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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

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20 GREATEST FIGHTS IN THE UFC FROM EACH OF THE LAST 20 YEARS (BELATED HAPPY BIRTHDAY UFC POST!)

Really late but it took a while to do research on the fights and videos. I picked the fights I thought had a great story behind it, not just how much each fighter bled or how how action-packed a fight was – although the entertainment value and lasting impact were my top two categories. Here we go!

2013: Jon “Bones” Jones vs Alexander Gustafsson (UFC 165)

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Edges out Gilbert Melendez vs Diego Sanchez and Wanderlei Silva vs Brian Stann for the moment it showed the champion’s vulnerability and resilient comeback; this was a very controversial contest but marked what could be the start of the greatest trilogy in MMA history.

2012: Joe Lauzon vs Jamie Varner (UFC on Fox 4)

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Post-fight bonus legend Joe Lauzon outlasted Jamie Varner in a World War III style gritty MMA fight. A lot of fights in the octagon are technical affairs but this was a straight up WAR. Lauzon and Varner may never win a UFC title but this fight ensures they have a place somewhere in UFC legend.

2011: Frankie Edgar vs Gray Maynard II (UFC 125)

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Gets the nod over Dan Henderson vs Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 139 for the revelation of the heart of Frankie “The Answer” Edgar; a big size difference saw Frankie make a gutsy comeback against  then-undefeated Gray Maynard to retain his title.

2010: Anderson Silva vs Chael Sonnen (UFC 117)

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Undisputed champion, Anderson Silva would get the fight of his life against then-unknown Chael Sonnen. Silva would pull off a miraculous comeback late in the last round, submitting Sonnen after being controlled the whole fight. This match added to the Spider’s legend and gave rise to the “American Gangster” Chael Sonnen.

2009: Diego Sanchez vs Clay Guida (The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale)

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From the start of the bell to last minute, this fight was a complete war! Right off the ring of the bell, Diego Sanchez and Clay Guida engaged in gratuitous but glorious war that saw a razor-thin decision win to crazy Diego “The Dream” Sanchez.

2008: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs Forrest Griffin (UFC 86)

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The peak of Forrest Griffin’s Cinderella run with the UFC. A major underdog to Pride legend, Rampage, Forrest would win a close five-round fight to become the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. It would mark the first time a The Ultimate Fighter winner would win a UFC championship.

2007: Chuck Liddell vs Wanderlei Silva (UFC 79)

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This year marked the year two legendary (but fading away) MMA fighters went in an all-out brawl. Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva brought a combined 37 knockout wins to this fight but it was the guts and heart of both men that shined best in this classic.

2006: Georges St. Pierre vs B.J. Penn I (UFC 58)

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In what would be one of the most controversial fights in UFC history, a resilient GSP would outlast a vicious assault from B.J. Penn to win a title shot against Matt Hughes. In a rematch a few years later, GSP would put doubters to rest by soundly beating the Prodigy.

2005: Forrest Griffin vs Stephan Bonnar I (The Ultimate Fighter Finale)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXfyzBZzisQ

The fight that put the UFC on the map; not the best fight in technical terms but if you want to see a legitimate contest with two guys beating each other this is the fight for you. As such every UFC fan should have at least seen this fight. Call it a tribute or homage.

2004: Karo Parisyan vs Nick Diaz (UFC 49)

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In a stacked UFC 49 card, young phenoms Karo Parisyan and Nick Diaz stole the show and put on a brilliant display of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Parisyan would come out with a close split decision victory but there were there no real losers in this epic contest.

2003: Randy Couture vs Chuck Liddell I (UFC 43)

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In what would be the first meeting between two UFC legends, Randy Couture would hand Chuck Liddell his first career TKO loss. Couture would also become the first man in UFC history to win two world titles in separate divisions and further establish his stake to one of the company’s greatest fighters.

2002: Tito Ortiz vs Ken Shamrock (UFC 40)

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This fight and PPV marked a turning point for the company as the buyrate was four times larger than any other show. Though a somewhat lopsided affair for Ortiz, the crazy atmosphere and intense rivalry fueled what would’ve been one of the most significant fights in company history.

2001: Carlos Newton vs Matt Hughes I (UFC 34)

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The night Matt Hughes became a UFC legend. The wrestler was a relative unknown coming into this fight and found himself in a grappling war with then-champion and BJJ specialist, Carlos Newton. Mid round 3, Hughes is caught with a triangle choke but just before passing out, slams Newton to win the title in what would stand as one of the most iconic finishes in UFC history.

