Wednesday, August 6, 2008

UFC 87 - Two great fights

This Saturday UFC 87 will take place in Minneapolis. The card is nice, but two fights stand out as being really interesting to me. Georges St. Pierre will defend his title against Jon Fitch in the welterweight division. Georges St. Pierre is top 3 pound for pound in my opinion and would be a strong candidate for the no. 1 spot if he wouldn't have been upset by Matt Serra in 2007. Jon Fitch is no. 2 in the division and is on 15-fight win streak. Fitch is an excellent wrestler and has developed skills in the other aspects of the game. The problem is that Georges St. Pierre has made a career out of outwrestling wrestlers and putting them on their backs, who would have thought that from a "karate guy". St. Pierre is probably also the sharper striker. I'm picking St. Pierre but I think Fitch will be his toughest fight, not counting his two losses. The winner will be regarded as the best 170-pounder in the world.

The other of my two favorite fights on the card is Kenny Florian against Roger Huerta. These are two exciting and talented fighters in the lightweight division. The winner might be next in line for a title shot. Both fighters have shown well-rounded skills and has finished their opponents with both submission and strikes. A difference between them can still be seen. Florian is more of a technician, while Huerta is more on the brawling side of the spectrum. I'm still debating with myself who to pick. In his last fight Florian proved me wrong, I had picked Joe Lauzon to upset him. I thought Florian would be overwhelmed by the intensity of Lauzon. Florian dominated Lauzon and mounted him and punched him until the referee had to stop the fight. Maybe Huerta can overwhelm Florian. On the other hand Huerta tends to be a bit careless and find himself in some bad positions from time to time. Doing this against Florian can easily cost him the fight. This fight is my pick for fight of the night, watch it.

Also keep your eyes open for Demian Maia against Jason MacDonald.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Fighter spotlight: Demian Maia

As a BJJ practicioner I have soft spot for good grapplers in MMA. Demian Maia is the perfect example. Maia has won both the Mundials (World championship in BJJ) and the ADCC (the most prestigeous submission wrestling tournament). In grappling he holds victories over elite names such as Ronaldo "Jacare" de Souza, Yushin Okami, Gabriel Gonzaga and Flavio Almeida (brother of Richardo Almeida).

Demian Maia is at the moment 7-0 (5 submissions and 1 KO) in his MMA career and a contender in the UFC middleweight division. Maia made his professional MMA debut in Finland in december 2005 against Lukas Chlewicki and his latest fight was against Ed Herman in UFC April 2008. Maia is scheduled to take on Jason MacDonald at UFC 87 August 9th.

Maia's best quality as a fighter is of course his ground game. He is very technical both on top and from his back. He has excellent positioning skills and that's why he often is able to finish his fights with a choke from the back or an armbar from mount. With Jiu-Jitsu of this caliber he can win many fights, but the higher he goes in the ranking the more he will need to be well rounded. Striking is absolutely essential to be a top contender in MMA today, but in my opinion wrestling should be the first priority for any ground wizard. Wrestling in itself doesn't win many fights, or at least shouldn't, but the ability to control where the fight takes place is invaluable. Too many BJJ experts have lost matches due to the simple fact that they can't get the fight to the ground or by gassing themselves out in the process. Now, I'm sure Maia trains all aspects of MMA and is constantly improving his weaknesses.

The big question you have to ask , when talking about a middleweight contender in the UFC today is of course; Can he beat Anderson Silva? At this moment he doesn't deserve a title shot and would probably get destroyed. On the other hand if he can get up to a handful of fights more before he steps into the octagon with Silva he might have his chance. Maia's upside is his grappling skills. Silva is good on the ground but he has been submitted before. This also ties in to the point I made earlier about wrestling. Maia will never be as good of a striker as Anderson Silva is, but if he can control where the fight takes place, in this case taking it to the ground, the odds will be more favorable.

Here are some of Maia's fights:

Demian Maia vs. Lukas Chlewicki

Demian Maia vs. Ryan Stout

Demian Maia vs. Ronaldo "Jacare" de Souza (BJJ)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

UFC 86 - Picks

UFC 86 is coming up this Saturday, so it's time to make some fight picks. I'm pretty excited about this card and especially the main event is dynamite. Let's get down to business.

