Saturday, June 30, 2012

Tonight's Aggressive Combat Championship Event to Feature Two UCLers

The Aggressive Combat Championship has a show going down tonight in Fishkill, which is allegedly somewhere north of New York City in the forest or mountains or something, and on the card are UCL stalwarts Jonathan Rodriguez and Israel Martinez.  They're slated to compete in combat jiu-jitsu matches, and having been to an ACC event and seen a combat jiu-jitsu match up close, I still don't know what that entails (something about wearing a gi top, only hitting the body, every other round takes place underwater - think "Calvinball" but with fighting).  Regardless, watch out Fishkill.  These guys are killers.

Literally.  Killers.  They're fugitives wanted for murder.  Do not try to apprehend them yourself.

The Cage Fury Fighting Championship 15 Preview You Won't See Anywhere Else

Tonight, CFFC 15 graces the hallowed halls of the Resorts Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, and yes, yes, I'll be there.  Some things to note before I ramble on about some of the awesome fighters on the card: with the crumbling of the UCC earlier in the week, CFFC managed to scoop up two of the stricken event's match-ups (Erick Tavares vs. Mike Stewart and Yusuf Yoldas vs. Darius Heylinger).  Also, Chris Wing was supposed to fight, but he fell ill cutting weight and ended up in the hospital.  MMA Journalist wishes the young stud a speedy recovery.  Okay, all that aside, here's why CFFC is brimming with awesome:
  • Tim Williams - Williams is the best light-heavyweight the organization has on its roster, and with his undefeated record and high-level, well-rounded skill set, it's not hard to see why.  I've seen him use his jiu-jitsu to cut through dudes like a hot knife through butter, and I've seen him stand toe-to-toe with some very dangerous strikers.  Williams is the man.
  • Brad Desir - BEAST.  That's the best way to describe Desir, who reps New York Combat Sambo and who, in his last outing, survived a Renzo Gracie black belt's best to come back and earn the TKO.  I don't know how many more wins this guy needs to earn a shot at the belt, but he's gotta be close. 
  • Erick Tavares - Tavares is the epitome of "old school Brazilian striker". He hasn't fought in years, but back in the day, the only people that would beat him were the ones that took him down quickly.
  • Mike Stewart - A tough dude who's been around a while, Stewart is another one who's got skill in all ranges.  He got KO'd by UFC fighter Tom DeBlass last year, but don't let that fool you into thinking he can't hit - he can, and he hits hard.  He and Tavares should have a solid scrap.
  • Judah Ciervo - Perhaps the nicest guy you'll ever meet, Ciervo reps Fight Factory and has been around forever.  Really, forever.  Remember BAMA Fight Night?  He used to fight there.  Know how many BAMA Fight Night veterans are still active?  Negative 12.  Fuck yeah, you go, Judah.  Kick some ass.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

All Champs, Big and Small: MUSU’s Will Cavali

Welcome, dear reader, to the first installment in a series called “All Champs, Big and Small”.  Yes, I will be profiling fighters who’ve won a belt, and no, the “big and small” part has nothing to do with their size on the scale.  You see, while all you fuckers have been standing transfixed by the gleam on Junior dos Santos’ UFC belt and the sheen on Gilbert Melendez’s Strikeforce strap, my eyes have wandered to those less seen.  Because when it comes down to it, if you take away the fame and the fortune, how different is it be the king of the Octagon and the king of an unsanctioned, underground event?  Royalty is royalty no matter where you go.  So here’s Will Cavali, who reigned undefeated in New York City’s Manup Standup (MUSU) promotion – an organization best described by the following words: full-contact kung fu, no pads but gloves, kumite, illicit, secret location, and Big Trouble in Little China.

The details on Cavali are that he’s a 23-year-old messenger who calls the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn home, and he walks around at the same weight he fights at – a svelte 140 pounds.  He looks like he’s carved out of wood.  When he fights, it’s a blur of agility and high-kicks and flourishes with his hands that seem straight out of Five Deadly Venoms.

“I was doing martial arts a while,” says Cavali, “and I always fought out in the street.  But I figured I was getting tired of that and I didn’t want to get arrested.  My teacher knew someone who told him about a martial arts tournament coming up, so I went in saying, ‘Let me see how good I can do.’  I didn’t expect to win.  At all.  If you look at the videos and interviews, I didn’t expect to win.  But I went in there and I just tried my best, and I came out on top.”