2000: Tito Ortiz vs Wanderlei Silva (UFC 25: Ultimate Japan 3)

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Go ahead and accuse me of Tito Ortiz bias but Tito Ortiz does what most fans expect in a fight: he WARS. In this particular bout, he takes his brawling talents across the Pacific and meets equally violent Wanderlei Silva in an epic clash for the UFC Light Heavyweight title. Tito would prevail.

1999: Frank Shamrock vs Tito Ortiz (UFC 22)

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One of the greatest comebacks in UFC history; defending Light Heavyweight Champion, Frank Shamrock gets manhandled by the bigger Tito Ortiz for most of the fight then mounts an improbable comeback and TKO’s Ortiz just seconds before the end of round 4. It would be Frank’s last fight with the UFC. It would also be his best.

1998: Dan Henderson vs Carlos Newton (UFC 17)

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The first appearance of future champions Dan Henderson and Carlos Newton would be a memorable one as the two would engage in an all-out brawl with Hendo claiming victory by decision.

1997: Randy Couture vs Vitor Belfort (UFC 15)

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One of the first “superfights” in the UFC, “The Natural” Randy Couture would upset then-undefeated Brazilian terror, Vitor Belfort. Couture would use his strong wrestling to nullify Belfort and finish him with strikes.  This also marked the first UFC with its current limitations on permissible striking areas.

1996: Mark Coleman vs Don Frye (UFC 10)

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Not the most exciting bout by today’s standards but at that time it showcased two powerhouse heavyweights. Mark Coleman would make the most of his UFC debut, beating fan favourite Don Frye with vicious ground and pound and wrestling to win. Bruce Buffer also made his debut at this event.

1995: Oleg Taktarov vs Marco Ruas (Ultimate Ultimate 1995)

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A classic not a lot of fans know about but should watch! UFC 7 champion and Vale Tudo phenom Marco Ruas would be taken to war by the Russian guy from Predators Sambo and Judo expert, Oleg Taktarov. Taktarov would win an entertaining scrap that might’ve yielded different results with today’s judging.

1994: Royce Gracie vs Dan Severn (UFC 6)

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In what is my “Really Boring Fight That Ended Really Awesome” fight, Royce Gracie shows the world that size doesn’t matter after he chokes out Dan Severn, who was a good three weight classes above him. This match is another reminder why BJJ is so widely studied and how even the smaller man can win.

1993: UFC 1

http://vimeo.com/45287348

Quite obvious. Pay your respects!

UFC Fight Night 29 Main Card Picks!!

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DEMIAN MAIA (#4) VS JAKE SHIELDS

I see this fight going in two directions: the first (and one I’m praying for) is going to be a major treat for jiu-jitsu fans as Shields and Maia, two BJJ black belts and premiere grapplers go into a grappling war of the ages.

In 48 combined fights neither fighter has been submitted. They’re both aggressive and wear out their opponents to a scorecard win or a submission (19 combined submission victories). Height, reach and age are all pretty identical.

Of course the second (worst-case) scenario is both – well aware of each other’s expertise – decide to rely on their… not-so-exciting stand-up games. Shields despite having a kickboxing background leaves much to be desired in his striking and Maia (though improved) has rarely shown a penchant for standing and banging.

Maia is undefeated as a welterweight having dominant victories including one over Jon Fitch. Shields on the other hand looks to be a bad loss away from the firing squad. If Shields doesn’t enter this fight with the same ruthless aggression Maia will, it might be a really short – or really long night for him.

Result: Maia via unanimous decision

ERICK SILVA VS DONG HYUN KIM

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A fight between two welterweight prospects who people have forgotten. They’re outside the top 10 but a huge win here could push them in. Dong Hyun Kim has won his last two and his only losses have come against former Interim champ Carlos Condit and Demian Maia. Erick Silva is coming off a tough loss to the gritty Jon Fitch but has three 1st round submission wins. He’s a BJJ Muay thai expert in the mold of Anderson Silva – his mentor and training partner.

“Stun Gun” is a big dominating wrestler and the only fighter who’s outgrappled him was Maia, who was a former middleweight title contender. Depending how well Silva’s improved his grappling and takedown defense, I see Kim Jon Fitch-ing Silva all over again. But Silva is a creative striker and submissionist and has more than likely learned from his run-in with Fitch.

