Browsing all articles tagged with MMA
Sep
21

Anderson Silva’s Last Four Fights

After defending his title for a record 10 consecutive times it appears UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva is out of legitimate contenders to his throne. After all, he’s beat seemingly every top middleweight in the sport and two of them he’s beat twice.  But he’s not quite out of matchups. Here are four fights fans can enjoy watching and that would challenge Silva.

Chris Weidman

Undefeated and in both MMA and the UFC, Weidman is the most obvious choice for a match against Silva.  He also has probably the most dangerous style to match against Silva. With great wrestling and submission skills and a relentless work rate Weidman is a killer in top position. If Weidman could get Silva down he could submit him. Of course, just as easily “The Spider” could pull off a submission from the bottom.

Michael Bisping

Bisping always seems to pull up just short of a title shot, but he has enough of a resume built up that if the UFC gave him a title shot tomorrow it wouldn’t be surprising. Or even undeserving. A well-rounded fighter, he’s the one man in the division I can see outpointing the champ in a decision victory. Of course while he’s a good striker, muay thai practitioner, and ju-jitsu artist, Silva’s better at all three of those things.

Mark Munoz

Munoz was likely one win away from a title shot before being brutally beatdown by the aforementioned Weidman. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t deserve a fight with the champ and won’t get one. Munoz came into the Weidman fight looking vastly overconfident and underprepared. He won’t make that mistake with Silva. Munoz can’t match “the Spider” in the standup or submission game, but he has some of the most lethal ground-and-pound in the division. If he can walk through some heavy shots and use his superior wrestling to get  top position he can start his “Donkey Kong” attack. Seeing Silva get out of that would be one hell of a fight.

Jon Jones/Georges St-Pierre

Either match would be a great swansong for Silva. The fight between welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre and Silva seems like more a reality right now, if you can believe Dana White. Logistically though, a fight between Silva and light heavyweight title holder Jon Jones makes more sense. GSP has a backlog of challengers to his welterweight throne, while both Silva and Jones are running out of possible matches in their division.

In pure physical sense Silva vs. Jones is a better matchup than Jones vs. St-Pierre. Silva is closer to Jones in body size than he is to GSP; he has fought at light heavyweight and GSP has only ever fought at welterweight. St-Pierre would have to put on quite a bit of weight to make 185 pounds which would make him slower. All Silva has to do to make light heavyweight is cut less weight. As a fan I would love to see Silva fight both GSP and Jones. But if it’s a choice between a catchweight fight with GSP and a title fight at 205 with Jones, I’ll take the title fight.

If Silva vs. Jones came to fruition it could be a classic. Their styles and strengths are very similar with a few exceptions. In a straight kickboxing match it’s impossible to say who would win, they are both such creative, quick, and accurate strikers. In the clinch I think Silva has the clear advantage. Jones main plus is his better wrestling skills. Jones probably wants to be in top position where he’ll hope his offensive ju-jitsu is better than Silva’s defensive ju-jitsu. Jones could use his length and his wrestling skills to score points and keep the fight where he wants it. But Silva is still very quick, and can strike from seemingly anywhere and end a fight in an instant. Of course so can Jones. That’s why this would be an amazing match up.

If Silva ended up fighting St-Pierre instead it would also be a dream matchup. The two best fighters of their generation going against each other? Arguably the two best pound-for-pound fighters of all time? GSP’s clear advantage would be his wrestling. He would have to use his added bulk to wrestle Silva to the ground and work from top position. Unfortunately, the added bulk would likely give Silva a standup advantage. Silva would want to keep it standing, using his kicks to keep his distance from St-Pierre and negate takedown attempts. Silva could also try to clinch when GSP goes for takedowns and utilize his brutal muay thai knees. This could be an incredibly interesting matchup because GSP is a very calculated fighter who comes into each fight with a specific game plan, while Silva seems to let fights go where they go. St-Pierre strategizes his entire fights around his opponent’s weaknesses while Silva waits until he spots an opening to attack. It could be one of the best fights ever. Of course, it could also be a bit a dud (Like the Matt Hughes-Royce Gracie fight).

So the situation isn’t as dire as the MMA community may think. There may be some other middleweights who emerge as serious contenders in the next year or two as well. But if that doesn’t happen and neither does a superfight between Jones or St. Pierre, give another shot to Sonnen. Or let Tim Boetsch have a crack at it. Even if one of those guys get dominated, they’ll make it entertaining.

