFC history. Ortiz’s post-fight antics against Shamrock’s student, Guy Mezger led to an enraged Shamrock challenging Tito to a fight. Three fights. In each fight, Tito would slap Ken around so bad I almost felt sorry for him. Thankfully, Ken only had to endure the last two fights a combined three minutes and 39 seconds. After all, I don’t think even the “World’s Most Dangerous Man” wanted to get spanked any more.

1. Kazushi Sakuraba vs the Gracie Clan

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The nickname says it all: the “Gracie Hunter”. Sakuraba dispatched of four members: Royler, Renzo, Ryan and most notably: the undefeated Royce Gracie in a ninety-minute marathon. Sakuraba outlasted Royce when the Brazilian’s corner threw in the towel. Eight years later, Royce would finally defeat Sakuraba though with a little PED help. Four years after, Ralek Gracie, 16 years Sakuraba’s junior, would finally end the slump. Sakuraba would finish his career going 4-1-1 (loss to Royce I counted as ‘NC’) against the most prestigious family in MMA history.

Honourable Mentions

Cristiane Justino vs Marloes Coenen
Georges St. Pierre vs Matt Hughes
Randy Couture vs Vitor Belfort
Mauricio Rua vs Lyoto Machida
Mirko Filipovic vs Josh Barnett

MMA’S DIVISION OF DEATH

On December 13, 2013, Georges St. Pierre, the greatest UFC welterweight fighter decided to finally walk away from the sport he loved. This was coming after a very controversial win over Johny Hendricks, who punished the champion for five rounds back in UFC 167. Plenty, including myself, thought Hendricks had won but even if he lost the decision, he can settle for a moral victory having hurt the legend enough to force him into early retirement.

Whether you love GSP’s decision or hate it, I think you would agree he stepped out of the sport at the right time. GSP’s last four fights suggest he absorbed more punishment than his other fights combined (240 strikes absorbed, over 50% of his total strikes absorbed). Hendricks, Condit, Diaz and Shields (all on this list) pounded him more than the dozen who came before.

GSP made the sane proper choice to quit now while he’s ahead because as I would outline, here’s the next 15 guys who have struck me as not only contenders but entertaining and violent brawlers and grapplers. Welcome to the new Welterweight Division. A division filled with knockouts and submissions and wars… THE DIVISION OF DEATH.

BIGG RIGG
Johny Hendricks (15-2, 10-2 UFC)

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Knockouts: 8
Submissions: 1
UFC Rank: #1

The aforementioned Johny “Bigg Rigg” Hendricks is fighting for the title in UFC 170 in his hometown of Dallas, Texas. Big Rig is notorious for arguably the most powerful leftie in MMA today, which floored two former title contenders within seconds. Big Rig isn’t only one of the strongest strikers but is a huge NCAA Division I wrestler. With GSP gone, he’s the favourite to take over the division. He’s the to-be-crowned Alpha Dog in the making.

THE NATURAL BORN KILLER
Carlos Condit (29-7, 6-3 UFC)

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Knockouts: 14
Submissions: 13
UFC Rank: #2

Carlos “The Natural Born Killer” Condit isn’t far behind Big Rig as a favourite to win the division. NBK once engaged Hendricks in a Fight of the Year caliber brawl that saw him lose a razor thin decision. But the Killer out-struck Hendricks (number) and also floored GSP and was a few punches away from winning his belt. Condit may not have GSP or Hendricks’s wrestling pedigree but he is arguably the division’s best striker.

RUTHLESS
Robbie Lawler (22-9, 7-3 UFC)

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Knockouts: 18
Submissions: 1
UFC Rank: #3

Ruthless Robbie Lawler is easily 2013’s Comeback Fighter of the Year. On his second go-round with the UFC, he went on to knock out long-time gatekeeper Josh Koscheck, Strikeforce tough guy, Bobby Voelker and put a beating on a contender and GSP teammate, Rory “Ares” Macdonald. He’ll be facing Bigg Rigg for the championship soon. Lawler has always been a deadly striker but his improvement in takedown defense, precision and game planning has made him reach a new elite level.

EL DIABLO
Nick Diaz (26-9, 7-7 UFC)

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Knockouts: 13
Submissions: 8
UFC Rank: n/a

Although he remains “retired”, whenever “El Diablo” Nick Diaz decides to return to the octagon, he will be an immediate championship threat. The division’s best boxer and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert has fought the best and was both a Strikeforce and WEC Welterweight Champion. His colourful nature makes him a polarizing figure but he’ll earn fans’ and haters’ respect alike with his artistic display of boxing destruction whenever he steps in the octagon.