This fight has an eerie resonance with the Jacare and Okami fight: the Brazilian BJJ Muay Thai expert going up against the big strong Asian wrestler. I love Silva’s promise – call me a fanboy but I’m all on board his bandwagon like everyone’s on Jacare’s. Fitch was also a better wrestler than Kim. Silva wasn’t dominated by Fitch in fact coming close to submitting him – twice. He may just pull that off against Kim – if he doesn’t knock him out first. Either scenario is likely to happen, so my gut says.

Result: Erick Silva via round 1 TKO

THIAGO SILVA VS HATT HAMILL

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A clash between two light heavyweight gatekeepers. Matt Hamill and Thiago Silva weren’t doing so hot until their recent victories over Roger Hollett and Rafael Cavalcante, respectively. Silva was and still is one of the premiere light heavyweights in the UFC. Only has 3 losses and 2 came to former champions (Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans) with Alex Gustafsson – who most recently gave #1 P4P king Jon “Bones” Jones a run for his money – is the third. Of his 15 wins, 14 have ended in stoppage with 12 coming via knockout.

Matt Hamill pretty much grew up in the octagon; all but one of his fights have occurred within the UFC. He’s a decorated wrestler being a former NCAA Division III champion and Deaflympics silver medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling. He also has heavy hands (6 wins via KO).

Tough fight. Silva is younger and has twice the fighting experience and has more to prove after having two recent wins forfeited due to failing the post-drug tests. Can’t count out Hamill either. Regardless who wins, this fight may not make it out of round 1.

Result: Thiago Silva via round 1 KO

FABIO MALDONALDO VS JOEY BELTRAN

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What do you get when you pit two granite-chinned strikers fighting for their jobs as part of the main card? The “Just bleed” Fight of the Year contender over here. Fabio Maldonaldo and Joey Beltran are relative unknowns in the casual MMA world but after this fight they may just be legendary.

Fabio Maldonaldo was already legendary in his own right. He was an unbeaten boxer posting 22 wins, 21 coming by KO. 12 of his 19 MMA wins have come via the knockout. But most impressive of all was how he took over a dozen of Glover Teixeira’s biggest bombs and continued to fight back, even clipping Glover a few times.

Joey Beltran burst into the scene by knocking out Rolles Gracie Jr. He also holds a knockout win over former UFC-er Houston Alexander. Though his record (3-5) with the company doesn’t show it, he’s been an underrated undercard talent having two Fight of the Nights to his name.

Honestly, in a slug fest like this it’s a toss up. It’s not really the result we’re after, it’s the showdown. But I’ll say the only fighter tougher than Fabio Maldonaldo is Fabio Maldonaldo after eating Chuck Norris.He should outlast Beltran in what should be one of the most brutal bangers of the year.

Result: Maldonaldo via TKO round 2

ROUSIMAR PALHARES VS MIKE PIERCE

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Another great grappling contest between two hulks in their own right. Rousimar “Toquinho” Palhares got his nickname meaning “Tree Stump” for his little muscular build. He’s 5’8″ and fought to as high as light heavyweight.  Mike Pierce is built similarly. And they both like to get down and dirty.

Palhares paved a steady 7-4 record as a middleweight, many of those wins coming by some of the craziest submissions (two submission of the nights). But back-to-back losses by stoppage has him moving down to welterweight, his first foray into the division.

Mike Pierce on the other hand has been an elite gatekeeper (if there ever was one) in the welterweight division posting a 9-3 record with those losses all coming to former title contenders and elite wrestlers. Since then, he’s won his last 4 fights, finishing half of them by knockout. In his 22 career fights, he has never been finished.

Palhares and Pierce would be interesting to say the least but unless Palhares catches one of Pierce’s limbs for him to eat break, Pierce would grind him into a tree stump. He has heavy hands and has better stand-up and has wrestled much better grapplers.

Result: Mike Pierce via round 2 TKO

RAPHAEL ASSUNҪÃO (#5) VS T.J. DILLASHAW (#9)

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A battle of rising bantamweights. The 5th ranked Assunção is undefeated (4-0) since cutting down from featherweight and after his loss in the The Ultimate Fighter finale to (now flyweight contender) John Dodson, Dillashaw has rattled off 4 straight wins of his own. Whoever wins this fight could be one fight away from a title shot.

I’m biased towards Team Alpha Male fighters especially now that Duane Ludwig has taken them to a new level with greatly improved striking. Dillashaw could be the next coming of Urijah Faber and seems to be on a path to greatness but Assunção’s experience and size would pose considerable problems for Dillashaw. In a grappling match, I generally favour the more experienced larger fighter but you can’t discount talent, something I feel Dillashaw has more of.

