UFC 98 has come and gone and the fallout has been pretty massive. After what I thought was a disappointing effort by the UFC (most will probably disagree) let's see where we're headed and what other news features I can sink my textual teeth into.
I never really gave my breakdown of UFC 98 and so I will take that opportunity right now:
BullSherk - What happens when a great wrestler figures out that you can also throw punches while standing up? Well, for some odd reason, that great wrestler figures if he can be competent at it, that's what he'll do instead of expending the energy and effort of bodyslamming someone. Unfortunately, said great wrestler meets another good wrestler who is also competent with throwing punches while standing and also has learned the ancient art of defense. Where am I going with this? Well, no one on the planet outside of Frankie Edgar's immediate family and friends picked ‘The Answer' to come away the victor on Saturday. Why was that? Well he was fighting not only a former champion but also a much bigger, stronger opponent. Fortunately for Edgar, none of that mattered, as Edgar was able to bob and weave his way to a fairly easy victory, not to mention having a great reach advantage on Sherk, which made the night even easier for him. In the end, I'm not sure if this really shows how much Frankie Edgar has risen in the ranks of the lightweight division or if it shows how poorly Sean Sherk game planned for this bout. Nonetheless, this is a huge win for Edgar, who now has wins over Sean Sherk, Tyson Griffin, and Hermes Franca...the next step for him? I'm not sure but why not let him send off Roger Huerta (wherever he may be).
Sonnen'd - If Dan Miller's game plan coming in to his bout with Chael Sonnen was to be dragged to the mat, controlled and pummeled for three rounds...well he executed it to perfection. Flawless in fact. However, I don't think that was the case but whatever it may have been, Chael Sonnen must have read the many blogs that basically looked past him and all but gave Miller the W. The fight wasn't much to watch, unless you enjoy seeing a guy on his back being held down by another guy. Huge win for Sonnen and he may have kept his job for another day.
X'd Out - Thanks for stopping by to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Xavier Foupa-Pokam, but your time here is up. This was another fight that the masses for some reason got very wrong. While Professor X is very much an athletic, exciting fighter, he's been put in the cage with guys that really expose his flaws. He can't take much of a punch and when he does, it throws his whole game off and if your ground game is at least decent, he's done. So was the case with X as he fought a very focused Denis Kang at UFC 97 and the headhunting Drew McFedries at UFC 98. I would like to see Professor X get one more shot against someone not as dangerous as the aforementioned, but we'll have to wait and see.
Hughes/Serra to the Rescue? Yeah, a fight that I figured would have maybe a small flash of greatness and a long duration of boredom turned out to be full of fireworks. From headbutts to near knockouts to Hughes doing what Hughes does best to Serra showing desperation...the fight had it all and really woke me up from nearly going comatose. Kudos to both guys for what was easily fight of the night and neither should hang their head in shame. Especially Matt Serra, who semi-won a new fan.
The Machida Era Is Upon Us, Everyone Hide - Lyoto ‘The Dragon' Machida in the span of under a week may be the most blogged fighter ever since my days of blogging. Every site you can think of with MMA in it's url has at least five or six editorials or columns about this man. Did he earn that type of hype? Yep, I'd say so. His dismantling and total dissection of ‘Sugar' Rashad Evans was at times hard to watch. The guy that many gave a shot to crack the Machida code, looked lost, overwhelmed, and then ultimately corpse-like. This moves Lyoto to 15-0 and a nice shiny UFC championship belt. What's next for him...well I'll get to that further down the report. As far as Rashad Evans, he did all he could do considering that was the game plan that he was to implement. As quick and explosive as he is, against someone that is as accurate as Machida, he should've switched it up as he saw that trying to counter a counter-striker wasn't getting the job done. However, I do commend Rashad for his comments and class after taking his first loss and doing it in such brutal fashion...'you have to take it how you give it' well he certainly did so.
Miscellaneous 98 Musings - Tim Hague and Kyle Bradley should join Frankie Edgar and Chael Sonnen and form a human middle finger to send throughout the entire MMA universe. Those two, Hague and Bradley, were also given zero chance of defeating their opponents and both did...in dramatic fashion. Hague with a first round submission victory and Bradley with a TKO win over the much talked about Nover. This tells me one thing...I'm going to have to get a little more bold with my fantasy league picks!
Time to Get TUF - The MMA blogs were abuzz yesterday as many already knew that Quinton ‘Rampage' Jackson would be coaching the 10th season of the Ultimate Fighter show but no one knew who would oppose him. Many thought that newly crowned UFC light heavyweight champion was the only logical choice since Dana White had all but confirmed a meeting between the two later this year. However, a curveball was quickly thrown. Thanks to the widely popular staredown between Rampage and former champion, Rashad Evans, they opted to put these two together for the show and a December showdown instead. Rampage's reasoning can be read here. Was this truly Rampage's thought process as he was asked specifically by Spike TV to host another season, and seeing as how Machida doesn't speak English well plus was not willing to do the show unless there were Brazilian fighters involved, it made more sense to choose Rashad after their classic war of words after his UFC 96 victory? Or was this Dana White trying to build up potential blockbuster match ups in the near future of the light heavyweight division...I'll get to that after this...
