Shedding Light on a Dark Situation: Undercard Superstar Talks with Will Chope, and did the UFC Handle his Situation Correctly?

Courtesy: Marinabaysands.me

 

Contributor: Josh Hall

UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs Henderson is in the books and it included a mix of incredible action at times tempered by some questionable officiating and a couple of less than enthralling fights.  Whether you want to look at the good or the bad there is plenty to talk about, but the one thing that sticks out to me the most is the one fight that didn’t happen.

The evening before Will Chope was scheduled to take on Diego Brandao, a story was released by Jeremy Botter at Bleacher Report that revealed Chope had been discharged from the US Air Force and served five months in jail for multiple assaults on his now ex-wife.  The details were not pretty, with the last assault involving a threat with a knife and Chope beating his ex-wife’s head on the floor in a fight over a credit card.  Once the story became public the UFC took fairly swift action in the face of public pressure, pulling the Chope/Brandao bout from the card the next morning and quickly releasing Chope from the organization.  They got a bad guy away from the big stage and made a statement about the sort of conduct that is expected from UFC fighters.  Problem solved, right?

When I first heard of Chope’s release, my knee jerk reaction was exactly that.  Domestic abuse is a disgusting thing, and it gets kicked up a notch when there is a pro fighter doing the beating.  Upon looking into the story a bit more though I am not sure that releasing Chope was the proper thing to do, and the way the UFC went about it was absolutely and totally unprofessional.  Guilherme Cruz of MMA Fighting sat down with Chope after his release and that interview added some interesting context to the situation.

Right out of the gate we are hit with the news that Chope found out about his release on Twitter and had to track down Jon Anik and Brian Stann for confirmation that he was fired, because no one with the UFC had contacted him at all and he couldn’t find anyone else around at the office.  Unprofessional doesn’t begin to cover that.

“All the news, I’ve been just like a regular fan finding out on Twitter.”

Chope talked about being in contact with his ex-wife throughout all of this and how they have grown to become good friends, and how they are planning on taking their daughter to Disney World after his fight because he will be visiting the US (Chope resides and trains in Thailand).  He says that his ex has forgiven him for what he did and they have both moved past it, and asks why everyone else can’t do the same.  If his ex really does feel that way, does he have a point?  Domestic abuse is such a horrible thing because of the damage it does to the victim, both physically and emotionally.  If she says that he has changed and grown into a better person and that she has forgiven him, should we still judge him as harshly now for the person he used to be?

From Chope’s FB page (posted by his ex-wife initially, reposted by him with her permission):

 

Even if the answer to that question is no, the UFC would have been totally justified to pass on signing him in the first place.  Not wanting fighters with that sort of past is certainly their right, and as such they ask about a criminal record on the fighter applications.  In his interview with Cruz, Chope said that he plead guilty to misdemeanor assault for attacking his ex-wife and included that on his application.

Before hearing that I was operating under the assumption that Chope had failed to disclose his record, but apparently that was not the case.  The day after he was released I reached out to Will to see if he could clarify a few points regarding this and whether there was any update in his situation.

The first thing I wanted to know was after getting released via breaking Twitter news if he had actually spoken with anyone from the UFC now that a day had passed.  He said that his manager had spoken with them some, but that he still had not been contacted directly by anyone from the UFC.  He told me he was still expecting to be cut, but that it will not be official until he gets his release letter.

In his interview with Cruz, Will mentioned the UFC releasing him based upon a “zero tolerance” policy they have towards domestic abuse.  I asked him if that was something that they actually specified in the fighter application.

“They have zero tolerance for doing anything illegal when [you’re] signed but as far as past issues there is nothing.  I wrote I had a criminal record and they didn’t make any inquiry.”

I could have understood the UFC’s actions if the information had not been disclosed by Chope (even though they should have caught it themselves in a background check), but they knew he had a record from the moment he signed with them.  If they were concerned about it, they could have dug into it and found the same record of his appeal that was released by Bleacher Report.  They could have asked Chope himself for details.  They did neither.  Either someone was negligent in the hiring process, or the UFC didn’t care about his record until it became public knowledge and a bad look for the organization.

As a fan of the UFC, it really disappoints me to see the extreme backlash against Chope in large part because they simply failed to communicate with him over and over again.  They weren’t worried enough to simply inquire about his record.  When it became public, they didn’t call him or look any further into it then either, and when he was pulled from the card and unofficially released they didn’t even give him the courtesy of a phone call to let him know.  The UFC has done a lot to legitimize MMA as a sport, but they have shown a lack of professionalism throughout this process that should never happen.  They are usually better than this, but serious mistakes were made here.

I asked Will whether the UFC had communicated any reason to him through his manager that his case was different than the other fighters on the roster with similar criminal records.

“They just cited a zero tolerance policy towards domestic violence.”

From a Cage Potato article, December 6, 2012:

Abel Nazario Trujillo, another cage fighter scheduled to compete on the UFC fight card on Dec. 8th in Seattle, has twice pleaded guilty to Domestic Abuse Assault Causing Bodily Injury, an aggravated misdemeanor. In both cases, the victim was identified as the mother of his child. In May 2007, Trujillo also pleaded guilty to Obstruction of an Emergency Communication.

    In the plea agreement, Trujillo acknowledged that the crime required the State to prove that his alleged assault victim was making a 911 call, Trujillo knew that she was making a 911 call, and Trujillo hung up the phone. Trujillo competes under the nickname “Killa.”

Zero Tolerance… they keep using that term.  I don’t think it means what they think it means.  The Culinary Union dug up evidence about Abel Trujillo’s past from 5 years ago two days before he was scheduled to fight at UFC on Fox 8.  He was not released immediately under the zero tolerance policy.  He fought on the card as scheduled and as far as I can find the UFC never issued an official statement regarding his past at all.  Trujillo has fought 5 times under the UFC banner since his record of domestic violence was brought to light.

I personally don’t care for zero tolerance policies because they remove the gray from difficult and complex situations and force them to be black and white, but at least they are a consistent standard that everyone knows to abide by.  I don’t know how the UFC can tell someone (or his manager, in this case) that they are fired for a zero tolerance policy when there is a glaring exception to that rule on the active roster that has fought for them 5 times in the last 16 months.  That is such a blatant double standard that it is ridiculous.

Looking at the Trujillo case as an example, this statement that Chope told me seems perfectly reasonable and logical.

“I had no idea past transgressions from 5 years ago before I was ever a fighter would affect me fighting in the UFC.”

I’m not bringing this up to try and get Trujillo released as well.  His case is relevant here because it shows that the zero tolerance policy isn’t exactly what the name implies, and Trujillo and Chope’s crimes and the timing of the release of their respective pasts to the public (1-2 days before scheduled fights) are virtually identical.  Both men pled guilty to misdemeanor assault charges in conjunction with assaulting their wives, and both committed his crime roughly 5 years before it became public knowledge.  Rules are worthless if they are not applied to everyone equally, and a zero tolerance policy does not exist if there is an exception to it.

There is the argument to be made that a zero tolerance policy for domestic abusers is a good thing for the sport and the UFC brand, and I would certainly agree that anyone that is a UFC fighter that commits domestic abuse while under contract should be cut.  But zero tolerance policies when it comes to the past eliminate the possibility for people to change.  Look at someone like Alexander Gustafsson.  He served 15 months in Swedish prison in 2005 after being convicted of his third offense, the last being aggravated assault causing grievous bodily harm.  It may not have been domestic abuse, but it was serious enough to merit more than a year in jail and was a crime of violence.

Like Trujillo’s case, the UFC did not make a big deal about the reveal of these past troubles.  Gustafsson admitted to them himself in an interview with Swedish language site Expressen.se, expressing remorse for the things he had done and crediting MMA with helping him to turn his life around.  He is pretty clearly not that same person anymore though, and it is a textbook example of how people grow and change.  It is not an easy thing to realize you are not a good person and make an effort to change. With so many people getting into MMA from rough backgrounds having bad things in their past, the ones that change for the better should be included and can be a great example for future fighters that they don’t have to be defined solely by their mistakes.

When I questioned Chope why he would have been released where the other situations had been so different, he thought the way his past was revealed to the public played a factor.

“I think it was just how bad Bleacher Report posted the article but me and my ex-wife will address this when I am back in the USA on Wednesday.”  

Whether Chope falls into the same rehabilitated category as Gus still remains to be seen.  The fact that his ex-wife is supporting him in this and that they have become good friends after all that has happened would indicate that is a real possibility though.  I don’t know the man personally so I can’t speak to his character but I would be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt if the victim of his crime says he has changed.  Based on the precedent the UFC has set in handling these types of cases I think that they should at least consider softening the stance they have taken in this case.