Quinton Jackson Vs. Forrest Griffin
I don't know how good Forrest Griffin really is. Usually he looks a bit sloppy but wins due to great cardio and a giant heart. His win against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua was his absolutely best performance of his career. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson is the reigning UFC light heavyweight champion and I'm confident he will retain his belt on Saturday. I feel Jackson is more skilled in all aspects of MMA and stronger than Griffin.
Pick: Quinton Jackson by KO/TKO round 2.

Patrick Cote Vs. Ricardo Almeida
Ricardo Almeida is a world class BJJ black belt, while Patrick Cote's strength is his stand up. Need I say, grappler versus striker? Almeida has had one fight, since his comeback from a 4 year layoff, which he won quickly by submission. Cote had a hard time when he first came to UFC, but has now turned his career around and is on a 4-fight winning streak (3 in the UFC). Although Cote has been more active and has some momentum, I think Almeida will put him on his back and get a submission.
Pick: Ricardo Almeida by submission round 1.

Joe Stevenson Vs. Gleison Tibau
This one is an affair between two good grapplers. Stevenson made his pro debut at the age of 16, won the second season of TUF and recently lost against BJ Penn in a title match. I think Stevenson will win a decision after 15 minutes of action.
Pick: Joe Stevenson by unanimous decision.

Josh Koscheck Vs. Chris Lytle
Chris Lytle is technically the better striker, but Josh Koscheck will probably take him down if he is in any kind of trouble on the feet. Lytle is good enough on the ground not be finished, but not good enough to catch Koscheck in a submission.
Pick: Josh Koscheck by unanimous decision.

Tyson Griffin Vs. Marcus Aurelio
Marcus Aurelio is an absolute monster if the match-up favors him, like when he choked out Takanori Gomi, who was on top of his career at that moment and came of a 10-fight winning streak and the victory in the Pride FC 2005 lightweight GP. Then again, if the match-up is unfavorable, he can be shut down and dominated. This is what I think Tyson Griffin will be able to do.
Pick: Tyson Griffin by unanimous decision.

Gabriel Gonzaga Vs. Justin McCully
Gabriel Gonzaga had a lot of hype after his head kick knock out of Mirko "Crocop" Filipovic, now he has two losses in a row against, Randy Couture and Fabricio Werdum, and the hype has faded. Still Gonzaga is better than Justin McCully both on the ground and on the feet.
Pick: Gabriel Gonzaga by submission round 1.

Jorge Gurgel Vs. Cole Miller
Jorge Gurgel has never impressed me. I think he looks small for 155 lb. and has had a lot of problems with injuries. Still he has a decent record, 12-3. Cole Miller is young and has talent. Miller will also have a reach advantage. Both usually fight at a high pace and are good on the ground and standing, with wrestling being their weakness.
Pick: Cole Miller by unanimous decision.

Melvin Guillard Vs. Dennis Siver
Melvin Guillard is talented and has physical tools to be a good fighter, his problems seems to be mostly in his personal life. He got caught with cocaine in his body earlier in his career. He is also submittable if he is put on his back. Dennis Siver though isn't good enough to do this, I think.
Pick: Melvin Guillard by KO/TKO round 1.

Corey Hill Vs. Justin Buchholz
Corey Hill is abnormally tall for this weight division (193 cm/70 kg). He also has an alter ego named Buddy Rowe. He is not as experienced as Justin Buchholz but he is training hard and will stop Buchholz in the first round. Take a look at this
interview with Hill.
Pick: Corey Hill by KO/TKO round 1.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Thomson - short preview

I'm interested in this event almost solely because of the main event, in which Gilbert Melendez defends his Strikeforce lightweight belt against Josh Thomson. There are some other okay fights on the card but only one great. One of the better fights has been canceled due to Joe Riggs not getting his license to fight. Riggs was supposed to face Luke Stewart who is a good grappler and up-and-comer at least in the regional Californian scene. Bobby Southworth, probably best known for being on the first season of the Ultimate Fighter, will fight Anthony Ruiz for the Strikeforce light heavyweight title, not very exciting in my opinion. I find the bout between Nam Phan and Billy Evangelista to be a bit more interesting. Both fighters have pretty good records, 14-4 and 6-0 respectively, and will probably put on an competitive fight. Also on this card is the "new Cung Le", Ray Daniels. I hadn't heard of him prior to this match and this is his MMA debut. He comes from a karate background and is supposed to have a flamboyant style. Even though i don't know much about his opponent, Jeremiah Metcalf, he has some submission wins on his record. The ground game is usually the traditional martial artists' cryptonite. Maybe we'll see a flashy K.O. from Daniels or maybe he'll get caught in a submission, either way I expect it to end in the first round.