Dillashaw will be in for the biggest fight of his career and while my head keeps telling me to pick the bigger, stronger, grittier Assunção, I’ll go with the gut and pick the fighter with the more upside. Chalk it up to Team Alpha Male and Duane Ludwig for another big W.  Keep the streak going.

Result: Dillashaw via unanimous decision

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

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.

Who should Aldo Fight Next?

Jose-Aldo

Pardon the bluntness. UFC 163 absolutely sucked. Where is Dana at? I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near him. The best fight of the main card: John Lineker versus Jose Maria ended quite abruptly with a freak accident to Maria. Tom Watson put on such a sad performance he walked out to the Backstreet Boys in a mask and bad judging reared its ugly head again after Lyoto Machida found himself on the wrong end after, despite out-striking and controlling most of the match lost a shocking unanimous decision to Phil Davis.

And the main event – the event that pitted arguably the two most exciting dynamic fighters in their division – Jose Aldo and the Korean Zombie – fell flat on its face. The main fight just seemed to go from bad to worse especially for Zombie who dislocated his shoulder and lost the match via TKO. Aldo and Zombie looked lethargic the whole match and honestly I’ve seen sparring matches more entertaining for what could’ve been the Fight of the Year. Disappointment just isn’t strong enough of a word.

But I wish Korean Zombie well on his way to recovery and a win is a win for Aldo who never looked in danger throughout the whole match though he looked gassed by the 3rd round, which reminds me of how Edgar out-cardio’d him in their fight earlier in the year. This may very well be Aldo’s only “flaw” if we were to nitpick him.

Jose Aldo sports one of the best takedown defenses in the UFC, he has the most lethal leg kicks and tramples absolutely every fighter he’s faced and his striking in general is surgical. He also fights aggressively and has a killer mentality. Jose Aldo may very well be the next coming of Anderson Silva as differently as they are and as much as I would hate to use this comparison. But he might just be the P4P greatest Brazilian fighter when Silva inevitably fades away (as surreal as that is to imagine right now).

I’m getting ahead of myself. Other than his cardio, Aldo has also been injured repeatedly. Now he’s dealing with a broken foot. He’s suffered at least an injury each year since the WEC/UFC merger and I can’t help but think if Aldo’s career is ever going to live to its GOAT potential should his litany of injuries keep piling up.

As it stands, Aldo is in the top 4 P4P MMA rankings and while I feel he doesn’t have to prove anything any more, the featherweight division (in my opinion, the most exciting division in the UFC) is ripe with scintillating matchups. I’m balling trying to pick who should get Aldo next.

Here’s a look at five contenders (three of whom Aldo has already faced, one who he should’ve faced) who could (or should) get next crack at the champ along with some extra (loose) criteria such as a) likelihood they get the next shot and; b) their chances of beating Aldo. Their rankings are based on UFC.com’s rankings:

Ricardo Lamas (#2 Featherweight)

MMA: UFC on FOX 6-Lamas vs Koch

Height: 5’8”
Reach: 70 in

Lamas wants a title shot. Scratch that. Lamas DESERVES a title shot; hard to argue with a guy who is undefeated (4-0) in his time at featherweight and with the UFC. He’s the last person to beat Cub Swanson (see below) and the first to finish off highly touted prospect, Erik Koch.

It is very likely Lamas fights Aldo next or at the least fights for a #1 contender’s fight (most likely with Cub Swanson). Though I’m not entirely confident how well Lamas is going to fare against Aldo given how his stand-up game is not anywhere close to keeping Aldo honest. Aldo’s takedown defense (as you will see me refer to like a broken radio) is all-but legendary and his two losses came via KO though they were at lightweight. Anything can definitely happen and Lamas can shock the world with a stunning upset but I wouldn’t bank on it.

Likelihood: High
Chances of Beating Aldo:
Moderate

Cub Swanson (#4 Featherweight)

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Height: 5’7”
Reach: 70 in

My pick for the guy who needs to fight Aldo next; without a doubt Cubby has been the hottest featherweight contender outside Lamas and his 4 knockout wins in his last 5 fights speaks enough for itself. Aptly named “Beautiful Destruction”, Swanson transformed what was an up-and-down WEC career into a brilliant UFC career since joining Greg Jackson.

