UFC 86 Results

Forrest Griffin d. Rampage Jackson (decision) – This one was close — in fact, I’d say it was much closer than the judges had it. Forrest hit Jackson’s left knee with a kick early and Rampage never really recovered full use of his leg, which took away much of his punching power. There will be a rematch of this one. An absolute classic and a fantastic fight.

Patrick Cote d. Ricardo Almeida (split decision)

Joe Stevenson d. Gleison Tibau (guillotine)

Josh Koschek d. Chris Lytle (decision)

Tyson Griffin d. Marcus Aurelio

UFC 86: Preview & Predictions

UFC LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (28-6) (-240) vs Forrest Griffin (15-4) (+190)

Rampage Jackson is one of the top three fighters in the world, no matter what weight class you’re talking about. The only people in the past six years to defeat the popular light heavyweight champion are Wanderlei Silva and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, and in victory he has defeated some of the best fighters in the world. He knocked out reigning champ Chuck Liddell with one stunning punch to win the UFC belt and followed it up by beating PRIDE light heavyweight champion Dan Henderson in a grueling 5 round war to both retain his UFC belt and take Henderson’s PRIDE belt, which was then unified into the UFC title.

Forrest Griffin is one of the most popular fighters in the entire UFC. Griffin defeated Stephan Bonnar to win the first season of the Ultimate Fighter reality show — a fight that Dana White has called “the most important fight in UFC history.” Griffin is loved by fans due to his heart, exuberant personality and exciting fight style, which includes both throwing and taking a lot of punches. Griffin moved into the #1 contender slot for Jackson’s belt by beating the man most considered to be the best light heavweight fighter in the world, Shogun Rua.

As much as I love Forrest Griffin and his fights, I can’t help but wonder if he’s over his head in this bout. Forrest doesn’t have a great standup game due to his weak punching power (at least in terms of light heavyweights), and Rampage Jackson is one of the best boxers in the sport. Jackson is trained by Juanito Ibarra, who previously served as the boxing coach for Oscar De La Hoya. As evidenced by his one-punch knockout of Chuck Liddell, Jackson has deadly power in both hands, and Griffin is going to spend a lot of time trying to avoid those hands.

Forrest has two things going for him in this fight — his heart and his stamina. His cardio is legendary, and he’s got the biggest heart in mixed martial arts. But he’s never been in a 5 round war, and Rampage is used to longer fights.

Personally, I don’t believe the fight will last past the second round. Rampage’s punching power will prove to be far too much for Griffin to withstand, and Jackson will knock him out before the end of the second round. If he DOES manage to pull out a victory, then I’ll stand and cheer for him, but I don’t see it happening. Either way this thing goes, UFC wins, because this is a star making performance for both guys.

Prediction: Rampage Jackson by TKO, 2nd round

Patrick “The Predator” Cote (12-4) (-165) vs Ricardo “Big Dog” Almeida (9-2) (+135)

Those of you who enjoy wagering will probably find something to like about the line in this fight. Patrick Cote has extremely heavy hands and is a fantastic striker, but Ricardo Almeida is one of the best submission artists in the world. Almeida is a 3rd degree black belt in BJJ, and he’s being heavily underestimated by oddsmakers in this fight. If Cote keeps the fight standing he’ll have an advantage, but if the fight goes to the ground it will only be a matter of time before Almeida submits him. Almeida was able to get Nate Marquardt to the ground in Pancrase pretty easily, and Cote is nowhere near the takedown defender that Marquardt is.

I see Almeida getting this fight to the ground in the first round and submitting Cote with ease. If you’re planning on laying some cash on this fight, it’s probably better to do it soon, because I have a feeling that this line is going to favor Almeida by Saturday.

PREDICTION: Ricardo Almeida by submission, 1st round

Joe “Daddy” Stevenson (28-8) (-220) vs Gleison Tibau (15-5) (+180)

This will be Joe Stevenson’s first fight since his mauling at the hands of B.J. Penn in January. That fight was for the vacant UFC Lightweight title, and Stevenson lost to one of the best in the business, so you’d have to still consider him to be a top 5 guy in the division.

Stevenson is a very, very powerful guy for a lightweight. In fact, he’s stronger than Tyson Griffin, who is one of the most powerful fighters in the division and the only man Gleison Tibau has lost to since moving to the lightweight division.

Tibau is a good fighter, but he’s not in the same class as Stevenson. Joe Daddy is going to take this one by decision

PREDICTION: Joe Stevenson by decision

Josh “Kos” Koscheck (10-2) (-295) vs Chris “Lights Out” Lytle (25-15-5) (+235)

I’ve never liked Josh Koschek, mostly because of his attitude and his incredibly boring fights. His win over Dustin Hazelett, however, proved two things to me: that Kos is capable of knocking someone out, and that he’s learning to respect the sport more with every fight he has.

Chris Lytle has the mythical position of “gatekeeper” in the 170 pound division, in that he’s typically someone a rising star needs to beat in order to gain access to the top guys in the division. He’s a good fighter with flash knockout power, but he’s not in the same class as St. Pierre, Hughes, Serra or even Koschek. He’s got a very strong chin and is very hard to hurt standing.

