Friday, February 25, 2011

UFC 127: Penn/Fitch

Tomorrow, I miss the first UFC PPV since January '08 but hopefully Mike Chupa makes quick work of 'Ox' Wheeler so I have time to catch tomorrow night's Main Event. With Condit out and Lytle fighting a no name instead, Siver over matched against Sotiropoulus, and a typical Bisping decision win almost guaranteed, it's really only the Main Event that is crazy intriguing, with question marks all over it.

For the Main Event, it's 'the Prodigy' BJ Penn taking on unstoppable Jon Fitch. Jon Fitch is 13-1 in the UFC with his only loss coming to pound for pound great, Georges St. Pierre. Penn lost two title fights back to back at Lightweight before moving up to Welterweight and showing he can still beat anybody on any given night by knocking out Matt Hughes within seconds. Every one of Fitch's opponents has known what he's going to do, close the distance, press them up against the fence, take them down, smother them for 15 minutes, and grind out a decisive decision, and aside from GSP, still no one is able to stop him. Penn is every wrestlers worst nightmare. He's hard to take down, has insane Jiu Jitsu, is heavy handed, and great at capitalizing on mistakes. If they were the same size, odds are Penn would just shake off the takedowns and land countless bombs until someone, his opponent, the ref, or the doctor, had seen enough. There lies the intrigue of the match up. Where Penn comes in under 170 pounds as a Welterweight, Fitch comes in at 190+ on fight night and uses that size to enforce his style but aside from GSP, he's never faced anyone of Penn's stature, and calling what GSP did to Fitch a mauling is a huge understatement. Everything points to Fitch grinding out another decision but inside Penn still lies that destroyer that stopped the unstoppable Hughes, annihilated all but one challenger to his 155 belt, and put fear in the heart of GSP, and that Penn is going to go in there and show the difference between a great fighter and a legend and doing what needs to be done to walk away the winner.

For the Co-Main Event, it's crisp kickboxer Michael Bisping taking on yet anthother slugger in Jorge Rivera. Rivera has power and with that comes a puncher's chance, but Bisping is good at shutting down that chance by keeping his distance, avoiding the takedown, and peppering his opponent with weak but effective shots. Henderson and Wandy showed that style has nothing on good ol' fashioned, well placed power but Rivera doesn't have that kind of skill and this is more than probably going to end up a decision in Bisping's favor.

Also on the card, it's George Sotiropolous vs Denis Siver in a bout that could put either fighter one fight away from a title shot. Siver is a quick, powerful striker but doesn't belong at the top of the division. Sotiropolous has good, effective striking and a sick ground game and I say he takes it by quick submission and continues on his journey to a Lightweight Championship match. Lytle fights a sub par opponent instead of Condit and though fan-friendly style always puts him at risk of a loss, I say he, too, takes it by quick submission and continues his own journey for a title shot at 170.

The card weakened without Condit in it but the Main Event is classic UFC awesomeness and if you can catch it, do it. It's one of the weaker cards in a while but the UFC makes up for it with a stacked card on Versus this Thursday, so no complaints here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Jackson's MMA Mescalero Warrior Challenge