ARES
Rory Macdonald (15-2, 6-2 UFC)

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Knockouts: 6
Submissions: 6
UFC Rank: #4

With GSP retired, Rory “Ares” Macdonald now stands as Tristar Gym’s and Canada’s top fighter. Growing tired of his old name, Macdonald gave himself his own nickname although his tentative fighting style has led to much criticism. Regardless, Ares has all the tools to be a champion – size, topnotch grappling skills and toughness. He recently lost to Ruthless but he’s only one big win away from  being back in the title picture.

THE JUGGERNAUT
Jake Ellenberger (29-7, 8-3 UFC)

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Knockouts: 18
Submissions: 5
UFC Rank: #5

The Juggernaut has been injured as of late and always seems to be overshadowed by the top fighters but he didn’t earn his moniker as an X-Men fan. Juggernaut is a powerful force and has won the majority of his UFC fights by way of knockout. He’s a wrestler by nature but prefers to stand and bang and even the toughest fighters should be weary to go toe-to-toe with The Juggernaut.

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Knockouts: 3
Submissions: 10
UFC Rank: #7

While not as physically imposing or powerful as some of the fighters here, Shields was once the Strikeforce Middleweight Champion and was undefeated for six years. His lack of striking power shouldn’t undersell his prowess as he’s undefeated at welterweight and has wins over four fighters on this list (Condit, Lawler, Woodley, Maia). Shields flies under the radar but he can beat the best at any moment’s notice. PS I gave him the nickname. 😉

THE SUBMISSION DEMON
Demian Maia (18-5, 12-5 UFC)

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Knockouts: 3
Submissions: 9
UFC Rank: #6

I made up his nickname but “Submission Demon” seems apt for the man who’s submitted Chael Sonnen and Rick Story – the latter’s first time being finished. Maia is a large welterweight having fought the best at middleweight before moving down and going on an unbeaten streak before a paper-thin decision loss to Jake Shields. He’s probably the best BJJ grappler in the division.

THE CHOSEN ONE
Tyron Woodley (12-2, 2-1 UFC)

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Knockouts: 3
Submissions: 5
UFC Rank: #11

Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley is on the fast track to winning the welterweight title as he’ll be going against The Natural Born Killer later this year. A wrestler who combines power with speed and athleticism, he’s a force who despite having only fought since 2009 has already beaten some of the big names in the division including Paul Daley, Josh Koscheck and former champion, Tarec Saffiedine.

LIGHTNING
Hector Lombard (33-4-1-1, 2-2 UFC)

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Knockouts: 19
Submissions: 7
UFC Rank: #13

The Cuban version of Hulk aka Hector “Lightning” Lombard finally made the cut to welterweight and it has paid massive (pun intended) dividends in a first-round demolition of former title contender, Nate Marquardt. Lombard’s imposing muscular frame paired with his Judoka expertise and killer power has led him to win 33 of his 39 official fights with majority of those wins coming by knockout.

SPONGE
Tarec Saffiedine (15-3, 1-0 UFC)

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Knockouts: 1
Submissions: 5
UFC Rank: #9

Former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Tarec “Sponge” Saffiedine finally made his much-anticipated debut in a five-round victory over Korean standout, Lim Gyun-Hyu. He didn’t finish Lim but dominated the much larger Korean and kicked his legs to oblivion. Saffiedine is one of the more polished and technical fighters in the division. He won’t have many highlight reel knockouts but he’s as much a contender as most of the ones on this list.

THE IMMORTAL
Matt Brown (18-11, 11-5 UFC)

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Knockouts: 11
Submissions: 5
UFC Rank: #8

Before training in MMA, Matt Brown survived a heroin overdose thus prompting his nickname. He would then dedicate himself to martial arts and make his way to the UFC, where he would again survive a life-altering event, losing three in a row and 4 of 5 matches. That usually spells death sentence for most fighters but not the Immortal. Now a winner of six straight, with five of those coming by KO, the Immortal is in prime position to challenge the best in the division.

HORROR STORY
Rick Story (16-7, 9-5 UFC)

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Knockouts: 4
Submissions: 3
UFC Rank: #15

Once upon a time, Rick “Horror” Story was on his way to a title shot with huge wins over former title challenger Thiago “Pitbull” Alves and even Johny Hendricks. Then an upset loss to Charlie Brenneman and he never seemed to get back in rhythm having a spotty record since. But his most recent domination of Brian Ebersole, a result of training with Tristar has the wrestling standout back in the game. A rejuvenated Horror Story could spell terror for the rest of the division.

THE ACE
Lim Hyun-Gyu (12-4, 2-1 UFC)

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Knockouts: 9
Submissions: 2
UFC Rank: n/a

Too early? The Korean standout is relatively new to the UFC but already has two Fight of the Night awards along with two big knockouts. He most recently took Saffiedine to a five-round war that nearly saw him upset the former champion despite having his legs all-but kicked off. Lim is unranked in the division but with more polish, he’s sure to shoot up the rankings.