I took a deeper look into the UFC’s official Code of Conduct they instituted last year, and it would appear there should still be quite a bit to happen before Chope is released for his misconduct.  Domestic violence is one of the first things they mention that a fighter can be disciplined for, but there is no mention of any specific policy regarding it as more severe than other offenses listed.  The disciplinary process is especially interesting though.

Disciplinary Process:

Upon discovery of potential fighter misconduct, UFC will direct an investigation, which may include interviews and information-gathering from medical expert, law enforcement officers, and other relevant professionals.  As appropriate, the affected fighter and/or his/her designee will have the opportunity to provide information on the conduct at issue.  Upon conclusion of the investigation, UFC will have full authority to impose disciplinary measures on the fighter as warranted in its sole discretion.

Discipline may take the form of fines, suspension, and cessation of service and may include conditions to be satisfied prior to the resolution of the incident.

Determination of the appropriate discipline for an incident will be based on the nature of the misconduct will be based on other relevant factors.

Immediate disciplinary measures may be imposed, provided that following a full investigation of the incident, UFC may review the measures and make appropriate adjustments.  Unless the incident involves significant harm, a first offense will generally not result in immediate disciplinary measure until an investigation is completed.

Previous violations of this Policy may be taken into consideration in making disciplinary statements and may result in immediate disciplinary action.  Misconduct prior to a fighter’s provision of service to the UFC may also be considered.

The last line of the disciplinary section is the only mention of prior misconduct that I saw anywhere in the Code of Conduct, and it seems to fairly narrowly construe it toward factoring in toward discipline for current offenses.  The good thing about the Code if you read the whole thing (you can do so in the linked version) is they do have a listed appeal process, so Chope should eventually get his opportunity to speak his case to the powers that be.  After the swift and harsh initial reaction from the UFC, as long as the Code is followed regarding the disciplined fighter we may end up with a just result after all.

All in all, that is what really matters out of this.  There is no argument about the morality of what has been done in the past (domestic abuse is always wrong and should never be condoned), but only that the UFC handles the situation in a way that is fair and consistent with their rules and the precedents they have set in the application of said rules.  They have not handled the situation in the most professional way possible to this point, but there is still the opportunity for them to remedy that.  Before they sever all ties with Chope if they take the time to go through the full process they have listed in the Code, learn the whole story, and then make a decision based on all the information available on him then and on who he is now.  If with all the information the UFC feels he doesn’t belong, so be it.  Either way we will have a fair decision made in a professional manner, and for fans, fighters and the UFC that is the best outcome we can ever ask for.

 

-Josh can be reached @jhall282 or at jhall282@yahoo.com

Ben’s Breakdowns: Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio Rua II

 

Contributor: Ben Kohn

In a rematch of one of the greatest slobberknockers MMA fight fans have ever had the pleasure, privilege, horror, and general “holy shit what the fuck is happening right now” of seeing, Dan Henderson and Shogun Rua are going to dust off their knees, iron chins, and atomic bombs for fists and go to battle for another five rounds as the main event of UFC Fight Night 38. While they put on one of the all-time great fights since MMA began, I want to say that I don’t like that this rematch was booked. Both of these men took years of each other’s lives and it’s incredibly unrealistic to assume they will have a repeat of their magical performance. Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let’s get down to what adjustments these two need to make from their first fight in order win this rematch.

This article is going to focus almost entirely on their first fight and the adjustments they need to make in order to win the rematch. Only at the end will I address their more recent fights because I do think they matter in the grand scheme of things but, for the most part, they have not changed their styles at all. That’s my second disclaimer in two paragraphs, is that a record? Alright on to what’s been going on in their careers since their first fight.

Since UFC 139, a day fight that will not soon be forgotten, neither man has exhibited much success but Shogun has had some at least while Hendo has had absolutely none. Dan Henderson is currently on a three fight losing streak to Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, and Vitor Belfort respectively. Vitor was the one to finally finish Hendo by strikes, blasting the legendary chin of Henderson just 1:17 into the first round. Shogun in the meantime has had four fights, beating Brandon Vera and James Te Huna, by TKO and KO respectively, and losing a decision to Alexander Gustafsson and being submitted by Chael Sonnen. Despite both of them being fighters for over a decade (Shogun for 12 years and Henderson for 17 years), there is a massive age gap that separates them as Shogun is 32 and Henderson 11 years older at 43. Henderson’s three fight losing streak is a bit worrisome, especially with the vicious KO he recently suffered, and it concerns me a bit. Shogun on the other hand, in his last fight, looked far better than he has in years. He came in looking trim and fit, moving much better, and overall exhibited a flash of the old Shogun from when he won the title. IF that Shogun shows up to fight the old Hendo that has recently fought, it’s going to be a very interesting fight. But enough of that, let’s move on to see what happened in the first fight round by round and how each fighter, assuming they come in shape and ready to go like they were before, should make adjustments to take the victory the second time around.

The first three rounds of the first fight are the ones that, to me, stick out as the most important ones. Henderson was able to control the pace of the fight because of Shogun’s willingness to brawl and fight at Henderson’s pace rather than pushing the notoriously prone to gassing Hendo to fight at a faster clip. Despite Shogun having some successes in the first 3 rounds, most of the time Hendo was outstriking a man who should have had a distinct advantage in technical ability on the feet. Shogun had range attacks, power, and an iron chin (as was displayed) and he most definitely had the more varied attack. So what went wrong exactly and how was Hendo able to land a game-changing punch almost immediately? Well the answer lies in Shogun’s completely stationary positioning throughout the fight. What exactly do I mean by that? Well Shogun isn’t exactly known for his head movement but he definitely can move when he wants to. Henderson is extremely slow and plodding and relies on his opponents remaining in front of him in order to land that H-bomb. Usually he’ll have to try and corral fighters into the right hand but Shogun, for some inexplicable reason, decided to stand right in front of him and allow Dan to land the punishing right hand over and over again throughout the fight.

You can see from the images above how Shogun was not using lateral movement at all in the fight and was almost always to be found directly in front of Henderson for the first three rounds of the fight. This lack of any sort of footwork or movement to escape the path of Hendo’s attacks culminated in Shogun getting cracked a lot.

 

Here’s a perfect example of Shogun being blasted with a right hand by Henderson after just hanging out directly in front of him. Shogun is standing within punching range and gets cracked behind the ear/head and drops to a knee from the impact of it.

While this is definitely not ideal, there were ways he could have escaped from Hendo’s onslaughts relatively easily. While expecting Shogun, who is also known for having a small gas tank as well, to constantly move around may be a bit much, it isn’t too much to expect him to circle away when Hendo would charge forward recklessly right? Wrong.

Here we see Hendo throw a telegraphed right hand from way out of range and Shogun easily avoids it by moving back. Hendo continues plowing forward throwing a left hook that connects but without much power because of Hendo’s foot position. Shogun continues to just move further back coming up on the cage very quickly. Hendo re-establishes his footing into an orthodox stance and lands a hell of a right hand on the chin of Shogun. Shogun covers up and backs up against the cage where Hendo starts throwing uppercuts and hooks for all he’s worth. This sequence leads into a final issue that Shogun demonstrated in the first few rounds of the fight.

Hendo would absolutely tee off on Shogun whenever he was pressed against the cage. Shogun had a tendency to cover up and try and wait out the punching storm rather than get out of the way of them or stifle the barrage of punches. The fact is that the only reason Shogun was able to survive those three rounds is because of Dan’s inability to sustain the attack against him. Every bit of Dan’s effective offense complimented one another beautifully and Shogun’s constant mistakes in defending really cost him the fight as well many brain cells.

Before moving onto the final two rounds where Hendo had less gas than a Tesla Roadster, I do want to point out the successful attacks Shogun did display in their fight.

Dan Henderson stands with a very linear stance to maximize the power in his right hands. The drawback to this is that his left hook and jab are generally ineffective and lack enough to power to trouble many fighters he faces. Shogun had the most success in the fight countering these weak jabs and hooks with his right hand. While there were not many successes for Shogun, whenever Dan needed space or a break he would fling out the left. Shogun actually dropped Henderson with a right uppercut counter to a feinted jab in the fourth round.

The reason why Shogun was finally able to land the punch had a few components. First, Hendo was extremely tired at this point. Second, Hendo ducked down whenever he throws a left in order to dip away from the expected cross counter Shogun kept attempting. The problem is that it exposes him to the incredibly telegraphed, yet powerful, uppercut Shogun loves. Because Hendo was too tired to do anything about it though, he got blasted with the punch that completely changed the complexion of the fight. After this point, the fight was virtually all Shogun as Hendo was just too gassed out to really fight back. Shogun was landing punches on the feet immediately after the huge uppercut and after taking him down at the end of the round. Shogun also rode out the entire fifth round in top position landing tons of ground and pound from mount but he was unable to finish due to being so tired. The round most definitely should have been a 10-8 though and the fight should have ended in a draw but alas it did not. So in order to win the rematch, what do these two men need to do?

