Saturday, August 29, 2009

UFC 102 Results

I managed to get a live audio stream of the fight online, pretty great night for the UFC. Event breakdown and fight analysis will go up after I watch the fights, probably within the next couple days. For now, here are the basic results.

UFC 102 Preliminary Fight Card Results:
Evan Dunham Defeated Marcus Aurelio via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27)
Mark Munoz Defeated Nick Catone via Split Decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)
Todd Duffee Defeated Tim Hague via TKO at :07 in Round 1
Mike Russow Defeated Justin McCully via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-26, 30-27)
Gabriel Gonzaga Defeated Chris Tuchscherer via TKO at 2:27 in Round 1
Aaron Simpson Defeated Ed Herman via TKO at 0:17 in Round 2

UFC 102 Main Fight Card Results:
Brandon Vera Defeated Krzysztof Soszynski via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Nate Marquardt Defeated Demian Maia via Knockout at 0:21 in Round 1
Jake Rosholt Defeated Chris Leben via Technical Submission at 1:30 in Round 3
Thiago Silva Defeated Keith Jardine via Knockout at 1:35 in Round 1
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira Defeated Randy Couture via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Just a few quick words:
Rosholt can tap people out!
Maia needs to keep his hands up.
Couture's will and heart is second to NONE.

Friday, August 28, 2009

UFC 102 Predictions

With UFC 102 on the horizon, I figured this would be a good time for my inaugural event prediction. While I’m certainly not a professional (at least, not yet), I like to consider myself pretty knowledgeable on fighters, camps, and mixed martial arts in general. I’m only going to go ahead and do the main card, because I’m not particularly familiar with a lot of the undercard fighters. Maybe when I know more of these guys I’ll do the undercard along with the main card. These picks are based on my own opinions, and you’re free to debate them with me in the comments.

Chris Leben vs. Jake Rosholt

Rosholt, Rd. 3 by Unanimous Dec

I’m not terribly fond of Leben as a fighter, I don’t think he’s ever really impressed me too much technically. He’s got a good wrestling base and can certainly bang it out, but I don’t think his wrestling is good enough against Rosholt’s, who is a three-time NCAA champ, and has been training with Xtreme Couture for a couple years now. On the other hand, Leben’s got tons more experience than Rosholt, and this will probably help him survive most of the fight. I see Rosholt dominating in the clinch, probably getting a lot of takedowns and some ground-and-pound, but I don’t think it’ll be enough to finish Leben off.

Brandon Vera vs. Krzysztof Socynski

Vera, Rd.3 by Unanimous Decision

Socynski is a very dangerous challenge for Vera, who’s just getting out of a huge slump in his career. Socynski hits hard, has a great top game, and even if he doesn’t have the best jiu-jitsu, he’s probably got the Kimura as good as any black belt. Vera, however, is no stranger to hard-hitters, going the distance against Tim Sylvia, who’s one of the biggest fighters the UFC has ever seen. I think Vera’s kickboxing is better than Socynski’s, and I don’t know if Socynski will be able to power through for a takedown. I think the fight will stay standing, and we’ll see Vera pull off a dominant victory.

Nate Marquart vs. Demian Maia

Maia, Rd.1 by Submission

If you asked me a week ago about this fight, I would have told you that Marquart would keep the fight standing and maybe even score a TKO or decision victory. But after watching UFC’s 102 Countdown, I think Nate’s got a bit chip on his shoulder about people disrespecting his ground game. It’s not that his jiu-jitsu is bad; it’s just that Maia’s is so much better. I think he’s going to try and prove something by tangling with Maia on the ground in the first round (probably after a Maia sweep or takedown), and then getting caught by a submission. If Marquart keeps his cool, I do think he can pose a big threat to Maia with his big power and clinch fighting.

Keith Jardine vs. Thiago Silva

Silva, Rd.2 by KO

Jardine’s a great fighter, and is very difficult to train for, but I really do see Silva just walking right through him. Silva went on a 13-fight winning streak (with 10 knockouts and 2 submissions, one to ground-and-pound) before finally losing to Lyoto Machida, who happens to be the current champion and one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world.