RUKUS
Brandon Thatch
(11-1 2-0 UFC)

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Knockouts: 8
Submissions: 3
UFC Rank: n/a

Brandon “Rukus” Thatch may be a relative unknown to the casual UFC fanbase but he shouldn’t be for long. Though just having two UFC fights, he’s won both by stoppages. He’s the first to KO Justin “Fast Eddie” Edwards  and just the 2nd to finish Paulo Thiago. Get this: 100% of the Karate master’s victories have all come by round 1 stoppage. Rukus is still new and thus unranked within the UFC but will look to keep his killer ways through 2014.

Watch for these other Killers:

Kim “Stun Gun” Dong-Hyun, Ryan LaFlare, Kelvin Gastelum, John “The Hitman” Hathaway, Mike “Quicksand” Pyle, Erick “Indio” Silva

One Punch: Dan Henderson’s Most Important Fight

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Tonight’s UFC Fight Night 32 will put two of mixed martial arts’s biggest icons: Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort against Dan “Hendo” Henderson, a rematch from their Pride fight in 2006. Let’s state the obvious that this fight is a must win for both fighters especially since both are still as dangerous as any young gun and are still vying for a title shot. But for Hendo, this is do or die. This is his most important fight. He has to beat Vitor Belfort. His entire career depends on it.

Divergent Paths

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Both Hendo and Belfort have a combined 29 knockout wins in their careers. All of Belfort’s wins in the UFC have come via finish. That’s right. Out of the 12 UFC opponents he has beaten, he has submitted two and knocked out ten. The Phenom has looked phenomenal, excuse the bad pun, as of late. Thank a little TRT exemption – but his last two wins, both spectacular finishes against middleweight contenders, Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold means he’s on a path of destruction back to contendership (listed #2 ranked middleweight by UFC.com).

Hendo in contrast has lost his last two fights by split decision to former light heavyweight champions, Rashad Evans and Lyoto Machida. A lot of the naysayers may think Hendo’s on a downtrend and retirement may be in the horizon but Hendo stated he has no plans of and wants to fight for at least two more years. That’s plenty of time to get back into title contention.

Before Hendo lost his last two fights, he was Jon Jones’s next opponent until his injury infamously made history by cancelling the first ever UFC 151. This and being on a two-fight losing streak pretty much has Hendo on the back end of a short line of contenders for another shot. But one punch can change everything. One knockout can change Hendo’s fortunes for good. But he has to be the one pulling it off.

Turning Back Time: 2011

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Hendo is only two years removed from a magnificent 2011, which was arguably his greatest year since his Pride days. In 2011, Hendo knocked out highly-touted Black House prodigy, Rafael “Feijao” Calvacante to win the Strikeforce light heavyweight championship. He followed this up with come-from-behind knockout of the legendary Fedor Emelianenko, the first time the great Russian has been felled mid-fight by strikes.

And as an encore to the year, Hendo engaged Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in what many pundits and fans alike have called one of the greatest fights in MMA history. He would win the war by unanimous decision.

Hendo would go 3-0 for the year, which would earn him the aforementioned title shot against Jones. But it’s worth noting that his wins have come with asterisks. Cavalcante as highly regarded as he was isn’t a top ten light heavyweight at least not in the UFC. Fedor was on the downswing of his career coming off of two losses and several fight metrics had him losing to Rua.

TRT or Retirement?

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Since his injury in 2012 and bowing out of the title fight, Hendo just has not looked the same. He certainly didn’t seem as explosive in both his fights against Rashad and Machida and has looked slower and more sluggish. Being permitted a TRT exemption isn’t good news, it’s more concerning. But should Hendo decide to undergo it, would it make a big difference?

TRT users indeed report “increased alertness and well-being, increase in lean muscle mass and concomitant decrease in body fat” (source: Gan EH, “A UK Epidemic of Testosterone Prescribing 2001-2010) . It has certainly helped the resurgent Vitor Belfort as he has looked like a new man, arguably at his best ever since he’s fought professionally. It’s also helped Chael Sonnen as he submitted Rua within just a round. But it didn’t really help either man against Jon Jones.

A reinvigorated Hendo could definitely end up like Vitor Belfort. There’s no guarantee but should Hendo lose to Belfort, and should he lose badly (as in first T/KO loss), maybe retirement is a better path?

Does Hendo want to fade away like other greats before him: Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Rampage Jackson and the abovementioned Fedor Emelianenko?

Hendo is a man of great pride and he has aged gracefully. I’m sure he as well as any of his fans believe he’s capable of putting on even more fights but what if he isn’t? As a Hendo fan, I would hate to see him get trashed on his way out of MMA.

