Friday, August 31, 2012

Oy, Check Out This Link

Jonathan Helwig - a cool cat and a solid New Jersey-based fighter.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Crappy CFFC 16 Pics

CFFC 16 Postscript

Since I was shadowing NJSACB inspector Vincent Dudley all night (story on that to come), I missed the vast majority of the fights at last night's CFFC 16.  But here are some observations on what I did see.
  • Artur Rofi, who's on track to be the next big thing coming out of the Northeast, had his bout against Dan Cion scratched when Cion couldn't make weight.  And Cion couldn't just make weight - he failed to make the subsequent catchweight, and declined to weigh in even higher and keep his weight down the day of the fight.  Bum deal for Rofi.
  • Jonathan Helwig tapping out Jeremy Shifflett was cool.  Helwig and Shifflett hanging out afterwards, all smiles and friendliness, that was even cooler.
  • Chris Birchler had a grueling war against JA Dudley and took the decision, and then afterwards collapsed from exhaustion.  It took the EMTs a while to coax him onto the stretcher and get him some attention.  Dude.  Was.  Spent.
  • Evan Chmielski is made of iron.  He took a hellacious beating at the hands of the technically superior Bryan Lashomb, but there is zero quit in Chmielski, and if not for the ever-expanding balloon that his eye had turned into, he would've kept going until he was a zombie.
  • Chris Liguori was dominant and in control from beginning to end in his bout against Gert Kocani. 
  • I saw the Aljamain Sterling/Sedico Honorio fight on the TV in the locker room, and it looked like Sterling was reluctant to pull the trigger in the first round.  Then came Round 2, and just like when Jon Jones completely iced Lyoto Machida, Sterling out-slicked the jiu-jitsu master and finished him with a choke.  The entire locker room was impressed.
  • I was cageside for Sean Santella/Evan Velez, and I had Velez winning three rounds to two.  But I ain't no judge.  Am I right?
  • Dustin Jacoby was dangerous as fuck and did what he had to do to get the stoppage.  And once he landed the elbow that opened up the cut on Tim Williams' forehead, so commenced the bloodbath.  The stoppage was very necessary.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Jon Jones Gave Fans and Fellow Fighters the Shaft

After a confluence of events that began with the legend Dan Henderson injuring his MCL and ended with UFC 151 being cancelled – the first fully-marketed UFC event to ever face such drastic action – a UFC champ has gone from hero to zero in record time.  And why not?  For failing to agree to face replacement fighter Chael Sonnen on eight days’ notice, thereby salvaging UFC 151’s main event and giving fans at least some reason to tune into the pay-per-view broadcast, light-heavyweight king, prima ballerina and resident drunk driver Jon Jones gave fans – and especially his fellow fighters on the rest of the card – the epic shaft.  More than anyone else in this whole “death of a UFC” debacle, Jones deserves your scorn.

The facts as we know them are thus:
·    Since the departure of such heroes as Chuck Liddell and Brock Lesnar, and relegation to the injury list for Georges St. Pierre, Jones has become one of the few pay-per-view draws the UFC has left in its rotation.  As such, UFC 151 had his marquee bout against Henderson anchoring a card that was pretty much about as compelling as a TUF finale (read: the rest of the card sucked).
·    When Henderson bowed out due to injury, there were only eight days on the calendar before UFC 151 would grace our television screens.
·    Jones was offered a replacement opponent in Sonnen (a middleweight contender trying his hand at the next weight class up, and coming off a loss to Anderson Silva).  Under the advice of his trainer and Master Yoda, Greg Jackson, Jones said “no dice, homie.”  The UFC had no other viable options to offer Jones.
·    Because it lost its main event, UFC 151 was transformed into a collection of fights that wouldn’t have been worthy of a Bellator broadcast.  Therefore, the powers that be pulled the plug.

In tort law, which is one of the cornerstones of the American judicial system, there’s the tenet of “duty” – does Party A owe Party B a duty?  What was the duty?  Was that duty met?  In this instance, Jones did not officially owe a duty to anyone but himself and his future, and maybe from his perspective, not accepting a fight against a smaller, out-of-shape fighter carried with it more risks than rewards.  Maybe.
Regardless, there’s something called “taking one for the team”, and in this instance, the “team” was every UFC fan who’d planned out shelling out the dough for the pay-per-view, and any poor soul who’d booked a flight and hotel room in Las Vegas to watch the event live.  Also on that team: the fellow fighters on the rest of the card, many of whom were counting on their UFC 151 paychecks for things like rent, car payments, training costs, and meals that didn’t involve 33-cent packages of ramen noodles.