The last time Cub fought Aldo was the latter’s WEC debut and a freak double flying knee ended the fight quite abruptly. Cub’s vast improvement would make things more interesting. Cub is also most likely the most explosive (if not strongest) striker Aldo will have to face and his BJJ background makes him more than capable on the ground. I like Cub’s chances at pushing Aldo, maybe even pull off the shocking upset. Maybe.

The more likely scenario is Cubby fights Lamas in a rematch for the chance to face Aldo while he waits for his foot to heal. Losing to Lamas (again) will slow down Swanson’s momentum some but he’ll hang around the title picture. If it’s anyone Dana loves, its guys who finish fights and Cub will get his shot sooner rather than later.

Likelihood: High
Chances of Beating Aldo: High

Frankie Edgar (#3 Featherweight)

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Height: 5’6”
Reach: 72 in

A Frankie Edgar-Jose Aldo rematch is something that will inevitably come provided neither fighter decided to call it a career and go Yeti-hunting. Frankly (no pun intended :p), I see little reason why this rematch will be too different from the first. Aldo clearly won the first three rounds of the fight and seemingly “gassed out” although it’s hard to find fighters who can out-cardio Frankie Edgar.

What’s notable is Frankie being able to throw Aldo into the mat. Given Aldo’s takedown defense, that is impressive and Frankie is going to have to pull a couple more of those from nowhere to secure a decision over Aldo. Frankie is one of the quickest strikers in the UFC and usually against most competition he can outscore them in this category but that is considering if he can keep eating Aldo’s leg kicks. It’s only a matter of time before the iron-chinned lion-hearted fighter eventually succumbs to his physique. But I’m rambling here. Bottom line: Aldo will still secure a decision win though this next fight may be slightly closer than the first. Maybe a split decision win? Hmm.

Likelihood: Moderate
Chances of Beating Aldo: Moderate

Chad Mendes (#1 Featherweight)

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Height: 5’6”
Reach: 66 in

Chad Mendes was approximately a second away from making it into round 2 with Jose Aldo during their title fight a year ago. That marked his first ever loss and it lit the proverbial “fire up his ass” as he tore through his next three opponents knocking them all out within 2 minutes of the fight. That stat while impressive should still be taken with a grain of salt as none of those three opponents were in the top 10.

“Money” is a force to be reckoned with and is probably the closest thing to Urijah Faber during his golden WEC days.  He faces Clay Guida next in what could be a #1 contender’s match for Mendes. This would also be the first top 10 guy Mendes faces outside of Aldo in his UFC career and should be a good indication if he is a pretender or a contender.

While I love Mendes’s combination of strength, endurance and aggressiveness, I don’t see how his second go round with Aldo will yield an entirely different result. He may probably take Aldo all the way to a decision and wear him out with his strong wrestling background but he isn’t any better than Frankie Edgar or Faber when they faced Aldo. I don’t see Mendes getting another shot at least not over the aforementioned fighters and I see even less of an upset chance.

Likelihood: Low
Chances of Beating Aldo: Low

Anthony Pettis (#2 Lightweight)

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Height: 5’10”
Reach: 72 in

This match is going to happen whether Pettis wins the Lightweight title or not. It has to happen and I’m not the only one who feels this match is still owed to us fans. Physically, Pettis is the most imposing of all fighters listed. He is taller and has longer reach than Aldo and his striking skills are just about as lethal and creative. You’re looking at a kid (only 26) who finished 13 of his 18 opponents and beat 16 of them. He’s coming off of two huge knockout wins over two well-regarded lightweights and is the last guy to have beaten Benson Henderson over three years ago. Here’s a reminder:

With that overhyping behind us, Pettis hasn’t fought a guy with the same pedigree as Aldo. As great as Bendo is, he hasn’t nearly looked as dominant in his title defenses as Aldo – who has all but trampled his competition – even whilst suffering through injuries. Aldo ranks 5th in significant strike defense (72.1%) and 2nd in takedown defense (89.7%). Aldo’s also notable for giving a lot of guys such as Mendes, Swanson and former WEC champion Mike Brown their first KOs. Is Pettis next?

That said, I like Pettis’s chances the best out of all the fighters. Maybe slightly over Cubby. Pettis has one of the most diverse striking backgrounds and is a slick BJJ tactician. Styles make fights and he definitely has the style to pull off the upset. Though the likelihood of this fight happening is very hard to predict though if Pettis wins the Lightweight title back it would be a “Superfight” in its own category.

Likelihood: Wildcard
Chances of Beating Aldo: High

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.