Jun
11

Washington Sportsjam MMA Pound-for-Pound Rankings: June 2012 Edition

So this is going to count for both May and June as no fighters on this list are fighting until July and I’m late on the May rankings anyway. With his first UFC title defense Junior Dos Santos enters the top five for the first time this year. With that Benson Henderson drops down to “In Consideration”. This is nothing against Henderson, who’s had an impressive UFC run recently, it’s just that winning and defending a title is more impressive than just winning one.

1. Anderson Silva (UFC Middleweight Champion, Record 29-4)

In the Yushin Okami fight Silva avenged his most recent loss and extended his title-defense streak to an astounding nine times. He beat one of his most qualified challengers yet both mentally and physically. His in-ring mind-games showed how he can force an opponent into his gameplan. Unfortunately, it also showed why he is losing fans despite his massive talent. Love him or hate him, he’s the most dominant fighter in the world right now.

Next Fight – vs. Chael Sonnen @UFC148 7/7/12

2. Jon Jones (UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Record 16-1)

For the first time as champ, Jones didn’t finish his opponent. Jones was smart to keep challenger Rashad Evans at arm’s length all fight, as he was the most complete fighter he’s faced yet. While it wasn’t the type of exciting fight we’ve been accustomed to from Jones, we did see something new – elbows as jabs! Bones methodically outstruck and outpointed Evans the whole fight and handily avoided all takedowns. Jones doesn’t seem to have any weaknesses in his game and refuses to play to his opponent’s strength. If he keeps that up he’ll be almost unbeatable. 

Next Fight – TBA vs. Dan Henderson

3. Jose Aldo (UFC Featherweight Champion, Record 21-1)

In the first UFC event of 2012 Aldo defended his belt against one of his toughest opponents yet. Chad “Money” Mendes is the most accomplished wrestler in the division, yet Aldo’s takedown defense never looked better. After shutting down Mendes’ wrestling, Aldo stopped “Money” with a spinning back elbow. Aldo, the brilliant tactician has been present in all three of his UFC fights. Aldo, the exciting finisher and creative striker from the WEC finally showed up again. In three straight title defenses in the UFC he’s been dominant, only dropping three rounds. Like his contemporaries in the bantamweight and middleweight divisions Aldo is running out of challenges at his weight class.

Next Fight – vs. Eric Koch @UFC149 7/21/12)

4. Dominick Cruz (UFC Bantamweight Champion, Record 19-1)

The “Dominator” continues to control the bantamweight division. In July, Cruz avenged his only career loss by outpointing Urijah Faber. At the beginning of October he held off Demetrious Johnson, the only fighter with more speed at his weight class. Cruz’s critics complain his style is boring, but no one can accuse him of not working. He fights at a breakneck pace. That combined with his odd stand-up movement, his excellent takedowns, and complete ground game makes him a tough nut to crack. He’s also just a few more fights away from cleaning out the division of contenders.

Next Fight TBA

5. Junior Dos Santos ↑ (UFC Heavyweight Champion Record 15-1)

At UFC 146 in May Junior Dos Santos thoroughly dominated Frank Mir in his first title defense. JDS was vastly superior to Mir in the stand-up game and Mir was unable to get the fight to the ground. Dos Santos boxing skills are superior to almost everyone in the division and seems almost impossible to takedown. He looks unbeatable at heavyweight at this point, but that is a division full of surprises.

Next Fight TBA

Other fighters in consideration: Ben Askren, Carlos Condit, Benson Henderson, Cole Konrad, Gilbert Melendez

Jan
20

2011 MMA Awards

Welcome to the first annual (hopefully) Washington Sportsjam year-end awards! Alright, so I know this is very late, but I watched a lot of MMA in 2011 and think I have a good perspective on the year. Let’s look at the best fights and best fighters of last year.

Fight of the Year: Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Hua at UFC 139

This is the one of the best fights I’ve ever seen. Henderson dominated the first two rounds, tagging Hua multiple times. Somehow, Shogun was able to stay conscious and continue fighting. Hendo won the third round and landed even more shots, but it wasn’t as lopsided as the first two rounds. Then Hua came on and dominated the last two rounds, ironically out-wrestling the All-American and landing a few shots of his own. In the end Henderson won on the cards, but both fighters left it all in the ring.