Yup, Jones screwed them all.

Here’s the UFC’s version, courtesy of their press release:

“Own thing that you really have to think about are the fighters on the undercard.  Sure, Jon Jones is rich, what does he care if he cancels the fight?  But 20 other fighters on the card added up to almost half a million dollars in purse money that Jones and Greg Jackson’s decision stole from them.  No champion or headliner in UFC history has ever done that.  As difficult at Tito Ortiz could be… Tito never bailed on a fight.”

“Many people, from fans to PPV distributors, TV networks, sponsors, and more importantly fighters who are working hard to support their families and build their careers are hurt badly by this selfish decision.”

Weep not for the hit the coffers of Dana White, Zuffa and TV networks took.  I certainly won’t shed a tear for them.  What does bother me, though, is the kick in the teeth fans and the other UFC 151 fighters had to absorb. 
Officially, in a court of law, Jones had no duty to look out for their interests.  But in the court of life… the fans are who’ve made it possible for Jones to get paid for fighting in a cage.  Without them, he’d be working in a car wash outside of Rochester, asking customers if they wanted to pay extra for the “wax and shine” treatment. 

As for the fighters, they’re Jones’ coworkers, and it’s very likely that, win or lose, they would not have hesitated in the slightest when it came to congratulating or consoling the champ at the end of the UFC 151 workday.  Was accepting a fight against Sonnen on eight days’ notice optimal?  No, but these fellow UFC 151 fighters are your bros – do you screw your bros out of their work opportunities?   
At the time of this writing, Jones has agreed to fight Vitor Belfort at UFC 152, which will likely change once Belfort puts his arm through a window in training or gets sick with a worm or something.  Regardless, we’ll still likely see the UFC’s light-heavyweight champ fight someone (the UFC needs his presence in the cage to drive pay-per-view numbers, after all).  But from now until eternity, UFC 151 will be remembered as the event that never was, cancelled because some guy didn’t want to take one for the team.  

And Jon Jones will be remembered as that guy, the guy that gave everyone the shaft.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

CFFC/CES MMA Preview Mashup

Bellator may be returning to our Friday night MMA rotation this weekend, but for those of us in the Northeast, there's some top notch local violence on tap.  And when I saw "top notch", envision me shooting off fireworks at my desk and blowing holes in my ceiling with a pair of six guns (i.e., I am excited!).  On Friday at the Borgata in Atlantic City, the Cage Fury Fighting Championships is giving us around 15 of the kind of match-ups that would surely make Baby Jesus cry if he were in the audience (because seriously, babies do not belong at MMA shows.  Do not bring them!).  Meanwhile, Rhode Island-based promotion CES MMA will be setting up shop at the Resorts Casino in Atlantic City on Saturday night, and their card's got a lot of "Oh wow, that's cool" attached to it, too.  Sadly, I won't be there for the CES MMA show, and though I'll be at CFFC, I likely won't be able to observe the fights much seeing that I'm shadowing an inspector for the event.  But I'd be remiss if I didn't churn out some kind of a preview, so here's a list of reasons as to why you should care about each particular event.