At the last MUSU installment, which was held in March at a location in Jamaica, Queens, Cavali squared off against an Underground Combat League veteran in Chris Lorenzo.  It was a rematch, and after a TKO via body-blow felled his opponent, Cavali abdicated the throne.  He retired from MUSU with an unblemished 10-0 record.
“I retired from Manup Standup because I felt like I really didn’t have anything else to prove,” he says.  “For me, the last fight that I had with Chris was like an alpha-and-omega match.  The whole championship thing started for me when I fought Chris, and it ended when I fought him again.”

Twice Cavali has ventured into the territory of the UCL, testing the waters with a pair of kickboxing-only matches, and though he lost via decision in both outings, his performances were impressive enough to garner more than a few invitations to train with established MMA teams.  He remains true to his kung fu school, though, where they practice grappling as well.  “Most people say that kung fu can’t be transitioned into MMA,” he says.  “That’s something I want to disprove.”
How soon until his first true MMA bout?  And will it be in a sanctioned bout in New Jersey or an unsanctioned affair closer to home?

“Right now I still training for it,” says Cavali.  “Before, I just jumped into it.  Now I’m actually preparing for it.  So I guess I’ll start out with underground events first.  When I’m more experienced, I’ll go and do those sanctioned events.  I don’t want to jump into something like going to Jersey without really knowing the vibe of it.  I want to make sure I’m fully prepared.”
When asked about his long-term goals in regards to fighting and competing, he doesn’t hesitate to answer.  “My ultimate goal is to just build a career doing something I love doing.  I don’t consider this work.  I love to do it.  I’ve always fought.”

Bonus Question: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done? 
“The craziest thing I ever done was in high school,” says Cavali.  “I had a threesome in the janitors’ closet with these two girls from the other side of Brooklyn.  That was it.  That was the craziest thing I’ve ever done.”

Watch for Cavali to fight in the UCL in the fall.

House of Cards

This was supposed to be a busy week for Northeast mixed martial arts.  Thursday night would feature the Urban Conflict Championship, which was returning after a year-long hiatus with a card chock full of Bellator and WEC vets, while Saturday night would have another installment of the Cage Fury Fighting Championship in Atlantic City.  But something went wrong in the time between the fighters signing their contracts and getting their necessary paperwork into the athletic commission, and now the UCC has been cancelled.  They say it’s not easy being a fighter, what with the rigors of training and competing and having someone punch you in the face.  The hardships fighters go through, however, are only part of the story.  As Chris Sblendorio – the man behind the UCC – can attest to, promoting a successful event is akin to erecting a house of cards. 

More after the jump...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Great Moments in UCC History

This Thursday night (yes, Thursday night) the Urban Conflict Championship returns, gracing the Teaneck Armory Arena with, like, you know, fights and stuff.  Bellator vet Kenny Foster is throwing down with some Russian named Maratbek Kalabekov, Bellator vet Rene Nazare is taking on WEC vet Anthony Morrison, Brazilian striker Erick Tavares steps back into the cage after a four-year hiatus, and heavyweight stud JA Dudley will get in there and do his thang.  But being that this is the fifth installment of the UCC, and it's been a year since their last installment, I think a refresher course is in order re: why the UCC is awesome and fun and rules the North Jersey MMA scene with an iron fist and a just heart.  So!  Great moments in UCC history, in no particular order!
  • Dave Branch vs. John Troyer - Everyone knew Team Renzo standout Branch was on track for big things, and trouncing Troyer for two rounds at the inaugural UCC only cemented that knowledge in the minds of all.  After this bout, Branch went on to Bellator and then the UFC, so yeah, we're were right.
  • John Cholish vs. Hitalo Machado - Cholish was just like Branch in that everyone knew he was destined for the major leagues, and his picking apart of Machado at UCC 2 was just further proof that the man is a beast.  Since they were evenly matched jiu-jitsu brown belts on the ground, chopping leg-kicks were the order of the day, and Cholish served them up with a side of brutality and TKO.
  • This.  This kind of event coverage would make the readers of Sherdog and MMAFighting shit twice and die.  They'd probably dig it over at CagePotato, though.
  • Daniel Akinyemi vs. Rich Bianchi - UCC 3 had Akinyemi dusting off the four-ounce gloves and knocking his opponent silly - an indication of what's in store whenever he steps up to the plate.  Nowadays Akinyemi plies his trade in Ring of Combat, but it's still all bang-bang-you're-dead.
  • Aljamain Sterling vs. Sergio Da Silva - The current top bantamweight in the Northeast went pro at UCC 4, and began his six-fight win streak clobbering Da Silva in the same manner one would dispatch a bug or errant garden gnome.  Sterling is a CFFC champ now, but the UCC is where we were all put on notice.  Yup, yup.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Of Soccer Kicks and Men