One Punch

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One punch. Sometimes that’s all it takes to end a fight. And it can happen at any moment against anyone. It happened to Anderson Silva against Chris Weidman, the greatest mixed martial artist of his time flattened by a punch. Hendo and Belfort are both familiar with the power both possess. Whether it is Hendo who uncorks an “H Bomb” and floors Belfort or the Phenom finally accomplishes what over 30 fighters couldn’t and that is to stop Hendo in his tracks with punches (or a kick).

If Belfort loses, he’d be slightly derailed from his hopes of another title shot (since the fight is taking place at light heavyweight, he will still be technically unbeaten at middleweight since losing to Anderson Silva). But if Hendo loses, this could put him on the verge like what Frank Mir is currently facing.

If Hendo wins however and if he does so in spectacular fashion, he’ll be back in the hunt since the only men who have beaten Belfort in the UFC are or will be in the Hall of Fame. One punch could change Hendo’s fortunes: back in title contention or one step closer to retirement or the purgatory of the gatekeeper status.

As such, this would be Hendo’s most important match. It isn’t for a title. It isn’t of the same magnitude as the Fedor or Anderson Silva fight and it likely isn’t Hendo’s last. But it could very well be one that would define his legacy. One punch: Hendo goes back on the road to the title… or the road to the end.

Link

The Fight of the Year You (Probably) Didn’t Watch

November 19, 2011

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Two men engaged in one of the greatest fights in combat sports history. Both men traded blows in a back-and-forth tilt that left both exhausted, bloodied but not broken.  It wasn’t only the Fight of the Night, but the Fight of the Year. And maybe the Fight of the Decade. And only 269,000 people got to see it.

No, I’m not talking about the legendary Dan Henderson – Mauricio “Shogun” Rua fight, which aired at the same time on the UFC 139 PPV. I’m talking about Bellator LVIII, which aired for free on MTV2. The best thing? It’s still available on Youtube for free courtesy of Bellator. Check it out:

The Greatest Lightweights outside the UFC

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Michael Chandler. Eddie Alvarez. If you’re a casual MMA fan – and by that I mean you only occasionally catch a UFC PPV in a bar and any names outside of Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, GSP and Dana White are foreign to you – then the likelihood is you have not heard of either fighter.

Michael Chandler is currently ranked as the #4 Lightweight in the world by Sherdog and may be the best current lightweight not in the UFC. An NCAA Division I wrestler, Chandler is undefeated at 12-0 with 10 of those wins coming via stoppage (5 KO, 5 submission). Among his notable wins are the aforementioned Eddie Alvarez (below), Rick Hawn, Tristar Gym teammate of UFC Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and longtime pioneer Akihiro Gono. Chandler’s muscular physique, strong ground game and heavy hands have many comparing him as a “mini-GSP” and the comparisons are not too outlandish if you look at his body of work.

Eddie Alvarez is currently ranked as the #9 Lightweight in the world by Sherdog and is the former Bellator Lightweight champion. Before he lost the title to Michael Chandler, he was pretty much Bellator’s alpha dog. As one of the company’s pioneers, he was its first ever lightweight champion and posted a seven-fight winning streak beating UFC vets Josh Neer and Roger Huerta and current Featherweight champion, Pat Curran in the process. Overall he sports a 24-3 record with 14 wins coming via KO and 7 by submission. Alvarez is one of the better boxers in MMA but most notable would be his ability to recover quickly despite being rocked in his fights.

The Road to the Rematch

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Since their epic title fight two years ago, Chandler and Alvarez have been on a collision course right back to each other. It was only a matter of time before they finally faced each other again. Pardon another UFC reference but it isn’t too different from Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos, two premiere fighters who were a cut above the rest. Chandler and Alvarez have mowed down the competition at lightweight.

Michael Chandler has finished his last three opponents, the aforementioned longtime MMA vet Akihiro Gono in a non-title bout, Rick Hawn and David Rickels. Chandler never looked in danger in any of the fights, ending two of them in under a minute into the first round!

Eddie Alvarez had a more interesting story. After his loss to Chandler, he would knock out renowned Japanese submissionist, Shinya Aoki, avenging his previous loss from Dream. Rolling on that momentum, he would then knock out Patricky Freire in one round. Then a contract dispute had Alvarez verbally agree to fight for the UFC until Bellator invoked a clause to re-sign him and all the legal battles ensued.

With that thankfully settled, the rematch two-years-in-the-making HAD to happen.

Bellator CVI: Michael Chandler vs Eddie Alvarez II – All on the Line

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The Lightweight World Championship is the most obvious prize on the line in the fight but it comes down to more than that. These two are the best fighters in the company and two top ten lightweights. Whoever wins this would hold not only the title but bragging rights as the company’s alpha dog.

