|The MMA News Feed: UFC, Liddell, Couture, Pulver, Lesnar and much more
By Matthew Degonzaque, DoghouseBoxing (Dec 13, 2008) Photo © German Villasenor
How’s it going MMA fight fans? Hope you all had a great holiday. I’d like to apologize for the recent lack of the MMA news feed, but with Thanksgiving break I decided to take a break from everything and did not take my computer home with me on break.
But I’m back now and here is all of the latest MMA news including the huge UFC 91 show…..
UFC 91 Results. This one happened two weeks ago so I won’t spend too much time on it, but the biggest MMA event of the year, in terms of commercial appeal, happened on November 15, 2008 and the results of the event (specifically the main event) sent shock waves through the MMA industry. In the main event, Brock Lesnar shocked the MMA world and defeated Randy Couture by 2nd round TKO to win the UFC Heavyweight Championship in only his 4th MMA fight.
The fight originally started out a lot how I predicted. Lesnar would use his size and power to push around Couture in the beginning of the fight. I predicted Brock use his wrestling to put Couture on his back and Couture would use his defensive skills to avoid major punishment and wear Lesnar down the stretch and eventually win a decision. But, unfortunately for Randy, my prediction wasn't 100% correct. Brock used his size to control Couture throughout the majority of the 1st round and it appeared Couture was using his defensive skills to make a comeback in the 2nd round as Lesnar began to get tired, Brock managed to land a huge right hand that dropped 'The Natural' and Lesnar landed an endless barrage of punches immediately after for the stoppage victory.
With this win, Brock Lesnar has likely become the face of the UFC and the biggest draw in the sport. Both of his previous UFC PPV fights are said to have done over 600,000 PPV buys and is looking to have done over 800,000 PPV buys, it’s hard for that claim to be questioned. Although time will tell if Lesnar's abilities will be able to match his large mainstream appeal because. Despite his victory over Couture, Lesnar still is a limited fighter. It's my belief that he was on his way to losing to Couture had he not landed that right hand in the second round. Brock's got great wrestling and agility despite his size, but his overall ground skills are questionable; Couture was easily able to escape from Lesnar's control on the ground. All despite his obvious punching power, Lesnar still needs to develop more solid boxing fundamentals. Cardio is also still a question as well due to Lesnar's size and the fact that is looked like he was starting to become tired in the second round even though he had still had 3 more rounds to fight.
Lesnar will always be a big draw and in my opinion will go onto have a good, possibly great career, but he won’t have a long title reign. In my opinion there is a good chance he will lose his title in his next fight, especially if he fights Minotauro Nogueira. As for Couture, questions will begin to rise as to whether or not his age has finally begun to affect his fighting skills. But I think we need to let Couture fight once more (more on that next) before we come to the conclusion that father time has affected his skills or whether or not it he just suffered a bad night against Lesnar.
If there was one strike against UFC 91 it was that it had a very mediocre undercard. The undercard suffered from a lack of big names and meaningful matches. The leading undercard bout was a fight between Kenny Florian and Joe Stevenson. The fight was supposedly an unofficial number 1 contender’s bout. Florian was riding 5 fight winning streak and was the favorite going into the fight. It looked like Florian's overall game was going to be just too much for Stevenson and it turned out to be exactly right when Florian defeated Stevenson by rear naked choke 4:03 in the first round. Florian deserves a title shot he's defeated 4 very good fighters in a row-Din Thomas, Joe Lauzon, Roger Huerta and Joe Stevenson-and is on a 6 fight win streak. But with BJ fighting GSP at 170lbs in February, Florian will likely have to wait until next summer to get his shot at the title. In the meantime, expect KenFlo to likely be put in another title eliminator, possibly in a rematch with Sean Sherk.
As for the rest of the undercard: Dustin Hazelett defeated Tamdan McCrory by 1st round submission, Gabriel Gonzaga defeated Josh Hendricks by 1st round TKO, Demien Maia defeated Nate Quarry by 1st round submission, Aaron Riley defeated Jorge Gurgel by decision, Jeremy Stephens defeated Rafael dos Anjos by 3rd round KO, Mark Bocek defeated Alvin Robinson by 3rd round submission and Matt Brown defeated Ryan Thomas by 2nd round submission.