Yeah, so, Roger Huerta.  Soccer-kicked into oblivion at ONE FC this past weekend, as if he no longer needed that head or something.  OutrageBemusementAggregation!  I don't have much by way of opinion to add to the subject, except to point out that it was just as brutal when Renato "Babalu" Sobral did it to Brad Kohler in the WEF back in the day, and it was no less unkind whenever it happened in PRIDE.  But I will tell you the story about the only time I've ever seen a soccer kick go down in person - which, believe it or not, didn't occur in a UCL bout, but at a sanctioned show in New Jersey.

Extreme Challenge 78 was the event, which was an Ed Hsu-run show under Monte Cox's promotional banner.  The venue was the storied Convention Hall in Asbury Park, and though the main event had Tim Boetsch crushing sambo specialist Oleg Savitsky, the most memorable scrap was between local fighter Lewis Pascavage and Brazilian transplant Carlos Eduardo.  Eduardo was "fresh off the boat", you see, and his grasp of the Unified Rules circa 2007 was tenous at best, so when he and Pascavage clinched up against the cage and Eduardo managed to pull the American's legs out from under him, why not punt the dude square in the chops? 

Fifty-eight seconds was the official time of the disqualification, and I swear I thought referee Big Dan was going to summarily execute Eduardo for the transgression.  Nick Lembo issued a year-long suspension to Eduardo on the spot, despite Eduardo's coach saying something along the lines of "He's used to vale tudo rules in Brazil.  Cut him some slack, eh?"  As for Pascavage, he was down for a while (and rightfully so).  It's one thing to agree to a bout in Singapore where soccer kicks are legal; it's another thing entirely if you're fighting in New Jersey and you have no reason to expect you'd be eating foot.

So, to paraphrase "The West Wing": Soccer kicks.  Boy, I don't know.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Blast from the Past: Kaream Ellington Edition

Here's Kaream Ellington, who was featured in RAW COMBAT, taking on Japanese fighter Kenichi Yamamoto at an old MFC in Atlantic City.  (Credit goes to Sambo Steve for digging this up.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRR5FrcbzIk&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Observations from My Couch: Bellator 71/UFC on FX 4 Mash-Up

  • Brett Rogers beat on Kevin Asplund so bad, you'd think they were married!
  • Out of the light-heavyweight tournament quarterfinal winners Attila the Vegh, Tim Carpenter and Emanual Newton, Attila the Vegh seems like the only one worth a damn.
  • That said, Travis Wiuff is going to kill them all, then feast upon the bones of Bellator's 205-pound champ - WHO HE ALREADY BEAT.
  • Dan Miller getting a well-deserved win in typical Dan Miller fashion is one of those feel-good things that make your night.
  • Matt Brown = killer.  Luis Ramos = murder victim.
  • Nick Catone was winning until he slowed down in the final round and Chris Camozzi was able to open him up with that cut.  Oh well.  C'est la vie.
  • I am shocked - SHOCKED - that Steven Siler was able to handle Joey Gambino like that.  There were flashes of Gambino's insane ability and talent, though.  Hopefully he'll get another chance in the Octagon to show his stuff.
  • I'm just going to pretend that Rick Story and Brock Jardine never fought, that the fight never happened and that for those painful fifteen minutes I was doing something constructive with my time like knitting a sweater.
  • Ramsey Nijem is still weird and off-putting.
  • Hatsu Hioki laid a gigantic egg in the Octagon.
  • First Jamie Varner, now Cub Swanson... was there some sort of magic spell or curse that was making these WEC vets suck, and now it's worn off?
  • The improbably run of Brian Ebersole continues.  Hooray.
  • You know, if Spencer Fisher learns some wrestling defense, he could really make a name for himself in this sport.
  • At first I was like, "Yeah, do it, Clay Guida, do your thing!"  Then I was like, "Uh, WTF."  Then, when Gray Maynard went all Diaz Brother on him, I was like, "Oh.  Snap.  That's a guy I can get behind."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Saturday, June 16, 2012