Now back to the main event. Melendez-Thomson is a quality lightweight fight. Melendez is one of the most frenetic fighters I've seen, he pushes forward non-stop. Thomson is also very skilled and well-rounded. An interesting fact is that these two have trained together pretty much, sometimes up to three times a week. They are still very respectable towards each other, so it's no grudge match, which is fine by me. I think Melendez will win this one, he is just too much to handle for most opponents. Thomson's chance is to out-wrestle Melendez and put him on his back. Melendez has said that he might possibly make 145 lb again, he fought at 143 lb in Shooto, which would open up for a dream match against Urijah Faber. That fight would possibly be the best fight ever.

Ray Daniels karate highlight:

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Anderson Silva moving up to light heavyweight

As you might know Anderson Silva has accepted a fight against James Irvin on the July 19th UFN card. This fight will be Silva's first in the light heavyweight division. Silva is the reigning UFC middleweight champion and by many considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. He has recently looked almost unstoppable and finished his last seven opponents within the two first rounds. Considering his dominance, a move up in weight seems natural.

Still, I'm a bit torn on this fight. Last year was dubbed the year of upsets in the MMA community and fans and journalists were wishing for more consistency. Now, here we have Anderson Silva who could really establish a legacy. Of course if he can dominate the light heavyweight division like he has dominated middleweight he will be in the run for all-time best fighter. If his move up is permanent, I would have liked him to take on a more relevant opponent than Irvin and not on short notice. Irvin is not a top ten fighter, but he has big punch which he showed in his last fight, the 8-second(!) knock out of Houston Alexander. In the end I think Silva's superior technique earn him another K.O.

Regardless of the outcome of the fight it might be that this is a one-and-done deal for Silva and that he will return to middleweight. The first contender for his title at middleweight is, in my opinion, Yushin Okami. Okami is the last man to defeat Silva, albeit via disqualification after an illegal kick. See that fight in the end of this post. That fight was at 175 pounds, which is 30 pounds less than the 205-pound limit for the light heavyweight. So it's not like Silva has to move up in weight. Well, the future will tell which way he Silva decides to go.

Anderson Silva vs. Yushin Okami:

Dustin Hazelett vs. Josh Burkman

If you haven't seen this fight, do it. It was a prelim to the Ultimate Fighter Season 7 Finale and it should have been on the main card instead of for example Riddle-Rivera.

Spoiler warning!

Dustin Hazelett showed some really impressive BJJ technique. In the first round he had some really good submission attempts and what was even more impressive was how he transitioned from one submission to the next. Josh Burkman also had his moments and connected with some good punches. In the second round Hazelett finally got his submission. And it was sweet! Hazelett had Burkman in a whizzer and jumped into an armbar. Hadn't seen that set up before.

Hazelett is still a young fighter, so I predict a bright future for him. He still needs to work on his wrestling though, especially since the welterweight division is full of good wrestlers. I'm looking forward to seeing Hazelett fight again and hope that it will be on the main card.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Welcome to On MMA

Hello and welcome to my brand new blog On MMA. Here I will share my opinions on the contemporary mixed martial arts scene. First a short presentation of me and the purpose of this blog

I've been a fan of MMA since about 2001 and have been training BJJ for about 4,5 years. I try to follow all the major international MMA promotions. These will also be the main focus of my posts. The plan is to provide discussion on things in the world of MMA I find interesting, break down and predict fights and review events. I hope someone will find my writing at least a bit interesting and maybe even thought provoking. If you agree or disagree with me or just have something to say please post a comment or send me an e-mail to DanOnMMA[at]