Saturday, July 6, 2013

Anderson Silva's Win Streak: 2006-2013

Anderson Silva...and that is all I really need to say. He is without a doubt the greatest fighter of all time. He has fought the best of the best and dominated everyone in convincing fashion. My friends and I joke about his abilities in the same way people talk about The Most Interesting Man In The World: He knocked a guy out with an uppercut...with his elbow. He danced in the middle of the octagon...while dodging punches. He knocked a guy out with one punch...while running backwards. How could anyone beat him? Well...it just happened. Anderson Silva was defeated inside the octagon. People have had many mixed feelings about the long time champion considering his long time unbeaten streak combined with his somewhat arrogant attitude when fighting. What is undeniable is his legacy inside the octagon. He has accomplished more than most fighters could ever dream of doing and has done it with relative ease. I have always been a supporter of Silva, through the highs and lows in his career, because while he does come off as arrogant, he was the best and deserved the right to be arrogant. But where do we go from here? Silva has now said he does not want an immediate rematch, which I find respectable. Does he go the route of the space filler by filling in whenever a fighter is unable to compete? Does he take the route his former opponent Rich Franklin took by accepting fights the fans would like to see, whether they have title implications or not? Or does he eventually retire with his legacy minus a loss on his UFC record? Only time can truly tell what will happen to the...and it pains me to say this as a long time fan....former Middleweight champion will do with his UFC tenure and what will happen to the sport of MMA in general, but I can only hope great things from the now new, and surprising, champion Chris Weidman.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Greatest MMA Knockouts

It's been a while since I have made a post on this blog because of things such as graduating college, moving, and starting a new job. I thought I would bring back the blog with a topic that people often argue about when talking about MMA: What is the greatest knockout?

Mixed Martial Arts is a sport that is based on technique and heart. It is based on who can use their technique to out class their opponent and use their incredible heart to continue to push the pace. If you look at some of the greatest fights ever, they are often battles that go to a decision because both fighters do not give up. However, and let's be honest, most people when they watch a fight are looking for the epic knockout. These are my personal favorites for various reasons that I will mention. I was going to do a top 10 list but while compiling a list, I came up with a list of 11 knockouts and could simply not justify cutting any of them. Before I get to the top 11, here are some honorable mentions.


Honorable Mentions

Double Knockout by...Does it really matter?
Couldn't help but put this somewhere on the list. I am not fully aware of who the fighters are but the wide spread of this video on the internet has opened some people to the sport because of how entertaining and humorous the video is. It is almost too perfect of timing to be true.

Lyoto Machida vs. Rashad Evans

This is possibly one of the best rag doll moments in MMA. Rashad Evans, who had just won the Light-Heavyweight championship by knocking out Forrest Griffin, was on a hot streak and was undefeated. However, it was the same boat for Lyoto Machida, who had been going through the Light-Heavyweight division by demonstrating an elusiveness that nobody had seen before. In the end, the cocky attitude of Rashad combined with the elusive striking of Machida resulted in Rashad lying in a heap on the octagon floor.
Admit it, you just laughed

11. Igor Vovchanchyn vs. Francisco Bueno
This is a fight that most fans are probably not very familiar with. Few except hardcore fans even know who Igor Vovchanchyn was but do not let his unknown name fool you because Igor was a beast in his day. To this day, he holds the record for longest unbeaten streak against quality opponents (Travis Fulton actually has a longer unbeaten streak but against virtual unknown fighters). During this unbeaten streak, he defeated Gary Goodridge twice, a No-Contest against Mark Kerr that was originally a win but overturned due to illegal strikes (Kerr was undefeated at the time btw), and a stoppage of Kazushi Sakuraba in the 2000 Pride Grand Prix that he was on his way to win before his unbeaten streak was stopped by Mark Coleman.

After the No-Contest against Kerr, Vovchanchyn fought Fransisco Bueno at Pride 8. It was a typical fight until Vovchanchyn cornered Bueno and landed a devastating punch that knocked out Bueno...and then another...and another. He managed to to hit Bueno with four punches that each would be considered knockout punches while his unconscious opponent fell straight down to the mat like a tree that was just cut down. In the documentary Pride Decade, which goes over the history of Pride FC from Pride 1 to 34 and is a wonderful documentary that is worth a viewing, Josh Barnett talks about the knockout and mentions it as being the best knockout in Pride history.

10. Rashad Evans vs. Chuck Liddell
While Chuck Liddell ended his fighting career by being knocked out by Rich Franklin, it was really the knockout at the hands of Rashad Evans that sent his career into a downward spiral. He had previously lost his Light-Heavyweight Championship by being knocked out by Rampage but that was a series of punches. With Rashad Evans, it was very apparent that Liddell was not the fighter he use to be as well as not having the chin he use to have. The hard punch left Liddell completely out in a pile on the mat along with his career.