ROC 41 Postscript

As usual, Ring of Combat gave us the goods, with the "goods" consisting of some entertaining, quality fights, some thrills, and a few surprising upsets.  Here's the skinny on the bouts:
  • RABJJ rising star Frankie Perez completely handled Ben Syers.  And I mean completely.  I think Syers' best moment was his walkout to the cage.  After that, it was all about Perez tying him into knots on the ground and pounding him out.
  • Anthony Facchini did pretty much the same thing to Kevin Molina.  I think Molina was supposed to be some sort of dangerous kickboxer, but Facchini gave him no opportunity to show it.  He just took him down and raped him.
  • For as long as Andre Harrison vs. Bill Metts lasted it was fun, as both men threw punches at each other's faces with complete disregard for defense.  Eventually it was Harrison that scored the deciding blow, and he used the opening to snag the rear naked choke on the ground.
  • Brit transplant Liam McGeary and Ironbound MMAer Walter Howard had an awesome stand-up scrap that was pretty much nonstop throughout Round 1.  But Howard has zero left in his gas tank for Round 2, so McGeary had the ideal window to put Howard away (which he did).  This one was a crowd-pleaser.
  • Villi Bello almost - ALMOST - became the first fighter to ever win via inverted triangle in Ring of Combat, but somehow Chris Wade gutted it out for the minute it was on and escaped.  This one was contested pretty much in the clinch against the cage and on the ground, with Bello spending a little too much time on the bottom for the judges' tastes, hence the decision for Wade.  Good fight, though.
  • Brian VanHoven had the ability to take Lester Caslow down and hold him there, but what he lacked was the wherewithall to know that Caslow had the ability to slip on a guillotine and tap him the fuck out.  Oops!  Good win for Caslow.
  • And from out of nowhere comes a Russian badass.  That's the story of Tom English's fight against Soslan Abanokov.  Using solid jiu-jitsu, English had Abanokov in trouble early and often, but whenever a rear naked choke attempt seemed to spell his doom, the Russian would do something like escape, get behind English, suplex him, and scurry into a rear naked choke attempt himself (all in the span of a few seconds).  Abanokov took the majority decision in a close, close fight that was cool to behold.
  • Ed Gordon did his thing against Carlos Brooks, more or less avoiding Brooks' dangerous striking by getting the lankier fighter down and grinding on him.  Brooks did get some licks in - at one point he landed a spinning kick right into Gordon's face - but the Serra/Longo fighter just shook it all off and kept scoring.  Gordon is now the ROC 205-pound champ.
  • In his first fight back since almost making it into the TUF House, Jimmie Rivera did what he needed to do against Justin Hickey to earn the win.  But what he did, which was repeatedly take Hickey down and beat on him (which garnered him the clear-cut unanimous decision), wasn't what he was capable of.  More than a few times they stood and traded, and Rivera's punches were so much faster and more accurate that he dropped Hickey repeatedly.  And yet despite being the better striker, Rivera didn't go for the knockout for some reason.  Oh well.  Like I said, he still got the win, and now he's got a shiny, new ROC bantamweight belt.
  • In a complete and total shocker, Guillermo Serment flew in from Chicago, stood with local rising star James Jenkins, landed a stunner of a cross that seemed to break Jenkins' nose (and possibly his orbital), and then jumped into a guillotine that forced Jenkins to tap - all in the span of just over a minute.  No one expected this.  After all, Jenkins has been virtually unstoppable since turning pro, and proven to be tough as nails and not someone to be trifled with when it comes to the stand-up game.  The Serra/Longo fighter was visibly distraught with the outcome, which is understandable, but he'll be back, as he's got too much talent and potential.  As for Serment, well, he's ROC's new featherweight champ.  Paging Jeff Lentz... Mr. Lentz, please report to the cage.
  • Uriah Hall took care of business against Republic of Georgia fighter Nodar Kudukhashvili, but it wasn't easy.  Like the other Eastern Bloc dudes we've seen who've spent time in the Georgian special forces and who have names that are impossible to spell and pronounce, Kudukhashvili was made of iron, and he gave Hall hell on the ground whenever he secured top position.  Hall edged him out, though, picking and choosing his shots on the feet and getting takedown after takedown.  For his efforts, Hall is now the ROC middleweight champ, and the man to beat.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Why You Should Care About ROC 41 - Reason #3

