Monday, July 30, 2012

More Crappy UCL Pics

Crappy UCL Pics

UCL Postscript

Just when you thought the summer was going to be peaceful and quiet, along comes another UCL to FREAK YOU HARD, BABY. Yesterday’s installment of New York City-based combative sport action was a mixed bag of MMA and Muay Thai bouts, and there were heroes galore. Highlights of the event included:

· The back-and-forth scrum between Thiago Chavez and Irish Todd. Chavez was in control on the ground throughout all of the first round, but Irish Todd weathered the storm, and brought things to an abrupt end with a guillotine in the second.
· Israel Martinez and his Lyoto Machida-front kick KO of the tough Kevin Wall. It was all over in under ten seconds.
· Jonathan Rodriguez's and his tight jiu-jitsu game, which enabled him to find success in his first venture down to lightweight against young buck Nico Agusto.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Return of the Wing Chun Man

UCL and ROC veteran Shawn Obasi has returned, this time in a video for the Global Proving Ground.  Here's what it says in the GPG press release:

 "Welcome to Global Proving Ground, where elite fighters from all over the world come to get noticed!  Experience raw talent like never before, as you watch videos submitted by GPG athletes in their quest to get noticed!  GPG athletes show the combat sports world what they have to offer by demonstrating their fight skills in a very intense 1-2 minute video.  Fans are encouraged to vote for their favorite GPG fighter video submissions.  Winners get onto a reality TV show."

Here's Shawn's video.

My New Temp Gig

While Maggie Hendricks handles some minor sporting event called the Olympics, I'm going to be at the helm of the Yahoo! Sports "Cagewriter" blog.  So.  Check it out.  Or don't.  Blah.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Observations from My Couch: Bellator/UFC 149 Mash-Up

  • Sure, Marius Zaromskis won that bout against Waachiim Spiritwolf, but I'm picking Spiritwolf to win the next two rematches.
  • Attila the Vegh is so getting squished by Travis Wiuff.
  • Of course Paul Daley damn near killed Rudy Bears in his Bellator debut.  What did you expect?  It's Paul Daley.  It would've been shocking if Bears somehow survived.
  • Karl Amoussou is slick as hell and fun to watch.  Unfortunately, he's going to be wearing the Askren Manblanket soon, and there's nothing any of us can do about it.
  • Antonio Carvalho's KO of Daniel Pineda was cool and all, but his cuddle immediately after... that was like when Forrest Griffin spooned Bill Mahood.  Yeesh.
  • Yeah, Ronda Rousey would totally kill Bryan Caraway.  No doubt about it.
  • Nothing ruins a 7-second KO more than doing the Robot. 
  • I like watching this Francisco Rivera fight.  Sean Shelby, keep feeding him scrubs.
  • I'm not quite sure how Nick Ring got that decision over Court McGee, but okay, fine, I'll take it, as it means another TUF winner loses.
  • I have no idea where that version of Matt Riddle came from, but he needs to stick around.  The dude reeks of Mystery Machine and Scooby Snacks like crazy.
  • In honor of Brian Ebersole's uninspired performance, I'm not going to bother finishing this sentence with...
  • Cheick Kongo - all hugs, all the time.
  • Boy did Hector Lombard lay a gigantic egg in the Octagon.  Somewhere, Bjorn Rebney was alternating between watching that fight and staring at a Bellator profit-and-loss spreadsheet, and he was smiling.
  • As tough and as skilled as he still is, the sun is setting on Urijah Faber's championship-level abilities.  Let us not mourn its passing.  Instead, let's celebrate the greatness that was.

Crappy FNF Pics

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Friday Night Fights Postscript

There are three Big Apple-based kickboxing promoters who, when New York finally starts sanctioning MMA (and if the promoters choose to take part), have the experience, connections and infrastructure to churn out quality MMA shows.  One is Lou Neglia of Ring of Combat and Combat at the Capitale fame; another is Eddie Cuello of TakeOn; and the last one is Justin Blair of Rumble on the River and Friday Night Fights.  Last night I checked out an installment of Friday Night Fights.

