Monday, February 9, 2009

The Curious Case of Nuri Shakir

MMA Journalist caught up with old school Northeast badass Nuri Shakir this past weekend (Shakir was cornering friend and teammate Matt Lee at the WCA). For those whose memories extend back only to the first season of "The Ultimate Fighter", Shakir is considered one of the more talented pioneers of the sport in New England, and on his record are wins over Steve Berger, Marcus Davis, Edson Diniz and Nick Serra, as well as losses to top dogs like Tamdan McCrory, Jim Miller and Jorge Masvidal. Shakir can scrap, and the fact that he hits hard (I once saw him break a fighter's jaw in the opening seconds of a bout) and that he's been at it a long, long time make it difficult for the 29-year-old to get fights. As of now, Shakir may have a bout lined up in Boston on March 14th at the World Championship Fighting 6, but whether that pans out or not, the fact remains that he's stuck in the netherworld of being too tough for an up-and-comer, and too much of a risk for an experienced name fighter. I mean, would you want to fight him?

If I Were a Promoter...

Saturday night's modest Return of Macaco event in Newark illustrated a point I've made in the past, specifically, that nation vs. nation MMA events can work if done correctly. At Return of Macaco, the vast majority of the few hundred in attendance were clearly Brazilian, and their fevered shouting in Portuguese and their cheering whenever a Brazilian competitor threw down in the cage took me back to when the Mixed Fighting Championship held those "USA vs. Russia" cards or "USA vs. Japan" cards. Those MFC events were marketed heavily to local Russian and Asian communities, and the resulting crowds made for some seriously passionate bouts. Sadly, those MFCs were held at the Taj Mahal and Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, so venue costs far exceeded ticket sales, but if a mass of screaming Russians can make a bout like Vadim Kulchitskiy vs. Joey Brown seem as frenzied as Tito Ortiz vs. Ken Shamrock I, then there's something there that promoters can't ignore. On Saturday night, thanks to Newark's well-represented Brazilian community, the Return of Macaco made the gymnasium of Essex County College feel like downtown Sao Paulo. It was awesome. And when New York opens up to the sport, you can bet the first promoter to hold a USA vs. Russia show in Brighton Beach, a USA vs. Korea event in Flushing Chinatown, or a USA vs. Guidos event on Long Island is going to make a mint.

Observations from My Couch: UFN 17

  • Anthony Johnson's kung fu is powerful, but like "The Toad" from the Shaw Brothers classic "The Five Deadly Venoms", his weak spot will always be his eyes. Poke out his eyes and you will defeat him!
  • Like "The Scorpion", Josh Neer can utilize his strikes to sting and stun, and can use his submission techniques to trap an opponent like a scorpion holds its prey with its pincers - as TUF 6 winner Mac Danzig learned on Saturday night.
  • With his hands emulating "venomous fangs" and his legs like the "stinging whip of a rattling tail", Dan Miller is the embodiment of "The Snake". Jake Rosholt's kung fu was no match him!
  • Cain Velasquez sucked.
  • Joe "The Centipede" Lauzon attacked Jeremy Stephens so quickly and vigorously, it was as if the Massachusetts native had a hundred arms and legs. Stephens didn't stand a chance.
  • Poison Clan rocks the world!