Ever since Tom DeBlass made the leap to major league ball, the Northeast's light-heavyweight division has been without a king.  But lo, here comes top contenders Ed "Truck" Gordon and Carlos Brooks, who will battle for the crown in what should be a fight to behold.  If you're keeping track, Ed Gordon vs. Carlos Brooks is reason number three why you should care about ROC 41 tomorrow night.
  • Gordon, who hails from the Serra/Longo Team and played football for Fordham University before switching to MMA, is undefeated in three amateur fights and four pro bouts.  His fighting style: something I like to call the "agitated bull".  In his last outing, he handily KO'd the veteran Ryan Contaldi, and prior to that he pretty much snorted, charged and gored everyone in his path.  He's been gradually coming down to the 205-pound weight class from heavyweight, so watch for him to be a ton of raw aggression and muscle.
  • TSMMA's Brooks is lean and lanky, and when it comes to throwing strikes - be it punches or kicks - he's like a surgeon with his precision.  His last time at bat saw him snuff out Danny Babcock in a mere 51 seconds, and the lone loss on his record came via guillotine at the hands of Alexandre Moreno, who is a veritable submission machine.  Also, Brooks was in line to challenge DeBlass for the belt, but was sidelined when training partner Uriah Hall messed him up with a knee to the grill while sparring.  Like Gordon, Brooks has earned this shot at the belt.
  • What's in store for fans watching?  My crystal ball (which, admittedly, sucks) says that Gordon might still be brimming with confidence for his stellar stand-up performance against Contaldi, and if so, will try to test Brooks on the feet.  That's Brooks' world, though, so if Gordon doesn't get put away, the Serra/Longo rep is going to take things to the ground and attempt to play Whack-a-Mole from on top.  My crystal ball also says Matt Serra is going to throw a plate of linguine marinara into the cage and someone in a fuzzy tiger is going to run screaming through the crowd, so again, take everything it says with a huge grain of salt.
  • Where the hell did I get this thing?  I hope I saved the receipt...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Oy, Check Out This Site

Fight gear and stuff - www.njfightshop.com.

Why You Should Care About ROC 41 - Reason #2

Ring of Combat.  Where dreams are made and nightmares are born.  Where men go to fight and bleed for our viewing pleasure.  Where wretched hive, scum, villainy, blah, blah, blah.  Friday is ROC 41, and if you're looking for reasons why you should care, you've come to the right place.  Take reason number two, for instance: James Jenkins.  Here's the skinny on this featherweight, who'll be fighting for a championship belt.
  • Jenkins is undefeated as a pro, and though he's a competent fighter when it comes to slapping on submissions, his success is based in large part with the fact that he's fantastic at standing and banging.  In his last trip into the cage, he waded into the deep water with the veteran Dwayne Shelton, and sealed the deal when he found openings and began wobbling Shelton with strikes. 
  • Dude.  Hits.  Hard.
  • Team Serra/Longo.  That's where he trains out of.  Which means not only is he really sharpening his skills, but he's on track to perform on a stage bigger than that of Ring of Combat.  If (and when) he wins the belt on Friday, you can bet making the leap to the majors is on the horizon.
  • Jenkins' opponent is Guillermo Serment, who looks to be a scrapper out of the Midwest.  According to this article, Serment's nickname is "El Gallo Negro".  If my Spanish is correct, that translates into "the black bean".  Jenkins' ain't getting beat by no bean!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why You Should Care About ROC 41 - Reason #1

Ring of Combat 41 is Friday night, and whether you're attending it live at the Tropicana in Atlantic City (like I am) or watching it on GoFightLive (which I will never do again), there are a number of good reasons to give an enormous shit about what's going down.  After all, ROC is one of the Northeast's most prominent stepping stones to the UFC, and it's chock full of dudes who are more than capable of tearing off your limbs and burying them in the sand beneath the Boardwalk.  Still on the fence about caring about ROC 41?  Well, then here's reason number one: Jimmie Rivera.