Business of the event: The event did a $4.8 million gate with 14,272 fans in attendance. PPV estimates are said to be in the 800,000-850,000 range so that equals about $35-$38 million in PPV revenue.
Great Ready for some pointless rematches!
A strong source indicates to Bloody Elbow that Chuck Liddell is currently in negotiations to move to heavyweight in order to fight Randy Couture. The proposed fight would take place on June 13th in Cologne, Germany.
The UFC wants to have Randy on their Germany show because he speaks the language and can do all the promotion. The winner of the fight would face the heavyweight champion in a big fight at the end of the year (mmanews.com).
Another Liddell-Couture fight? Didn’t we learn everything we needed to know in the Liddell-Couture 1-3? Even at heavyweight now a fight a fourth fight doesn’t really mean much. The trilogy already proved to fans that Liddell has Couture’s number. Another win by Liddell would just prove all over again what fans already know; Couture’s style is tailor made for Liddell and always has been. Couture is a wrestler who generally uses his boxing ability to take fights to the ground. Liddell has triumphed over that style his entire career due to his excellent sprawl ability, leaving wrestlers unable to take Liddell to the ground and forcing them to strike with him. If Couture manages to defeat Liddell, then it will likely lead to a 5th fight and tie up both fighters likely the rest of 2009. Besides, if Couture does defeat Liddell then he just beat a man who has lost 4 out of his last 5 fights.
I understand UFC wanting to put Couture on the Germany card because he speaks the language. Also most non-American UFC cards are regarded as second rate, so Couture’s presence would definitely help boost the cards credibility. Instead of a fight that means nothing, why not put Couture in there with another legitimate championship contender? Fighters like Junior Dos Santos, Cheick Kongo, Heath Herring or Gabriel Gonzaga (who Couture defeated at UFC 74) all would be more deserving choices for a #1 contenders fight than Liddell, who would be making his debut at heavyweight and only has a 25% win rate in the past two years. A fight against another prime contender would show whether or not Couture still belongs at the top of the division. If UFC officials and Chuck Liddell still want to compete at heavyweight, then give him one of the guys I just mentioned on the undercard. It gives him a chance to prove his chops in the division instead of getting an immediate number 1 contender’s bout.
Both Couture and Liddell are said to be uninterested in a 4th fight so hopefully UFC takes the hint and schedules them to fight other opponents.
Multiple sources confirmed to FiveOuncesOfPain.com on Tuesday afternoon that a rematch between former WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber and former UFC lightweight champion Jens Pulver is set to take place at WEC 38 on Jan. 25 in San Diego, Calif.
Published reports had indicated that Faber’s next opponent would be up and coming featherweight prospect Jose Aldo but sources close to both Aldo and Pulver have revealed to Five Ounces of Pain that Faber’s next opponent is indeed Pulver.
Earlier this year, Faber and Pulver headlined the largest show in WEC history on June 1 in Sacramento, California. Considered one of the best fights of 2008, Faber retained his WEC featherweight title with a five-round unanimous decision victory.
Both fighters returned to action earlier this month in separate bouts on the same card at WEC 36 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla. with both losing by way of first round TKO (fiveouncesofpain.com)
This fight is meant to accomplish two obvious tasks: 1.) Capitalize on the ratings success of the Faber-Pulver I at WEC 34 and 2.) To give Faber, the WEC poster boy, an easy win to get him back into title contention. Unlike the Couture-Liddell trilogy, we didn’t need 3 fights to find out who was the better fighter. The first fight between Faber-Pulver was a one sided decision win for Faber. Pulver was game and hung in there with Faber throughout, but he was still thoroughly outclassed and lost a lopsided decision.
Since then Pulver said he wanted to fight Faber again, but wanted to earn it by defeating top contenders. But on the WEC 36 undercard, Pulver was knocked out in only 72 seconds by Leonard Garcia. Give credit to Pulver for managing to hang in there with Faber for 5 rounds, but after his loss to Garcia it’s clear that he doesn’t belong in the cage against the top echelon of fighters. Against Garcia he looked slow with poor reflexes and quickly wilted underneath the hard shots of Garcia.
