Posts Tagged ‘UFC’

TUF 13-A Missed Opportunity

Saturday, January 15th, 2011

Two new divisions enter the UFC and their high powered chariot of bandwagon also known as The Ultimate Fighter reality TV show will NOT be assisting them.

Despite TUF1 being the platform that launched the sport into the mainstream and TUF5 being the series that brought the lightweight division back into the consciousness of the masses. The UFC has opted to give TUF 13 to the Welterweights and to be coached by two of the biggest bodies in the sport in Brock Lesnar and Junior Dos Santos.

Now I get the positives: Cain Velasquez is out till late summer, JDS needs a fight before then, it wouldn’t be right for his fight to not be for at least an interim title, No other HW stands out as a clear contender. So seeing as how Brock Lesnar is coming off a loss but at least a loss to the Champ, that fight does make sense. Add to this the fact that Lesnar is the biggest draw in the sport and the only way in hell you’d get him to leave his cabin and family for 6 weeks of hell in Vegas with cameras following him is by dangling the title on a stick.

Yes, TUF13 makes sense in so far as the coaches line up for a significant contenders match (let’s call it what it is). However, neither coach is really coaching or TV material. JDS’s English is far from fantastic and the only real draw to the show is to see whether or not Lesnar explodes and F5’s a petulant protogeé.

So the coaches probably aren’t going to be compelling, so what? The real crime here is the Bantam and Featherweight classes being completely overlooked. With existing stars Urijah Faber, Dominic Cruz, Jose Aldo, et al finally in the big show and ready (and required) to bask in the limelight: it’s a crime that the already shinning Heavyweight division should get the nod ahead of the new boys.

Whether a pair of new class coaches or a new crop of talent, the little guys badly need some love in the media department. Most casual fans a few months from now are probably going to watch the likes of Aldo and Cruz and think: ‘wow, when did these guys show up?’ And if The Ultimate Fighter would have stuck to its original brief, they’d know.

Colm Ivers

MMA 2010 in Ten Neat Little Packages

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

It was a crazy year. Mixed martial arts expanded into the global market like no year before it with mixed results, poor judging and regulatory apathy marred fights and became the talking point on every fan’s tongue, Breakthrough mainstays like Frankie Edgar, Cain Velasquez and Chael Sonnen finally delivered on their promise and tomorrows champions made their voices heard as the like of Jon Jones and Stefan Struve made their marks.

The Awards:

Best Fighter: Cain Velaquez
Best Breakthrough Fighter: Frankie Edgar
Rookie of the year: Jon Jones

Best Fight: Anthony Pettis vs Ben Henderson
Best KO: Cain Velaquez vs Brock Lesnar
Best submission: Fabricio Werdum vs Fedor Emelianenko

Best promotion: WEC
Best Card: WEC 53 Henderson vs Pettis
Story of the year: Global expansion of Zuffa into the middle east, Australia, Brazil, China, Ontario among others

The ‘other’ awards:

Loser of the year: Fedor Emelianenko
Hype gone bust: Todd Duffee
Anti Climax: Strikeforce on CBS
Robbery of the year: Hermes Franca vs Kheder
Where did it all go wrong?: Keith Jardine

What to watch out for 2011:

- Keep a close on on George Sotiropolous and Jon Jones. One if not both of these men will be a contender by years close.

- Strikeforce will likely be restructured this coming year in terms of how they do business. CBS and Showtime haven’t so far delivered the promised goods and their one national card lacked all their ’star’ competitors. Either Strikeforce dies this year or they make some breakthroughs, get cards on television and Showtime, get their HW’s to agree to fight or cut them all together. Scott Coker is surrounded by dead wood and obstacles, it’s time to remove a few of them.

- The Career of Fedor Emelianenko dies: This year saw the Russian King fight once and lose for the first time in his career, yet his management have refused to see sense and are yet again making life hell for anyone who wants to write him a cheque. With years of inactivity, a new breed of Heavyweights who actually compete and fight each-other stealing the spotlight, a chink finally showing in the ‘King of MMA’s’ armour: it seems likely that Emelianenko will fade into obscurity in 2011 unless he finally signs with the UFC where his chances are no longer favourable.

- Dream and Bellator will thrive or die.

Final notes for 2010:
- Allister Overeem wins the Dream interim title, great! Another belt he won’t defend.
- Antonio McKee is finally in the UFC. If you don’t like it you’re a racist.
- Chuck Finally retires, good, now if only he’d talk some sense into Baroni, Franca, Hughes, Sakuraba, etc.