9. Scott Smith vs. Pete Sell
In my first list on this blog, the best fights in UFC history, I forgot to add this fight. This fight demonstrates what is so wonderful about the sport. The two fighters were good friends on The Ultimate Fighter and it showed during the fight. The two would embrace at the beginning of the rounds, end of the rounds, and even during the rounds if one fighter landed a good punch. In the second round, Sell landed a body shot that had Smith hunched over in pain. Sell smelled the blood and went in for the kill. Smith, who has since said it was over and he only had one punch left in him, used that punch as Sell ran towards him and knocked him out in one punch. This goes to show you that no matter how over it seems, it is never over until the ref calls it.
8. Mirko Cro Cop vs. Wanderlei Silva/Igor Vovchanchyn
Both of these fights are tied for the same reason: Right leg hospital, left leg cemetery. The first fight is Cro Cop vs. Wanderlei Silva. The two had previously fought and the fight ended in a draw. In the second fight, the stakes were higher. The two were fighting for a spot in the finals of the Pride 2006 Openweight Grand Prix. Silva, being much smaller than Cro Cop, was being picked apart and the fight was almost stopped due to the damage to Silva's face. After the fight continued, Cro Cop landed one of his patented left head kicks that brutally knocked Wanderlei out. Cro Cop won his place in the finals of the tournament and eventually won the tournament.


While the Silva knockout was devastating and earned Cro Cop a chance at the finest moment in his career, it was his knockout of Igor Vovchanchyn that was probably Cro Cop's biggest knockout. As I previously mentioned, Vovchanchyn was widely considered one of the best Heavyweight fighters and one of the best Heavyweight strikers. When Cro Cop entered the picture, the two fighters matched up perfectly. Of course, Cro Cop being Cro Cop, he landed a head kick that seemed as though it would have decapitated Vovchanchyn. That was the moment that Mirko Filipovic became simply Cro Cop.
7. Anderson Silva vs. Chris Leben
Now while the ending knee was impressive, I am not talking about that specific knee. I am talking about the entire fight being one big knockout. At this point, Anderson Silva was somewhat unknown. He had picked up impressive wins in Pride but had also lost during his stint in the organization. Silva's previous win was a very impressive knockout over Tony Fryklund, which almost made this list, where he knocked him out by uppercutting him with an elbow. Chris Leben was a well-known UFC veteran known for his durable chin and hard-hitting power. Silva came in and made Leben look like a rookie. Silva managed to land 100% of his punches while rocking Leben in the first few seconds of the fight that lead him towards a deadly clinch that knocked out Leben for good. Silva has many impressive knockouts, such as his two against Rich Franklin and his humiliation of Forrest Griffin, but it was his UFC debut that showed the world that The Spider had arrived and was there to stay.

6. Wanderlei Silva vs. Quinton Jackson II

This is possibly the biggest rivalry in MMA history. The two fighters were at the top of the Light-Heavyweight totem pole in Pride at a time when the organization had all the best 205 pounders not named Chuck Liddell. Their first fight ended with Silva knocking Jackson out but not in too brutal of fashion leading Silva to win the 2003 Middleweight Grand Prix. The second fight was for Silva's Middleweight championship and it went somehow less successfully for Rampage than the first fight. Silva's clinch work proved to be too much for Rampage and Silva brutally knocked him out leaving him dangling between the ropes while everyone was in awe over the power that Wanderlei possessed.
Rampage planking before it was even popular.
 5. Quinton Jackson vs. Ricardo Arona
Ask most people what their favorite knockout is in MMA and they would probably look at you very strangely since the sport is not as popular as some people would hope. However, mention the fight where a guy picks his opponent over his head and slams him hard enough to knock him out, then they can tell you all about it thanks to the power of Youtube.

Rampage Jackson has had many fantastic knockouts in his career that started in 1999 and is still going such as his two knockout victories over Chuck Liddell and his revenge knockout of Wanderlei Silva, but it is his knockout over fellow Pride star Ricardo Arona that is the focal point of his career. The two were fighting for a chance to fight Wanderlei Silva for the Pride Middleweight championship. Arona acquired three wins in Pride against three dangerous opponents: Guy Mezger, Dan Henderson, and Ninja Rua. Rampage had previously been knocked out by Silva and wanted revenge. While Rampage won the chance, see the post above to see how it went. But in the Arona fight, Rampage was in his opponent's guard, an especially dangerous guard at that. When Arona went for a triangle choke, Rampage countered by picking Arona up over his head and slamming him hard enough to knock him out. While the actual knockout is controversial since it appears that there was an accidental headbutt during the slam, the knockout still stands and is considered the greatest knockout in Pride history.

 4. Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Mirko Filipovic
In order to truly think about the placement of this entry, watch the video above and think about the beast that Mirko Filipovic (AKA Mirko Cro Cop) was before he entered the UFC.