If Koschek displays the same killer instinct that he had in the last fight, Lytle is in for a short night. I expect a takedown and ground and pound from Kos.

PREDICTION: Josh Koschek by TKO, round 2

Tyson Griffin (11-1) (-350) vs. Marcus “Maximus” Aurelio (16-5) (+280)

Tyson Griffin is one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC. Every single time Griffin fought in 2007, he earned Fight Of The Night honors. Granted, some of that credit will always go to his opponent, but there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Griffin brings the goods every single time he steps in the cage.

Marcus Aurelio makes his debut on the main card of a UFC show here with his only real claim to fame is a win over Takanori Gomi. Of course, that’s a big claim, as Gomi is considered one of the top three lightweights in the world.

I’m going with the upset here. In his last few fights, Tyson Griffin just hasn’t looked very good. He hardly ever tries to finish, and Aurelio is going to bring that sometimes-deadly underdog mindset into this fight. I think Griffin is going to make a mistake, and Aurelio is going to capitalize on it and submit him in the third round.

Prediction: Marcus Aurelio by submission, round 3

Rampage vs. Forrest: Does It Need A Grudge?

Much has been made of the fact that there’s not a lot of hype going into this fight.

Typically, the UFC chooses coaches on the Ultimate Fighter to build up a main event title fight between two fighters at the conclusion of the show. In most cases, there’s a long-standing issue between the two coaches that plays out over the course of a season, thus building up the fight. Put simply, it’s classic pro-wrestling booking at its finest in that two men have an issue with each other, the issue comes to light and tensions rise, and then the two men finally meet in the ring to determine who the better man is. People pay to see this stuff.

This season of the Ultimate Fighter just felt different. There’s obviously no animosity between Forrest and Rampage. In fact, I’d wager that they’re probably very good friends. Despite Dana White’s attempts to magnify small issues between the two, it’s still apparent that there is absolutely no grudge between these two men. A lot of people are disappointed that there’s no Serra/Hughes or Ortiz/Shamrock-style feud here, and quite a few MMA journalists believe it will hurt the buyrate.

You know what? The hype doesn’t matter to me. I wanted to see this fight from the moment Forrest beat Shogun Rua last year. Shogun was considered the best light heavyweight fighter in the world, and Griffin dominated him for 3 rounds before submitting him. Rampage is the UFC title holder. It’s a natural fit.

I like to see fighters fight each other. It doesn’t matter one iota if there’s an issue between Forrest Griffin and Rampage Jackson, because they are two of the highest-ranked light heavyweight fighters in the world and they’re going to fight each other.

That’s all the reason I need to order this show.

I’ll be back later in the week with my preview and predictions for UFC 87.

UFC 75 Results

I’m only doing the main card, as it’s late and I’ve got to get up early in the morning, but I wanted to post some quick thoughts on the fights from UFC 75 tonight.

HOUSTON ALEXANDER D. ALLESIO SAKARA (KO, R1)

Dude, I told you so: Houston Alexander is a bad, bad man. Pretty much a repeat of the Jardine fight here. Alexander came out and killed Sakara with several knees to the head and finished with a ground and pound. This guy has to be elevated into the upper echelon of light heavyweights immediately; I know it’ll be awhile before he gets a title shot, but he should at least get to fight a top contender. I know I’d love to see him destroy Tito Ortiz in this fashion.

MARCUS DAVIS D. PAUL TAYLOR (SUBMISSION, R1)

This was the fight of the night, and it was also pretty short. I thought Davis was done for early, but he rebounded and got the submission of the night on Taylor for the win.

CHEICK KONGO D. MIRKO CRO COP (DECISION)

Mirko should probably retire now. In no way, shape or form is he the same fighter that he was even a year ago in PRIDE. He was dominated by Kongo and looked tentative, and never landed a single high kick. He’s lost to two low level fighters at this point, and I don’t think he’s ever going to be a player in the heavyweight division. He could drop to light heavyweight, but I don’t think he will. He needs to decide if he wants to fight again, and if he does, he needs to get involved with a real training team and learn the cage, because he’s like a fish out of water in there.

MICHAEL BISPING D. MATT HAMILL (DECISION)

I think Hamill was robbed here. I went into this fight not liking Hamill at all, but I thought he dominated this fight with the exception of a few moments in round three. After the fight, Bisping made me hate him by acting cocky, like he dominated the fight, and Hamill was gracious in getting robbed out of the win, saying that Bisping won fair and square. If Bisping doesn’t drop to 185, there needs to be a rematch between these two guys in December.

RAMPAGE JACKSON D. DAN HENDERSON  (DECISION)

Henderson looked like he was going to dominate the fight at the beginning, but Rampage showed real skills in staying out of danger. This was a pretty good fight, and I’m glad Rampage won because I think he’s the most entertaining fighter on the planet. His post-fight interviews are becoming the stuff of legend, and tonight was no different. This is probably no skin off of Henderson’s back, because Dana White has already said that he’s going to get a shot at unifying the 185-pound belt, and with the way he was able to overpower Jackson for much of this fight, I’m pretty sure he’ll be significantly better than Anderson Silva or Rich Franklin.