Shogun Assassin? Well, it's basically been confirmed thanks to Rich Wyatt reporting, that Mauricio ‘Shogun' Rua will get the first crack at Lyoto ‘The Dragon' Machida. There are two extremes I see from fans coming from this. On one side, I see guys ecstatic that Shogun would get the opportunity to meet Machida and feel it will be a big test for the champion. Others don't understand the logic in Shogun getting a title shot with wins over two over the hill fighters in Chuck Liddell and Mark Coleman, the Coleman fight being extremely painful to watch. Well, my two cents with this is Dana is trying to pull a Vince McMahon. Now hear me out, I know some of you hate the pro wrestling/MMA comparison but its there and will probably be there for some time. Maybe he's attempting to do some long term booking, in that, Rampage/Rashad square off and Shogun/Machida do as well. The winners, obviously will face each other so we possibly get Rampage against Machida, which many have wanted to see but more important, we could see Rampage/Shogun 2, which I know Dana wants to make happen sooner or later. In the same vein we could see a rematch between Rashad and Machida...which I'm not sure folks would want to see but with a big win over Rampage could build some steam...and a Rashad/Shogun bout would be highly intriguing in my opinion. The fights do...from a business standpoint make sense, although it's going to be hard to sell the Shogun/Machida fight with both being able to speak or understand very little English. But, we shall see. Is Shogun the man to dethrone Machida? I think not...but stranger things have happened.
Pulling the Trigg-er - Frank Trigg, who is mostly recognized in the UFC for his two rear naked choke losses to Matt Hughes (as well as one to Georges St. Pierre) has signed a multi-fight deal with the UFC for a second go 'round. Trigg has been hitting the different organizations the past few years, finding a niche in the middleweight division however it looks as though he'll be going back to his welterweight roots for his UFC run. Please Joe Silva, do not expose us to a third Hughes/Trigg bout, sure the smack talk will be great, but do we really want to see these two go at it again?
It Was All a DREAM - With all this UFC talk, you'd think that's all this column is about but we'll go outside the UFC for a moment and look at another event that took place this week. DREAM 9 was offered for free on HDNet this past Tuesday morning and you can read a detailed blow by blow analysis by Matt Bishop here. The biggest news out of the show, unfortunately, was the inevitable beatdown of Jose Canseco to Hong Man Choi. That's all I'll speak on that. Other notable wins in the ‘Super Hulk' tournament were Gerard Mousasi who overwhelmed the much bigger Mark Hunt, Rameau Thierry Soukodjou who pounded out fellow African Jan Nortje via controversial style, and extremely undersized Ikuhisa Minowa submitted Bob Sapp (smh). Moving away from that, the featherweight tournament continued with what is being called a possible Fight of the Year bout between Hideo Tokoro and Abel Cullum. Also, possible Upset of the Year, with Joe Warren in just his second MMA fight defeating former pound for pound king Norifumi ‘Kid' Yamamoto via split decision. Hiroyuki Takaya put away Yoshiro Maeda and Bibiano Fernandes decisioned Masakuza Imanari. The two feature bouts of the night didn't quite live up to the hype as an early onslaught by Gesias ‘JZ' Calvacante was thwarted by Tatsuya Kawajiri on his way to a decision victory and the DREAM middleweight title is still up in the air as an illegal kick from Jason ‘Mayhem' Miller against Ronaldo ‘Jacare' Souza gained them a no contest.
Let the War Begin - The war of words from Brett Rogers has begun as he prepares for his June 6th Strikeforce battle with top five heavyweight Andrei Arlovski. Rogers feels that Arlovski fits right into his strengths and that a knockout of the former UFC champ is inevitable. We will certainly see and this fight has me intrigued. Another fighter on that card, Scott ‘Hands of Stone' Smith, thinks that he'll have his arm raised and Nick Diaz stretchered out. He also had problems with current Strikeforce middleweight champion, Cung Le, for holding up the belt and the contenders and feels an interim title should be awarded to someone.
Three & We're Out? After viewing Affliction's poster for their third show, which can be found here, calling it Affliction: Trilogy might be a subtle way of saying this is their last show. The third event will be headlined by the long awaited meeting between WAMMA heavyweight champion, Fedor Emelianenko, and the consensus number two guy Josh Barnett. If it is their last show, it's a good way to go out as after this, if Fedor were to be victorious...there's really no more money fights to be made with anyone outside of the UFC. If Barnett wins, well their cash cow, Fedor, has been exposed and there's really no one for Barnett to fight unless he goes the Tim Sylvia, Andrei Arlovski route as Fedor did. Nonetheless it'll probably be a huge, stacked card and we'll keep you posted.
Well, that seems to cover most everything this week. It's been a busy last two days with all the TUF 10 stuff as well as the potential Machida match ups, but make sure to check out where you stand in the Fantasy League and join us next week for more news, interviews, and everything in between.