Colm Ivers

Judging The Judges

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Whether it’s Leonard Garcia winning 6 straight decision he should have lost or Hermes Franca losing out on a much needed win under shady circumstances (still not sure exactly what went down), the biggest story of mixed martial arts this year has to have be judging.

While the rest of the sport has improved in leaps and bounds in the last several years, the three man panel still seems stuck in the dark ages. While there’s a multitude of reasons why, the consensus is in: we need change.
Jordan Breen suggests an increase in 10-8 and 10-10 round scores.
Nelson Doc Hamilton suggests a half point scoring system.
Others suggest a multitude of options including a five man panel and shooting Cecil peoples.

With all the confusion and opinions, The Boston Crab feels it is our task to make sense of the core issues and hopefully leave the reader with a better position to make his or her own mind up.

First of all, the current 10 point must system is not broken.
While it is true that the scoring system is a direct copy of the system employed in professional boxing and was never designed for mixed martial arts; the 10 point must system does allow for accurate scoring of fights. If a round is close it can be scored a draw, if a round is dominant it can be scored 1-8, 10-7 etc. Doc Hamilton’s suggest of 10-9.5 rounds only seems to exacerbate the real issue. Giving bigger tools to an incompetent tradesman will not yield a better product and similarly, providing bad judges with more options to get wrong will not fix the string of bad decisions in the sport.

While it is admirable that Doc Hamilton is at least making attempts to find solutions, something which not only may lead us closer to a solution but also acknowledges a problem in the first place, it seems misguided. However it is being given a pilot run in an amateur league and this, like all other suggestions we don’t believe in, is only a good thing. The Boston Crab wants to know for certain and have empirical proof that somethings broken before we completely write it off. Watch this space to see how that goes.

In our own humble opinion, the problem is two fold: a lack of accountability in regulated areas and the ever looming issue of ‘Wild West’ shenanigans in unregulated territory. Nevada’s commissioner Keith Kizer has had the infuriating habit of denying any issue exists and standing in the way of serious advances, such as encouraging 10-10 rounds and installing video monitors for judging officials. This is something we’re all used to, government agencies never like to make changes because it accepts that there was room for improvement in the first place and like the Pope, they’re expected to be infallible at all times (by someone, somewhere presumably).

While the details still aren’t clear, Hermes Franca had his arm raised and the ring announcer was about to call out his name until the promoter spoke into his ear. What happened after was Kheder being given the nod and the promoter (who funds his training) running out of the building with him, belt under arm as the crowd booed and Franca faced the reality of a long unbroken losing streak. Until MMA ceases to operate in unregulated territory we will have to deal with this nonsense. The UFC refuses to operate in unregulated parts of America and when they travel abroad they go out of their way to provide their own high standards of credibility: drug testing, licensed referees and judges, having an ambulance and doctor in the arena (you’d be surprised how often this one gets overlooked)

Maybe if fighters were in a position where they could refuse to fight for promotions that don’t provide the trappings of a fair and safe fight we could see an end to the type of scene we witnessed in Costa Rica, unfortunately, a fighters union is long discussed and long unrealised.

Ultimately, as long as fighters desperate for a pay day continue to work with shady promoters and as long as Athletic commissions remain static, there will be no change in what has become a cancer in an otherwise brilliant sport.

What can you do? Moan, complain, sign petitions and if you’re feeling really zealous, get in touch with your local commission and become a judge yourself.

Colm Ivers

Less MMA Please!

Sunday, October 10th, 2010

Friday night’s World Extreme Cage fighting card came and went with a bang. Drama, roads back to the title and heated grudge matches, punctuated beautifully by Jose Aldo’s flawless finish of dangerous Ultimate fighter season 5 finalist Manny Gamburyan.
There’s something perfect about the WEC and its fight offerings and it’s not just the combination of exciting lighter weight talent and Zuffa’s slick production value. It reminds me of the UFC several years ago. Fight cards happened maybe only 4 times a year and as a result the matches were made exponentially more exciting by virtue of both anticipation and the limited space allowing for only the top talent to be booked on the broadcast.
Today’s MMA landscape is awash with almost unlimited cards both big and small. Mir and Cro Cops woeful tussle last week is a stellar example of the UFC’s main problem: with so many shows on it’s hard to fill them all with relevant, quality matchups. Outside of Brock Lesnars pivotal heavyweight title fight at the end of the month there isn’t a whole lot of UFC to sing and dance about. Thank god the WEC is still there to gets us excited about this sport.