A lot of people talk about how Jardine’s beaten some of the best in the world, with wins over Griffin, Liddel, and Vera, but he’s also lost to top fighters like Jackson, Wanderlei, and Houston Alexander. All of the fighters he lost to were very similar to Silva, packing big power in the hands and constantly pushing the action. Silva may not have faced the very best in the division, but judging by his record, I’d say he belongs up there with them.

Randy Couture vs. Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira

Couture, Rd.3 by T/KO

Tough fight to call, for sure. Two living legends, the very best of the sport. On one hand, Couture has incredible power in his hands and is one of the best wrestling-style fighters in the world. Incredible endurance and conditioning, coupled the ability to use the Greco-Roman clinch to wear down his opponents, makes him the winner of just about any war of attrition. No one doubts the fighting ability of this 46 year old, and anyone who does should try spending even just one round wrestling with him.

However, even after all that’s said and done, Nogueira is probably the only person able to take everything Couture can dish out, and then still throw some crazy armbar or leglock for a tide-turning victory. If you’ve seen his fights in Pride, Nogueira has taken punches from people like Dan Henderson, Fedor, and Tim Sylvia, and even a full-on head kick from Mirko Cro-Cop, and still can keep on fighting. The first time that Nogueria was ever knocked out was by Frank Mir last year, after ten years and 37 fights. Granted, we haven’t seen Nogueira at the top of his game lately, and it’s possible that all the punishment he’s taken is catching up with him. But if we do see a strong and well-conditioned Nogueira tomorrow night, I can guarantee that Couture will have his hands full trying to stop this man. I think Couture has the tools and conditioning to beat Nogueira eventually, but I feel like it’s going to go all the way down to the wire before he can finish him, if he can at all.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fedor's Fighting Philosophy

Fedor isn't what you'd expect of a top caliber fighter. He's chubby and round, hardly physically imposing. He's soft-spoken and articulate, and he's always smiling. Looking at him, you half-expect him to be greeting you at Best Buy or bagging your groceries, not hitting mitts or throwing armbars. If you’ve seen him train, or heard him comment about his training, it’s not particularly spectacular. A little boxing, a little grappling, then some push-ups and pull-ups, a fair bit of running. Definitely not the vicious conditioning and sparring you’ll see on UFC’s Countdown shows. He's disarmingly unassuming, shy even. People expect fighters to be like Brock Lesnar, fierce and powerful, more mountain than man. Fighters should be bold and adventurous, proud and sensational.

So what makes Fedor Emelianenko such a big deal?

He doesn’t fight with the jaw-dropping talent of Anderson Silva, nor does he have the flawless technique and execution of Georges St. Pierre. He’s not the super-athlete like Lesnar or Shane Carwin, he’s not the caged tiger like Wanderlei Silva or Sean Sherk. He walks to the ring calmly, even as chaos surrounds him. If you’re lucky you might catch him crack a smile here or there as he prepares for battle, but mostly his face is blank and unreadable. Truly, the only person who knows what Fedor Emelianenko is thinking at those moments is Fedor himself.

So what makes this man the most feared fighter in mixed martial arts?

The answer lies in those exact moments. He likely knows that he’s not the biggest or strongest, not the most skilled or even the most aggressive. It’s likely that it is because he knows all this that he pushes forward, to fight against the steepest of odds, to come back from the deepest of dangers, to throw punches until his hands break. His determination to always fight back, to never give his rivals a moment to rest—this is what makes him a dangerous fighter. He uses controlled aggression in one solid burst beginning when the bell starts and ending only when the ref pulls him off the limp body of his opponent. And as soon as it’s over, he’s the first one to shake hands with the man he’s beaten, a smile on his face once again.

It’s been said that Fedor’s never been truly tested by the top competition, but I contend that this is untrue. If you watch his fights, even the short ones, it rarely looks like he has an easy night. He gets hit frequently, and often finds himself in dire straits as his opponent starts working the game plan. But somehow, by constantly pushing the pace and forcing the action, he finds his one opening, his one chance at victory, and he pounces on it as soon as he can.

There’s a lot we can learn, as fighters and as people, from this method, because as unsophisticated as it seems, it continues to win him fights.