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New Year’s and MMA

Happy New Year.

Being alone on New Year’s sucks. And I won’t get into it, so here’s some stuff about UFC 66, which I ordered last night. Ed, Dave, Ryan, and Steve joined me for the festivities.

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UFC 66
* LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT – Michael Bisping def. Eric Schaefer in the 1st via ref stoppage. Bisping looked pretty good here, and it’s about damn time he’s fought (his two previous scheduled fights were cancelled for an injury and complications with his work visa respectively). The idea right now, I guess, is to groom Bisping for a potential Light Heavyweight Championship shot when UFC goes to England.
* HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT – Andrei Arlovski def. Marco Cruz in the 1st via ref stoppage. Cruz looked alright but couldn’t get anything done. Arlovski eventually mounted and got in almost a dozen punches before Herb Dean stopped the fight. Arlovski looked good, but not impressive enough to warrant him embarrassing himself in another shot against Sylvia. The fake vampire teeth have got to go.
* MIDDLEWEIGHT BOUT – Jason McDonald def. Chris Leben in the 2nd via choke-out. The first round was typical Leben – he swung for the fences, gassed himself out, and got absolutely nothing accomplished except for winning the round – which is fine and dandy if you’re going to last past the 2nd, which Leben can’t against a fighter like McDonald. McDonald clenched in a beautiful side guillotine on Leben, who instead of tapping once it was clinched in decided he wasn’t going to tap, and he paid for it by going limp. Leben needs to realize that this isn’t professional wrestling – refusing to tap isn’t going to get you over, nor does it make you look like a tough guy. All it’s going to do is put you on the shelf, shorten your career and/or make you look like a total idiot (see: Frank Mir breaking Sylvia’s arm in 2004). There’s also the possibility of permanent brain damage by allowing the flow of oxygen to be completely cut off to your brain, but if his interviews are any indication brain damage isn’t anything Leben should be concerned with.
* LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT – Keith Jardine def. Forrest Griffin in the 1st via ref stoppage. Griffin decided to stand up with Jardine, who specializes in stand-up. Griffin is a good all-around fighter, but doesn’t excel in any one area, so you can imagine how well that went. Griffin held his own for a bit until Jardine started in with the leg kicks, then a few punches knock Griffin to the ground. Jardine then hit some WICKED shots on the ground and the ref stopped it. Afterwards, Griffin kneeled down and cried. He blew off the post-fight interview, giving a very short (and odd) response before literally running to the back. I’m sure today he’d take that back if he could, and the emotion’s understandable. However, a couple problems. One, not showing any dignity or restraint after losing a fight not only hurts your credibility but is pretty disrespectful to your opponent. Two, it showed that he completely underestimated Jardine and bought into his own hype. I like Forrest Griffin, but he’s completely overrated at this stage in the game, even with the good showing against Oriz (who also at the point HE’S at is overrated himself). This fight showed more than anything that Griffin is nowhere near ready to face someone the caliber of Liddell, and the real test is going to come when he has to bounce back from this loss. It’ll be an interesting 2007 for UFC’s Golden Boy to say the least.
* WELTERWEIGHT BOUT – Thiago Alves def. absolutely destroyed Phil DeSouza in the 2nd via ref stoppage (DARK). This was one of the prelim fights that occurred before the broadcast went live, and was inserted in due to only one match previously going into the 2nd. Alves completely dominated the first, and in my opinion had it won with a minute to go in the round. DeSouza however showed that he’s at least smarter than Tito Ortiz, in that instead of just curling up in a fetal position he rolled around and showed enough movement to warrant the ref not stopping due to an attempt at defense. DeSouza was literally saved by the bell and the ref’s judgment, which I can’t argue with considering that DeSouza was at least showing signs of life. The second round picked up right where the first left off – DeSouza went for a takedown and Alves knocked him into the East Coast with a knee and pounded him on the ground to win the fight. Alves looked REALLY good here, and while he couldn’t get much done DeSouze impressed me with his ability to take a punch – he took solid straight shots that would probably knock out most other fighters.
* MAIN EVENT: LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BOUT – Chuck Liddell def. Tito Ortiz in the 3rd via ref stoppage. Liddell completely dominated the first round, and by completely dominated I mean he really should’ve won it in the first round. Mario Yamasaki was the ref, though, because Tito complained that John McCarthy didn’t catch the infamous EYE POKE OF DOOM. Eddie Bravo (and we later learned the NSAC-appointed judges) scored it 10-9 for Liddell, which is insane. What the Hell do you have to do to get a 10-8 or 10-7 round in the UFC, pummel a toddler? The second round was a slightly more even exchange, with Liddell getting in as many shots and making them matter more. Still, Eddie Bravo (and again the NSAC judges) gave the round to Tito 10-9. What the Hell? Third round was all Liddell. Tito went for a takedown at one point, to which Chuck responded with a thunderous NO. He dominated Ortiz for awhile before finally ending it with a ground and pound. Ortiz fans have already started crying “premature stoppage,” but Tito didn’t do anything other than curl up in a fetal position and cover his head, and the fight should’ve been stopped in the first anyway. Pretty entertaining fight even though it wasn’t really back-and-forth action. Tito was shockingly humble post-fight, giving Liddell credit and not coming up with excuses. He didn’t even make any in the post-fight press conference, which is stunning. After the fight, during Liddell’s interview, Quinton Jackson was shown watching in the crowd, and it’s pretty obvious where they’re going with that.
* HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT – Gabriel Gonzaga def. Carmello Marrero in the 1st via armbar submission.(DARK) Another prelim fight shown since they had a little time left. Quick, and all Gonzaga.