In his second fight in the UFC, he was given the opportunity to fight for the chance at a title shot. He was put up against Gabriel Gonzaga, a decent Heavyweight fighter specializing in Jiu-Jitsu. While Gonzaga had compiled a five fight win streak that included three wins in the UFC, most experts were saying that Gonzaga was the sacrificial lamb to Cro Cop's eventual title fight. Early in the fight, Gonzaga took Cro Cop down and started to ground-and-pound the great kickboxer. When the fight was stood back up, everyone thought that it was only a matter of time before Cro Cop landed one of his famous head kicks. Then this happened...
Gonzaga Cro Cop'ed Cro Cop. In a highlight that nobody saw coming, Gonzaga landed a right high kick that knocked Cro Cop clean out to the point where his ankle twisted underneath him. Gonzaga earned a title shot that he lost and his career fizzled while Cro Cop's great potential in the UFC fell flat. However, in that one kick, the two cemented one of the best moments that happened in the octagon.
3. Edson Barboza vs. Terry Etim
This is the only knockout on this list that I saw happen live. Honestly, UFC 142 was a card that I did not have the highest hopes for and only watched it because my friend got a live feed of it. It turned out to be one of the best cards I have ever seen. The main event was a great fight that cemented my faith in Jose Aldo and featured two wonderful submissions. However, the lasting effect of the event was the first fight on the main card. Edson Barboza was an up and coming lightweight while Terry Etim was a popular British fighter that had nine fights in his UFC career. The fight was a decent fight with no particular build up to it. Then in the last round, Barboza landed a spinning wheel kick that knocked out Etim and left him falling straight back. The knockout was amazing and the first of its kind. Since then, fighters have been trying to emulate Barboza with spinning wheel kicks. It was the focal point of one of the best cards of all time.

2. Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort
How could this not be on anyone's greatest knockout list? The fight had build-up that made it a huge grudge match. The two fighters use to be training partners when both were members of the Chute Box academy but had negative things to say about each other. Not only was this a grudge match, but there was also a lot of doubt about Anderson Silva as a fighter. Early in his career, Silva had dominated everyone he faced so much that he seemed indestructible. After his lack-luster fight against Thales Leites, people began to question Silva. After embarrassing himself and his company in his fight against Demian Maia, everyone began to question Silva. Then came the fight against Chael Sonnen where Silva was dominated very convincingly for four and a half rounds, only keeping his title because of a Hail Mary triangle choke in the fifth round. Silva was obviously not the fighter he use to be. So combine all this with the fact that Silva had not faced an opponent with the striking credentials that Belfort had, and an upset was in the midst. 
  
The fight did show us something: Anderson Silva is back. Belfort, who usually barrages his opponents in the first round, was unable to get into the range to connect with Silva. Silva, with his typical elusiveness, surprised Belfort with a front kick...to the face. Front kicks are typically used to connect to the body in order to create distance. Silva used his technique and power to kick him in the face and simultaneously handed Belfort his first knockout loss and the first front kick knockout in a major MMA organization. It was between this and Lyoto Machida's front kick knockout over Randy Couture, but the original was more shocking and spectacular. Besides, they were essentially the same kick since both learned it from Steven Seagal. (Tries to hold back the laughter)
I also invented gloves and the jab.
 
1. Dan Henderson vs. Michael Bisping
UFC 100 was one of the biggest events of all time. It was an important milestone in the sports history that featured legends of the sport, an up-and-coming future champion rising even further, a star from Japan making his UFC debut, two title fights, and a coach fight from The Ultimate Fighter, all in one event. The latter fight is the one of interest right now. Dan Henderson, the coach for the USA team on the show, is an absolute legend with Olympic credentials, a UFC tournament title, and being the only person to hold a belt in two different weight classes at the same time in a major MMA promotion. Michael Bisping had collected a series of wins and was a TUF winner himself, making his position as the UK coach on the show warranted. During the course of the show, Bisping, as usual, had many insulting things to say about Dan Henderson as well as anyone that would listen to a word he had to say. Henderson, being the calm and collected type, waited for his opportunity to show Bisping up in the Octagon. The fight was decent back and forth fight with each fighter picking their shots wisely. Then, when the time came, Henderson set up a devastating right hand that put Bisping out for good. While the right hand put him out, Henderson then performed what I like to refer to as a "flying Hendo Bomb" on Bisping by jumping onto his seemingly lifeless body with an even more powerful right hand. Hendo, in his post-fight interview, said that he knew Bisping was out with the first punch, but landed the second to "shut him up". The glorious knockout can be added to the impressive career of one of the greatest fighters of all time. It only makes sense that one of the greatest fighters of all time landed one of the greatest knockouts of all time at one of the greatest events of all time.
 HEENNNDOOOO SMAAASHH!!!

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Greatest MMA Fights That Never Happened

As a fan of Mixed Martial Arts, I spend a lot of my time talking with my friend about what would happen if so-and-so fought so-and-so. The idea of dream fights define what it means to be the best and what match-up would work best. Many of these fights happen, but over the course of the history of the sport, there have been different factors that went into a fight that made it so it did not happen. There have been fighters that an organization failed to sign, there have been fighters who refuse to fight each other, and there have been fighters who came into their own after another fighter is past their prime. No matter the reason, the fights that never happened are a major letdown to everyone who wanted to have the "Batman Vs. Superman" of our sport. So what I decided to do is to compile a list of the best and most significant theoretical fights that never happened, whether they were originally suppose to happen or whether they were just purely in the minds of the fans.