Michael Chandler is fighting for his undefeated streak. He’s fighting to prove his win over Alvarez in the first fight wasn’t a fluke and he’s fighting to keep solidifying his legacy as one of the greatest lightweight MMA fighters to have ever stepped into the cage.

Eddie Alvarez will be fighting to regain his championship, a title he held and practically owned for two years since its inception in 2009. He’s fighting to beat the only guy who has beaten him within the company and the only guy to have knocked him down his throne. He’s also fighting to win back his spot in the UFC should he have future plans to sign with the bigger company. Dana said he won’t sign any losers. Consider his rematch with Chandler Alvarez’s audition into the big boys club.
Both fighters will also be fighting to make a bigger mark for the company. Bellator, despite being the second largest MMA circuit in the USA is still a relative unknown to the eyes of most casual fight fans and is still dwarfed by the UFC. Another exciting clash that would garner “Fight of the Year” could mean an inevitable trilogy fight putting Chandler and Alvarez and Bellator in an iconic position if only ever for this series of fights.

Bellator CVI

Main Card (Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET)

Michael Chandler vs. Eddie Alvarez
King Mo Lawal vs. Emanuel Newton
Pat Curran vs. Daniel Straus
Joe Riggs vs. Mike Bronzoulis
Mike Richman vs. Akop Stepanyan

Undercard (Watch live here at 7 p.m. ET)
Joe Williams vs. Jesse Juarez
Brandon Halsey vs. Hector Ramirez
Mike Guymon vs. Aaron Miller
Joe Camacho vs. Cleber Luciano
Darren Smith vs. Josh Smith

 

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:

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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.

MMA Fanboy’s Manifesto

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a HUGE sports fan. I won’t brag about being the most hardcore fan or talk about any insane antics or hefty dollars I’ve spent to prove it. No, in fact I would say I’ve been modest and there’s always a crazier fan around the corner.

I’m still a relatively “young” sports fan, not having been for more than a decade. I initially followed the NBA then transitioned to the NHL after moving to Toronto then the NFL and MLB followed. I follow other sports to an extent but casually: college basketball and football, tennis, soccer on an international level and pro wrestling if you count that.

But it wasn’t until April 9, 2005 as what Dana White would call “the most important fight in UFC history” that I got sucked into the world of MMA. I’ll always remember that fight as the sporting event that had me glued to the TV set from the moment it started to the moment it ended. Here’s the fight in its entirety:

Eight years, hundreds of UFC cards and endless fights later, I’ve finally decided to blog about MMA. I’ve tried blogging in the past about past sports or all of them and it turned out to be too much and I slowly faded.

But not this time. MMA is the sport I write about and it’s the sport I’ve decided to stick to. I love it, I respect it and I’ll continue to watch it till the day I die or till the day it dies (hopefully never). Here’s some reasons why I love it so much and why you should:

Young Sport but the Fastest Growing Sport Worldwide

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The sport of MMA is pretty young especially if you compare it to other combat sports such as boxing and wrestling. The UFC, the biggest MMA promotion is only 20 years old versus the big four sports leagues, which are all about a thousand years old. The promotion actually began at a time when I was not only alive but at a conscious age. I can trace the UFC and MMA back to its roots and actually recall it easier or watch it and it’ll be more accessible as opposed to baseball. Good luck finding older videos or tapes.

Despite being young, MMA is the fastest growing sport in my opinion. It’s a global sport that is big in all continents from North America to Asia to Europe to South America and so on. The only two sports I can think of that are more popular in a global scope are football (soccer) and basketball.

There are over 90 fighting promotions based in (n) different continents and the UFC has been to every continent (but Africa and Antarctica) and is being broadcasted in over 130 countries and they’re not slowing down any time soon. For the UFC to have been so successful and not use the state of New York, arguably the hottest market for anything sports-related speaks volumes.

From a career perspective the sport of MMA is the place to be. As an aspiring public relations, events and writing student I would want to be a part of a sport that I can only see continue growing and expanding. The sport of MMA I feel is only as young as I am. This is the sport for me and my generation.

Most Diverse Sport

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There are over 25 different nationalities in total competing in the UFC alone. Tito Ortiz (above) reps both his Mexican and American heritages. There’s over a hundred women competing, making it one of the largest if not the largest organized sport for women worldwide. There are over ten weight classes ranging from as light as 105 lbs to 265 lbs over. You have fighters as small as being under 5 feet and behemoths the size of Shaquille O’Neal. Needless to say, no matter what your ethnicity, sex or build, you have a spot in the world of mixed martial arts.