KO of the Year: Anderson Silva vs Vitor Belfort at UFC 126

With one swift leg kick to the head, Silva KO’d Belfort. Belfort is known for his standup game, but watching this KO, it looked as if Anderson could have ended the fight at any time he chose.

Runner-Up: Lyoto Machida vs. Randy Couture at UFC 129

Submission of the Year: Frank Mir vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueria at UFC 140

This was one of the sickest submissions I’ve ever seen. After Nogueria had rocked Mir with shots, Mir was able to get him to the ground and get a hold on him. Mir kept rolling Nogueria over, making the kimura tighter and tighter, until Big Nog’s arm literally snapped. It was gross and violent in a way that reminded you how dangerous MMA can be.

Comeback of the Year: Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard at UFC 136

Two times in 2011, Gray Maynard almost finished Frankie Edgar in Round 1 of a title fight. Maynard wasn’t able to finish Edgar either time. On the 1st occasion Edgar forced a decision draw, but in the comeback of the year he came back and TKO’d Maynard.

In Round 1 Maynard rocked Edgar with an uppercut and Edgar struggled just to survive the round. Round 2 was very close, really hard to say who the judges picked. However, Maynard let Edgar recover in Round 2. By Round 3 Edgar had regained confidence in his boxing and was slipping-and-ripping effectively. By the 4th round Edgar connected enough to TKO Maynard. It was one of the best comebacks ever in MMA and an incredible show of a champion’s heart.

Fighter of the Year: Jon Jones UFC Light Heavyweight Champion

This was the easiest decision. Jones was unstoppable in 2011 winning all four of his with stoppages. The first was a contender matchup, the second was a title fight, and the last two were title defenses. During that stretch he dispatched three MMA legends violently.  His domination was unmatched in 2011.

Newcomer of the Year: Douglas Lima Bellator Welterweight

Before 2011, Lima has never fought in Bellator. By the end of 2011 he was the Bellator Welterweight Tournament Winner and had a title shot lined up. In the tournament final he had an impressive KO win against UFC vet Ben Saunders.

Runner-Up: Benson Henderson UFC Lightweight

Comeback Fighter of the Year: Josh Koscheck UFC Welterweight

In 2010, Koscheck failed miserably in his title-shot against welterweight king Georges St-Pierre. For five consecutive rounds, GSP punished Koscheck’s face with jabs, eventually breaking his orbital bone. He looked like a broken man after that fight and was out for a long recovery.

At UFC 135 in September he faced UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes. Hughes went for the same eye GSP did with jabs, but Koscheck was able to outbox Hughes, and KO’d him with one second left in Round 1. Though he was clearly the superior standup fighter, it still took guts to stand there and risk taking another beating.

So, those are awards for 2011. Agree, disagree, did I overlook something? Let me know in the comments section.

Jan
6

Strikeforce to Limp Another Year

In a somewhat surprising recent press release Strikeforce announced it had renewed its Showtime deal for 2012. Strikeforce promises up to eight events and to retain its marque fighters. They also promise to “put on some really amazing events”, which seems unlikely when they’ve lost so many fighters that they’re giving Keith Jardine a title-shot (against current middleweight champion Luke Rockhold). It’s really hard to see the positive for any players involved in this deal.

Matthew Tosh flickr

This is bad news for the UFC. Dana White has said the UFC is going to stop cherry-picking the elite talent from Strikeforce. So, instead they’re going to have the few remaining top talents in Strikeforce go to waste, laboring another year in crumbling organization? UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva and welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre have nearly run out of opponents. Those weight classes could use an infusion of some new contenders. Light-heavyweight kingpin Jon Jones ran through four top-ten opponents in 2011. Right now, there are only three fighters who can realistically be considered a top contender for his belt. And one of them just left Strikeforce.

This isn’t really good news for Strikeforce. Sometime last year, Bellator overtook Strikeforce as the number two North American promotion. Of Strikeforce’s five men’s weight classes, only two have champions. The other three divisions lost their belt-holders to the UFC. Apparently, after the current heavyweight tournament is over that division will be disbanded. But does anyone care about the SF championship anymore? Let me state this again, Keith Jardine is getting a title fight. Jardine who lost his last four fights in the UFC and should have lost his only fight in Strikeforce (it was a Draw on a terrible decision). Defending your belt against him means nothing.