Honorable Mention


Lyoto Machida Vs. Anderson Silva/Wanderlei Silva Vs. Shogun Rua

Both of these fights would have been huge fights if it wasn't for the fact that both fights would not and will not happen because of the fighters refusing to fight each other. While making up this list, I tried not to put any teammate fights on there just because it is a bad excuse not to have a fight to me and makes the idea of the fight that much less appealing when one actually thinks about how a fight between two friends would be.

During the Pride era, Wanderlei Silva was the popular and reigning Middleweight champion. Shogun Rua, Wanderlei's teammate, won the 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix, making him one of the best 205 pound fighters on the planet. The logical step would have been to put Shogun against the Middleweight champion, but instead he fought five other fighters before making his way over to the UFC. The idea of two of the greatest Light Heavyweight fighters of all time fighting each other in Pride while still in their prime would have been fantastic, but it obviously was not meant to be.

While the possibility of having Lyoto Machida fight Anderson Silva is still within the realm of possibilities,the actual likely hood of the two meeting in the octagon is unlikely. The two are not only close teammates but also great friends outside of the cage. Lyoto has bounced the idea of moving to Middleweight back and forth over the years, but as long as Anderson is the champion, he is likely to stay at 205. The fight was very close to happening after Anderson proved himself a huge threat at 205 by completely decimating Forrest Griffin at UFC 101, a time when Machida was the champion. Obviously it never happened and while the two are very similar in style and would undoubtedly put on a great show for the fans, it is unlikely it will ever happen.

Matt Hughes Vs Pat Miletich
This is similar to the previously mentioned fights, but on a different level. Hughes was a major player in Pat Miletich's fight team, which also included former champions Jens Pulver and Tim Sylvia. Miletich himself was the UFC Welterweight champion before he was defeated by Carlos Newton. However, it was Miletich's student Matt Hughes that defeated Newton in his first title defense. This lead people to think what would happen if the student and the coach would end up fighting for the title. Both were in their prime and had very distinctive and successful wrestling styles leading to them being dominant champions. Unfortunately, the fight never happened because of the relationship between the two and the fact that Miletich's major feud with the UFC and Dana White. The fight would have been impressive, but still in the same boat as the previous two fights where neither fighter would want to seriously hurt the other one, which keeps it off the main list.

Fedor Emelianenko Vs Brock Lesnar
 I will probably be chastised for saying this, but I do not think the fight between Fedor and Brock Lesnar would have been as incredible as most people seem to think. I am a firm believer that there would be a weight class split in the Heavyweight division where one goes to 235 and the other goes to 265. This is a prime reason because while Fedor was at a very natural weight, Brock had to cut weight to make it to 265 pounds, which made the weight advantage significant enough that it almost seems unfair. That is why I did not fight the fight between Brock and Randy Couture overly impressive either. While skill is the overall important factor, you cannot deny that an incredible size advantage helps as well. I think Fedor is an amazing fighter and would have rather watched him fight other UFC Heavyweights rather than fight Brock.

10. Robbie Lawler Vs Chris Leben
This could just be the fan in me, but I think this fight has potential to be one of the biggest wars since Griffin Vs Bonnar. Both men have incredible strength as well as inhuman durability. During his first stint in the UFC, Lawler only fought at Welterweight except for his last fight against former Middleweight champion Evan Tanner. Ever since that fight, he fought at Middleweight and the fans were chomping at the bit for these two known warriors to collide. There would have been blood and there would have been bruising, but unfortunately the blood and bruising was left only in people's minds. Lawler did eventually come back to the UFC, but returned to Welterweight. So the weight class change along with Lawler's success being compared to Leben's cold streak and personal problems shows that this fight is unlikely to ever happen.

9. Mark Coleman Vs Tito Ortiz (Prime)
 
Do not let his over the hill fights fool you. Back in the day, Mark Coleman was an absolute beast. He had his hot and cold moments, but his status as a legend is indisputable. He was the first wrestler to not only dominate his opponents on the ground, but implemented a ground-and-pound strategy. Coleman used this strategy to win the first UFC Heavyweight championship, two UFC tournament championships, and the Pride 2000 Openweight Grand Prix championship. Shortly after Coleman left the UFC for Pride, Tito Ortiz came into his own implementing the same strategy as Coleman. With a similar style, the two would pair up perfectly. Obviously Coleman had his greatest successes at Heavyweight, but has competed at Light Heavyweight in the past as well. The two have had heated words (as shown in the video above) and the fight seemed as though it could happen and even was scheduled to happen but Coleman was forced to pull out and was replaced by Forrest Griffin. However, the fight where they had their words was Coleman's last fight. A fight when the two fighters were in their prime would have been arguably the best ground-and-pound fights in history.