As a diminutive Asian, there weren’t many athlete role models I could take after. Asians are particularly nonexistent in the realm of sports and women’s sports are but an afterthought. You also seem to need to be over six feet tall to be given better consideration in most sports. But if I ever wanted to strap up, train and go HAM at least I know that pint-sized people like myself have a weight division to compete in.

Best Sport to Follow

There is no “offseason” in MMA. No waiting around for an entire season feasting on the endless trade and signing rumours, top ten lists of underrated and overrated fantasy players and whatever your favourite player is having for dinner.

There is an event perpetually every week or a PPV every month. Fighters only fight within three to four months, maybe two if they take fights on short notices or fight in multiple tournaments but that isn’t common especially for the big name fighters. Within one calendar year, the average MMA fighter fights 2-3 times. Assuming you follow or love about 20 fighters, that’s still only about 10-20 events you can catch in a full calendar year distributed quite evenly.

Also, in an age where there’s distractions everywhere *cough* ADHD *cough* Internet *cough*, the three-round five-minute format of the UFC for instance is easier to watch in its entirety than a 90 minute football match or a 60 minute American football game.

Not About the Violence… it’s Respect and Discipline

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Every MMA opponent would always argue the same thing: it promotes violence and is human cockfighting. Two people causing short-term and long-term physical and psychological injuries to each other for the sake of our petty entertainment… allow me a pause for brief laughter.

The relatively young sport of MMA is relatively no more as violent as other sports like hockey, American football, rugby, lacrosse, even pro wrestling if we want to stretch it that far. MMA just happens to be the most visually striking among all sports and the violence is direct with kicks to heads and faces caked in blood. You’d be hard-pressed to find deaths within major MMA organizations such as the UFC or One FC.

But it’s not about all of that. It’s about the respect and discipline each fighter puts in night in and night out. I’m not a fighter and I can respect every competitor that puts their body, mind and soul on the line. And at the end of a fight, even bitter rivals like Nick Diaz and GSP shake hands for respect. Because there are only two things that can overcome hatred: and respect is one of them. It’s a strange juxtaposition of something that is graphically bloody and violent with a great show of sportsmanship.

Every MMA fighter trains continuously maintaining strict diet to get to their respective weights.

Most Exciting Sport. But it’s about the Story.

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MMA is the most exciting sport, period. I haven’t been on the edge of my seat more times than MMA fights and I’ll always remember the nights I stayed up an extra two-three hours just skimming online for whatever fight videos I can see or going through Wikipedia or Sherdog reading up on fighter profiles, tracing fight history and reading up on various fighting styles.

But it’s beyond that sometimes. Sometimes it’s about what MMA – particularly the UFC – has stood for: truth and honour. Ties in to my earlier point on respect and discipline. It’s about what Royce Gracie started way back in UFC 1 (video below). It’s about the average guy, 170 lbs making much bigger fighters – hulking bullies like Ken Shamrock at 205+ lbs tap out. It’s about the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu adding this new dimension – this new image of fighting that has changed it forever – at least in the mainstream world.

What Royce Gracie showed was how the smaller man could beat the bigger man because it wasn’t just about someone’s size in a fight. He gives underdogs – pipsqueaks such as myself a chance to get ground and pounded instead of getting straight up knocked out the ability to defend myself from nearly anyone.

Sure, the world of MMA is very mainstream and commercialized now. It’s transcended what it originally meant and maybe it has no meaning at all for most people. As simple as two guys beating each other up for everyone’s amusement. But to me it’d always be about underdogs overcoming odds to win. And it’s just not just limited to Royce Gracie’s original domination of the first three UFC’s. There’s plenty wherever. From Matt Brown overcoming a heroin overdose to becoming one of the hottest welterweights currently to Frank Mir overcoming a motorcycle accident to pave a Hall of Fame career to bitter rivalries that span months or years from Tito Ortiz making peace with Ken Shamrock or the aforementioned GSP and Nick Diaz settling old scores in a handshake and hug at the end of their fight.

MMA isn’t so much about the gratuitous violence as it is about the passion, respect and triumph of human courage. You can beat each other to death (and potentially cause future physical risks) and still be best friends is why I love this sport.

With that said, I leave you with the video – the event – the night that changed it all.

Adios.

SUPERCARD FANTASY: Team Lightweights vs Team Featherweights

Time for a totally fun, hypothetical, suspend-your-disbelief scenario .The Featherweight and Lightweight divisions in the UFC (or MMA in general) have been my two favourite divisions. Constantly engaging and quick fights and still enough finishes. Several fight of the year wars (as listed below for all your MMA pleasure) have been from both divisions. So I’m thinking, what if I was Dana White for one major decision and decided to create a super card of sorts.

Team Featherweights vs Team Lightweights in say a catchweight competition of 150 lbs. I’ve picked five fights and five fighters from each weight division. I didn’t strictly stick to the P4P rankings although all ten fighters are within the top 10 of their weight divisions.