Ever since that huge 1.4 ratings their 1st fight got, WEC has hinted at a Faber-Pulver rematch. Pulver doesn’t deserve a top contender match, going 1-4 in his last 5 and going 4-6 in his last 10 fights. But after both fighters were defeated at WEC 36, WEC is going to milk whatever is left of Pulver’s drawing power and credibility for the rematch in hope of another monster rating. After being defeated in the 1st round by Mike Brown at WEC 36, look for Faber to be very aggressive. Pulver made it the distance last time, but after his poor performance and Faber’s humiliation of his own, look for Pulver to get stopped this time because Faber is going to want to send a message.
Fedor’s first defeat in 8 years
A former WWE wrestler is the UFC heavyweight champion.
Fedor Emelianenko got schooled at the World Combat Sambo Championships.
Well now that we have two of the seven signs of the Apocalypse out of the way, we should probably go ahead and start sealing our doors and windows with duct tape and plastic wrap.
From Brock to Barack, there seems to be a transfer of power in every corner of the world. Fedor Emelianenko, widely considered the world’s top mixed martial arts fighter and king of Combat Sambo, lost to Bulgaria’s Blagoi Ivanov this past weekend by a score of 8-5 in the semifinals of the 2008 World Combat Sambo Championships in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Emelianenko and Ivanov first met back in February of 2008 at Russia’s Presidents Cup where Emelianenko outpointed the Bulgarian for his ninth straight victory in Combat Sambo competition.
Ivanov apparently used the experience to formulate a winning game plan for their second encounter. Emelianenko was dominated from the outset and was in danger of losing 8-1 until the Russian scored a knockdown in the final minute of competition to add four points to his total.
In the end the deficit was too great to overcome and the former PRIDE heavyweight champion had to settle for a bronze medal, his first since the year 2000 (mmamania.com).
This fight wasn’t in MMA, but I figured it was still worth mentioning briefly. It’s the 1st defeat Fedor has felt in 8 years, who also experienced his only MMA defeat in that same year. It’s already being said that Fedor wasn’t in top shape for the bout, which took place the same weekend as UFC 91, due to him filming a movie in Thailand. I’m not going to make some ridiculous statement saying that it’s a sign that Fedor is about to get defeated by Arlovski. But I do think that Arlovski better bring his A game to ‘Day of Reckoning’ because even though Sambo is a different sport, I’m guessing that Fedor is going to be training harder than ever to erase his first defeat of any kind in 8 years.
UFC begins to cut fighters from roster
UFC has released light heavyweight Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou from his UFC contract following his loss to Luiz "Banha" Cane at UFC 89. Sokoudjou exploded onto the MMA scene in 2007 with huge upset wins over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona in PRIDE, however he went just 1-2 in the UFC with a win over Kazuhiro Nakamura at UFC 84 and losses to Cane and Lyoto Machida (411mania.com).
When the UFC first signed Sokoudjou in late 2007, he was one of the hottest free agents in the sport. At just 5-1, ‘Soko’ had become a top 10 contender after two back to back knockout victories over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ricardo Arona, both early in the 1st round. He never quite made the splash he did in the UFC though and was dominated in his debut fight against Machida before being submitted. He picked up a victory over Nakamura at UFC 84, due to a leg injury, in what was Nakamura’s third straight defeat. His last fight was a knockout loss where it appeared that became tired in the middle of the 2nd before being stopped.
Read on for the rest of the releases…
411mania.com has learned that the UFC has released lightweight fighter Jorge Gurgel. However, Gurgel's free agency didn't last long. Within minutes of being released by the UFC, Gurgel signed a multi-fight deal with the Strikeforce organization. Gurgel is coming off a tough unanimous decision loss against Aaron Riley at UFC 91 which won "Fight of the Night" honors (411mania.com).