  • Rivera, you might recall, appeared in the first episode of TUF 14, where fought eventual finalist Dennis Bermudez to earn a spot in the TUF House.  And sure, obviously Bermudez is the one who made it into the house, but for the entire first round of that fight, Rivera beat the dude up.  Like, shook-him-down-for-lunch-money beat up.  Rivera can box, wrestle, and he knows a thing or two about submissions - all of which he showed in that TUF 14 fight.  If Bermudez wasn't made out of iron, it would definitely have been Rivera taking on Diego Brandao for that giant TUF paperweight.
  • Aside from losing to Bermudez, the only other time Rivera has lost was via split decision to Jay McLean in a bout he agreed to at the last minute.  On the flip side, Rivera went undefeated in seven amateur fights, and went on to win eight pro fights.
  • Rivera is fighting some kid named Justin Hickey for the ROC bantamweight belt, and you know how I know Rivera is going to come away victorious?  Because before his TUF bid, he was a reigning King of the Cage champ, and wearing a KOTC crown is kind of a big deal.  Also, Hickey is supposedly a submissions guy, and Rivera's modus operandi is sprawl-and-brawl - the antidote to submission poison.
  • Lastly, the biggest reason you should be paying attention to this weekend's ROC and Rivera is that soon Rivera will be back in the Octagon.  Watch him crush Hickey on Friday and come the next UFC on FX, you'll be able to tell all your friends you "saw that dude fight back in the day - he's a badass".  And you won't be lying.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Observations from My Couch: UFC on FX "Johnson vs. McCall"

  • Matt Grice must be rich, because he sure as hell threw away what could've been a for-sure Fight of the Night bonus by laying on Leonard Garcia for three rounds.
  • Having God as an official sponsor is really starting to seem like an unfair advantage for Dustin Pague.
  • Do you think Justin Salas would've stayed in bed on Friday if he knew that getting up and going work that day meant being punched retarded?
  • Congrats to Seth Baczynski, Lance Benoist, Mike Pierce and Carlos Eduardo Rocha.  You guys fought so crappy that it made me question why I ever ordered FuelTV.
  • I don't know where that version of Eddie Wineland came from, but I wager there's an alternate universe somewhere that has its Eddie Wineland-UFC champ suddenly sucking.
  • Mike Pyle HAD to get a knockout in that fight.  Otherwise, that mullet would've gone to complete waste.
  • The best part of Erick Silva's victory was Wallid Ismael taking the microphone and unleashing just the tiniest bit of crazy onto it.  I want to see Silva fight some more simply because I want more of Ismael talking.
  • Good win for Demetrious Johnson, but I don't see him defeating Joseph Benavidez.  Yes, speed kills, but even the quickest, deadliest wasp can fall prey to the most pedestrian of fly swatters.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Another Disinterested UFC Preview

Another installment of UFC on FX hits the boobtube on Friday night, and man is this card a throwaway.  I mean, sure, the rematch between Demetrious Johnson and Ian McCall should be exciting, but anytime the main course features fighters like Mike Pyle and Eddie Wineland, you just know that if it weren't free you'd be "dining and dashing" on this meal like crazy.  Seriously, who's driving the bus on this UFC/FOX marriage?  Are they drunk?  Do they care about the quality of the cards and if people want to tune in?  I'm just glad that in the upcoming weekends there's live MMA for me to go to - like ROC, CFFC, the UCC and the UCL.  If I had to rely solely on the UFC for my MMA jollies, I'd probably kill myself.  No, wait, you.  Anyway, preview time.
  • Demetrious Johnson vs. Ian McCall - Like all important tournaments, the UFC's inaugural flyweight shindig got derailed something fierce, this one getting screwed up right out of the gate when these two micro-warriors had a thriller of a fight and then the commission flubbed tallying up the judges' scorecards.  So here we go again.  Will McCall start slow and end strong like before?  Will Johnson pick at him until there's nothing left but a 1920s-style moustache lying on the floor of the Octagon?  Will someone, anyone ever get a chance to face Joseph Benavidez, the other flyweight tournament finalist?  If you're like me, then you're probably counting on McCall to pick up where he left off.  But also, if you're like me, hey, what should I wear to UCL photog Anil Melwani's baby shower on Sunday?  Can I get away with my usual camo shorts and black t-shirt ensemble?
  • Erick Silva vs. Charlie Brenneman - Silva has proven to be one dangerous, hard-hitting motherfucker, but conversely, Brenneman will wrestlefuck you to death and smother you with his white-person afro.  Doesn't Brenneman seem like he'd make a great addition to the Counting Crows the next time they go on tour?  I could totally see him bopping around on stage, hair askew and crooning vocals that make college freshman girls lose their panties.
  • Mike Pyle vs. Josh Neer - I've always wondered if the sport would develop a kind of retirement program for its aged never-weres and almosts and could-have-beens, and here we are!  MMA's version of Social Security!  Only instead of a monthly check, these oldsters get to fight each other for their purse and a shot at a discretionary bonus that could very well go to one of the kids fighting on Facebook.
  • Eddie Wineland vs. Scott Jorgensen - I think it's safe to say Jorgensen will never be the champ.  If he's lucky, though, Wineland might be fortunate enough to be asked to fetch Dominic Cruz/Urijah Faber/Renan Barao a copy of today's paper while they're headed into the crapper.
  • Leonard Garcia vs. Matt Grice - I still believe the image of Garcia coughing up balloons full of cocaine is funny.
  • Dustin Pague vs. Jared Papazian - Do you think that if God actually wanted to sponsor Pague the UFC would force Him to pony up the 100 grand sponsorship tax?