8. Shinya Aoki Vs BJ Penn
BJ Penn is quite possibly the greatest Lightweight fighter of all time. His list of wins is an incredibly impressive resume including being the person to overthrow the long time Welterweight champion Matt Hughes. While BJ was applauded for his boxing skills, it was his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that really caught the eye of fans. His submissions, especially his rear naked chokes, showed incredible skill that only comes from a well-trained black belt. However, another Lightweight fighter showed that the UFC was not home of all the greatest Lightweights. Shinya Aoki had great success in Pride but became world famous as one of the poster boys for Dream where his submission skills were only outweighed by his post-fight antics, such as when he flipped off both his opponent and the audience. A fight between these two would possibly be the biggest Lightweight showdown ever as well as the biggest Jiu Jitsu showdown. However, due to Aoki never making it to the UFC and BJ's ability to run out of gas faster than a Hummer, it seems as though the fight will never happen.

7. Chuck Liddell Vs. Dan Henderson

The Light-Heavyweight division has always been one of the best divisions with regards to depth throughout the years in MMA. It is a division that has held some of the greatest fighters of all time. Two of these fighters that are strongly considered to be the best are Chuck Liddell and Dan Henderson. Henderson is the only fighter to simultaneously hold a belt in two different weight classes in a major MMA organization when he was the Pride Middleweight and Welterweight champion. His list of accomplishments is mind-boggling and is shown here on his Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Henderson
Chuck Liddell is...well Chuck Liddell. He is one of the most beloved fighters ever and was the face of the UFC, and in sense MMA, for years and is the former Light-Heavyweight champion and UFC Hall of Fame inductee. This is a fight I personally think would have been fantastic to watch. Both have an aggressive style that the other would be sure to match. The fight was close to happening. When the UFC/Pride merger happened, Dan Henderson was the 205 champion and was given an immediate rematch. The man he ended up fighting was Rampage Jackson, who had previously won the title from Liddell. If Liddell had been victorious against Rampage, this fight would have happened and most likely would have been fantastic. Unfortunately, it only exists in my mind and the simulated fights I play on UFC Undisputed 3.

6. Randy Couture Vs. Bas Rutten
There was a time when Randy Couture was the UFC Heavyweight champion...okay maybe that was more than just one time but Randy Couture during his early years in MMA was an unstoppable force, becoming the first person to beat the legend Vitor Belfort and then beating Maurice Smith to become the UFC champion. At the same time, Bas Rutten was busy being a dominate force in Japan's Pancrase organization. Rutten eventually came to the UFC, but came at a time when Couture was in a contract dispute, leaving the Heavyweight championship vacant. Rutten won the title against Kevin Randleman and also relinquished the title due to injury, one that eventually retired the legend. Shortly after Rutten retired, Couture was able to come to an agreement with the UFC, shortly missing a match that would have been epic. Rutten's great kickboxing and submission skills would have matched greatly with Couture's Olympic level wrestling and ground-and-pound. Both are now retired and leave the idea of what could have been in the minds of the fans.

 5. Bas Rutten Vs. Wanderlei Silva
As I previously mentioned, Bas Rutten in his prime demolished the competition during his days in Pancrase. Wanderlei Silva also demolished his opponents during his prime in Pride. Obviously Silva came into his own after Rutten retired from MMA, but the fight that these two would have put on would have been incredible considerng Rutten's high-level kickboxing and Wanderlei's furious Muay Thai. Although Rutten retired before Wanderlei's Pride run, the two almost competed against each other. During an interview with Joe Rogan on his podcast, Bas talked about a moment when one of Silva's opponents was forced to drop out of the fight, leaving him without an opponent. Rutten, being the type to never turn down a fight, offered to step in and fight the Pride Middleweight champion, but the match was scrapped due to unknown reasons. But the possibilities seem to be endless of how the fight would have went.

4. Randy Couture Vs. Dan Henderson
 These two fighters are some of the most accomplished fighters in history. Couture has fought the best of the best, was an Olympic wrestler, and won a title in two weight classes in a major MMA organization. As for Dan Henderson, just copy and paste what I said about Couture. They are almost the same fighter. Henderson won the Pride 185 pound and 205 pound title while Couture won the UFC Light-Heavyweight and Heavyweight championships. The two have had what seems to be a friendship in the past, but it has never been documented that they would be unwilling to fight each other. They have actually even been reported to fight for each other rather than against each other, meaning that they were supposedly in a bar fight in 1995. The fight would have been an amazing wrestling match with each man using their solid boxing skills during the stand-up portion. A fight that would have went down as one of the best Light-Heavyweight fights of all time seems as though it would have been two great to actually happen.