The only other time I'd been to a FNF, the venue was in the basement of a church near Columbus Circle.  This time around, the ring was set up in a ballroom near Wall Street, with columns and high ceiling lending the proceedings an air of majesty.  Of course, with Blair's years of promoting under his belt, the event ran like a well-oiled machine, and the eight-bout fight card flew by.  Would I recommend these FNF shows to other fight fans?  Fuck yeah.

Now, some thoughts on the bouts:
  • Bill Woodward of Real Elite got the job done in his pro debut against Phabion Wilson, playing the role of the Juggernaut (yes, the X-Men villain) and walking through everything Wilson threw at him to deliver pain.  No matter what, Woodward kept coming, and his efforts garnered him the unanimous decision.
  • From the outset it was clear both Carlos Madariaga and Arad Namin had skills, but Madariaga (who hails from Sitan Gym) had the sharper Muay Thai, and it enabled him to score enough to snag the split decision.
  • TSMMA rising star Michael Trizano was crisp like a stainless steel potato chip, and for three rounds he kickboxed the hell out Alan Reinoso.  To his credit, Reinoso never faultered, but when time ran out, the clear-cut unanimous decision belonged to Trizano.
  • I don't know if it's possible to clinch someone to death, but if it is, American Top Team-Danbury rep Geoffrey Then came damn close in his bout against Ragelio Castillo.  Then wore Castillo out with two rounds of it, and battered the exhausted fighter in the third for the unanimous decision.
  • Female standout Angela Hill of Evolution Muay Thai almost lost her perfect record against the surprisingly game Jill Guido.  Hill was relentless in her aggression, and ultimately that helped her get the split decision, but Guido (he was flown in from California) was in it throughout, and was able to put Hill on her butt whenever Hill's defenses lapsed.
  • Mike Erosa fought all five rounds of his bout against American Top Team-Danbury rep Mohammed Lemjardine with his chin way up in the air, and it's a miracle he didn't get put to sleep.  As it was, Lemjardine dropped him three times with punches to the grill, and the unanimous decision for Lemjardine shocked no one.
  • Liam Tarrant of North Jersey Muay Thai brought some serious heat against the more-experienced Turan Hasanov, with said heat manifesting itself in the form of crippling leg-kicks that eventually resulted in a TKO.  But it took four rounds for that TKO to come, and until then, Tarrant and Hasanov had some blazing striking exchanges that drove the crown wild.  This one was the fight of the night, and it was fun as hell to watch.
  • Church Street Boxing Gym rep Chris Kwiatkowski apparently didn't want to be outdone by Tarrant, so his leg-kicks were even hotter against opponent Daniel Rodriguez.  Rodriguez last only into the second round, and that was all she wrote. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Rest in Peace Sherman Pendergarst

The sport has lost another warrior.  Sherman Pendergarst, who started off in the local East Coast scene before joining the Miletich crew out in Iowa, has died after a long, tough battle with cancer.  Pendergarst was 46. 

With a career that saw him fight in the UFC and Bellator and all points in between, "The Tank" was the kind of fighter who'd stand and bang with anyone.  And though he didn't always come out of it on top, he definitely threw down.  His fast and furious fisticuff with Jon Murphy at Extreme Challenge 75 was two minutes of sixteen seconds of pure excitement that brought the best out of Murphy, and when he put Glen Sandull away with a first-round knockout at Sportfighting, the crowd went nuts.  Regardless of how many losses he accumulated, especially towards the twilight of his time in the cage, he was someone you could count on for action.