In my opinion, Gurgel is a prime example of wasted potential. He is a legitimate black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and the head trainer for Rich Franklin (until Matt Hume recently became Franklin’s head coach). But instead of using those BJJ skills to work his way up the ranks, Gurgel has instead chosen to box instead throughout his entire UFC run and that has been a major result in him losing 4 of his 7 fights in the UFC.
If Gurgel chose to use his Jiu Jitsu skills he could be a legitimate contender in the division, but instead he has this Andy Wang type mentality where if his opponent catches him with a solid shot, he needs to bag his entire game plan and try and knock his opponent out. Gurgel is a good striker, but he isn’t great and in most of his losses that has been his downfall.
Despite never rising out of journeyman status in the UFC, Gurgel will be an immediate top fighter in Strikeforce, which doesn’t have nearly the depth at 155lbs that the UFC does. It will be interesting to see him mix it up with Strikeforce lightweights Josh Thompson, Gilbert Melendez and Duane Ludwig. If Gurgel can pick up a few wins I’m sure the UFC would definitely bring him back. But having to re-prove himself outside the UFC likely would’ve been unnecessary if Gurgel learned to stick to a game plan and focus more on his Jiu Jitsu skills. If he did that, not only would he still be in the UFC but he definitely wouldn’t have such a poor UFC record.
The releases don’t stop with Gurgel either….
Less than a month after suffering a brutal knockout loss to heavy underdog Junior dos Santos, one-time UFC heavyweight contender Fabricio Werdum (11-4-1 MMA, 2-2 UFC) has now confirmed he was also knocked out of the organization.
"I had four more fights left with [the UFC] on my contract, which ran to 2010. But they demanded to renegotiate my existing contract by cutting my pay in half." The 31-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace had been discussed as a possible No. 1 contender for the UFC's heavyweight title after his June victory over Vera. After a disappointing 81-second TKO loss to dos Santos, Werdum will now seek employment in another organization (mmafighting.com).
Werdum was someone who just never was really able to make a real impact in the UFC. He made his debut in the UFC in a decision loss to Andrei Arlovski at UFC 71 last year. The fight hurt the reputation of both fighters due to both fighters seemingly avoiding exchanging with each other, although Werdum appeared to be the guiltier offender. Werdum did rebound with 2 straight wins over Gabriel Gonzaga (who had previously defeated in 2003) and Brendon Vera and was starting to be looked at a possible challenger for the title when the Randy Couture-Brock Lesnar-Minotauro Nogueira-Frank Mir round robin was completed in early 2009. But the knockout loss to Dos Santos ruined any plans over that though. Sucks for Werdum, I think he still deserved to fight in the UFC, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. I’d expect to see him fight in Affliction since they have all the best heavyweights and, as a result, the best competition for Werdum to re-establish himself against.
Ricardo Arona Plans Comeback
Light heavyweight standout Ricardo Arona, who looks forward to returning to mixed martial arts competition in 2009, weighs in on Wanderlei Silva vs. Quinton Jackson III for UFC 92 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, on December 27. The Brazilian knows a thing or two about both men, having competed against them back in PRIDE FC:
“Quinton is a great fighter, but only when he’s doing well in the fight. When he fights someone like me or Wanderlei he doesn’t like it, tries the takedowns and gets lost. Wanderlei needs to do the same game plan, doesn’t need to change anything. Quinton has a fucking hand, if he hits you, you’ll feel it, but it’s the perfect game for Wanderlei.”-Arona
A face from the past no doubt. What in the hell has Arona been doing exactly for the past 20 months? Before he was easily considered a top 10 contender in the Light Heavyweight Division, even after his 1st round KO loss to Ricardo Arona at Pride 34, the past Pride show. But after the promotion folded, you would think Arona would’ve been scooped up by the UFC or one of several other promotions that have popped up in the past two years. Arona has victories over the likes of Wanderlei Silva, Murilo Rua, Kazushi Sakuraba, Jeremy Horn and Dan Henderson. It’s about time he got back into the game and where he goes (I’ll guess DREAM if it’s still around) he’ll be an immediate player.
Well that’s all for this week guys, watch out the DHB forums for another edition of the MMA News Feed.
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