3. Anderson Silva Vs. George St. Pierre
 
"What are you talking about? These two are totally going to fight as soon as they beat their next opponent!"
I hate to be negative but let's be honest, these two are not going to fight. Even if all the stars align, theres a solar eclipse, and hell freezes over and the fight is actually booked, the fight could never be as epic as the fans have imagined it in their head, but that doesn't mean it would not be a fantastic fight. The two greatest fighters of all time have proven themselves to be dominate champions that have won the championship, cleaned out that division, and are now facing a second wave of title contenders. Why is this the fight that fans want to see so badly? Is it because both are amazing fighters that bring an impressive arsenal of skills to the fight? Yes, but I think it goes beyond that. The reason that the fight is so intriguing is because both have been so dominate that it is getting to the point that most fans simply want each fighter to lose just to have something different happen. This is a fight fan's wet dream because it is the ultimate fight that represents the best fighting the best

2. Randy Couture Vs. Fedor Emelianenko
If you go to almost any legitimate Mixed Martial Arts list where the greatest Heavyweight fighters in history, chances are that there will be three names mentioned: Minotauro Nogueira, Randy Couture, and Fedor Emelianenko. Big Nog has fought both Couture and Fedor, but the fight that never happened was Fedor fighting Randy. It has been wanted by the fans. It was almost begged for by Dana White. It reportedly caused Randy Couture to have a major contract dispute and almost not compete in his final two UFC fights left on his contract when the organization failed to bring Fedor in to fight him for the title. Couture even mentioned fighting Fedor after his contract ended. Eventually, Randy made up with the UFC while Fedor's notorious management failed to come to terms with Dana White. Both fighters have since retired, leaving the argument of who was the better Heavyweight fighter still up in the air among fans.

1. Kazushi Sakuraba Vs. Rickson Gracie
Over the years, there has been a major controversy over what would happen if Rickson Gracie had fought tougher competition. Over the years, he has been overly critical over modern mixed martial artists abilities in fights, saying that he could easily beat the likes of Fedor. While having Rickson fight any tough competition opponent would be a fantastic fight to watch, the one that everyone was dying to see was to have Rickson fight the likes of Kazushi Sakuraba. Sakuraba gained his nickname "The Gracie Hunter" by defeating Rickson's brothers Royler and Royce as well as his cousins Renzo and Ryan. Sakuraba was the first person to make the first family of mixed martial arts look human, even submitting two of the master jiu-jitsu practitioners. While the four previously mentioned Gracies possessed great skills in jiu-jitsu, their skills were reportedly nothing compared to the skills that Rickson possessed. This lead to the dream match-up: The best Gracie Vs. The Gracie Hunter. However, the fight would never happen. While Sakuraba would most likely have been interested in the fight, Rickson was not on board. It was once reported that Rickson turned down a staggering $5,000,000 from a major promotion (most likely Pride FC) to fight the man who put his family's name through the gutter. If he turns down $5,000,000 for the fight, the fight is unlikely to ever happen. Rickson may remain with a perfect record of 11-0, but Sakuraba remains 4-1 in fights against the greatest family in mixed martial arts.

Friday, March 1, 2013

UFC on Fuel TV: Silva VS. Stann

This Saturday, the UFC channels its inner Pride FC and is going back to Japan. The UFC went to Japan last year at UFC 144 where they had a plethora of great fights as well as a few stars from Pride. Keeping with that idea, the fight card features three big stars from Pride: Mark Hunt, former Lightweight Champion Takanori Gomi, and, possibly Pride's biggest star, former Middleweight Champion Wanderlei Silva. The main event has Silva facing Brian Stann in a fight to see who the nicest guy is in MMA. Hunt is facing Stefan Struve in a fight that could very well put either fighter one fight away from a title shot. Finally, Gomi hopes for a UFC title run when he welcomes the extremely dangerous Diego Sanchez back to his natural weight class. The card is keeping with the tradition that the Fuel cards have been doing, which is having promise for fights of the year. Not only does it have promise, but the UFC being in Japan where MMA owes its major origins is amazing on its own.

Here are my picks for the card. May the best fighter win!

Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann - Silva 2nd TKO
Mark Hunt vs. Stefan Struve - Struve 2nd Sub
Hector Lombard vs. Yushin Okami - Lombard 1st TKO
Takanori Gomi vs. Diego Sanchez - Sanchez 2nd Sub
Mizuto Hirota vs. Rani Yahya - Yahya 1st Sub
Dong Hyun Kim vs. Siyar Bahadurzada - Kim Dec
Riki Fukuda vs. Brad Tavares - Fukuda Dec
Cristiano Marcello vs. Kazuki Tokudome - Marcello 1st Sub
Takeya Mizugaki vs. Bryan Caraway - Caraway 1st Sub
Alex Caceres vs. Kyung Ho Kang - Caceres Dec
Marcelo Guimaraes vs. Hyun Gyu Lim - Lim 1st TKO

KOTN - Lim
SOTN - Struve
FOTN - Silva vs Stann

Thursday, February 21, 2013

UFC 157


Saturday night marks the first time that a women's MMA fight will happen in the UFC octagon. Ronda Rousey will take on Liz Carmouche for the Women's Bantamweight Championship...and nobody seems to particularly care. Why? It's not because women's MMA is boring. It can incredibly exciting and I have enjoyed Rousey's previous matches. The problem with it is that at the moment, women's MMA in the UFC seems to be portrayed as a novelty. If you look at the Women's MMA rankings, Rousey is a very high name, but her opponent Liz Carmouche is not. In fact, the Women's Bantamweight division has only six fighters, including champion Ronda Rousey. I personally think that before you start to have fights in that particular weight class (yet alone a title fight) you should have some depth to the division. So while I think a women's title fight is not out of the question, I do not believe that it is the right time for it.