Which is why keeping world-ranked fighters like Gilbert Melendez, Luke Rockhold, and Daniel Cormier in Strikeforce for another year, amounts to a waste of year for them. Sure, they won’t be thrown to the lions right away like they would be in the UFC, but no one in Strikeforce gets them closer to a UFC title-shot. They’re losing valuable experience and a year in their prime by being forced to stay in Strikeforce. I know I’m beating a dead horse, but Luke Rockhold would benefit more by fighting on a UFC undercard against someone like Demain Maia or Vitor Belfort than by defending his Strikeforce belt.

Strikeforce began as an admirable attempt to stage world-class fights outside of the UFC. At the time it was needed, because the UFC stranglehold on the sport could have killed its momentum. Because of Strikeforce, the UFC had deliver quality, it had to continue to increase its presence on cable, and it had to treat its fighters fairly. But now, Strikeforce is just a part of UFC and an increasingly less relevant one. Like a fighter past their prime, Strikeforce should have ended before it got embarrassing to watch. Or it should have been turned into a minor league. Instead MMA fans get to watch a year of a formerly important organization become a joke.

Nov
20

Washington Sportsjam MMA Pound-for-Pound Rankings:November 2011 Edition

Compared to September and October, November has been a slow month for UFC title fights. The UFC Heavyweight championship was the only title on the line and was also the only one to change hands recently. Junior Dos Santos took Cain Velasquez’s belt away with basically one big punch. Because of this Velasquez obviously drops off the list and Dos Santos comes in at number five. Dominick Cruz moves up to number four as his domination of the bantamweight division becomes more and more impressive.

1. Anderson Silva (UFC Middleweight Champion, Record 29-4)

In the Yushin Okami fight Silva avenged his most recent loss and extended his title-defense streak to an astounding nine times. He beat one of his most qualified challengers yet both mentally and physically. His in-ring mind-games showed how he can force an opponent into his gameplan. Unfortunately, it also showed why he is losing fans despite his massive talent. Love him or hate him, he’s the most dominant fighter in the world right now.

Next Fight – TBA vs. Chael Sonnen

2. Georges St-Pierre (UFC Welterweight Champion, Record 22-2)

GSP was not able to dominate Jake Shields the way he dominated his six previous challengers. However he once again held off a red-hot challenger by not playing into their game and exploiting their weaknesses. It may not have been exciting but it was the smart move. He still looks unbeatable in the Welterweight division.

Next Fight – vs. Nick Diaz @UFC 143 2/4/12

3. Jon Jones (UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Record 14-1)

Jones proved he was for real in his first title defense. He beat Rampage Jackson thoroughly and in all aspects of the fight. He kept Rampage at range with varied striking, forced him to defend from submission attempts, and was never predictable. His critics say he’s never been tested; the truth is no one has been able to find a chink in his armor. Jones is so good in so many ways and is always improving. Right now his only weakness is his ego.

Next Fight – vs. Lyoto Machida @ UFC 140 12/10/11

4. Dominick Cruz ↑ (UFC Bantamweight Champion, Record 19-1)

The “Dominator” continues to control the bantamweight division. In July, Cruz avenged his only career loss by outpointing Uriah Faber. At the beginning of this month he held off Demetrious Johnson, the only fighter with more speed at his weight class. Cruz’s critics complain his style is boring, but no one can accuse him of not working. He fights at a breakneck pace. That combined with his odd stand-up movement, his excellent takedowns, and complete ground game makes him a tough nut to crack. He’s also just a few more fights away from cleaning out the division of contenders.

Next Fight – TBA vs. Uriah Faber

5. Junior Dos Santos ↑ (UFC Heavyweight Champion, Record 14-1)

In just over one minute Cigano stopped the previously undefeated Cain Velasquez and took his belt. He avoided Velasquez’s takedown attempt and rocked him with a heavy shot. Dos Santos is always a threat to knock someone out and is undefeated in the UFC. After easily beating the most complete fighter in the division it’s hard to imagine him giving up the belt anytime soon.

Next Fight – TBA

Other fighters in consideration: Jose Aldo, Frankie Edgar, Cole Konrad, Hector Lombard, Gilbert Melendez