Mixed Martial Rant: A Nightmare on Penn St, UFC 107, TUF Finals, Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell
A lot to touch upon this time around with the TUF finals in the books and the upcoming ppv featuring BJ Penn defending his lightweight belt against Diego Sanchez. I’ll also discuss the recent announcement of The Ultimate Fighters season 11 coaching decision.
-A “Nightmare” on Penn street.
At UFC 107 in Memphis, one man looks to continue cementing his legacy as one of the best lightweight champions of all time. Another man seeks to begin his. Four and half years after becoming one of the original TUF champions, Diego “Nightmare” Sanchez finally gets his shot at UFC belt. Riding a four fight win streak after dropping two straight losses in the welterweight division, Sanchez could become the second TUF winner to wear a title around his waist. While the case for Penn to retain his title is valid, it’s hard to overlook Diego’s strongest suit, also happens to be Penn’s weak area.
Sanchez has good jiu jitsu; Penn’s is better. Diego’s striking has improved immensely over his win streak; BJ’s boxing is better. Sanchez’s wrestling is relentless; Penn is almost impossible to take down. Sanchez has endless gas in his tank; BJ does not. That is where Diego will look to rely on in hopes of realizing his dream.
Look for Sanchez to come out of the gates and press the action and keep Penn on his heels at all times. I don’t see Diego being able to knock the big headed Penn or submit him. The only way Sanchez earns the victory is by sucking BJ into the intense and frenetic pace we have seen in his two fights at 155lbs.
This fight will truly test the champ and show us what both fighters are made of. Will BJ really meet Diego in the middle of the ring and play into the “Nightmares” game or will he play into his strong suit and look for the early take down? My instinct is to pick Penn by submission but as usual I’ll go against the grain and pick Diego to become the new lightweight champion by decision.
As far as my predictions for the events other headliners. I’ll take Frank Mir over Cheick Kongo by submission, Kenny Florian to get back on track to yet another lightweight title shot by beating Clay Guido, and Mike Pierce to upset Jon Fitch.
The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights is over and the man predicted by many(myself included) to win since he was announced as a cast member, won. Roy “Big Country” Nelson was able to knock out Brendan Schaub in the first round and finally gave Dana White an “exciting” fight.
Nelson, was criticized by Dana and many followers of the TUF series for being too “boring” on the show. Big Country was often seen as being tentative in his bouts and chose to gloat along the way rubbing many fans the wrong way. Nelson did the right thing by preserving himself and avoiding any injuries and did what the other 11 fighters wanted to do; win the whole show.
While Schaub didn’t win the shows coveted “champion” title, he did open a lot of eyes and promises to have a bright future in the Octagon. With just four fights under his belt Schaub wasn’t picked by many to get to the finals, yet he was able to get there by showing very good stand up and an even more impressive ground escape. Despite getting KO’d, Brendan was able to push off and get the massive body of Nelson off, and worked his way back to his feet. Look for Schaub to be a contender down the road in either the heavyweight division or light heavyweight class, should he decide to drop down.
In the nights other main attraction, Kimbo Slice resembled a mixed martial artist as he faced the new running man, Houston Alexander. The size difference was noticeable from the time they squared off in the center of the ring, as Alexander the natural light heavyweight, took on the natural heavyweight in a catch bout of 215lbs.
The expected slug fest which everyone was anticipating was not to be. Instead Alexander decided to employ a strategy which would have made sense…IF he knew how to throw leg kicks. Alexander spend the entire first round circling the ring while throwing kicks to Kimbo’s arthritis ridden knees. Slice offered very little countering and chose to chase Alexander as the crowd reigned boos on them.
It was in the second round which Slice showed his progression as an mma fighter. Slice was able to get a hold of the “Running Man” and slammed him several times and even looked for a submission attempt on the ground. The third round promised more action as Alexander was able to connect on a leg kick which caused the bearded backyard brawler to fall. However, Houston was not able to capitalize and while two of the three judges scored the last round in his favor, it was not enough to get the decision. Slice got the win by unanimous decision 29-28, 29-28, and 30-27. The win all but guarantees at least two appearances from Kimbo in the octagon.
The co-main event which featured Matt “The Hammer” Hamill against Jon “Bones” Jones ended in a disqualification and with Hamill laying on his back, blinded by the blood pouring into his eyes. The bout was supposed to propel one of the two youngster further up the ranks of the 205lb division. It didn’t.
Jones, who at the age of 22 is expected to be a future champion sooner than later, was able to get the take down and mount the hearing impaired Hamill. It was from that position where Jones, unloaded on Hamill. For the most part, Hamill did his best in defending the blows but as Jones began delivering elbow after elbow, he was unable to continue his defense. Partly due to Jones hitting him with elbow shots defined as “12 to 6”.
In mixed martial arts, elbows coming from angles are deemed legal blows. Elbows coming straight up and down are not. Referee Steve Mazzagatti stepped to deduct one point from Jones however the damage had been done and Hamill was unable to continue giving him the win via illegal blows.
-Tito and Chuck III?
During the telecast of the TUF finals, Dana White announced Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz as the next coaches for season 11. Some were expecting and hoping the coaches would feature Matt Hughes and Renzo Gracie although that bout might take place in the early part of 2010.
The next season just might be the “jump the shark” moment for The Ultimate Fighter series. Initially millions will probably tune in to watch but they’ll also likely tune out after getting tired of Tito’s running off at the mouth. There was a time when I would have loved to see these two guys week after week and then face each other at the end. That time was about 4yrs ago. I have gotten sick and tired of hearing Tito talk about being in the best shape of his life heading into a fight and then turn around and say he was injured after losing that very same fight.
Hopefully the saving grace for season 11 is the reason the show was created. To provide good fights and good fighters; not to showcase two guys past their prime.
Next week I’ll introduce you to the PMMAL. If you have an extra $50k laying around, it might interest you.
Until next time…Support the sport.