Rest in peace, Sherman Pendergarst.  You will be missed.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Observations from My Couch: Strikeforce's "Rockhold vs. Kennedy"

  • Holy crap, Jordan Mein defeated Tyler Stinson?  Wow, I haven't cared about the results of an inconsequential fight since NEVER.  AND I STILL DON'T.
  • Justin Wilcox looks like an action figure.
  • I remember when Jorge Masvidal used to be a bit meaner and angrier in the cage.  Now he's all respectful and happy and less of a killer.  Bring back that old guy.
  • Ryan Couture - still not his dad.
  • Pat Healy's been so underutilized by the promotion, at some point he's just going to go crazy and drive a truck packed with fertilizer and diesel fuel into the Strikeforce offices. 
  • Add Robbie Lawler to the list of people who are totally fucking spent in the cage.  Dude was the epitome of explosiveness back in the day.  Now he's the epitome of tired.
  • Why?  Why does Keith Jardine still get fights?
  • Nate Marquardt and Tyron Woodley were the lone shining stars of the event, and Marquardt's performance was studly.  Too bad Strikeforce has no one else that can challenge him.
  • When Luke Rockhold starts to look like vintage Wanderlei Silva, you just know Tim Kennedy's striking is lacking.

Crappy Matrix Fights 6 Pics

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Matrix Fights 6 Postscript

I made the trek down to Philadelphia yesterday to Matrix Fights 6 with the promise of meaningful, high-level MMA action on my mind.  Six amateur bouts and five pro later, and I came away satisfied.  There were submissions and knockouts, grueling battles and thrillers - everything you'd want in a fight show.  And it was entertaining.  Of the three MMA events I've seen in Philly thus far, I would rank last night's Matrix Fights installment as the best of the lot.  Some thoughts on the bouts:
  • The commission in Pennsylvania allows for hybrid amateur/pro cards, so the first six fights were the greenhorns and rookies.  Bek Baktybek, besides wielding the coolest name ever, had machine gun-like jiu-jitsu that he used to put Maurice Fleming on the defensive from the start.  Eventually, Baktybek snagged the technical submission with an armbar that Fleming stubbornly wouldn't tap to but had the ref wisely stepping in. 
  • Alec Hooben pretty much prison-raped Ariel Clinton, TKOing him with punches at the 55-second mark of the first round. 
  • Cheston Bulgin and Ocie Blackman both grinded out decisions against Rob Fitzgerald and Ryan Beck, respectively. 
  • Anthony Pipola eked out a split decision over Mike Roberts by virtue of the most dogged wrestling on the planet, which he used to dump Roberts on his head repeatedly.  No matter how grim it got, Pipola usually managed to turn the tables, and even landed an Anderson Silva-ish knee to Roberts chest while Roberts was sitting against the cage at one point.  (Read more on Pipola's day at the races in a future article.)
  • Cassie Crissano duked it out with Jamie Driver on the feet, outscoring her handily despite taking an accidental groin shot that required some recovery time (yes, females can get hurt in the soft parts, too).
  • In pro action, Mike Mucitelli took Eddie Hardison to school on the ground, nailing the rear naked choke right before two minutes had expired.
  • Ace amateur Julio Arce took the professional MMA plunge and outclassed Ken Nagle with some ultra-sharp standup.  Arce found his range with his jab in no time, and soon after was sending a stunned Nagle to the canvas with the kind of one-two that would make a lot of pro boxers weep with joy.
  • Ben Reitter had zero problems chewing Tyson Triplett Sr. up and spitting him out, and it was all because of Reitter's no-nonsense grappling and positional dominance.  Forearm smashes were the finishing technique.
  • Bellator vet Wilson Reis was dominant in his jiu-jitsu-heavy performance against Cody Stevens, but Stevens deserves mucho credito (is that even a word?) for having an insane guard and making Reis work for that unanimous decision. 
  • It may have been the co-main event, but the best fight of the night was far and away what transpired between unstoppable up-and-comer Munah Holland and the salty veteran Carina Damm.  For almost all of Round 1 the TSMMA stud(ette) was on the defensive, with Holland having to deal with things like ground and pound, heelhooks, and a rear naked choke attempt that Damm went for while affixed to her back.  But Round 2 was all about Holland employing far superior boxing and beating the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt silly with her fists.  The end came in dramatic fashion - via KO - halfway into the frame, and with this win over such a quality opponent, Holland is officially the "next big thing" to keep an eye on in the world of female mixed martial arts.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Observations from My Couch: UFC on Fuel TV 4