This weekend, Daily4MMA gets the privilege of covering a huge event in which three of our local fighters will get the chance to fight against fighters from arguably the best fight camp there is in the world, Jackson's MMA. Greg Jackson is the best gameplanner in the business and the coach behind some of the best fighters there are right now, including the next big thing, Jon Jones, Light Heavyweight contender Rashad Evans,  Heavyweight powerhouse Shane Carwin, Middleweight perennial contender Nate Marquadt, and possibly the best fighter there is in the world right now, Georges 'Rush' St. Pierre, amongst many other top name fighters. Jackson uses his promotion as a way of keeping his fighters active and build them up for the big show, and a win for any of our fighters this Saturday is going to be a huge step towards the top, especially Mike Chupa who, with a win over such a big name opponent, could be a fight or two away from the biggest stage on the planet, the UFC.
For the Main Event, our very own Mike 'The Storm' Chupa takes on Coty 'Ox' Wheeler. Though the majority of Wheeler's wins come by submission, three of those flying arm bars, you can't really categorize him as a submissions fighter. As are most of the top fighters right now, Wheeler is well versed in all aspects of the game and it's going to take a well rounded fighter to beat him. That's exactly what we have in Mike Chupa, who is no stranger to submissions himself, but is comfortable wherever the fight takes place. There is no clear gameplan for a win over Wheeler. Chupa is going to have to use everything in his arsenal and mix it all up, keeping Wheeler guessing, if he wants the win and based on what he's told us, he's ready for everything and plans exactly on doing just that, taking to him MMA style.
Another El Paso native ready to shine, Adam McGurk takes on one of Jackson's head Jiu Jitsu trainers and with those credentials, you know the guy can pull submissions out of thin air. McGurk is no slacker on the ground but keeping it standing and hitting him til he quits is his best chance at a victory. McGurk is eager to show his stand up and though one would think he wants nothing to do with the ground game, it's MMA, not a grappling competition, and maybe he can ground and pound the black belt out of his opponent. Either way, it's his hands that get McGurk his victory on Saturday.
Also fighting on Saturday and representing the Sun city, Fabian Salas takes on a wrestler coming out of Jackson's camp. A wrestler poses different threats than a Jiu Jitsu, and where McGurk has to watch out for a submission, Salas needs to avoid getting controlled all night. The key for Salas is to keep it standing as well, and let his heavy hands do the rest, but with a wrestler, the odds of Salas ending up on his back are higher. Those bombs he throws have gotten him two victories, but he needs to be sharp off his back on this one if he expects to win, not just getting up when he gets taken down, but also threatening with submissions, because if his opponent can take him down and focus on just keeping him there without worrying about the submissions, it's going to be a long night for Salas. Regardless, Salas is a hungry fighter and expect him to do what he needs to to win.
With the opponents they were given, one could say the Hayashi's fight team got thrown to the wolves. They just see it as a huge opportunity to showcase their skills. Ideally, all three of our fighters would win this weekend, but even just one of the three winning would be a big accomplishment for the team. The fighters are there to represent, and win, lose, or draw, they're gonna show they can hang with the best of them.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

915 MMA: Border Brawl IV results

A pair of fighters trying to establish themselves, Heavyweights anxious to throw hands, female fighters ready to represent, a clash of styles for the Light Heavyweight belt, and two experienced, technical strikers with identical records, one walks away with his second loss, the other gets to call himself the 915 MMA Lightweight champion. All of this past Saturday's match ups were intriguing in their own way, and with four of the five fights finishing early and the only fight that went all three rounds being the most exciting fight of the night, all 5 fights delivered.

For the first fight of the night, we finally got to see Fabian Salas fight again. Though the match up wasn't ideal, with Andres Cervantes being a lighter class fighter, the results for Salas were. After quickly closing the distance, getting a takedown, getting reversed, and then standing up, Salas started a wild exchange of which he came out the winner. Cervantes, not liking the bombs that were landing, hastily shot for a takedown which Salas countered with the fight ending guillotine.

Fabian Salas def. Andres Cervantes via submission (guillotine choke) at 1:49 of the 1st round

Up next was the big boy's turn at bat, as Marco Huerta took on Jorge Alvarez. Alvarez immediately took the center of the cage. Huerta just threw a leg kick and circled. Alvarez seemed the bigger, more powerful and aggressive fighter but none of that mattered once Huerta connected. That first good shot dazed Alvarez, which Huerta followed with the fight ending barrage of strikes.

Marco Huerta def. Jorge Alvarez via TKO (strikes) at :31 of the 1st round

For the third fight of the night, it was the female's turn to impress in a bout between Maria Mendez and Jessica Bennett. Bennett came out flat footed and it was Mendez's lightness on the feet and movement that allowed her to pepper Bennett with shots. Though Mendez was clearly winning throughout the whole fight, Bennett's confidence never wavered, as she kept coming forward the whole time. Mendez proved to be better standing, and in the clinch, but it would be vicious strikes to the head of her downed opponent that would signal the end of the fight.

Maria Mendez def. Jessica Bennett via TKO (strikes) at 1:24 of the 2nd round

For the Co-Main Event, it was a fight for the Light Heavyweight belt between Richard McCall and Phillip Schoonover. The difference in size was obvious immediately. McCall was the much larger fighter and in a fight where his opponent's game plan seemed to be to wrestle him down, that size difference would be key. The stand up was very even, with McCall getting a punch in the face every time he threw a leg kick. Most of the fight, however, was contested grappling, where McCall gained dominant position from stuffing Schoonover's slightly telegraphed takedowns. The fight was ended in an impressive, and peculiar, manner, with McCall taking Schoonover's back and somehow securing a triangle choke from that position.

