It’s been some time since I’ve written an article partly personal reasons and partly because I haven’t been able to pin point one topic I wanted to write about. Just because there hasn’t been one topic to inspire me there are several items I do feel compelled to rant about.
Thus begins my new weekly(hopefully) column…mixed martial rants.
On September 16th we will be treated to twice the MMA entertainment with UFN 19 and the premiere of The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights airing on Spike TV. Fight Night features a plethora of intriguing fights such as the Brian Stann and Steven Cantwell trilogy, Carlos Condit taking on Jake Ellenberger, the main event of Nick Diaz vs Melvin Guillard. The fight most fans will most fans will surely tune in to watch has to be Gray “The Bully” Maynard vs Roger “El Matador” Huerta.
The Huerta/Maynard fight is interesting on so many different levels.
It is widely known this will be Roger’s last fight with the UFC before he goes on to focus on his acting and modeling career. His rags to riches has also been widely documented and can claim the title of first MMA fighter to ever grace the cover of Sports Illustrated. Huerta was also at one point the UFC’s Latino “poster boy”. From his epic all out brawl with Leonard Garcia to his come from behind win over Clay Guida, Roger was all set to be the next big superstar. Then reality hit. The UFC finally pitted Huerta against a top ranked opponent and was bested when he couldn’t “out-heart” Kenny Florian.
Maynard is exactly as advertised….a bully. He’s one of the bigger lightweights and a win over a highly recognized fighter will put him in mix for a title shot sooner rather than later. He’s won his last four fights via unanimous decision beating the likes of Rich Clementi, Jim Miller and Frankie Edgar, not bad for a guy with only 8 professional fights. He’s also boring to watch. Taken, smother, punch, punch, up, up, down,down left, left, right, right and repeat all over again. If he does take the win as expected let’s hope he’s expanded his game to actually produce a finish rather than another snooze fest.
After the UFN 19 is over the falls greatest show is set to air. This years Ultimate Fighter is one of the most anticipated seasons ever. The cast includes Wes Sims, Marcus Jones, Roy Nelson, and of course Kevin Ferguson aka Kimbo Slice, along with other recognizable up and coming fighters. To top it off the coaches this season will be Rashad Evans and Rampage Jackson.
Evans and Jackson were scheduled to face off in December but Mr. “Me” decided to take the role of “B.A. Baracus” in the upcoming A-Team movie and pulled out. Regardless both their big mouths should provide plenty of entertainment along with the mystery of who will be the man to knockout Kimbo.
As far as my pick to take the title of TUF:Heavyweights, I am taking Roy Nelson, the former Heavyweight champion of the now defunct IFL.
Three days later UFC 103 will take place in Dallas TX. I’m not sure if any of the bouts on the card are worthy of being the Main Event but the card is very solid. Two former UFC vets make their return to the octagon as Vladimir Matyushenko takes on a guy named Igor and Frank “Twinkle Toes” Trigg squares off against Josh Koscheck. It also features the debut of last minute replacement Paul Daley who in my opinion is just another highly over hyped U.K. fighter. Daley was called upon to fill in for the injured Mike Swick and should be a nice feeder for Martin Kampmann who is looking to make a case for himself as the next guy to be smothered(not finished) by GSP.
The co-headliner is Mirko Cro Cop and Junior Dos Santos who will be battling it out for the chance to get a step closer to a heavyweight title shot.
Dos Santos has shown some heavy hands in his two wins inside the octagon and should give Cro Cop all he can handle. While Mirko was once a top 3 heavyweight he isn’t anymore. He made is name in Japan the land of the rising overrated and the man who once seemed unbeatable is now looking to remain relevant among the heavyweight ranks. I really can’t make a call on this fight. While I would like to see Cro Cop pull out the win I get the feeling Dos Santos will continue his rise to the top and get the knockout in this bout.
If Mirko wants to remain a marketable contender in the UFC he’d be better suited dropping to light heavyweight where he would be a force to contend with.
The main event is actually a fight I am more than looking forward to. It marks the return of Vitor Belfort who is looking for another run at a title in the UFC, with the hopes of finally living up to the hype that surrounded him when he first stormed onto the scene. Standing in his way will be Rich Franklin. The fight will take place at a catch bout of 195lbs and will be Franklin’s third fight at the weight class. Should he walk away with the win it will only further the rumors of the possibility of the UFC adding the 195lb division permanently. The outcome of the fight will really depend on which Vitor shows up to fight.
I’m banking on the “old” Belfort to show up and put an end the whole 195lb catch-weight shenanigan. At least I’m hoping for it. Personally I would like to see Franklin drop back down to 185 and make another run at Anderson Silva. It’s fun watching him get beat up by Silva.
On September 25th on Showtime’s Strikeforce Challengers series Tim Kennedy squares off against prospect Zak Cummings in what should be an entertaining bout. The card also marks the return of highly regarded kickboxer Ray Sefo who is looking for his 2nd MMA win over Kevin Jordan, coming off a recent win over UFC original Patrick Smith.
Lastly, over 1 year ago the sport lost one of its true warriors when Evan Tanner passed due to heat exhaustion in the California desert after his motorcycle ran out of gas. Tanner had written about his trip into the desert in his blog and was very well aware of the dangers that lay ahead of him should anything happen to his equipment.
Evan Tanner, known for his never ending quest for adventure will be remembered as a former UFC middleweight champion as well as the man who taught himself mixed martial art watching old Gracie Jiu Jitsu tapes and entered the sport only to satisfy his own desire of challenging himself. R.I.P…..