  • If there was a level lower than a Facebook fight - like maybe a bout shown on Myspace or Friendster - I'd suggest that's where Marcelo Guimaraes and Dan Stittgen be relegated to for future UFC events.
  • Man, how heartbreaking for Rafael Natal to deliver such a thorough ass-kicking, only to get creamed in the final eight seconds of the second round.
  • Chris Cariaso and Josh Ferguson both looked like good, solid competitors - which bodes well for the flyweight division.  I don't think there's any 125-pounder out there who can move the needle in terms of pay-per-view love, but these throwaway Fuel TV cards and FX outings should be packed to the gills with these little guys.
  • Don't change, Bruce Leroy.  We love you just the way you are.
  • You never know what you're going to get with Anthony Njokuani.  It's either going to be something mildly exciting or just a big pile of suck.
  • Congrats on the win, TJ Dillashaw.  Now fight someone real.
  • Never call him "Francis".  If you call him "Francis", Carmont will gut you.
  • Thank goodness he found victory at welterweight, because a cut to lightweight would've been masochistic for Aaron Simpson.
  • I've seen Joey Beltran before.  That scarecrow in the cage was not Joey Beltran.
  • What's most impressive about Chris Weidman, and what makes the comparison with Jon Jones so very apt, is how fast he learns and evolves as a fighter.  THAT'S the future right there.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Observations from My Couch: UFC 148 "Ultimate Barbecue at Anderson's House"

  • Shane Roller sure did win that wrestling match with John Alessio, and Alessio sure did win that "Hitler Youth" haircut contest.
  • Riki Fukuda busted out the groin strikes and eye gouges, and still he lost.  Take that, Krav Maga proponents!
  • My man Shish-Khabib may have looked about as technical on the feet as an epileptic breakdancer, but he did do enough to win.  Or, at least, Gleison Tibau did absolutely nothing.  So, yeah.  You know.
  • Melvin Guillard.  Man, you just never know what you're going to get with that guy.  Is he going to thrill you?  Is he going to stink up the joint?
  • All praises due to Mike Easton for not wearing a Speedo.  Or maybe, all praises to Dennis Hallman for getting them banned...
  • That had to have been the easiest paycheck Chad Mendes ever earned.  Next time Zuffa just throw money at him.
  • The official reason for Dong Hyun Kim's tap out was "heartburn".  Dude needs a Zantac.
  • Cung Le is still marginally fun to watch.  Just don't give him an opponent who can beat him.
  • Tito Ortiz may have retired after that bout, but someone needs to tell Forrest Griffin that the clock is ticking on him, too.  He looked like an old man in there - and when he bolted from the cage, he was a crazy old man.
  • With that complete ownage of Anderson Silva in the first round, Chael Sonnen proved yet again to be one of the division's best and most capable.  With that awful spinning backfist that led to Silva finishing him off in Round 2, Sonnen also proved to be RIDICULOUS.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Harley's War

Yeah, so, while Anderson Silva was shoulder-bumping Chael Sonnen in Las Vegas, this happened last night in New York City.  As the New York Post is reporting, there was an incident at the nightclub Webster Hall involving a knife, Cro-Mags founder Harley Flanagan, and some serious aggravated assault.  I don't know anything else about it, but I do know Harley, and have long considered him a friend and righteously-nice-as-hell dude.  Harley used to do commentating for some of Ed Hsu's old MMA shows, and he went on to fight in the UCL.  He even got his black belt in jiu-jitsu from Renzo Gracie last week.  I also know that there's been years and years of accumulated bad blood between him and some former bandmates, so there's that.  Anyway, as Gus Johnson would say, "These things happen in the hardcore music scene."  Or maybe he wouldn't.  I don't know.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Total Recall: The Tito Ortiz Edition