In Henderson’s last fight, he was knocked out for the first time in his career (although it was not a clean KO and was a TKO) but many feel that his chin may still be intact after that beatdown by Belfort. For his sake I hope so because he will need it in this fight. Shogun displayed in his fight with James Te Huna almost everything he needed to change in order to come out of this fight victorious. He was in shape and was moving around, not standing in front of Te Huna and continually using lateral movement. In the short fight, he also actively worked to circle away from the cage when his back was against the fence which is very good news. Finally, he was using his infamous leg kicks when he was at range with the powerful boxer. Against Henderson, who will need Shogun to stand still, this Shogun most definitely needs to show up to fight. The most important thing in my opinion though is that Shogun needs to move around. If he can force Dan to move and not present a stationary target, than he can avoid the infamous inside leg kick to right hand combination of Hendo.

Hendo, for his part, needs to display exactly what he did in the first fight with a bit more restraint. Shogun is just as tough as Hendo and expecting to finish him is not very smart. I understand chasing down the opponent and trying to finish but after their first fight, Hendo needs to be a bit more conservative when going for the kill. Aside from that, Hendo basically fought the perfect fight. He avoided grappling when he could and clinched when he was tired. Shogun on the other hand inexplicably did not work to grapple with Hendo in the earlier rounds. Hendo’s weak cardio and less than stellar game off his back should have been a go-to in their first fight and Shogun would be wise to try and tire Hendo out on the feet.

Overall, their first fight was only close because of Hendo’s inability to fight for so many rounds at that pace. Henderson basically dominated the fight before gassing and the Shogun that fought him then cannot show up again or it will be the same exact fight again. Shogun needs to fight exactly like he did against Te Huna. Never giving Hendo a stationary target is something Machida and Evans did in their fights while Belfort….well yea. Shogun can definitely win this and looking as good as he did in the fight with Te Huna gives me hope that he can actually beat Hendo the second time. For that reason I am picking Shogun to fight smart and show up in shape (yes I know how ridiculous that notion is).

Final Prediction: Mauricio “Shogun” Rua by TKO Round 3.

UFC Fight Night: Shogun vs. Henderson 2 Picks

 

Staff Standings:

Ben Kohn: 33-13 .717
TC Engel: 40-19 .678
Josh Hall: 15-8 .652
Luke Irwin: 45-26 .634
Nolan Howell: 21-15 .583
Earl Montclair: 32-27 .542
Dan Galvan: 5-6 .455

Light Heavyweight Bout: Dan Henderson (29-11) vs. Mauricio Rua (22-8)

Luke Irwin: I hate that this fight is happening. This will not come anywhere close to their first fight. Henderson has been the drizzling shits for years now and Shogun is a shell. Even worse, Henderson has been boring. Really boring. Dan Henderson, boring. I never thought I’d see the day. This won’t be a classic, this will be your two drunk uncles fighting at the family reunion. Rua via SD.

Middleweight Bout: CB Dollaway (13-5) vs. Cezar Ferreira (7-2)

Luke Irwin: Dollaway in a co-main is puke, but he’s still considerably better than his opposition here. Dollaway via UD.

Lightweight Bout: Leonardo Santos (12-3) vs. Norman Parke (19-2)

Luke Irwin: Parke is a legitimate threat and won the underrated TUF Smashes series. Santos…not so much. Parke via R3 submission.

Light Heavyweight Bout: Fabio Maldonado (20-6) vs. Gian Villante (11-4)

Luke Irwin: This could be an ugly, ugly, sloppy brawl, and deep down we’re all hoping it will be. Maldonado via R3 TKO.

Lightweight Bout: Mairbek Taisumov (21-4) vs. Michel Prazeres (17-1)

Luke Irwin: I have a lot more faith in Taisumov and his upside. I can’t trust anyone that slipped by Jesse Ronson and lost to the ghost of Paulo Thiago. Taisumov via R2 TKO.

Featherweight Bout: Rony Jason (13-4) vs. Steven Siler (23-11)

Luke Irwin: Siler is a damned solid featherweight, with his only losses to Dennis Bermudez and Darren Elkins in the UFC and hasn’t been finished in his seven fights. Jason is coming off of a brutal knockout loss, and a guy like Siler will be able to pressure him and wear him down. Siler via UD.

Featherweight Bout: Diego Brandao (18-9) vs. Will Chope (19-6)

Luke Irwin: Brandao is a psychopath who deserves to get humbled again, but Chope is clearly not the man to do it. Brandao via R1 KO.

Middleweight Bout: Ronny Markes (14-2) vs. Thiago Santos (8-2)

Luke Irwin: Markes suffered a setback against Yoel Romero, because he met one man that plays his game better than he does. Thiago Santos is not Yoel Romero. Markes via R2 TKO.

Flyweight Bout: Jussier da Silva (15-3) vs. Scott Jorgensen (14-8)

Luke Irwin: Shame that this fight couldn’t crack the abysmal main card, but the fact remains that both of these guys need a win badly. Formiga used to be the top flyweight in the world and Jorgensen was a bantamweight title contender, now they’re fighting off getting cut. I haven’t seen anything from these two I’ve liked lately, but I’ve seen less of Jorgensen that I’m hopefuly about. da Silva via UD.

Welterweight Bout: Kenny Robertson (12-3) vs. Thiago Perpetuo (9-2-1)

Luke Irwin: Both are coming off losses, but I always tend to take the wrestler over the winging puncher. Robertson via SD.

Featherweight Bout: Godofredo Castro (9-3) vs. Noad Lahat (7-0)

Luke Irwin: Castro is probably the worst featherweight on the roster now that Cody McKenzie is a lightweight. Lahat has at least tested himself in some decent regionals. Lahat via R2 submission.

Light Heavyweight Bout: Francimar Barroso (16-3) vs. Hans Stringer (21-5-3)

Luke Irwin: Stringer took Attila Vegh to a draw in 2011, so he’s got that going for him…which is nice…but Barroso has a UFC win and has also cut his teeth in the absolute tip-top of Brazilian indies for years, I like his experience more. Barroso via R2 KO.

Undercard Supermarket: Fight Food for Awful Men (UFC 171 Edition)

Welcome back to another installment of Undercard Supermarket, where I, Luke Irwin, founder and editor, and my esteemed colleagues share what we’re enjoying on fight night, and I subsequently judge the shit out of them.  Onward!

Cory Braiterman:

DSC02827

(Cory doing what Cory does best.  Going way over your head with his culinary choices, and silently carrying a smug sense of superiority.  Right in his wheelhouse.  AND CHIVES BLOW, BROSEPH!)

Connor Dillon:

koreanPho_in_Saigoncs_pint_n_mug_cold

(Connor started out his entry with “I’m probably not gonna feast too much…” then proceeds to lay waste to eastern Asia like he was piloting the Enola Gay.)

Earl Montclair:

_MG_3017haw_ket_chips_SweetMauiOnion225cold_snap_6pk__large

(I guess it’s good for the beer industry as a whole that we have such specialized tastes in seasonal beers that we now have one for “Not Quite Winter Anymore, But Not Quite Spring, The Snow Is Starting To Melt And Our Basement Has Three Inches Of Standing Water”.  Also, I’m giving Earl the benefit of the doubt that he’s not having the Lay’s Maui Onion Chips, because then I’d be sad.)

Dan Galvan:

SSS wingsspicy_garlic_chicken_wings_2how_to_make_boneless_chicken_wings_1

(Dan was going after my own heart when he said was attempting to eat sixty wings in three varieties, but then…he had to go there…he had to fucking go there…boneless “wings”.  THEY’RE NOT WINGS, THEY’RE A SHAM.  TAKE YOUR POPCORN CHICKEN AND SHOVE THEM UP YOUR MANGINA, GALVAN!  ALSO, YOU’RE GONNA END UP LIKE THIS!)

 

Ben Kohn:

Woodford-Reserve-Bourbon

 

(Poor Ben :( )

 

Luke Irwin:

Chicken_And_Green_Chili_Enchiladas-1Mexican-Rice1Black-Velvet-750mldietpepsican

 

(Perhaps no fighter is more proud of where he lays his head down than my man, Carlos Condit.  New Mexico is in his blood, and thusly, New Mexico will be in my mouth.  Chiles, specifically green chiles, are the largest agricultural crop in New Mexico and one of it’s biggest sources of bid-ness.  So I’m going with enchiladas with green chile sauce!  Of course, you gotta have the Spanish rice with it, and, naturally, the accompanying beverages.  WAR NBK!)