Cage Fury Fighting Championships 16
  • Tim Williams - In six amateur fights and seven pro, jiu-jitsu specialist Williams has yet to taste defeat, and he's currently CFFC's reigning light-heavyweight champ.  Can challenger Dustin Jacoby - who's tasted life in the Octagon twice before - be the one to take the belt?  I doubt it.  Williams went toe-to-toe with dynamic striker Andre Gusmao at CFFC 7, which means he's got skills in all areas, and he's got something Jacoby doesn't: upward momentum.  Williams is remaining champ, and I see him doing a UFC/Strikeforce/Bellator run in the not-too-distant future.
  • George Sullivan - CFFC's welterweight champ earned his crown by dropping UFC alum Greg Soto.  This tells us two things about Sullivan: the dude can stop a takedown really well, and he can stop a rampaging bull elephant with a well-placed strike.  Sullivan is defending his title against Maryland-based grappling predator Tenyeh Dixon - who's got a ton of experience as well - so this one should be fun.
  • Aljamain Sterling - CFFC's bantamweight champ is also the most talented and promising fighter in the Northeast right now (in my humble opinion), and while Sedico Honorio is a badass jiu-jitsu-heavy opponent, I don't see anyone stopping the Sterling train.  Choo-choo!
  • Sean Santella - Flyweight king Santella is the best 125-pounder in the region, and that label comes at a time when there are quite a few viable flyweights competing.  So giddyup!
  • Artur Rofi - Rofi, who trains under Romulo Bittencourt and has been giving cats the Ronda Rousey treatment since turning pro, is the meanest mofo around when it comes to action inside the cage - which makes watching his fights one of life's absolute joys.  It's only a matter of time before Rofi is fighting for a belt, so tune in now and you can be all hipster and cool and say you knew of him back when.
  • JA Dudley - Dudley has been in the game a long time and has paid dues, so it's good to see him work his way up to upper levels of the heavyweight division.  Opponent Chris Birchler is a well-credentialed wrestler and exponent of the AMA Fight Club, but Dudley's got the edge in experience, so this should be a fairly decent scrap.
  • Andria Caplan - Female MMA has certainly had its ups and downs, but with Invicta FC drawing over a quadrillion Internet viewers and Strikeforce champ Rousey the source of many broken-limbed nightmares, now seems to be one of the "up" periods.  Which makes this fight - featuring Philly's Caplan - a real treat.  Woot!  Female MMA!
  • Jonathan Helwig - Like Dudley, this dude has been around since forever, and he's always been more than capable of dispensing sudden and brutal violence.  I'm still a little sore over Helwig's random and unprovoked murder of my character in the online zombie game "Urbandead", but I'll forever be a fan of the destruction he leaves behind in the cage, so definitely pay attention to his fight.
  • Chris Liguori - Liguori has been fighting for so long, he's like one of three people who remembers when Dan Miragliotta had hair.  You can't go wrong when "the Story" fights, because he's bringing with him solid boxing and sharp jiu-jitsu.

CES MMA: "War at the Shore"

  • Kris McCray - McCray is a UFC, TUF and Bellator vet, so yeah, that's what's up.  Dude is made of reinforced steel. 
  • Kevin Roddy - I think this is "K-Rod's" one thousandth fight or something, and though he's got some blemishes on his record, he's coming off of two wins - which is my way of saying Roddy's still dangerous and still capable.  Plus, he's one of the nicest, most likable guys in the sport, so watching him win is like watching your best friend mack on a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model and succeed in taking her home.  Brings a tear to your eye.
  • Lester Caslow - After seven years of fighting, I feel like I've literally watched Caslow grow up in the cage (his first fight was at the tender age of 13).  He's a man now, though - a very experienced and well-rounded man who can end fights with submissions or strikes - so you're going to get some decent action from this guy no matter if he ends up winning or losing.
  • Mike Stewart - I have Stewart as one of the top five (maybe even top two or three) light-heavyweights in the Northeast, although if you ask some of his past opponents (who he knocked out with his fast and heavy hands), they might tell you, "Huh?  Mike who?  I honestly can't remember any of the days surrounding those fights.  Head trauma, you know."
  • Jay McLean - If you could genetically engineer a pile of muscles into a human bulldozer, it would still have trouble if it took on McLean.  Is he tough?  Tougher than a steak left in the microwave for two hours.  For that reason alone, you should care about his fights.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

When Life Imitates Art

Years ago I posted this.  Now, this happens.  Um, yikes.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ronda Rousey vs. The UFC's Bantamweight Dude Roster