According to Tito Ortiz, his sojourn into the Octagon on Saturday night at UFC 148 will be his last, and from here on out he will be one retired-motherfucking-fighter (I'm paraphrasing, and for some reason I have Samuel Jackson on the brain).  The last six years have been rough for the aging fighter, with the sweet taste of victory coming only once in eight tries, so it's not like the time isn't right for Ortiz to hang up the gloves.  It most certainly is.  But the "Huntington Beach Badboy" turned "People's Champ" has been a part of the sport for over fifteen years (going back to his underground fights in California), and he was truly Zuffa's first superstar.  I think that merits a trip down memory lane, no?  The answer to that rhetorical question is "yes, yes it does", so here, for your enjoyment (or not - like I care), is some total recall of everything Tito Ortiz and me, because somehow, someway it's all about me, dammit.
  • Back in 1997 the UFC was banned from pay-per-view, so the only place to watch it in New York City was at a sports bar on the Upper West Side that had a satellite dish (I was in law school in Washington, DC, at the time, so I had to take the bus five hours each way for these somewhat quarterly events).  Picture this: multiple big-screen TVs, all of them showing the action being broadcast from wherever the Octagon was set up, and every chair, table and square foot of the place packed with Renzo Gracie students (plus a few students from other smaller schools), everyone the most ardent of MMA fans (it wasn't even called MMA back then), and everyone cheering.  That was the setting, and on one particular night in May, when UFC 13 was airing live, we all got to see the debut of a big, blond wrestler-type dude with bad attitude for miles.  Ortiz was an alternate in a four-man tournament, and the general rule was that alternates were supposed to be scrubs.  But when he stepped in to replace an injured Enson Inoue and take on Guy Mezger, the tournament favorite, Ortiz kicked some serious ass, losing via guillotine only after referee "Big" John McCarthy screwed him on a missed call.  All of us in that sports bar were Ortiz fans after that performance.
  • The SEG-run UFC knew they had someone special, so Ortiz got another shot in the cage, and again those of us in that sports bar got to see the big, blond dude plow through Jerry Bohlander and then deliver a ten-minute drubbing to Mezger in a rematch.  His success, and post-fight antics and feud against the Lions Den camp, soon had him squaring off against the champ Frank Shamrock, and though Ortiz lost, it was an amazing fight (the rest of the card was meh).
  • Ortiz beat Wanderlei Silva and earned himself the UFC's light-heavyweight belt, crushed Japan's Yuki Kondo, and when New Jersey started sanctioning MMA, the UFC came to Atlantic City and I got to watch in person the champ obliterate Evan Tanner with a slam.  A few months later the UFC touched down at the Meadowlands, so I got to see Ortiz squash an overmatched Elvis Sinosic (and back at the fight hotel, I bought a Punishment Athletics tank top from the man himself; my wife forbade me from wearing it).
  • I was in the audience for UFC 33, which had an injured Ortiz defeating Vladimir Matyushenko in the final bout of an awful card, and I was cageside for the first Ken Shamrock fight - which was truly an experience, because up until then Zuffa hadn't put on an epic event, and this one was motherfucking epic.  As I was Full Contact Fighter's "man on the street" around this time, I saw Ortiz around at a bunch of other UFC events, and he went out of his way to be nice - both to me, and to any fan that wanted to shake his hand and take a picture.  Maybe there were fighters before him who got a taste of that kind of love, but I don't think so.  Ortiz was one of the first (Randy Couture was another, but his image was different; he was the nice guy "yin" to Ortiz's not-so-nice guy "yang").
  • Ortiz fought Patrick Cote in Atlantic City back in 2004, and that was the last time I interacted with him (I think I may have interviewed him at the presser, or maybe I just shook his hand and congratulated him on his fight).  And I admit, watching him fight Forrest Griffin, Ken Shamrock a couple more times, and Chuck Liddell et al., never really moved the needle in terms of generating interest for me (he was an amazing coach on TUF, though).  But I was suddenly excited when he nearly caught Lyoto Machida in a triangle, and when he blitzed Ryan Bader, I was jump-off-my-couch-and-hoot thrilled. 
Alas, the end comes for all fighters eventually, it's that time for Ortiz.  However, the man has done more than most can ever dream of doing, and it was a spectacular run, so I won't be sad for him.  Years from now, when my grandkids gather around my rocking chair and ask for tales of the UFC, Ortiz's story will be one of the first told.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