Where does Jackson go from here? I don’t think you can have him wait until April to face the winner of the Liddell (or Jardine)/Wanderlei Silva fight. What they SHOULD do, and what I think will happen, is that the winner of the Forrest Griffin/Shogun fight in two weeks will get a title shot, probably in January. I’d love to see Rampage vs. Shogun, although I don’t like Rampage’s chances in that one.

UFC 75: Preview & Predictions

Here’s my UFC 75 preview and predictions column. I’m surprised I was able to finish this and get it in to Inside Fights before Saturday — I usually forget and try to cram 1500 words into a Saturday morning writing frenzy, and that’s never fun. This one was easy, though, as I’m genuinely excited for the show — mostly because it’s free. There’s also three fights that I really want to see, and of course the main event is the first-ever UFC/PRIDE title unification fight.

Let’s get to it.

Continue reading

UFC 71 Results

KALIB STARNES D. CHRIS LEBEN (DECISION)

This was a very good fight between two former Ultimate Fighter stars. Starnes had him early and often, but Leben fought back to the point where, if he’d done a little more connecting in the second round, he might have actually won the fight.

HOUSTON ALEXANDER D. KEITH JARDINE (TKO, ROUND ONE)

I must mention before we get started that Houston Alexander is a BEAST. He’s ripped to shreds and is awesomely intimidating. Jardine rocked him with a kick early and I thought the fight was over, but Alexander HULKED UP, got up off the canvas, and proceeded to absolutely DESTROY Keith Jardine. And by destroy, I mean that he pummeled this man with knees, elbows and uppercuts that left Jardine laying facedown and unconscious. Alexander looked very angry with the referee for stopping the fight, indicating that he wanted to assault Jardine a bit more. This was a huge moment, for a guy debuting in the UFC, who came out and looked like an absolute monster. A star was made in this fight, and if Alexander does this again, he’ll be a top guy in the division.

TERRY MARTIN D. IVAN SALAVERRY (KO, ROUND ONE)

Salaverry looked great and highly technical, until Martin picked him up and dropped him on his head, rendering him unconscious. Martin threw a few more punches, but the lights were already off from the slam.

KARYO PARISYAN D. JOSH BURKMANN (DECISION)

This was a great fight despite Parisyan dominating 99% of it. The highlight of the fight was a slick Judo throw by Parisyan, and he really looked like he was toying with Burkmann. Karyo begged for a title shot in his post-match promo, but he’ll have to wait awhile, as Serra and Hughes won’t fight until the fall and the winner of that fight will defend the belt against either Georges St. Pierre or Josh Koschek. It’s a shame, too, because I think Karyo in his current state would beat any of those guys.

DIN THOMAS D. JEREMY STEPHENS (SUBMISSION, ARMBAR, ROUND TWO)

Stephens is only 21 years old, and he showed some great stuff tonight, getting out of situations where I thought he was finished. The finish came when he powerbombed Thomas, but Thomas turned it into an armbar. Stephens didn’t tap and I originally thought the ref stopped the fight too soon, but upon reflection and review, it was the right call, as Thomas would have broken his arm if they hadn’t called it.

RAMPAGE JACKSON D. CHUCK LIDDELL (KO, ROUND ONE)

Rampage proved he’s got Chuck’s number, knocking him out cold with a single punch on the first flurry of the fight and winning the Light Heavyweight title. Though I predicted Liddell would win the fight, I wanted Rampage to win badly, and this was a thrilling and historic moment.

After the fight, current PRIDE Light Heavyweight and Middleweight Champion Dan Henderson is ushered into the ring, where he makes the rumors official — he’ll be fighting Rampage for the UFC Light Heavyweight title in Jackson’s next fight. Man, that one can be HUGE.

FINAL THOUGHTS

If you didn’t see this show the first time through, then you MUST order the replay. This will be remembered as a historic show not only because of the main event, but because the media coverage for the show was unprecedented and the card actually delivered. From top to bottom, it was chock full of exciting fights and memorable moments, from the making of Houston Alexander to Rampage winning the Light Heavyweight title. I’ll be buying this one on DVD — it’s that good.

UFC 71 Preview

UFC 71

Sorry for missing last month’s predictions. I actually wrote up about half of the preview, and then work issues kicked in and I never got a chance to finish it up. I made the decision to try and keep this preview under 1,000 words, as the half I’d written last month was over 3,000 words and counting. Which, if you think about it, is ridiculous.

UFC 71 is built around one fight; the company has even decided to skip the whole “let’s give this show a cheesy nickname” spiel, instead simply calling it Liddell vs. Jackson. To me, this fight is the most anticipated one since Randy Couture chased down Tim Sylvia for his heavyweight strap, and I’m actually rooting for an upset. While I don’t think it’ll happen, I do think it could mean a bigger money rematch down the line with Liddell taking an uncharacteristic underdog role.

Let’s get right to it. Continue reading