UFC 171 Staff Picks

 

Staff Standings:

Ben Kohn: 33-13 .717
TC Engel: 32-14 .696
Josh Hall: 15-8 .652
Luke Irwin: 37-21 .638
Nolan Howell: 21-15 .583
Earl Montclair: 26-20 .565
Dan Galvan: 5-6 .455

UFC Welterweight Championship: Johny Hendricks (15-2) vs. Robbie Lawler (22-9)

Luke Irwin: This will be brutal, but Lawler hasn’t seen a championship round since 2007. Hendricks is on a roll and even if you don’t believe in destiny, the way he performed against GSP and Condit should lead him to pull away in the title rounds. Hendricks via UD.

Earl Montclair: I really REALLY want the resurgence of Robbie Lawler to achieve a crescendo here in this fight. I would love nothing more than for Robbie Lawler to be the UFC Welterweight King here in 2014. I just think that Hendricks can wrestle when he gets in trouble on the feet and that is a luxury Robbie does not have. It makes me sad but it’s gonna be Johny Hendricks, Unanimous Decision.

TC Engel: Robbie Lawler, AKA guy that lost to Lorenz Larkin 18 months ago, is fighting for a UFC title. Good one, Joe Silva. I lol’d. Hendricks by KO, round 2.

Welterweight Bout: Carlos Condit (29-7) vs. Tyron Woodley (12-2)

Luke Irwin: Y’ALL FORGOT ABOUT NBK! Y’ALL THOUGHT NBK IS PLAYING! If Marquardt can pin Wood against the cage and work him over, Condit can do that, too. Condit via R2 TKO.

Earl Montclair: I love Carlos Condit as much as the next guy not named Luke Irwin or TC Engel but it is death, taxes and Carlos Condit surrendering takedowns and that will lead to a sad sad night for 2 of our staffers here. Tyron Woodley, DREADFULLY BORING UD.

TC Engel: HOO BOY. MY HOUSE IS GOING TO BE COVERED IN ECTOPLASM SATURDAY NIGHT. CARLOS THE NATURAL BORN KILLER CONDIT IS GOING TO DO SOME UNHOLY THINGS TO T-WOOD. HIS MOMMA GON BE CRYIN BLOODY MURDER. WELL SO IS CONDIT, BECAUSE HE GON BLODDY MURDER TYRON WOODLEY. GET ERECT BOYS, WE’RE FLYIN AT FULL MAST. CONDIT BY KNOCKOUT IN THE VERY FIRST ROUND.

Lightweight Bout: Diego Sanchez (24-6) vs. Myles Jury (13-0)

Luke Irwin: Diego can windmill all he likes, but I think Jury is too technical on his feet. Jury via SD.

Earl Montclair: Diego Sanchez is atrocious. I cannot stand his antics, his persona, his dumb mean face or the fact that he “beat” Martin Kampmann after getting carved up for 3 full rounds. Myles Jury is going to beat him into oblivion here but will still lose one card because Diego sure can windmill them punches, y’all. Myles Jury, Split Decision.

TC Engel: Eh. Neither of these guys are good at doing fights. I think Jury will do fighting better than Diego will do fighting, but neither will do it well. Jury by UD.

Welterweight Bout: Hector Lombard (33-4-1) vs. Jake Shields (29-6-1)

Luke Irwin: I’ve always said the best kind of fights are the ones where you detest both fighters. This is one of those. Hopefully that asshole Lombard throws Shields into the 18th row. Lombard via R1 KO.

Earl Montclair: If I could take a fight and throw it into the sun, this would be it. Hector Lombard, Unanimous Decision.

TC Engel: Homies be sleepin on Shields. The guy has a stupid chin, and a hella underrated wrestling game. Shields by UD.

Light Heavyweight Bout: Nikita Krylov (16-3) vs. Ovince St. Preux (14-5)

Luke Irwin: Please don’t let this fight open the PPV. St. Preux via R1 TKO.

Earl Montclair: Nikita Krylov goes from Fyte Pass to PPV Main Card quicker than Mike Goldberg running to an all you can Xyience buffet. Anyways, OSP via UD.

TC Engel: No contest LOL GET IT GUYS. Krylov by SD.

Welterweight Bout: Kelvin Gastelum (7-0) vs. Rick Story (16-7)

Luke Irwin: Embrance the grind. Story via UD.

Earl Montclair: Story via body punches up against the fence laden Unanimous Decision.

TC Engel: I actually think Gastelum is one of the best TUF winners of the last five years. I think he positively mauls Rick Story and makes his case as a top 15 welterweight. Gastelum by TKO, round 1.

Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Jessica Andrade (10-3) vs. Raquel Pennington (4-3)

Luke Irwin: Andrade put one of the worst beatings I’ve ever seen on another fighter in her last fight, and I think that’s going to carry forward to Pennington. Andrade via R2 TKO.

Earl Montclair: Pennington is entering a world of pain. Andrade is going to do horrifying things to her. Jessica Andrade, TKO, Round 2.

TC Engel: lolwtf. Andrade by KO, round 2.

Featherweight Bout: Dennis Bermudez (12-3) vs. Jimy Hettes (11-1)

Luke Irwin: This fight is gonna be incredible. Grappling, scrambles, submission attempts; it’s going to be fantastic. Bermudez has quietly won FIVE straight fights and I think this one goes down to the wire in an awesome grappling bout. Bermudez via SD.

Earl Montclair: This will be excellent. Hettes will prove to be too slick for Dimmis on the floor. Jimy Hettes, Submission, Round 2.

TC Engel: I have a microboner for Bermudez. The guy fights like Nolan’s brother. Bermudez via UD.

Welterweight Bout: Alex Garcia (11-1) vs. Sean Spencer (11-2)

Luke Irwin: On a card with big Lombard, it’s only fitting that mini-Lombard is here, too. Garcia via R1 TKO.

Earl Montclair: Spencer UD.

TC Engel: There will be facepunching in this fight. One guy will do more facepunching than the other guy. Alex Garcia is the former. Garcia by KO, round 1.

Lightweight Bout: Frank Trevino (11-0) vs. Renee Forte (8-3)

Luke Irwin: Never trust undefeated Brazilian prospects in their UFC debuts. Forte via UD.

Earl Montclair: Forte UD.

TC Engel: BOY, THIS IS A MIXED MARTIAL ARTS MATCH. Forte by submission, round 3.

Flyweight Bout: Justin Scoggins (8-0) vs. Will Campuzano (13-5)

Luke Irwin: I like Scoggins, but I don’t like him as much as Vegas does as a -360 favorite. JESUS. Campuzano via SD.

Earl Montclair: Campuzano UD.

TC Engel: MAH DUDE SCOGGINS by UD.

Middleweight Bout: Bubba McDaniel (21-7) vs. Sean Strickland (13-0)

Luke Irwin: Upset pick here, Strickland is a great prospect that I’ve had my eye on for some time, he’s fought all over the world and he’s been due for a callup for some time. Strickland via UD.

Earl Montclair: Strickland is here on way too short of notice. Bubba UD.

TC Engel: oh who even gives a shit at this point. i choose not bubba mcdaniel by aggravated assault.

Featherweight Bout: Daniel Pineda (18-10) vs. Robert Whiteford (10-2)

Luke Irwin: Watching Daniel Pineda is a chore, but at the very least, he’ll eek out an awful decision over Whiteford here. Pineda via SD.

Earl Montclair: I am always happy to see a Daniel Pineda fight. Pineda, Submission, Round 1.

TC Engel: Pineda was a fun guy to watch at one point and then he turned into a guy that isn’t fun to watch. I hope this fight is fun, because boy oh boy does it ever not matter. Pineda by submission, round 2.

An Editorial: I HATED THIS SHIT

(This is an editorial by Taylor Engel, the views of this deranged maniac do not necessarily reflect the views of Undercard Superstar.  It might, but it might not.)

Contributor: Taylor Engel

Yosdenis Cedeno vs. Ernest Chavez: Just everything. What the hell man. First of all, you’re supposed to be a top prospect. That was not a top prospect showing. That’s the kind of showing that’s deserving of a one fight stint in the UFC. Secondly, and most importantly, why did you let Stephen Hawking do your hair for you? Seriously dude, I dislike you. Go away.

Erik Koch vs. Rafaello Oliveira: You know what, Erik Koch? You have to be doing something REALLY wrong with your tattoo work for me to call you out. You’re talking about a guy who has a 4 on a putting green tattooed on his arm saying that your tattoos suck. YOU HAVE “KOCH HEAD” TATTOOED ON YOUR BODY. THAT’S A DECISION YOU CONSCIOUSLY MADE. DO YOU HAVE DEMENTIA? And that’s without even mentioning the fact that you have the burn victim love child of Gary Sinise and Bruce Buffer on your tit. You’re bad at making decisions, Erik Koch.

Tractor.. Did you consult Yosdenis Cedeno for advice on hairstyling? Did your barber go into cardiac arrest halfway through your haircut? Please tell me you didn’t pay real money in real life for that atrocity.