CFFC 15 Postscript

Another fine installment from CFFC, with this one featuring just one decision out of eleven fights. Seriously, the judge sitting next to me was sweating it, worried that Nick Lembo wasn't go to pay him for nothing. That's a sure sign of action, folks. Some thoughts on the card:
  • The first couple times he fought, Yusuf Yoldas got handled. But something clicked with the dude, and now he fights like an old school Chute Boxe rep. Yoldas completely tore up Darius Heylinger on the feet - so much so that Heylinger was like a deer caught in the headlights - and when Heylinger sought refuge on the ground with a takedown in Round 3, Yoldas easily submitted him with a triangle. This was a beating, pure and simple, and Yoldas now has me intrigued.
  • Ugh, I hate seeing one of the nicest guys in the sport go out on his shield, but that's what happened with Fight Factory rep and BAMA Fight Night veteran Judah Ciervo. Ciervo had Chuck Liddell-level takedown offense, which really seemed to stymie wrestler Lenny Baker. However, Baker began winging left hands, and Ciervo didn't seem to have the reflexes he used to to be able to dodge them. The end result was Ciervo KO'd pretty hard against the cage late in the first.
  • Mike Murray is another veteran who's been at the game for a long while, and though he scored the win via submission last night against flyweight Darren Mima, I couldn't help but think how the version of Murray I saw wreck Glenn Ortiz way back on one of the early ROCs would've put Mima away faster. This one was pretty much a boxing match, with both men delivering punishment and Mima edging ahead slightly with a higher success rate. A knockdown in the opening seconds of Round 2 had Mima following the TSMMA fighter down into his guard and instantly getting caught in an armbar (Mima disputed the tap, but it was plain as day on the replay). It was a good win, but the Murray of old would've killed him on the feet.
  • Shedrick Goodridge got a raw deal in his bout against Rex Harris. In a fight that was all about who could impose their will via wrestling and ground and pound, Harris grabbed the fence (which elicited a warning), grabbed Goodridge's gloves (another warning), kneed Goodridge in the face when Goodridge was down (the ref missed it), and battered Goodridge in the back of the head with punches (he was warned for that too). Then came the bell signaling the end of Round 1, and Goodridge was too wobbly and messed up for the doctors' liking. Harris got the TKO when the bout was waved off, but Goodridge deserves a hug or a cookie or something for that sad turn of events.
  • Local favorite Rob Fabrizi and Jeremy Uy came out, drew their six-shooters, and blazed away. Eventually, a left sent Uy to the canvas, and Fabrizi rode off into the sunset on his pony named "Linguini".
  • Manny Walo came out looking to stifle Brad Desir, and by pressing him up against the fence for much of the fight, and by dropping bombs whenever Desir failed a takedown and wound up horizontal, Walo did just that. I wasn't exactly an impressive performance - Desir came to bang and Walo came to cuddle - but it was enough for Walo to get the decision, and hand Desir his first loss as a pro.
  • Mike Stewart ran through Erick Tavares like he was nothing. The official time of the KO was :42 of Round 1, and though I have no doubt about Stewart being a tough, high-ranking Northeast light-heavyweight, I wonder if Father Time has caught up to Tavares.
  • Danny Holmes is surprisingly technical on the ground (looking at him, you immediately think "brawler"). That said, in the never-ending scramble that comprised their fight, it was Anton Berzin who eventually came out on top, and he caught Holmes in an armbar midway through the first round.
  • Tim Williams ate the veteran Lewis Rumsey for dinner. Rumsey managed a few escapes - slick, awe-inspiring ones that had him getting out of arm-triangles and whatnot - but Williams did not stop, and found the rear naked choke a little over three minutes into the first. Good stuff.