Richard McCall def. Phillip Schoonover via submission (inverted triangle choke) at 1:49 of the 2nd round

For the Main Event, it was Oscar De La Parra VS Jesse Jaramillo for the Lightweight belt in what would prove to be the most exciting fight of the night, a very technical bout contested mostly on the feet that went all three rounds. Neither went in trying to blast his opponent. Instead, they stayed on the outside, felt out the distance and timing of their opponents, waited for openings, and set up their strikes with feints, which made for a very interesting fight. Both were evenly matched in their kickboxing. Where De La Parra had the advantage in the kicking department, throwing crescent kicks, front kicks, all very flashy stuff, Jaramillo made up with his crisper boxing. At the end of the fight, some thought De La Parra took it, others thought it was Jaramillo. It would be Oscar who would get the nod, and though I agree with the decision, the fight was still very close. The judge that scored it 30-27 obviously knows nothing of the sport. That, or he was at a very, very bad angle.

Oscar De La Parra def. Jesse Jaramillo via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

Friday, February 11, 2011

915 MMA presents: Border Brawl IV

The shock of Anderson’s front kick and Jones’ seemingly easy choke has yet to wear off and it’s time again to be shook to the core by the beauty of a KO or a slick submission. Tomorrow night, El Paso’s amateurs come out to duke it out again, this time under the 915 MMA banner. Border Brawl IV has two belts on the line, as well as El Paso’s first female Welterweight bout, which should make for a good show/awesome night of fights. The fights will take place tomorrow night at 7157 Merchant St. Gates open at 5 pm, first fight starts at 7 pm. General admission is $15. $30 for VIP.

For the Main Event, it’s El Paso’s Oscar De La Parra vs Jesse Jaramillo for the vacant Lightweight belt. Both seem pumped, ready for a brawl, and though De La Parra claims to be the tougher of the two, we won’t really know until they’re locked in the cage. Either way, it should be a war, with the better fighter getting the 915 strap.

For the Co-Main Event, it’s another belt up for grabs as Richard McCall takes on Phillip Schoonover in a Light Heavyweight bout. Phillip looks relaxed and all being a Schoonover means to him is having a really good cornerman. McCall looks anxious to get in there and though he’s ready for everything, it’s a good stand up battle he wants. Tomorrow night, we’ll see if Schoonover shows us it just runs in his blood and gets the win or if McCall is anxious to get in there for a reason and gets the KO he’s looking for.

Also on the card, it’s El Paso’s first female Welterweight bout as Maria Mendez takes on Jessica Kennett. Mendez says she doesn’t know what will happen but she’s ready for it all. Kennett loves Muy Thai and because she feels the pressure of impressing in the name of women fighters everywhere, she promises to put on a show. Fabian Salas finally gets to fight, taking on Andres Cervantes. Either due to bad luck or just word of mouth on his skills, Salas is always set to fight, loses his opponent, gets a replacement, but loses that opponent as well. Tomorrow night, we finally get to see him fight and see if Cervantes made the right choice taking the fight.

All in all, each match up smells of fireworks, and there’s rarely duds when it comes to amateur fights.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Jon Jones gets title shot, hype-train once again way ahead of itself

"I'll fight anyone, no problem. I'm a professional fighter, no problem." -Shogun on Jon 'Bones' Jones replacing Rashad Evans as the challenger for his belt. Translation: "I don't give a fuck about the Jon Jones hype."

Saturday night was filled with fights that shook up their respective divisions. Anderson Silva threw a front kick that sent shivers down the backs of every Middleweight who witnessed it, Griffin seems to have shook off the Silva humiliation and is back to outworking his opponents to a win, and Torres made a lackluster UFC debut, but a dominant performance nonetheless, but Jones' domination of fellow prospect Ryan Bader may have been the most impressive performance of the night, so much so that he was offered a shot at the Light Heavyweight Championship belt. Sure, Silva's kick was, to quote Joe Rogan, "a move straight out of The Matrix" but if I hadn't watched the fight and you told me that's what he did, I wouldn't be surprised. If you told me Jon Jones once again steamrolled through his opponent, outwrestled a Division I wrestler, outstruck him and choked him out, I'd probably throw up a little in my mouth. Rashad Evans was originally scheduled to fight Shogun at UFC 128 but is out due to an injury and with Jones taking virtually no damage and Shogun willing to fight all comers, the match is now set for March 19.