Zach Makovsky vs. Josh Sampo: There was really not much I hated about this fight. Both guys fought well, and despite Sampo clearly drawing the short straw genetically, they’re both fairly hard to hate. ELKINS VS SAMPO FOR UGLY DUDE CHAMPION OF THE UNIVERSE PLEASE, SEAN SHELBY.

Cody Gibson vs. Aljamain Sterling: Cody. Have you ever seen a gym? If so, go into one. Go to the guy with syringes poking out of his gym bag that looks hella angry. Ask him what a “bench press” is, because CLEARLY YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IT IS. WORK ON DEM TIDDIEZ SON.

Aljamain. I really only have one grievance with you. It’s that I’m not you. HOT. DAMN. BRO. YOU ARE GORGEOUS. MARRY ME. #STERLING2014

Raphael Assuncao vs. Pedro Munhoz: A single issue, here: Pedro Munhoz was fighting. Not that I have any issue with him, I’m completely apathetic towards him. It’s merely that him fighting meant that Cisco Rivera, future UFC bantamweight champion, wasn’t. I really thinking Cisco could’ve worked around Assuncao’s shockingly good boxing and got the knockout last night. It makes me sad. I’m sad.

Alexis Davis vs. Jessica Eye: People thought Jessica Eye won this fight. That’s a thing. Alexis Davis had control for almost five times as much as Eye, landed almost twice as many strikes, and had more takedowns. And yet people thought Eye won. That’s dumb as shit. People are idiots. I hate people.

Robert Whittaker vs. Stephen Thompson: I’m actually 88 percent sure that this fight didn’t happen. Nope. Don’t remember it.

Mike Pyle vs. TJ Waldburger: This was an outstanding fight, so I really only have two complaints: TJ, I love you man. You’re always entertaining, and you put everything on the line. But you’ve been KO’d more than all but one fighter in the UFC, at the age of twenty five. I’ll miss you, but I genuinely hope you either get cut or retire. You’re throwing your life away if you continue in this sport. Hell, you’ve very likely already cut years off your life. Thanks for the memories, but I hope you never fight again. Second.. Herb Dean. What? Were you smoking that good herb last night? The fact that your stoppage in this fight, that was about 25 seconds too late, was NOT your worst stoppage of the night really says something. I don’t know what’s been up with you lately, but you had two of the worst stoppages in recent memory last night.

Rory MacDonald vs. Demian Maia: Similar to the Pyle vs. Waldburger fight, I really don’t have anything negative to say about the fight. BUT WAIT, I STILL HAVE SHIT I DIDN’T LIKE! Rory, you stupid douchebagel. WHERE WAS THAT PERFORMANCE AGAINST ROBBIE LAWLER YOU DUMB ASSHOLE?! WHY WERE YOU SUDDENLY NOT CONTENT TO THROW 145 JABS AND CALL IT A NIGHT!? DAMMIT RORY. SCREW YOU AND YOUR BROMANCE WITH MIKE RICCI. I hate this sport.

Daniel Cormier vs. Pat Cummins: Why was I watching a barista fight an Olympic wrestler in a co-main event last night? GOOD THING WE’RE GETTING 54 EVENTS THIS YEAR, DANA. REAL SMART BUSINESS RIGHT THERE MAN. NOT A WATERED DOWN PRODUCT AT ALL. And sure, DC looked good, but he still didn’t look fast at light heavyweight. I think Rashad would’ve played with him. You know what else I don’t like? DC’s attempt at trash talking. Good lord dude. I’ve heard better trash talk from Binyamin Kohn. Stop it.

Ronda Rousey vs. Sara McMann: There isn’t enough space for me to write everything I hated about this stupid butthole fight.

First: Sara, WHAT IS THAT ATROCITY ON YOUR BACK? SURE, YOU CAN’T SEE IT WHEN YOU WEAR YOUR RASH GUARD, BUT GOOD LORD WOMAN. THAT SHIT IS HORRIFIC. I WISH THIS WAS NOT A REAL THING. THE LION LOOKS LIKE MUFASA AFTER HE GOT CURBSTOMPED BY THE WILDEBEESTS. THE GUN LOOKS LIKE IT WAS SMITHED BY MICHAEL J. FOX. THE COIN LOOKS LIKE IT WAS MADE IN MESOPOTAMIA. THE BACKGROUND LOOKS LIKE A BOB ROSS PAINT BY NUMBER. WHY DID YOU DO THAT, SARA.

Second: Ronda Rousey is a butthole. Your intimidating face when you walk out is stupid. I was more scared by the violent scenes in Beauty and the Beast than whatever that is. You know what else I don’t like about Ronda Rousey? EVERYTHING. GO BE A C LEVEL ACTRESS AND LEAVE THIS SPORT ALONE. YOU AREN’T COOL. YOU AREN’T EDGY. YOU AREN’T A BADASS. YOU’RE A GOOD FIGHTER. IF YOU JUST SHUT YOUR IDIOT BALLBAG MOUTH, I MIGHT LIKE YOU. BUT YOU CAN’T. YOU NEED TO TALK, YOU NEED TO HAVE AN ATTITUDE. GO AWAY AND MAKE THE EXPENDABLES 9 STRAIGHT TO DVD.

Third: HERB. YOU STUPID MORON. YOU USED TO BE GOOD AT YOUR JOB. YOU ARE NOT GOOD AT YOUR JOB ANYMORE. FIRST, YOU RISK TJ WALDBURGER DYING. SO YOU DECIDE TO MAKE UP FOR IT BY STOPPING THIS FIGHT AS SARA MCMANN IS GETTING UP. IT WAS ONE OF THE WORST STOPPAGES I’VE SEEN IN MY LIFE. THE WORST PART? NOW I HAVE TO HEAR ABOUT RONDA ROUSEY’S IMPROVED STRIKING. THIS IS YOUR FAULT, HERB. YOU DID THIS TO ME.

UFC 170 sucked. All of the fights suck, all of the fighters suck. This sport sucks. Except when it doesn’t.

(This has been an editorial from Taylor Engel.  Taylor changes his Twitter handle almost weekly, but currently you can reach him at @69blazeit420, unfortunately.)

UFC 170 Staff Picks/Predictions

 

Staff Standings:

Ben Kohn: 25-10 .714
TC Engel: 24-11 .686
Josh Hall: 15-8 .652
Luke Irwin: 29-18 .617
Nolan Howell: 21-15 .583
Earl Montclair: 18-17 .524
Dan Galvan: 5-6 .455

UFC Women’s Bantamweight Championship: Ronda Rousey (8-0) vs. Sara McMann (7-0)

Luke Irwin: I’d feel a lot better about this if McMann hadn’t been coming off of a huge layoff and a short camp. Rousey via R2 submission.

TC Engel: In a perfect world, could McMann beat Rousey? Absolutely. Outside of Cyborg, McMann is the biggest threat to Ronda. Unfortunately, between the ring rust and her relative greenness, I don’t see a way Rousey loses this fight. Rousey, armbar, round 2, Luke Irwin suicide, round 3.

Earl Montclair: Yeah, um….welp, shit. This fight will happen and it will draw badly. I will be stunned if it clears 200k buys. My official prediction on buys is 160k. There has been no promotion for this card and there is no real reason for the casual fan to tune in. Im probably the most indifferent person on staff in regards to Ronda but even to me her schtick is wearing painfully thin. Sara is a future champ but I think right now over the course of 25 minutes Ronda will lock her up and finish. Then please PLEASE get Cat Zingano in there to unleash #demknees. Ronda Rousey, arm-BAR, off her back this time, Round 2.

Ben Kohn: Look, McMann can pull this off and I believe she will. She has the wrestling to get Ronda to hesitate a bit on the feet and catch her with her powerful right hand and Ronda’s defense is still not very good at all. Sara can stop Rousey from taking her down as well as she hasn’t been taken down yet. This card will be the truest measure of Ronda’s drawing power. If she does well despite the shitty promotion and supporting cast, she’s a true star. If not? Luke will be happy. Sara McMann by (T)KO Round 2.

 

Light Heavyweight Bout: Daniel Cormier (13-0) vs. Patrick Cummins (4-0)

Luke Irwin: I’d really like to see an intense performance like his Strikeforce fights, but he’s been vanilla in the UFC. Maybe the weight cut and his distaste of Cummins will change that, but I doubt it. Cormier via UD.

TC Engel: I was hyped for Cormier and Evans. This fight is certainly a professional mixed martial arts match. Cormier via KO, round 1.

Earl Montclair: This is stupid. DC’s LeBron James Hairline, Donkey Kong TKO, Round 1.

Ben Kohn: Lol what the hell. Dan Cormier by whatever the fuck he wants but probably a KO Round 1.

 

Welterweight Bout: Demian Maia (18-5) vs. Rory MacDonald (15-2)

Luke Irwin: FOTN here if either guy is awake. Rory has gone from one of my favorite fighters on the planet to one of my least-favorite over the course of his last two fights in which I’m not entirely sure he had a working pulse. Maia matches his opponent’s energy, so we shall see. MacDonald via UD.