They say that, despite being in her prime, female pro boxer Laila Ali would still get her ass kicked pretty easily when sparring with even just mediocre journeyman fighters in the gym.  And why not?  When it comes down to it, men and women are physically different, and as such, never the twain should meet when it comes to the world of combat sports.  But MMA isn't boxing, or plain old wrestling, or any other pure flavor of martial art.  It's all of them put together, and the beauty of that subsequent stew of styles means that sometimes superior technique can win out over superior physical ability.  (Don't believe me?  Then check out Royce Gracie circa UFC 1-5.)  All of this is simply just a long way of saying that Strikeforce female bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey - who, at present, is untouchable by any other female fighter on the planet - could wreck a fair number of her 135-pound male counterparts in the UFC.  Who could she beat?  And who could retain their dignity and beat her if, by some perverse act of fate, they met in the cage?  Hey, glad you asked.
  • Dominic Cruz - A healthy Cruz is like a meth-crazed epileptic slathered in Vaseline, which is to say, the dude is virtually impossible to get a hold of and take down.  For that trait alone, I see him being able to avoid Rousey's attempts at clinching and throwing - and if someone can do that, then they can pick her apart with strikes from a distance.
  • Urijah Faber - Faber is far less slippery than Cruz, but he's fast when he needs to be, and his balance is usually on point.  That said, if Faber fails to put Rousey down with some sort of stunning blow when she's coming in, I can see her pulling him down and snagging an armbar from the guard before his knees and/or her back even touch the canvas.  And as for him slamming his way out of trouble... sure, he's strong enough to lift her up with ease, but have you seen how explosive she is with her hips?  Dude's arm would be broken before gravity even entered the equation.
  • Renan Barao - Barao's got the leg-kicks to chop Rousey down like a tree, and he seems to have great movement when it comes to circling out of trouble, so I'd say the Brazilian would be okay.
  • Bryan Caraway - Not even fucking close.  Caraway would be dismembered so fast, girlfriend Miesha Tate wouldn't even have time to scream out for mercy on his behalf.  He needs to start making Rousey some sammiches stat, and stay on her good side by any means necessary.
  • Takeya Mizugaki - Mizugaki hasn't looked good in a long time, and meeting Rousey in the cage would do his career no favors.  Homeboy would be flying back to Japan in coach and his arm would be in a cooler full of ice in the cargo hold, with both waiting patiently for a doctor in Tokyo to reunite them.
  • Miguel Torres - With mullet?  I see Torres keeping his distance and out-pointing Rousey with long-range strikes.  Without mullet - doomed.
  • Dustin Pague - Not even Jesus could save Pague from the eternal damnation the Strikeforce champ would cast him into.
  • "Kid" Yamamoto - Considering his prime was years ago, I envision Yamamoto getting major play from Joe Rogan on the mic up until the point where his arm is snapped in half, and then I see Kid committing ritual seppuku in the Octagon while Gene Lebell stands behind him with a katana to finish the job.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Oy, Check Out This Link

Veteran fighter and longtime friend of MMA Journalist Andrew Montanez is living the dream out on the West Coast, and you can witness some of that here.

Observations from My Couch: Strikeforce's "Rousey vs. Kaufman"

  • Sure, Bobby Green may have kicked his tail from pillar to post, but Matt Ricehouse is one game-ass mofo who doesn't know the meaning of the word "quit".  Seriously, someone needs to bring him a dictionary.  I don't think he knows the word's meaning.
  • After last night's performance, I really question if Strikeforce's matchmaker was trying to get Hiroko Yamanaka killed when she was paired up against Cris Cyborg.
  • Adlan Amagov didn't beat Keith Berry.  Referee Herb Dean did.  That was a raw deal.
  • I don't know what was more impressive - the beating that Julie Kedzie delivered, or the beating that Miesha Tate absorbed before somehow finding the sub.  I definitely want to see both ladies again.
  • I question that stoppage in the Ovince St. Preux/TJ Cook bout.  I think Cook still had more in him.
  • Chumbawumba Sayers.  I just like saying that.
  • I dig Tarec Saffiedine and have him as a top contender for the belt.  Champ Nate Marquardt is going to kill him, but at least Saffiedine is up there.
  • Strikeforce's middleweight division is so thick with top talent, Ronaldo Souza need only defeat Derek Brunson to get a crack at the belt again.  That is, of course, unless someone deems it necessary for him to face Keith Jardine.  Then Souza is doomed.
  • Ronda Rousey is to armbars what Beatrix Kiddo is to katanas, and God damn if all those limbs she's collected in the cage don't belong to her now.