Monday, June 4, 2012

ROKO Postscript

With just four fights it was an abbreviated fight card, and the live bands made me extremely glad I had earplugs, but in the end Rock Out Knock Out was a fun time.  The Convention Hall in Asbury Park - heck, even Asbury Park itself - is a completely different place than it was when Ring of Combat used to hold shows there years ago, and getting to watch some local heroes throw down in exciting fashion made ROKO worth it.  Some thoughts on the fights:
  • Ryan Vaccaro was a huge threat and nearly finished Brian Kelleher in the opening minutes of their bout when he took the Bombsquad rep's back and went for the choke.  But Kelleher is tough as nails and skilled as hell, and after he extricated himself from trouble, that's when the punishment began.  The end came quickly in Round 2, as Kelleher countered Vaccaro's level-change and shoot with a knee right to the dome.  Vaccaro was out of it, and after turtling and flopping around a bit, he convinced the ref to step in.  I've said it before and I'll say it again: Aljamain Sterling is far and away at the top of the "little guy" heap, but right below him are guys like Kelleher, who can beat the vast majority of the lighter-weight fighters out there.
  • It was Kevin Roddy's thirtieth fight and he made it memorable, forcing Noe Quintanilla to play defense as K-Rod worked him over with a submission assault from his guard.  Eventually Roddy caught him - with a triangle choke at 1:53 of Round 1 - and seeing a nice guy like K-Rod get the win and then get showered with accolades by his countless friends and fans, well, it was a cool feel-good moment.
  • Michael Robinson is practically made of stone, and his sweeps and sub attempts from his guard were frequent and real.  But damn did Ryan Peterson lay a beatdown on him.  From his relentless ground and pound to his damaging stand-up, Peterson was large and in charge, and though the Long Island-based fighter couldn't manage to put Robinson away, he definitely put his stamp on the kid.  There was no question Peterson had done enough to warrant the unanimous decision when time ran out.
  • Phillip LeGrand wanted to stand and strike, and Desmond Green wanted to wrestle him to the canvas and bushwhack him, and because Green had superior wrestling, we got to see the latter happen.  Like Robinson, LeGrand was one resilient mofo.  And like with Robinson, it wasn't enough.  Green was the clear-cut winner when it went to the judges.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Observations from My Couch: TUF 15 Finale

  • Erik Perez didn't defeat John Albert.  Referee Kim Winslow defeated John Albert, and should therefore get the win.
  • For someone who looks so uncomfortable in striking exchanges, Joe Proctor sure does score some exciting TKOs.
  • Watching Cristiano Marcello fight is like watching a car crash in slow-motion.  You know something ugly is about to happen and you have a pretty good idea of what it's going to be, but you're transfixed anyway.
  • The Jury is still out on Myles Jury. 
  • Daron Cruickshank and Chris Tickle are two guys who are fun to watch who will go nowhere in the UFC.
  • Congrats to John Cofer for becoming a permanent part of the TUF highlight reel.
  • He's not a top guy in the division, but Charles Oliveira's skill and ability are more than enough to separate the men from the boys - and more than enough to put a TUF winner away.
  • I'm absolutely gutted that Al Iaquinta lost.  He'll be back, though, and kicking ass in the Octagon in no time.
  • I don't know where this new and improved version of Martin Kampmann came from, but I like it.