Colm Ivers

Things we learned from Bobby Lashley Vs. Chad Griggs

Friday, August 27th, 2010

1. Jon Shorle is dangerous and needs to be kept away from prize fighting.

Just a selection of comments from experts in the industry:

Sports Illustrated’s Josh Gross Tweeted his frustrations:

“Jimmy Lennon says referee Jon Schorle had seen enough. I’ve seen enough of Schorle. He’s never improved as a MMA ref. Ever. Awful.

Not that Lashley is some prize. He was dead tired at the end of the second. But the outcome was a direct result of incompetent officiating.”
Jordan Breen elaborates:

“If you’re a boxing fan, you’ll be dismayed to find out that Schorle, a Californian-based official now splitting time in Texas, was the referee who stood by while Vic Darchinyan beat Victor Burgos until he had a blood clot in his brain, resulting in emergency surgery and an induced coma following the bout. He was the third man in the ring for Vitali Klitschko beating hapless Corrie Sanders to a pulp. He oversaw the Erik Morales-Zahir Raheem bout — which he allowed to devolve into a clinch-filled slip-and-slide on a soaked canvas — as well as Joel Casamayor-Michael Katsidis, in which a thrilling bout was compromised by Schorle’s all-around inattentiveness. Schorle’s reputation is such that before the rubber match in his epic trilogy with Rafael Marquez, Israel Vazquez’s camp fought viciously and successfully to have Schorle removed as the bout’s referee and replaced with Pat Russell. These are just a few recent examples.”

“However, Schorle’s most infamous MMA moment came in the March 2006 quasi-snuff film that was Rob McCullough-Olaf Alfonso. Just moments into the second round, McCullough landed a crushing right cross that sent Alfonso’s mouthguard airborne. As the supine Olaf lay on the mat with a predatory foe above him, Schorle took a cursory glance at Alfonso’s eyes — which are glassy and googly even at his most lucid — and then walked across the cage to retrieve the mouthguard. McCullough took the chance to land three absolute killshots on the defenseless Alfonso, as the miserably out-of-position Schorle made a mad dash to stop McCullough from pureeing Olaf’s face.”

Don’t think that The Boston Crab intended this article to be a hit piece on Schorle, and don’t confuse our critique of the referee with an attack on the person. We bring up his prior bad acts to emphasize the question of how an official can get away with such consistently awful officiating in well-publicized debacles and not only be rewarded with plum assignments, but also remain unscathed and unnoticed by fans and media. Schorle is not just a liability as an official that we wanted to single out, but his position is symptomatic of larger problems with the discourse surrounding officiating in MMA — problems we’re all accessories to.

Bobby Lasley wasn’t robbed, he was badly gassed and though he was holding the top mount he wasn’t in any way close to stopping Griggs with the 30 seconds remaining in the second stanza.

However we’ll never know what would have happened in the third now and Lashley not only lost the fight as a direct result of Shorle’s inexplicable neutral restart, he was also very badly beaten by his opponent. Enough is enough, people need to stop employing this man.

The most infuriating part of the whole affair is how athletic commissions seem to take pleasure in denying the undeniable by standing up for their officials time after time.

“The referee felt there was a lull in action, and he had gotten them to their feet when he saw the cut, [The referee] had the doctor look at it, and then started the action again on their feet.”
-Susan Stanford, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations Public Information Officer

2. Both Lashley and Strikeforce have gone about this MMA thing wrong.

Lashley ahnialated Bob Sapp and Wes Sims in a matter of moments. While it looked impressive to the casual fan who doesn’t grasp how faded these men were, or any of the other casual journey men Lashley has pummled on his way to the middle: It does not doesn’t lend ring time.

We saw only recently with Shane Carwin what happens when a fighter relies on one trick and that trick runs out; instead of building on his skills and soaking up the combat minutes, Lashley chose to run through mediocre oppostition and rush his way to the big show, a myopic approach heralded by Strikeforce.

With 1:10 left on the clock Lashley posted his right leg in mount and was in perfect position to transition to an arm bar. Maybe if he’d fought a little smarter he’d have taken it.

The fact that the commentary booth had to make repeated reference to his WWE Championship should say it all; they raised a dud with no real heat or direction.

3. Bobby Lashley is not Brock Lesnar.

Brock Lesnar is a mountain of a man with a super human athletic pedigree; Bobby Lashley is an over inflated man with a good athletic pedigree.

Over the years some fighters have learned the hard way the difference between a fighters body and an action stars. See Mark Coleman, Phil Baroni and Mark Kerr for more on this. Lashley has over inflated muscles which do not lend themselves to either strength or fast twitch movement, they alo eat up a lot of oxygen. Like his early fights, Lashleys body is a testament to style over substance.

Who next for Lashley? Dave Batista, why the hell not.

Colm Ivers