|MMA News Feed: UFC 98, Fedor/Barnett, Cro Cop and Strikeforce
By Matthew Degonzaque, DoghouseBoxing (June 3, 2009)
In this week’s edition of the MMA news feed we’ll go over UFC 98 results, the return of Cro Cop to the UFC, Andrei Arlovski being added to Strikeforce: Lawler versus Shields and the signing of a fight between Fedor Emelianenko and Josh Barnett, the two best heavyweights in MMA, for Affliction 3.
UFC 98 Results: Machida destroys Rashad Evans
Last weekend’s UFC 98 card featured the beginning of what may possibly one day be known as “The Machida Era”. In the main event, undefeated Lyoto Machida (15-0) completely dominated Rashad Evans (13-1-1) from bell to bell, knocking Evans down several times until finally finishing him by TKO at 3:57 into the 2nd round.
For to long Machida has been under the radar in the UFC; watching less deserving fighters receive title shots and main event pay days while toiling on prelims and fighting under card bouts. Most people don’t even know that before fighting Evans, Machida was already 6-0 in the UFC. Machida is like the Winky Wright of MMA in that he was a high risk low reward fighter. No top fighters wanted to fight him because he was an extremely dangerous fighter with little to no name value. He also has a defensive style that is hard to deal, as proof by how easily Machida has easily dominated top fighters like Rich Franklin, Tito Ortiz and now Rashad Evans. Machida also has great striking skills, amazing kicks, and has excellent wrestling and Jiu Jitsu and also utilizes Karate into his striking game. All of that combined makes Machida a very spectacular fighter to watch and a very difficult fighter to deal with.
So it took some times for Machida to get big fights and he spent his 1st couple fights in the UFC fighting on preliminary bouts that the television audience didn’t see. He wouldn’t have even gotten this title fight if Quinton Jackson wouldn’t have turned down a fight with Evans due to injury. Give credit to Rashad, he stepped up and put his title on the line against a very dangerous fighter with little name value.
So far Machida hasn’t even lost a round in the UFC and the only time he’s ever been in trouble with a fight was 4 years ago against BJ Penn. But Machida has come a long way since then and right now I’m not sure if there is anyone at 205lbs in the UFC who can beat Machida.
We won’t go too long without seeing Machida test himself as it has already been announced that he will defend his title against Mauricio Rua at UFC 104 in October. Rua is fresh off his knockout victory over Chuck Liddell and should pose a very interesting challenge for Machida. Despite this loss, Evans is going to coach the 10th season of The Ultimate Fighter against Quinton Jackson. Originally it was rumored that it was going to be Machida coaching the show against Jackson but Evans was chosen due to the grudge between Jackson and himself, which UFC and Spike officials hope will make for great television. You’ll hear no complaints for me because this means we won’t have to go the rest of the year without seeing a Light Heavyweight Title fight.
Matt Hughes (43-7) ended his 3 year feud with Matt Serra (9-6) with a unanimous decision victory against the New York native on the undercard. Hughes was initially in trouble after getting hit with an accidental head butt in the 1st round, but managed to comeback and control Serra with his wrestling. Hughes managed to maintain top position for the majority of the fight, but could not get past Serra’s guard and secure a dominant position. While not a one sided fight, Hughes managed to keep top position for the majority of the fight and earn the decision. While initially people though Hughes was looking to require, he said he plans to continue fighting.
On the undercard: Frankie Edgar defeated Sean Sherk by unanimous decision, Drew McFredries defeated Xavier Foupa-Pokam by TKO in 37 seconds into the 1st round and Chael Sonnen defeated Dan Miller by unanimous decision.
Cro Cop returns to the UFC
“I’ve been working on it for a couple of days,” White said. “He’s back and he’s all fired up. He wants to erase his previous UFC record.”
“I decided to fight in the UFC again, because of the stronger competition in the heavyweight division,” Cro Cop said on his Web site on Monday. “I didn’t do well in my first three appearances. I wasn’t myself. By returning to the cage, I want to prove that I can still fight at the highest level, no matter when or where.” (Yahoo Sports).
This was certainly news that came out of left field. Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (24-6-2) was considered at one point one of the very best heavyweights in the world. He had left a path of destruction on his way to winning the Pride 2006 Open Weight Grand Prix Championships and was considered the #2 heavyweight in the world, behind Fedor Emelianenko, and there was talk of Pride having a rematch of their 2005 encounter which Fedor won by decision.
But all of that talk was eliminated when Cro Cop left Pride and signed with the UFC. There it was presumed Cro Cop would quickly become the premiere heavyweight in the division. Instead the Cro Cop that dominated the Grand Prix in Pride was no where to be found and instead Mirko wound up getting knocked unconscious by Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 70 and lost a unanimous decision to Cheick Kongo at UFC 75. His only win in the promotion came against journeyman Eddie Sanchez at UFC 67.
Afterwards Cro Cop left the UFC, to regain his confidence I guess. He signed with DREAM and went 2-0 w/ 1 no contest. He defeated Tatsuya Mizuno (5-5) and Hong Man Choi (2-2) in the promotion. His no contest was against Alistair Overeem, a fight that was stopped due to Cro Cop being unable to continue after getting hit with repeated low blows. Neither of his two wins were against top level opposition and he was losing against Overeem until the accidental low blows. It’s good to see Cro Cop back in the UFC were its easier to watch him, but I don’t know if he’ll be able to make it to the top of the UFC division. Mostapha Al-Turk (6-4) is his return opponent, at UFC 99 on June 13th, and should be good returning test for Cro Cop.
