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The Sky Report: Waiting For UFC 98 Edition

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As we patiently await the event that is UFC 98, I thought I’d resurrect the Sky Report to give a few thoughts of things leading up to that event as well as things beyond the UFC.  Also, I want to say welcome to Matt Bishop and the Lights Out Radio crew to the MMA4Real family.  It will be great to hear you guys’ opinions and breakdowns and bring more quality content to the site.  With that said, let’s go:

Bellator For Real!  Exactly, with their last few shows, Bellator Fighting Championships have strung together some of MMA’s most exciting highlights of the year thus far.  Their weekly events have showcased some of the finest up and coming welterweight, middleweight, lightweight and featherweight fighters and plenty of Youtube material.  If you haven’t seen the Toby Imada reverse triangle choke out of Jorge Masvidal then please check it here.  And if that doesn’t drop your jaw, then the jaw crushing spinning backfist Yahir Reyes put on Estevan Payan should do the trick.  Bellator seems to have good management, a decent roster, and some flair so it will be interesting to see where they go in the near future, once they crown all their tournament winners.

Unbeaten yet Unappreciated.  Next weekend will showcase two undefeated fighters vying for the light heavyweight title.  That speaks volumes for those two guys, as the light heavyweight division is unquestionably the most stacked division in all of MMA, in my opinion.  Rashad Evans (18-0-1) will defend the title against Lyoto Machida (14-0).  At points in their careers, both guys were given the unfortunate ‘boring’ title to their names.  Rashad burst on to the scene in The Ultimate Fighter Season 2 as a heavyweight wrestler but after winning, dropped down to light heavyweight, where he’s found much success.  Snoozers against guys like Stephan Bonnar and Michael Bisping as well as his knack for cutting a rug in the octagon every now and then have plagued Rashad throughout his UFC career.  However, devastating knockouts of Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin have put him in the good graces of some but not so much for others who still don’t know if they should cheer him.  On the other hand, if you remember Lyoto Machida’s fights against Sam Hoger and David Heath, you either take heavy doses of NoDose or suffer from insomnia.  Since then though, the karate heavy, counterstriker has attempted to excite the crowd with finishes over Rameau Thierry-Sokoudjou and then unbeaten Thiago Silva as well as near finish of former champ Tito Ortiz.  Now the stage is set for one of these guys to go from unappreciated to undisputed.  Their clash has raised much debate, even here, I’m still uncertain of who I think will walk away with the gold and even how.  Fortunately, that’s the beauty of this match up and what makes UFC 98 a must watch for me!

Another TUF Assignment for Rampage.  Well it seems that way, although there have been no official announcements or reports, Rampage’s training partner and friend Tiki Ghosn has gone on record as saying the charismatic light heavyweight has agreed to coach The Ultimate Fighter Season 10.  If you haven’t forgotten (which I’m sure you haven’t), Jackson is not far removed from that role as he was the coach for the seventh season of the show alongside Forrest Griffin, who went on to defeat him for the light heavyweight title.  This is a blessing in disguise for one of two guys if true though.  Those two guys being the two combatants that will compete for the light heavyweight strap in just one week.  Rashad Evans and/or Lyoto Machida would benefit greatly from this exposure, especially Machida as he’s been slowly building a fanbase and this could really connect him to more fans, who only know him as that unbeaten karate guy.  However, if Rashad Evans holds on to his belt, this would really create a huge buzz for the meeting between him and Rampage.  As we all saw at the conclusion of UFC 96, the two won’t be going out for a beer together any time soon, so with these two sharing screen time for a few months on Spike TV, that would do as much justice as them running a UFC Primetime.  Whatever the case, I hope that Quinton keeps himself in shape throughout the process and doesn’t have another one of his breakdowns due to the long layoff.

Dana the Fighter?  Earlier in the week, Tom Atencio, co-owner of the Affliction company, challenged the UFC co-owner to a real fight.  If you didn’t know, Atencio is preparing for his second MMA fight and I guess feels if Dana loves the sport so much he should, you know, actually participate in it.  Well, my two cents are this.  Dana White has mega-bucks and he’s never had to step foot in the octagon with five ounce gloves and sponsor laden shorts.  As White said in his response “He should be worried about the millions and millions of his bosses, or his partners' money, whoever it is, that's he's burning.” Ouch, the truth may hurt more than one of Dana’s haymakers.

Alexander the Saint.  Kudos to Houston Alexander for saving a four year old little girl, who was left alone in a car by her mother, if only he could do that to his UFC career.

Clash of the Matt’s:  Good, Bad, or Ugly?  The co-main event of the aforementioned UFC 98 will be the grudge match ages in the making between Matt Hughes and Matt Serra, both former welterweight champions.  The fight was originally supposed to take place at UFC 79, back in December of 2007 after they finished filming the sixth season of the Ultimate Fighter.  However, Serra was injured and in turn, Georges St. Pierre stepped in and the rest is history.  Now the two will do battle next Saturday, and while I’m excited about it, I have a feeling we could be in store for a big time snoozer.  If you know Matt Hughes, you know he has no problems simply lay and praying his way to victory and with Serra, you have a guy that his highly susceptible to the takedown.  Now if Serra can somehow turn this into a slugfest, well to quote a classic movie title "There Will Be Blood".  However, I'm leaning more towards a conservative outing for Hughes while Serra tries desperately to get this one standing.  Hopefully these two prove me wrong and put together a classic, but I have my reservations on that one.

Only 4 More Days!  Yes, the anticipation for UFC Undisputed 2009 has reached its zenith with me.  If you do not have an Xbox 360 or Playstation 3, I suggest scraping up a few pennies and heading to your nearest GameStop, EB Games, F.Y.E, Best Buy, or any place that sell ‘em and getting one.  I’m sure I won’t be the only one missing sleep for a few weeks as we try to master the essentials for each of our favorite fighters and also create some new ones.  I’m guessing our faithful leader, Kelvin, has purchased one and if not, come on up I-40 and I’ll lay a beatdown on you real quick.

What to Watch For?  This weekend we have two smaller organization cards taking place.  Maximum Fighting Championships 21 will take place tonight and it has a pretty good lineup of UFC vets as well as former WWE sensation, Bobby Lashley.  Just a few names you might recognize are Trevor Prangley, John Alessio, Marvin Eastman, and David Heath.  If you have HDNet Fights then I suggest tuning in tonight at 10 PM EST.  Also, Strikeforce will have its second show on Showtime, this time with Strikeforce Challenger, a show in the same vein as a UFC Fight Night.  The main event of the card will see undefeated Billy Evangelista take on Mike Aina (probably best known as the guy Nick Diaz fought when returning from his suspension).  The rest of the card has some up and coming talent in the Strikeforce stable, so if you have Showtime, tune in tonight at 11PM EST/8PM PST (thanks Felix) and watch. 

Welcome to the Family!  Before I go, just like to welcome Rich Wyatt, Matt Bishop, and the Lights Out Radio crew to MMA4Real.  Kelvin’s done a lot to make this site legit and with these guys on board, it can only get better.  So make sure to check out what these guys are bringing to the table, and trust, they got some good stuff in store. 

That’ll do it for this edition of The Sky Report, all my fantasy leaguers out there gear up for next weekend because I have my eye on gold and I don’t think any of you can stop me ;)