TC Engel: Rory MacDonald kind of sucked against Lawler. I could see it happening again, but I think a retired GSP has put everything into Rory, and I think he pulls off an incredibly boring decision win. MacDonald via UD.

Earl Montclair: Rory, you are entering a world of pain. If you step in the cage with Maia you are entering a world of pain. This is a Maia v Fitch remake set to happen as Rory seems compelled to do the bare minimum these days in the cage. Demian Maia, Dominant UD.

Ben Kohn: Oh this is interesting. Maia’s striking is nowhere near as powerful or as good as Lawler’s and that means he will need to get this to the ground to win. Rory’s game off his back against Lawler was…uninspiring to say the least. Rory’s ability to keep the distance with the jab and his kicks worries me though but I feel Maia will be able to secure the clinch and drag him to the ground. Demian Maia by Unanimous Decision.

 

Welterweight Bout: Mike Pyle (25-9-1) vs. TJ Waldburger (16-8)

Luke Irwin: Seeing someone nearly die ten feet from you tends to change your view on that person. I don’t know how Waldburger can bounce back from something like that. Pyle via R1 TKO.

TC Engel: WHATABURGER via kimura, round 2.

Earl Montclair: I am stoked for this fight. Waldburger is one of the slickest, most creative submission guys in the company and Pyle has seen everything over the course of his long career. I think Pyle’s experience pushes him over his younger opponent but this should be lots of fun. SCRAMBLES! Mike Pyle, Unanimous Decision.

Ben Kohn: Pyle is better than Waldburger at his own specialty of grappling and he most definitely is the better striker. After watching TJ nearly get decapitated in his last fight, I expect Pyle to easily crack his chin and put him away. Mike Pyle by KO Round 1.

 

Welterweight Bout: Robert Whittaker (11-3) vs. Stephen Thompson (8-1)

Luke Irwin: Never going to pick Thompson. Never. Not once. Whittaker via SD.

TC Engel: This shit is going to be fun. Whittaker via UD.

Earl Montclair: I just feel like Whittaker is better adjusted to MMA at this stage than Thompson. I think he can ugly this one up (not to the level of Matt Brown) enough to drag Thompson out of his comfort zone and get the nod. Robert Whittaker, Unanimous Decision.

Ben Kohn: This is going to be an interesting fight and despite his Karate background, Thompson has pretty good boxing that’s far more effective in recent fights than his kicks. I think it will be competative and a fun fight for sure that is a sleeper for FOTN. Stephen Thompson by Unanimous Decision.

 

Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Alexis Davis (15-5) vs. Jessica Eye (10-1)

Luke Irwin: Eye skated by with a rather helpful decision last time, and she won’t have anything here that Davis hasn’t seen before in spades. Davis via UD.

TC Engel: Davis via UD.

Earl Montclair: Jessica Eye lost to Sarah Kaufman, scorecards be damned and that coupled with all the pot marijuana failed drug test distractions, this one is Davis’ for the taking. Alexis Davis, Submission, Round 2.

Ben Kohn: After the shit Eye has pulled recently, I not only think she will lose but really want her too as well. Alexis Davis by Submission Round 1.

 

Bantamweight Bout: Pedro Munhoz (10-0) vs. Raphael Assuncao (21-4)

Luke Irwin: Munhoz is an undefeated RFA champion getting his call up to the big leagues, but this is just a terrible debut fight for him. Assuncao via UD.

TC Engel: Assuncao via UD.

Earl Montclair: Assuncao has rattled off 5 straight in the UFC and is knocking on Renan Barao’s door for the next title shot. Munhoz is the RFA Bantamweight Champ but this is a MASSIVE step up in competition. Raphael Assuncao, Unanimous Decision.

Ben Kohn: Munhoz is an excellent grappler and Assuncao is no slouch on the ground but the striking advantage should be heavily in his favor in this match. I don’t expect a finish but I do expect him to win his 6th fight in a row and possibly earn a title shot. Raphael Assuncao by Unanimous Decision.

 

Bantamweight Bout: Aljamain Sterling (8-0) vs. Cody Gibson (11-3)

Luke Irwin: I’ve actually been a fan of Gibson for a few years now and always hoped he’d get his break. It’s here, and I doubt he disappoints. Gibson via UD.

TC Engel: Sterling via UD.

Earl Montclair: 2 high action 135′ers are making their UFC debuts in this fight which should be awesome. Gibson last fought in Tachi Palace Fights (home of the hawtest ring girls on the planet) while Sterling has been fighting through the ranks of Cage Fury Fighting Championships. I am giving Sterling the edge here with a superior camp being the final deciding factor for me. Aljamain Sterling, Submission, Round 2.

Ben Kohn: Sterling gonna steamroll Gibson. Aljamain Sterling by Submission Round 1.

 

Flyweight Bout: Joshua Sampo (11-2) vs. Zach Makovsky (17-4)

Luke Irwin: I really like this fight a lot, and it will be a great bout between two relative unknowns, but Makovsky is better than Sampo at everything, and he’ll take this one. Makovsky via UD.

TC Engel: Makovsky via UD.

Earl Montclair: Makovsky is the truth, you guys. Zach Makovsky, Submission, Round 1.

Ben Kohn: Why the hell is this not higher up the card? Makovsky made a big splash by beating Scott Jorgenson on short notice in his UFC debut. His striking looked crisp and his takedowns were on point. Sampo is a very good grappler as well but he’s not as polished on the feet. I expect Zach to be able to comfortably outstrike Sampo for the whole fight. Zach Makovsky by Unanimous Decison.

 

Lightweight Bout: Erik Koch (13-3) vs. Rafaello Oliveira (15-6)

Luke Irwin: This fight should really, really be higher on the card. Oliveira is hanging on by the slimmest of threads, however, and Koch is going to be a more comfortable weight with more power behind his strikes. Koch via R2 TKO.

TC Engel: Koch via TKO, round 2.

Earl Montclair: Huge bounce back fight for Koch here after getting dumptrucked by Lamas and dropping a decision to Poirier. Oliveria is a solid fighter but Koch should light him up something brutal on the feet. Erik Koch, KO, Round 1.

Ben Kohn: How the mighty have fallen. Koch was so close to a title shot and now he’s got a chance to try and rebuild his stature in the UFC. Rafaello is a solid opponent who can’t be slept on but Koch’s striking should be miles ahead of his and he needs to make a statement anyway. Erik Koch by KO Round 1.

 

Lightweight Bout: Ernest Chavez (6-0) vs. Yosdenis Cedeno (9-2)

Luke Irwin: Yeah, neither of these guys are going above this slot in their UFC careers, but of the two, Cedeno has a bit better resume. Cedeno via UD.

TC Engel: Cedeno via UD.

Earl Montclair: Any dude nicknamed “Pink Pather” is solid in my book. Yosdenis Cedeno, Unanimous Decision.

Ben Kohn: Yosdenis Cedeno has a cooler name and nickname. Aside from that, idk shit about this fight. Yosdenis Cedeno by Unanimous Decision.

The Morning After Drill: UFC Fight Night Machida vs. Mousasi

Courtesy: ESPN

 

Contributor: Ben Kohn

So last night was….well it happened and was ok I guess. Was incredibly slow paced but there were definitely some good fights mixed in with the meh and stinker fights. Overall, last night made one thing clear to everyone if you hadn’t realized it until now; the overall quality of the term “UFC caliber fighter” does not mean what it used too. The burgeoning roster and watered down number of cards makes it necessary to have these guys on the prelims and free MMA is nice and all but it really is to be expected at this point. With the UFC expanding so much and putting out this many cards, the quality of fighters and fights turned in by them will fall for a while. I think it’s a growing pain that is necessary for the sport to expand around the world and eventually, as the sport grows, fighter quality will rise and the fight cards will get better. Now on to the actual fight card to discuss the good, the bad, and the Osiris Maia.

Machida and Mousasi put on a 5 round display of technical mastery that I thoroughly enjoyed. I understand that kind of fight may not be everyone’s cup of tea but there were most definitely some portions of the fight with fast paced, yet technical, action. Machida looked absolutely fantastic in every aspect of the fight and, at 35 years of age, looks better physically than he ever has before. Despite the constant motion of his fight style, he did not slow down at all and his cardio was just fantastic. Mousasi put up a great fight but he was a step behind at every point in the fight and that upkick was just a mental error of ridiculous proportions. I do think he should have had a point taken because A) he’s done it before, B) Machida was clearly on a knee, C) Mousasi has already been fighting under rule sets not allowing upkicks for the past few years already. Machida and Jacare are now the two best contenders and I think Machida may get it over Jacare because of his name value. Machida vs. Weidman is something I would love to see.