My standards for making the matches are simple: how entertaining and competitive each fight will be. My criteria will be: 1) how well each other’s styles will clash against each other and 2) how close each other in terms of ranking or – of course, I can’t promise they will all be close but they’re close enough to make the fight worth watching.

Jim Miller vs Frankie Edgar

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There’s already history between these two: way back in 2006 where Frankie gave Miller his first career loss. They’re similar in build though Miller has a two inch height advantage and Frankie has an inch reach advantage. Frankie is also two years Miller’s senior. They’re both great at takedowns with backgrounds in Brazilian Jiu-Jutsu and Wrestling, have great cardio and entertaining as hell. They both have a combined 10 Fight of the Nights and have both won Fight of the Year. This match has potential for either or both categories.

Why Frankie Wins:

Quick and precise boxing is Frankie’s calling card. If this fight stays standing up, he may win the judges by picking apart Miller’s stand up. Not to say Miller is a slouch but he won’t be out-striking Frankie and he hasn’t shown any significant knockout power to keep Frankie at bay. If it goes to the ground, the crafty and spirited Miller will give Frankie trouble but his indomitable strength in wrestling will see him through.

Why Miller Wins:

His strength and creativity on the ground is among the best in the lower weight classes and his Energizer Bunny-like fighting spirit is ridiculous. His iron chin is going to test Frankie’s boxing and his ability to seemingly weasel his way out of any situation is not unlike the former Lightweight Champ.  Miller has only ever been finished once (by Nate Diaz) to which Frankie vocally expressed utter disbelief in:

Frankie quote:

“I know Jim’s tough as nails … I definitely didn’t think Jim would get finished so hats off to Nate. He’s a stud for sure.”

The Results:

This fight is going all three rounds. Expect this fight to stay standing up in a high energy fast-paced battle with Frankie landing a lot of quick punches with Miller pushing him aggressively. There will be a lot of clinching and takedown attempts with both men fighting for control throughout all fifteen minutes. Fight of the Night contender with Frankie coming away with a close unanimous decision victory.

Winner: Frankie Edgar vs unanimous decision (1-0 Featherweights)

Gilbert Melendez vs Ricardo Lamas

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A clash between the #4 Featherweight and the #2 Lightweight and two potential contenders for their respective titles; Lamas and Melendez seem physically even with Melendez holding a slight height and reach advantage. Both have a background in Brazilian Jiu-Jutsu and wrestling and are just over a month apart in age. You can’t get more evenly matched than this.

Why Lamas Wins:

Outside Cub Swanson, no featherweight has been hotter than Ricardo Lamas. The Bully is undefeated in his UFC career and has defeated all four of his opponents, finishing off three of them including the aforementioned Cub. His mixture of wrestling and BJJ combined with his vicious ground-and-pound could threaten Melendez. Lamas’s stand-up game isn’t his biggest strength but his two KOs coming from his legs are proof he can be a dangerous and effective striker. If El Niño isn’t careful, a leg kick or knee or could just lay him out.

Why Melendez Wins:

Experience. El Niño has more wins (21) than Ricardo Lamas has fights (15). His wrestling/BJJ combo is grueling and he wears out opponents including prominent jiujutsu phenom, Shinya Aoki. In his  24 professional fights, Melendez has also never been finished a credit both to his sturdy chin, elusiveness and strong ground game.

The Results:

This fight will go the distance. Both fighters are strong enough on the ground to assert their will over the other but winning the ground game is as much experience as strength and technique and unless Lamas lands a precise kick or knee to Melendez (unlikely given his strong kick defense shown against Bendo) I see the more experienced fighter coming out on top in a tightly contested match.

Winner: Gilbert Melendez via unanimous decision (1-1 tie)

TJ Grant vs Cub Swanson

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The two hottest fighters in their respective divisions are both coming off of five-fight win streaks. While Grant has a four-inch height and 2.5 inch reach advantage, they’re virtually similar everywhere else including having no KO loss (excluding Cub’s freak eight-second loss to Aldo). Between both of them they have 12 knockouts, 20 submissions, 4 Knockout of the Nights and 5 Fight of the Nights. Fireworks are the least you can expect when these two cross paths.

Why Cub Wins:

Don’t count out the smaller guy. Cub was a former lightweight having knocked out guys bigger than he. He’s knocked out plenty of granite-chinned strikers such as George Roop, Ross Pierson and most recently, Dennis Siver. His fists are just half his arsenal as Cub has tapped out nearly as many guys as he has knocked out. His power, versatility and killer instinct are why he’s on a bullet train to the top.