There also seems to be a backlash at the main event because of the co-main event. In the main event is a title fight that nobody seems to care too much about and features a champion that will more than likely win the fight, but the co-main event features a battle for the ages. The Light-Heavyweight fight will most likely determine the next title contender as both men were promised title shots after their last win. Lyoto Machida was overlooked (and unrightfully so) for previous Middleweight title contender Chael Sonnen. Dan Henderson was set for a title fight against Jon Jones but was forced to pull out of the fight due to an injury. So both men are fighting for the title shot. This is a very important fight for both fighters. Lyoto Machida started his career very strong, but has been on a hot and cold streak as of late, so he is fighting in order to stay relevant and show he is really as illusive as people say he is. Dan Henderson is an absolute legend in MMA. While his championship accomplishments have been accomplished outside of the UFC (minus his early tournament championship), he is responsible for arguably the greatest fight in UFC history (against Shogun) and the greatest knockout in UFC history (against Michael Bisping). Unfortunately, Hendo is also 42 years old. His time and ability to compete in MMA is running short. His accomplishments in MMA is a long list, but the long lasting empty spot on that list is a UFC championship belt. This is his last chance to gain that glory and, in my humble opinion, become one of the top five greatest fighters of all time.

There are many other great fights on the card that includes Uriah Faber still trying to prove he is a relevant Bantamweight contender as well as the long awaited octagon return of Robbie Lawler. With that said, here are my picks for this Saturday:

Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche - Rousey Sub 1st
Dan Henderson vs. Lyoto Machida - Henderson Dec
Ivan Menjivar vs. Urijah Faber - Faber Dec
Court McGee vs. Josh Neer - McGee Sub 2nd
Josh Koscheck vs. Robbie Lawler - Lawler TKO 3rd
Lavar Johnson vs. Brendan Schaub - Johnson TKO 1st
Sam Stout vs. Caros Fodor - Stout Dec
Mike Chiesa vs. Anton Kuivanen - Chiesa Sub 2nd
Dennis Bermudez vs. Matt Grice - Grice Dec
Neil Magny vs. Jon Manley - Manley Dec
Brock Jardine vs. Kenny Robertson - Robertson TKO 2nd
Nan-Shon Burrell vs. Yuri Villefort - Burrell TKO 2nd

KOTN - Johnson
SOTN - Rousey
FOTN – Machida vs. Henderson

May the best fighter win!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Greatest UFC Walkout Songs

I am engaged and occasionally I get my fiance to to watch fights with me. There is a running joke between us that she strictly picks who she thinks will win the fight based on two things: how attractive the fighter is and what song they walk out to. The first is pretty obvious considering the sport is, as painful as it is for me to admit it, two half-naked muscular men punching and grappling with each other. The walkout music however struck a chord with me. Why is the fighters choice in walkout music so important to people? To me, the walkout song is the enigma of the fighter and represents who they are as both a fighter and a person. They can range from funny and playful to being extremely intimidating. I currently have many songs on my MP3 player that every time they come on, my mind automatically goes to the fighter attached to the song. So I decided to make a list of the ten best walkout songs in the UFC. The list is based on the lasting effect that the theme has on the fans and crowd as well as how well the song relates to the fighter.

Honorable Mentions:
Tom Lawlor - Real American
 
Tom Lawlor is the king of MMA walkout. His incredible sense of humor always correlates to his walkouts as well as his weigh-ins. He has had some great walkout songs, ranging from Let's Get Physical to Livin in America (while dressed as Apollo Creed). However, by far his best entrance is his Hulk Hogan inspired entrance to Rick Derringer's Real American. As a former pro-wrestling fan, it is impossible not to love.

Roy Nelson - Fat
He's a fat guy. The song is about being fat and proud.....Enough said!
BJ Penn - Hawaii ‘78 and E Ala E
I was very close to putting this on the actual list, but decided not to. The theme is classic mainly because of the fact that as soon as you hear it, you know that BJ is coming. The haunting vocals from Israel Kamakawiwo╩╗ole sets the mood for the fight as well as rrepresenting Penn's proud Hawaiian heritage.

10. Michael Bisping - Song 2
Say what you will about Michael Bisping, but the man knows how to pick a song that will pump up the audience. It was between this and another song he is famous for coming out to, London Calling. However, Song 2 by Blur has an intensity that makes the audience go crazy. This is actually the only song on this list that I have heard in person. I attended UFC on Fox 2, where Bisping fought Chael Sonnen. I personally am not a Michael Bisping fan, but as soon as the song came on, you could not help but stand up and cheer for him walking out. In fact, I stood up cheering for him and halfway through realized who I was cheering for. A song that can have that effect on the audience for a fighter as universally hated as Bisping deserves credit.

9. Shogun Rua - Sail
This is probably the simplest song on the list, but it works. The steady Techno beat has an intensity factor that gets the audience ready for what they are about to experience. When I workout and I need something to pump me up while I run, this is the song I put on because of the overwhelming feeling I get to go and keep going, something that Shogun knows, or at least use to know, about.