Jacare Souza completely dominated the positional grappling last night and won a clear decision over Carmont who put up a much better fight than I expected. Jacare had some issues closing the distance on the feet and Carmont displayed good takedown defense but honestly, Jacare proved Carmont is not good enough to compete against the top 5 of the division. With Carmont’s style of fighting, his chance at a title shot is pretty much gone as he isn’t exactly young at 32. He would need another long streak to get another chance like he had last night. Jacare’s performance may not get him a title shot but he’s at most one win away. Jacare will probably be matched up with the Rockhold vs. Boetsch winner (so Rockhold).

Erick Silva beat the fuck out of Takonori Sato in one of the flashiest and most brutal beatdowns I’ve seen in a while. Sato had no business being in the cage with Silva and Silva did what he needed to do to keep his hype train alive. Silva is clearly an extremely talented athlete with a propensity for beautiful displays of violence. However, he’s 30 years old and he needs to get moving if he wants to make waves at the top of the division. I honestly think he should face off against Ildemar Alcantara who’s tough, not too big a challenge, and will test Erick Silva’s cardio with his pressuring style.

Nicholas Musoke had an ok fight with Viscardi Andrade that really should not have been on the main card. Musoke was dropped early but came back to take a clear decision over a gassed Andrade. Not much else to say about this one. I don’t care who they face next.

Charles Oliveira showed off some slick BJJ but also had a much harder time against Andy Ogle than a prospect of his level should have. Ogle is extremely tough but I think people just expect more out of Oliveira than he is displaying. He still has the holes in his game that will give him trouble against the top guys in the division. He’s too content to fight off of his back, his defense is still porous, and his timing and distance control are still not up to par. He needs to be put in the cage with someone around his level and I truly hope they don’t throw him to the wolves anytime soon. A matchup with Felipe Arantes seems like a good matchup to me.

I am going to skip most of the prelim card because I don’t wanna remember it.

Iuri Alcantara and Wilson Reis put on one hell of an entertaining scrap that had some seriously awesome grappling and scrambling exchanges and fun back and forth striking. Alcantara definitely won the decision by hurting Reis more on the feet and, with the grappling mostly even, got a well-earned decision. I’d like to see him be brought up more slowly and maybe have him face someone like Darren Elkins. Alcantara’s takedown defense is just bad and he needs to shore it up. Elkins can test it and it’s still a winnable fight for Alcantara.

Arantes and Blanco put on a fun scrap as well and although there was nothing noteworthy about the fight itself, Blanco landed the hardest groin kick I’ve seen in my life in a fight. Seriously, my balls hurt just fucking watching and hearing the smack of the foot on his cup. The fact that after the fight Arantes had to lay down from the pain is really an indicator of how bad that kick hurt and testament to how tough Arantes is. Blanco is extremely athletic and honestly has tons of talent but his fight IQ is abysmal and he will not be around much longer I’m afraid.

The bigger Alcantara, Ildemar, won a split decision over the young prospect Albert Tumenov. Tumenov displayed some really good striking and excellent ground and pound from the guard. However, his game of his back is what cost him as he was horrible off his back. It’s a damn shame because I did have him winning the fight but at the upper level of competition, without any sort of guard game, you can’t really survive and he needs to get some good BJJ training in to shore up his defensive game.

 

-Ben can be reached at steroidben57@yahoo.com or @agentbenten.

Nolan Howell’s Get Po’ Quick Lessons: UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Mousasi

 

Contributor: Nolan Howell

Bet all your money on Bruno Mars wearing a hat during his Super Bowl performance? Spend all your loot trying to teach Thiago Silva how to be a functioning chimpanzee?

Welcome to Undercard Superstar’s guide to gambling, where you can get po’ in one night if you play your cards right! As your resident financial adviser in MMA gambling, it is my duty to inform you that nobody affiliated with Undercard Superstar is accountable for any losses. In fact, you probably brought it upon yourself for reading this. So, seriously, you’ve been warned.

UFC Fight Night 36 features a very top heavy card that is littered with Brazilian and Russian prospects. The main event featured two seasoned strikers in Gegard Mousasi and Lyoto Machida.

Luckily for you, I’m here to ensure that you recoup the dent your annual Valentine’s budget for Vaseline and tissues put in your wallet. Let’s not talk lost love and crippling loneliness and let’s talk moolah.

All lines provided by Bovada and may change from the time of writing.

Undercard Values

  • Zubair Tuhugov: -115 vs. Douglas De Andrade: -115
  • Albert Tumenov: -205 vs. Ildemar Alcantara: +165
  • Felipe Arantes: Even vs. Maximo Blanco: -130
  • Yuri Alcantara: -285 vs. Wilson Reis: +225
  • Francisco Trinaldo: -190 vs. Jesse Ronson: +155
  • Ivan Jorge: -140 vs. Rodrigo Damm: +110
  • Joe Proctor: -225 vs. Cristiano Marcello: +175

Very slim pickings on this undercard, given the relatively low name value and the new prospects. Some low risk favorites here that strike me are Proctor and Tumenov. The latter especially impresses me considering his pedigree out of the tough K Dojo camp and he should be used to make a quick buck here before he catches too many eyes. Though there are none available at the time of this writing, look for prop bets on Tumenov and Proctor winning inside the distance for some decent value. Proctor especially because, though not known as a finisher, Marcello’s standup is some of the worst and most predictable in the UFC.

Otherwise, not much underdog value in here. I could see Rodrigo Damm being worth a small bet and maybe throwing some change on a De Andrade inside the distance bet. Trinaldo is also worth a look as a small favorite in a parlay or a submission win.

Main Card Values

  • Charles Oliveira: -650 vs. Andy Ogle: +425
  • Viscardi Andrade: -140 vs. Nico Musoke: +110
  • Erick Silva: -1000 vs. Takenori Sato: +600
  • Ronaldo Souza: -550 vs. Francis Carmont: +375
  • Lyoto Machida: -240 vs. Gegard Mousasi: +190

Two lines stand out to me here. I really like the Nico Musoke line after he battered Alessio Sakara in his last outing and I think he’s worth some cash or a small parlay. Additionally, I like Carmont at that value. There’s a chance Jacare can’t match the speed of Carmont on a takedown and the fight becomes a long, drawn out striking match that Carmont tends to win in ugly fashion. Look for a Carmont prop bet on a decision win as well.

For the main event, Mousasi may be worth looking at, considering his success against a K-1 level karateka in Kyotaro. Additionally, look for a prop bet on this fight going the distance, as both can often times be timid and this could be a very sour main event to close the night on as the two jockey for position standing.

Final Thoughts

Fight Night cards are generally hard to gamble on with prospects taking up the majority of the card. However, I’ll throw some chump change at this one and see what comes of it.

My bets: $10 on Damm, Musoke, and Tumenov to win $55.61, $10 on Carmont to win $37.50.

Remember, folks, to never bet anything you can’t afford to lose.

 

-Nolan can be reached @nolanhowell.

Ben’s Breakdowns: Gegard Mousasi vs. Lyoto Machida

 

Contributor: Ben Kohn

In the main event of Ultimate Fight Night 36, Lyoto “the Dragon” Machida will face off in a battle more epic than all 3 Lord of the Rings movies combined against Gegard “Fedor-esque in Fucks Given” Mousasi. This fight could be a #1 contender’s match and is extremely important for the UFC’s Middleweight division. Therefore, in typical UFC fashion, they decided to put it on a card no one will see. Bravo UFC on your excellent marketing skills in pushing your probable next contender.

Anywho….Machida in his last fight dropped down from the Light Heavyweight division (finally!) and boy did he make a big splash by punting Mark Munoz’s head to the Philippines. Meanwhile, somewhere very cold, Mousasi took on Alexander Gusta…oh wait…who’s Ilir Latifi and why’s he fighting Mousasi? What? Ugh this script sucks. So yea…Mousasis took on the, um, highly vaunted? Ilir Latifi and defeated by unanimous decision using a jab and taking virtually no damage the entire fight. Wait what?!? He blew out his knee and was out for almost a year? Fucking hell….alright, anyway, he’s back now and is finally fighting someone who he should be as such a highly touted fighter. Mousasi is someone who has been a fan favorite for a long time and many feel he can make a title run. With his excellent striking and slick submission grappling, those fans may indeed have a very good point.

At 35 years of age, the former UFC Light Heavyweight champion has dropped down to Middleweight and, as mentioned, made a big splash in his first round KO over Mark Munoz. Before making the drop, Machida has had a bit of a bumpy ride to say the least. After losing his title shot against Jones by second round submission, Machida starched Bader (ack, my heart!) in the second, won a split decision over Dan Henderson that should have been a unanimous one, and “lost” a split decision to Phil Davis. With his title hopes at Light Heavyweight slipping through his fingers, the consequent drop and KO win at Middleweight has Machida ready to go for another title shot against the winner of Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort. The only man standing in his way is Gegard Mousasi and that is a man who could pose a bit of a problem for Machida.