Why Grant Wins:

Not unlike Cub, Grant was from a heavier weight class most notably giving Welterweight contender Johny Hendricks a run for his money. Since moving to Lightweight, Grant’s been a wrecking ball. His best asset is his BJJ ground game having finished off a whopping 13 guys but lately it’s his fists that have been talking. Like Cub, Grant goes into a fight looking to finish and at Lightweight it’s worked marvelously.

The Results:

Two explosive fighters with strong ground games – this fight is a toss-up. Grant has the definite size advantage but that could also mean being more prone to submissions, which Cub is no slouch in. Both fighters are going to be throwing everything at each other and whoever drops first loses. The difference lies mainly in Cub’s explosiveness and Grant’s technicality. But I’ll give the edge to Cub who has been on an absolute tear dropping even the toughest chinned fighters.

Winner: Cub Swanson via TKO (2-1 Featherweights)

Anthony Pettis vs Chan Sung Jung

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The battle of number one contenders pits two very exciting fighters with virtually the same physical stats: both Jung and Pettis stand 5’9” and have 72 inch reach and are both 26 with similar amount of fights under their belts. Both are well-rounded Brazilian Jiu-jutsu and Taekwondo practitioners and have won Fight of the Year at least once each. Pardon the obvious: but this is an actual fight that would make for an exciting trilogy.

Why Jung Wins:

The Korean Zombie doesn’t just take shots, he eats them for breakfast. Outside his one KO loss, Jung has developed a reputation as a fighter with tremendous endurance and durability. He has some power in his fists but his real weapon is his BJJ being one of the most ingenious submission artists in the UFC – ask Leonard Garcia. Pettis has never been submitted or finished in his MMA career but I wouldn’t put it past the ever-surprising Jung to pull off another once-in-a-lifetime move to secure a shocking win.

Why Pettis Wins:

If the Zombie has shown a weakness, it’s getting kicked in the head and Anthony Pettis just so happens to have a good chunk of his KOs via head kicks. Showtime is one of the most unpredictable strikers if not the most unpredictable. He combines power, agility and creativity and his BJJ has yielded him 6 submission victories. Zombie, although improved, has shown propensity to absorb contact in order to dish it and the more elusive Pettis may just hit Zombie enough to score a W if he doesn’t kick his head off first.

The Results:

This fight is going to see both fighters empty their arsenal of creative weapons to try to outdo each other but I see this match standing up as both of them seem very much like crowd pleasers. In that sense, a Pettis combination KO on Zombie is highly plausible but Jung has taken a more calculated fighting approach that has led to three consecutive wins. Pettis is the better striker and unless Jung can catch him in a submission attempt, I see Showtime taking home the victory via the score cards.

 Winner: Anthony Pettis via unanimous decision (2-2 tie)

Benson Henderson vs Jose Aldo

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Champion vs champion. Technically not a “Super Fight” but still a fight for the ages. Both Bendo and Pettis have 70 inch reaches but Bendo has a slight two-inch height advantage. Both have backgrounds in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jutsu and have about the same number of fights. Most importantly, they’re both undefeated in their UFC careers.

Why Aldo Wins:

Jose Aldo’s real legs were taken away at birth and replaced by steel bats. Half of Aldo’s KOs have been through his legs and he has that Anderson Silva-like ability to strike an opponent from any angle and get the quick finish. Aldo’s takedown defense and BJJ are not to be underrated. He only has one submission (other submission was via strikes) but his BJJ has helped him control strong wrestlers. Aldo’s lanky frame also hides his iron skin. He’s never been knocked out and doesn’t look like he’ll be for a while.

Why Bendo Wins:

I wouldn’t call Bendo one of the toughest-chinned fighters. He is however, one of the most if not the most resilient. He’s been dropped on numerous occasions but always recovers and has never been knocked out ever. He’s virtually impossible to submit (only one submission loss very early in career) and utilizes his strong athletic frame to grind out victories even against the best wrestlers and strikers. Bendo hasn’t finished an opponent since 2010 but he consistently does enough to win via score card showing his consistency and fighting spirit.

The Results:

Aldo has shown a susceptibility to strong wrestlers like Frankie and Chad Mendes and both aren’t nearly as big as Bendo. Aldo has worn out most of his competition with his powerful leg strikes but Bendo’s legs are massive and powerful. His lightning-quick recovery time could also frustrate Aldo. This fight goes the distance and in a battle of attrition, it is Bendo who comes out on top of another controversial decision.

Winner: Benson Henderson via split decision (3-2 Lightweights)

Conclusion

I gave the edge to the Lightweights but the fight, a bit idealistically ends very tightly contested and the card of the year. All a fantasy. But if you disagree with my picks (I’m well aware of Benson Henderson’s controversial status and Aldo’s HUGE following) send me notes! Love or hate, I don’t discriminate.