8. Jon Fitch - Rusty Cage
Jon Fitch is in the same boat as Michael Bisping, but not to the same extent. Fitch is a phenomenal wrestler and can be an exciting fighter, but is not always. What is exciting about the man is every time he comes to the cage. Any man that comes out to Johnny Cash must be taken seriously. It was between Rusty Cage and Spencer Fisher's walkout choice God's Gonna Cut You Down, but I decided that Fitch deserves the nod because when you hear it, a dominating performance is soon to follow.

7. Yoshihiro Akiyama - Time to Say Goodbye
Oh Sexyama, how the great have fallen. While he has been on a cold-streak, Akiyama is still a phenomenal athlete and is still a threatening presence. When he makes his way to the octagon with the oddly haunting Time to Say Goodbye playing in the background while wearing his GI, you want to cheer for him and want him to win the fight. The song sounds as though it would be played at the end of a Samurai film during the end of an epic battle while the camera focuses on the fallen warriors, which is fitting for the aura that surrounds the octagon at events. Also, its the freaking Catalina Wine Mixer!

6. Lyoto Machida - Bleed it Out
Sorry about the quality
Lyoto Machida is possibly one of the most interesting fighters in the UFC. The man drinks his own pee. So when I was about to watch him fight for the first time, I expected the strange Brazilian, piss drinking karate master to come out to something just as strange, or possibly You're the Best (Get it? The Karate Kid theme?) However, when I heard Bleed it Out as his song of choice, I was strangely hypnotized. This is a song that, multiple times, I have put on when I feel like a party is dying down and for approximately three minutes, the party is rejuvenated. Bleed it Out is a perfectly fitting song for a fighter who made Rashad Evans look like Raggedy Andy.

5. Rampage Jackson - Pride FC Theme  
The days of Pride are over, but that doesn't mean that the nostalgic can still appreciate how great it was. Pride was the closest thing to competition that the UFC ever had, often beating it in terms of fighters and in the fans' minds. When it died, many fighters came over to the UFC. One of these fighters was also one of Pride's most popular fighters: Quinton Rampage Jackson. Rampage became huge in the UFC and became champion, something he could not accomplish in Pride. But fans could tell that Rampage's heart still sided with Pride, especially as of late with his constant disputes with the UFC. Rampage usually used Al Kapone's Ain't Stoppin Me for his walkout music, but also used the theme to Pride FC occasionally. Other fighters have used the theme, but Rampage's use seemed the most fitting considering his success in the organization and his undying affiliation to the organization.

4. Forrest Griffin - Shipping up to Boston
Forrest Griffin is an Irish animal. So what song is more fitting than an Irish punk rock song about a sailor who lost his leg? This song is one of the best songs that pumps up the audience and made it cool to be Irish again. When you hear it, you think of things such as bar fights, getting drunk, The Departed, as well as other Irish stereotypes. The Irish spirit to keep fighting on shows true with Forrest and his incredible heart that he shows when he fights as well as the energy he shows when this song comes on.

3. Matt Hughes - A Country Boy Can Survive
Matt Hughes, whether you like him or not, is a legend in the sport and UFC Hall of Famer. He is also a self described country boy. As an Iowan, I understand the idea and mentality of a country boy. It means that you do not give up when things get tough or when things seem unwinnable. So Hank Williams Jr.'s classic country song A Country Boy Can Survive is the best choice for Hughes to come out to, as he best represents the country boy attitude. This song is possibly the best example of a song most associated with a fighter and has become a classic for MMA fans because of this.

2. Anderson Silva - No Sunshine
While on the subject of fighter's entrance songs, my friend summed up this entry the best: "There are some songs that fighters always come out to that sums up the fighter the best. Every time you hear the words 'It's dark, and hell is hot', it's similar to the old days of professional wrestling when The Undertaker's song would come on, because once you hear it, you know that shit is about to go down and it's going to be devastating". The song by itself is a rather intimidating song, but when you attach it to the most dangerous and devastating fighter in history, it has a certain aura when it comes on that is both terrifying and exciting. The man could come out to Somewhere Over the Rainbow and it would probably be intimidating, but this song only reinforces his threatening persona.

1. Wanderlei Silva - Sandstorm
This is from Pride, but you get the idea
Wanderlei Silva. Some people say he is a hot and cold fighter that needs to retire. I say he is just as dangerous as ever and ready to pounce on his prey at any second. His walkout song of choice, Sandstorm, is without a doubt, the most upbeat song that someone could come out to and shows Wanderlei's incredible energy while fighting. He encompasses the spirit of a fighter, unwilling to go down or slowdown. If you want to slow him down, you'll have to kill him first. My friend, the one who talked about Anderson's walkout song, also summed up Sandstorm in the perfect way. When we first heard that Wanderlei will be fighting Brian Stann at the upcoming card in Japan, he said "The only way to imagine how awesome it will be is to imagine Wanderlei Silva, coming out to Sandstorm, in Japan...it doesn't get better".