Gegard has always been something of a question mark for many MMA fans. While he is clearly a talented and exciting fighter with an excellent record, he has never really fought top flight competition and won. In fact, his last fight against someone considered a top fighter at the time was against King Mo Lawal for the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Championship. He lost the fight by unanimous decision and since then has gone 6-0-1 with a majority draw to Keith Jardine. Granted it was because he was deducted a point because of an illegal upkick but still…it was Keith Jardine in 2011. However, despite his lack of success against top competition, the guys he has faced have been pretty much decimated. His wins against Mike Kyle, Ovince St. Preux, and Ilir Latifi in his UFC debut make it clear that he is definitely far above the middle of the pack Light Heavyweights and now, dropping to Middleweight, he has a chance to prove himself against a former top Light Heavyweight and overall top fighter. The question that remains is how he will look after being out with an injury for so long and whether it will affect his performance much. We will have to assume it does not in order to compare and contrast how Machida’s and Mousasi’s styles will mesh together. Let’s get cracking and break down their respective styles and how they match up together.

Machida’s movement is a big component of his style and how he fights. Machida’s preferred area of combat takes place in the center of the octagon where he has the most maneuverability for both attacking and retreating. Although he prefers to work in the center, Machida is more than capable of pressuring or fighting while being pressured by his opponent. The problem is that since he usually has a striking and speed advantage on the feet; his retreats are either from rushes by his opponent of from takedown attempts. In his fight against Munoz, Machida was constantly pressing forward, patiently waiting for the opening. Mousasi on the other hand will always look to be the one pressing forward, especially in his last 3 fights. Against Latifi, he fought the entire fight forcing his back against the cage where Latifi couldn’t get away from him. Mousasi uses this to his advantage and was able to jab away at Latifi knowing he had nowhere to retreat. Mousasi’s tendency to press forward could play an interesting role in the fight as it would force Machida out of his comfort zone. Their stances could also play a role in the outcome of the fight, specifically with regard to Mousasi. While Machida’s stance at this point is already well known, hands by down by his chest/waist and linear in both positioning and movement, Mousasi’s may be new to many fight fans who haven’t seen him fight. Mousasi tends to hunch forward while fighting with his head far past his body and shoulders hunched and hands high when fighting a striker (Mike Kyle for instance) or lower when fighting a wrestler (Ilir Latifit). This style is similar to Alistair Overeem and it could pose a problem for him. Machida has already demonstrated how powerful his kicks are (Couture, Munoz) and that he has excellent speed, timing, and precision with them. The hunched forward posture can cause issues with blocking the front kick as it comes right up the middle with the head forward and if he’s not quick enough, he can be caught with it (as Browne did against a very winded Overeem). While Mousasi has a much better gas tank thank Overeem and better defensively by far, it is something that could be a factor in the fight.

Now that we’ve discussed stances movement patterns, let’s integrate their striking patterns into it as well. Machida is a counter striker while Mousasi tends to be the aggressor in his fights, pushing the action and usually firing off first. This will create opportunities for Machida to counter but considering the deceptive speed of Mousasi, despite his lackadaisical attitude in the cage, Machida may not have his usual speed advantage to help him out. Mousasi’s use of the jab to keep his opponents at a distance while backing up is usually followed by a powerful straight right hand behind it. Despite having a reputation as a kickboxer, Mousasi is much more dangerous in my eyes with his hands than the atypical kickboxer. His combination of constant forward pressure as well as his excellent hands and hard leg kicks make him a serious threat on the feet. Despite his substantial offensive arsenal, Mousasi is not the atypical offense only MMA fighter. He also has very good defense and rarely gets hit by his opponents. I especially enjoy his usage of the forearm block to stop incoming hooks although I’m not a fan of the way he covers up with his hands and forearms to block incoming straights he can’t avoid. His defense is not nearly as pretty as someone like Machida’s but it’s incredibly effective. Mousasi really is an unknown and dangerous opponent for Machida and if he can pressure him up against the fence, he can catch Machida coming forward like Jon Jones did. Let’s see how he stacks up to Machida’s style first though.

Machida is most likely the most patient fighter in the entire UFC when it comes to the standup. Machida’s timing on his strikes is excellent and, with his Shotokan background, he will wait entire fights for the perfect counter-punch. Unlike many counter-punchers though, he doesn’t just sit back and wait. He uses excellent feints and set-ups to draw his opponents in before countering them with his trademark counter straight, from either side. Against Ryan Bader, he knew that he would be fighting an overmatched opponent on the feet whose inexperience could be capitalized on if he patiently chipped away from the outside. Eventually, Bader was frustrated and threw a massive overhand right coming in which was blocked with a forearm block and counter beautifully for a one-punch KO. In his last fight with Munoz, Machida was the one pushing forward yet, the entire time he moves forward, he was still fighting with his weight over his back foot as he always does. He would constantly twitch his hips, feinting, baiting reactions from Munoz, eventually getting Munoz to flail on the reaction to the head kick after two body kicks and getting knocked out cold. With Machida, his attacks are simple yet incredibly versatile as he draws attacks out of his opponents rather than try to force openings by rushing in with offense. Despite the beauty and intelligence of his style, it does give off the impression of inactivity to uneducated judges and has cost him wins against Rampage and Phil Davis. The biggest issue defensively for Lyoto is when he throws his straight punches. He will drop his lead hand to his waist, most likely a cross-over from his Karate days, which cost him dearly against Jon Jones in their title fight. Jon was able to trap him against the cage and countered Machida’s straight left with a hard left hook to the jaw. Mousasi’s pressuring style and boxing abilities give him the ability to imitate that plan if he’s good enough to trap Machida and time him that well. That being said, Machida is among the best strikers to ever set foot in the UFC and not one to be trifled with on the feet. The problem is that goes for Mousasi as well. Normally when you’re outmatched on the feet, the plan is to take it to the ground. Well that isn’t always the best idea with these two and getting it there is another story entirely.

Machida has incredible takedown defense and has completely stuffed takedown attempts from larger, stronger, and better wrestlers than Mousasi. I’m going to make the not-so-bold claim that Mousasi will not be taking down Machida unless he snatches one up in a transition somehow or rocks him on the feet. Machida’s takedown defense stems from his excellent timing and movement about the cage. Mousasi on the other hand is not nearly as good at stuffing takedowns although, in recent fights, he most definitely has worked on his wrestling a lot as it has improved tremendously. Against OSP, he was able to score 4 takedowns of his own while stuffing 3/5 attempted by OSP. While it may not mean that much, he also stuffed Latifi’s takedowns with ease, despite the blown out knee. Machida’s offensive takedowns are vastly underrated and he has excellent trips that he can hit from the clinch and in transition from the striking. With regard to the clinch, neither of these guys are world beaters in there, although Machida’s trips and hard knees make him more of a threat in the clinch than Mousasi. The real bread and butter for Mousasi are with respect to his actual grappling skills and vicious ground and pound from on top.

Mousasi has two things that make him incredibly difficult to deal with on the ground. A good guard game with powerful upkicks on standing opponents and brutal ground and pound from on top. He actually knocked out Jacare Souza with an upkick in their fight (most likely his best victory to date although it was much earlier in Jacare’s career) and does real damage with them. From the guard, he’s a surprisingly active striker and will punch and elbow from the guard much more than most fighters will and he busted up Jardine and Mo Lawal badly from the guard. Mousasi’s guard passing skills seemed to be intertwined with his ground and pound as he will slam hard shots into his opponents face which will open up the ability to advance position and either continue the onslaught or lock in a submission. Against OSP, he used a constant flow of ground and pound which damaged OSP a lot but he was unable to get any submissions and was even caught in one at the end of the fight but Mousasi was safe and he knew it. Against Kyle, a striker with limited grappling, he took advantage of this, taking him down and using his ground and pound to secure the back control and lock in an RNC to finish the fight. Mousasi is not to be trifled with on the ground and while Machida is certainly more capable on the ground than OSP and Kyle, he should implement his usual style of getting up from the bottom as soon as he can against someone as dangerous as Mousasi.

This is a five round fight and Machida’s style can be disastrous in the hands of the wrong judges. Mousasi’s style can have this fight go one of two ways; Mousasi will have a Rampage like performance where he’s moving forward and winning rounds because of “octagon control” or Mousasi will actually attempt to punch Machida and we will see a technical battle between aggressor and counter-fighter. Personally I feel we will see the latter, a technical bout that will have Machida getting the better or most exchanges and winning the bout by a decision (Mousasi’s chin is iron I tell you, IRON!).

Final Prediction: Lyoto Machida by Unanimous Decision 49-46, 49-46, 48-47.

 

-Ben can be reached at steroidbel57@yahoo.com or @agentbenten.

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