Crappy MUSU Pics

Saturday, August 18, 2012

MUSU Postscript

Something strange is happening.  Months ago, when I began checking out these underground full-contact kung fu tournaments out in Queens called Manup Standup, the action was all on the feet.  But evolution has crept in and insinuated itself into the fights, and now... they be grappling.  Today, for the first time ever, I witnessed not one, but two wins via submission at a MUSU - and one of the subs was even a D'Arce choke!  Now, maybe it had something to do with the camera crew filming everything for an episode of "Hidden America" on the Discovery Channel, or maybe it truly was the first signs of fistic metamorphosis, but damn, it was awesome.  Highlights of the event included:
  • All the unadulterated violence!  Repeat customer Rinson of Bagua Zhang KO'd Yahuda, Ruben of San Bao TKO'd his opponent on the ground, Chris of San Bao TKO'd some kid from Utah - it was the opposite of boring, that's for sure.  And the icing on the cake was the EMT imploring the fighters to take it easy on each other.  "I didn't come here to work!  I've got to go out in the field after this and work, and I don't want to have blood on my shirt!"
  • All the submissions!  Mike from Harlem tapped out Craig from New Hampshire with a D'Arce - a fucking D'Arce!  And earlier, a dude named Owen from Boston won via rear naked choke.  What the hell is going on here?
  • DJ from Syracuse, the reigning MUSU champ, and his gritty decision win over Mike from Harlem.  It was hard scrapping throughout, and DJ pulled out the win.
  • The main event between dueling sifus Jess and Ben Hill, which had no ref.  Since there was no ref, there was no ten-second limit on the ground, so what we got looked a lot like UFC 1.  But hell, where else are you going to see that in the world of combat sports?
It was by far the best MUSU I've seen.  Big props to promoter Black Taoist, who's doing his thing and is starting to get noticed.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Reminder: Follow Me on Twitter, Bitches!

Remember how I used to liveblog everything I covered?  Well, those days passed the minute I got a new BlackBerry and it didn't support the necessary apps.  But lo and behold, there's Twitter!  Where I now post all the live updates on the shows I go to!  And you just know I go to some off-the-beaten-path events!  Take tomorrow's Manup Standup, for instance - who the fuck else is covering that underground kung fu tournament in Queens?  No one else.  No one but me.  That, my friends, is called journalism.

Zuffa Loses a Round in New York Court Battle

Remember Zuffa's lawsuit against the State of New York?  Remember how Zuffa was alleging that the law in New York that bans pro MMA is unconstitutional on a number of different grounds?  Well, today the judge in the case (Judge Kimba Wood of the US District Court of the Southern District of New York) allowed the dismissal of two of the seven counts in the claim.  Essentially, it just means that, while the fight isn't over, Zuffa has clearly lost a round.

What got dismissed were the claims that the law violated the Equal Protection clause and the Due Process clause; translating that into plain English, it means that the law - as it was enacted in 1997 - had a rational basis for being enacted (i.e., Holy spectacle, Batman!  That shit is dangerous!), and that it doesn't matter how safe the sport is now when scrutinizing the law.

What didn't get judicial attention was the First Amendment claim in the lawsuit (i.e., that professional MMA bouts are a form of free speech), and the whole vagueness claim re: the law banning pro MMA but not banning amateur MMA.

None of this really means much.  The lawsuit already served a huge purpose in that it got the state to admit that amateur MMA is legal, and now there are amateur shows sprouting up like toadstools in the dark.  And regardless of what happens with the suit, it seems like the legislature is gearing up to lift the ban in the upcoming year anyway.  So, yeah, Zuffa lost this round, but we fans are certainly winning the war.

Check out Justin Klein's blog for some keener legal insight.  Dude is a lawyer, after all.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Amateur MMA Event in Albany Goes Off Without a Hitch

And it looks like the promoter even got a letter from the athletic commission saying everything was kosher.  What up wit dat

Friday, August 10, 2012

Weekend Schedule

Hey there.  Yeah, yeah, the Yahoo! Cagewriter blog is taking up a lot of my time, but you know I still love you, baby.  Don't you?  Anyway, this is what's on tap for the weekend that's relevant to our interests:

  • UFC 150 on pay-per-view on Saturday night, which features Northeast legend Frankie Edgar attempting to reclaim that belt that Benson Henderson took from him.
  • Take-On has got another installment of high-level Muay Thai going down at Bally's in Atlantic City.  But for this UFC and my Yahoo! gig, I'd be there covering the event - especially because UCL fighter Doug "Lionheart" Ahammer is in the main event opposite Sitan ace Jay Matias.  This is a tough, tough fight for Ahammer, as Matias is one of the best Muay Thai guys around.
  • Holy shit, there's another above-the-board amateur MMA show going down in New York State.  This one is called Cage Wars, and it's happening in Albany.  First Buffalo, now Albany - this stuff is getting closer and closer to the Big Apple.  Pretty soon we might have some non-underground events here, and then I can die a happy man.