Overall, not a bad card by any means but there wasn’t that one fight that made you go “wow.” Griffin, as stated before, has shown that he’s not nearly ready for the attention he’s received in the past year. Ortiz is in some trouble. He struggled against Forrest Griffin (and it could be argued should’ve lost that fight), which has really been his only big win in the past year or so. I’m not counting the wins against Shamrock, because that was such a mismatch it’s not even funny. People say that Liddell’s primary weakness is his age, but in MMA it’s not how old you are but how long you’ve been in the game as was shown with Randy Couture. He and Ortiz started around the same time (’98 and ’97 respectively), but Liddell over time has shown improvement while Ortiz is the one in the race against time. In preparing for Liddell his conditioning was the best it’s been in years, and he still went down. I don’t doubt him when he says he’s not done and has another 5 or 6 years, but I can’t realistically see him ever getting back to the form he had during the first seven years of his career.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the night was the official announcement that on the February 3rd show, in addition to someone being fed to Quinton Jackson, Mirko Cro Cop would make his debut. Tim Sylvia is FUUUUUUUUCKED.

40 bucks well spent.

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MORE MMA NEW YEAR’S STUFF!
I was also tempted to order the “PRIDE: Shockwave” PPV, which was on a tape delay from VERY early this morning in Japan. I ultimately decided against it, but heard it was a great show, complete with a ridiculous opening with a choir singing about the year in Pride to the tune of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.” Hilarious. The big upset was James Thompson beating Hidehiko Yoshida by knockout. Yoshida’s record (now 7-6) doesn’t speak volumes on first glance, but he’s always fought top competition and done very well for himself in doing so. Josh Barnett said in the days leading up to his fight with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira that he’d prove pro wrestling was a superior discipline in MMA, which our American minds might find amusing but isn’t quite as ridiculous in Japan. Unfortunately for Barnett and pro wrestling, Nog won by decision. In the main event, and what’s said to have been a VERY good fight, Fedor Emelianenko beat Mark Hunt with a kimura. Pride needs to find new heavyweights and do it fast, because as good as the Heavyweight Division is in the organization, Fedor’s proven to be unstoppable and there’s nobody left for him to beat. He’s getting over a million to fight on the next Bodog card…which isn’t a big deal since nobody takes Calvin Ayre’s promotion seriously, but it does show that Fedor’s getting pretty bored and if the right price comes along (UFC) he’s gone quicker than you can say “Cro Cop.”

K-1 also had their big New Year’s Eve show in Japan, which as always was more focused on the “freakshow” fights than anything else. It’s fun to watch KID Yamamoto knock people out with flying knees, but I really didn’t care to see big talentless Giant Silva or big fat bastard Akebono fight three years ago, let alone now.

Tonight on FSN they showed a one-hour version of IFL’s show from Friday night. The presentation is good and the fighting isn’t bad, but I just can’t even force myself to give a shit about the teams. A team concept works well as a one-shot or annual event, but as the sole concept of an entire promotion is incredibly goofy. Especially when you force them to adopt silly names like “The Los Angeles Silverbacks” or something like that instead of calling them what they really are (the Miletich Camp).

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2nd Annual Marshall Pro Wrestling Awards – Part 3 tomorrow. I promise.

More later…

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