Arlovski-Rogers added to Strikeforce 6/6 card
Andrei Arlovski and Brett Rogers will meet in a featured bout for Strikeforce “Lawler vs. Shields” on June 6 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. The bout will be sponsored by Affliction.
Arlovski has a single bout left on a three-bout contract with Affliction Entertainment. The fighter’s management would not comment on Arlovski’s contract status with the popular clothing brand-turned-promoters, and if this announced bout satisfies Arlovski’s contract with the promotion.
The June 6 event will be headlined by a middleweight match up between former EliteXC 185-pound champ Robbie Lawler and 170-pound kingpin Jake Shields
Strikeforce “Shields vs. Lawler” airs live on Showtime at 10 p.m. EST. (sherdog.com).
This should be an entertaining scrap while it lasts. Rogers (9-0) made his name last year by calling out Kimbo Slice at every opportunity. He ever got that chance, but his mouth has earned him some notoriety though and a chance to prove himself against a legitimate top 10 heavyweight.
Arlovski (15-6) is looking to get a win after being knocked out in the 1st round against Fedor Emelianenko last January. Arlovski has some of the best boxing in MMA and is probably one of the most explosive fighters in the heavyweight division despite his 6’4 240lb frame. Arlovski’s only problem is that he has been shown to have a shaky chin in the past. 5 out of his 6 losses are by knockout and the only reason that he lost to Tim Sylvia by decision in their rubber match is because he began to retreat in the latter half of the fight.
I’m expecting this fight to be a stand up battle. Neither Arlovski nor Rogers is known for their ground skills; Arlovski has 3 submission wins, Rogers has 1. Both guys are going to be looking to stand up and look for a knockout. Arlovski has been working with Freddie Roach for the past year or two to hone his boxing in anticipation of a possible crossover into boxing (Arlovski is pegged to make his debut on a Golden Boy card on 6/27) and his skills should be enough to stop the plodding Rogers in the 1st or 2nd round. Rogers always has the outside chance of landing a right hand and putting Arlovski down, but I think ‘The Pitbull’ will definitely take this one.
Oh and for those interested the Strikeforce 6/6 card looks like this:
Main Event: Robbie Lawler verus Jake Shields
Undercard: Nick Diaz verus Scott Smith
Joe Riggs versus Phil Baroni
Kevin Randleman versus Mike Whitehead
Andrei Arlovski versus Brett Rogers
Affliction 3: Fedor Emelianenko and Josh Barnett to finally fight
Short and sweet language spoken by Affliction Vice President Tom Atencio earlier today when he confirmed with MMAmania.com that his heavyweight champion, Fedor Emelianenko (30-1-1), will defend his title once again when he faces another former UFC champion and top world-ranked talent, Josh Barnett (24-5).
The long-awaited heavyweight fight will finally happen at Affliction’s third venture, which is set to go down at the Honda Center in Los Angeles, Calif., on Aug. 1, 2009.
There has been a lot of talk over the years that both fighters were avoiding meeting in the center of the ring because of the friendship that the pair forged during their years fighting overseas under the Pride FC banner. It appears, however, that the showdown was inevitable they are the last two men standing under the Affliction banner atop their respective division.
In other Affliction 3 news, Atencio confirmed the fight card will feature a fight between Gegard Mousasi and Vitor Belfort; however, Belfort’s contract is not yet finalized. Nonetheless, assuming the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed, the fight has been green lit by Atencio (mmamania.com).
There is only one word that came to my mind when I heard about this fight: Finally. Forget Frank Mir and Brock Lesnar, Fedor and Barnett are without a doubt the #1 and #2 heavyweight fighters in the world right now and its great that the fight is finally coming together. The fighters have seemingly been on a collision course since Pride Shockwave 2006 when it looked like the two would meet. Instead they fought different opponents and Pride was bought by the UFC shortly afterwards. Neither fighter’s contract was picked up by the UFC and both men fought initially fought in different promotions before Affliction developed their own promotion and signed them both.
Sometimes both fighters expressed disinterest due to their friendship, but out side of the UFC, there is really no other worthwhile fight for both fighters at this point. The only other two legitimate championship challengers, Andrei Arlovski and Tim Sylvia, have already been defeated by Fedor. Alistair Overeem could make for an interesting challenger but he hasn’t really proved himself against an elite heavyweight yet. Barnett is the only top heavyweight not signed by the UFC left. Add to the fact that Barnett is generally considered the #2 heavyweight in the world and this fight was inevitable. It had to happen.
As for who I’m picking, right now I’d lean toward Fedor. At this point, after dominating so many top fighters, how can you pick against him? I don’t think he’ll be able to submit Barnett, but a TKO wouldn’t be out of the question. It’s a shame we have to wait until August 1st for a fight between the real heavyweight champion of the world and the number one contender.
That’s all for this week, look out for next week’s edition of the news feed where I’ll give my predictions for next weekend’s WEC 41: Brown versus Faber and Strikeforce: Lawler versus Shields as well as all of the latest MMA news.
Questions or comments,
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