With Jon Jones coming in as the favorite in the betting lines, it seems his hype has once again gotten ahead of itself. Jones is a monster. He has dominated everyone he has fought, throwing them off with his unorthodox striking and finishing them with his unstoppable wrestling. I just don't see how wins over Bader, Vera, and Hammill, of which Bader is the only top 10 fighter, are more impressive than wins over Machida, Liddell, Coleman, Rampage, Lil' Nog, Arona, Randleman, and Overeem, amongst a bunch of other top fighters. He, much like Jones, was a young guy fighting in one of the world's biggest promotions and just tearing through everyone in an impressive manner. The difference is Jones has been built up by steadily fighting better competition. Shogun got thrown into the deep water of the Pride pool and still dominated, brawling to a win against elite fighters.The UFC Shogun is a whole other beast, a super technical striker with taylor-made gamplans. He came in with his sharpest boxing against Liddell, and came out even better against Machida, patient, cutting off the octagon with kicks, aware of his counters, and using JJ sweeps to stay off his back. He just keeps getting better. Jones poses the same threats Evans does, and though he might be a more powerful wrestler, his stand up is not as good as Rashad's. A couple of tweaks within the next 6 weeks and Shogun will be ready to break 'Bones.'

Jones WILL take Shogun down, he's not known for his takedown defense, and his top game is superb but Jones has never fought someone as good as Shogun off his back. The stand up is where the gap is at. Shogun is the best striker in the division. Where others are thrown off by, or even scared of, his unorthodox striking, Shogun drools at the possibilities of what he could do with a missed spinning elbow. Jones' win broke him into the elite of the division, and at 205, that means a lot of high level strikers. Even if he can get past Shogun, guys like Rampage and Machida, deadly accurate strikers whose wrestling base keeps them off their backs, still pose a threat to Jones' sub-par hands. IF Jones ever does become the 'best ever,' the hype will tell us he's the next coming of the messiah, just because the hype insists on always being a step or two ahead of Jones.

Friday, February 4, 2011

UFC 126: Silva/Belfort

The time has come. Tomorrow night's Main card contains some of the more well-known and exciting fighters in the UFC. Silva, Belfort, Franklin, Griffin, and Jones were all the Main event in their most recent outing. With star power alone, this is one of the best cards ever. I know I say it a lot but it's not my fault it just keeps getting better and better.

For the Main Event, it's a battle for the UFC Middleweight Belt, as legendary striker Anderson "The Spider" Silva takes on the fastest hands in MMA, Vitor Belfort. Silva has taken to toying with his opponents as of late, with Sonnen being the exception, but I don't think we'll see that tomorrow. Aside from Anderson and Machida, Belfort is the only other guy to have TKOed Rich Franklin. He goes out, windmills fast, powerful punches and usually, that gets him a 1st round finish. Both Silva and Belfort are fast. Belfort is powerful. Silva is accurate. Belfort is one of the strikers around but tomorrow night, we are going to see the Silva of old, the Silva who destroyed Leben Franklin twice, Marquadt, and Henderson, super serious and deadly. Both fighters are known for fast finishes, but this might just be a Machida/Shogun I all over, with two elite strikers going at it for 5 rounds. People love KOs. I hope it's a 5 rounder.

For the Co-Main Event, Rich Franklin takes on his slightly larger replica in Forrest Griffin. Both are good at everything but prefer to circle around and pepper their opponents with well placed punches and kicks. Forrest has the size advantage but Franklin is the more powerful puncher and in such an evenly matched fight, that power is going to be crucial. It's more than likely going to be an action packed decision with Franklin as the victor.

For what could've been a Main Event on any other night, Jon Jones takes on Ryan Bader in a fight between prospects to see who goes up to possible contendership and who has to keep racking up wins with the rest of the middle of the pack. On paper, Bader is the better wrestler but so was Matt Hammill and Jones still grabbed and rag dolled him just like everyone else. Striking wise, neither is crazy accurate. Bader has power and he's gotten good at landing that one good shot but Jones' unorthodox style, all the spinning elbows, backfists, and kicks, might throw him off. Bader hasn't been as dominant against his opposition as Jones has but that might just be because Bader has been facing the better competition. Jones says he wants to prove he's the better wrestler. The credentials say he can't. His last couple if fights say he can. Either the fight is evenly contested both standing and on the ground, or Jones does what he usually does and steamrolls through Bader. Either way, I see Jones' as the eventual winner but for the sake of my favorite division, I hope he doesn't do it as easily or impressively as he usually does.

Other notables on the card are Miguel Torres, who used to be in the 'pound for pound best' talk. Expect him to impress in his UFC debut. Jake Ellenberger also fights on the main card. He was originally scheduled to fight top contender Jon Fitch but BJ Penn stole his opponent. Tomorrow night, he racks up another win on his way to the top.

Just like every other event, tomorrow's is a can't miss. No matter how the fights go, they will shake up their respective divisions. I expect to have 'Main-Event jitters' from the moment the lights dim and Bader's song of choice starts until the moment the Middleweight belt is put around a Brazilian's waist.