“I told him if you ever do anything like that again you will not be invited to fight in Nevada again…. If the next few Anderson Silva fights don’t happen in Nevada, it won’t bother me in the least.” Those are the words of Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Keith Kizer via …
href="http://www.cagedinsider.com/ufc/commission-threatens-anderson-with-ban-from-vegas-for-antics/">Commission threatens Anderson with ban from Vegas for antics appeared first on
Every great sport has been built on the backs of men who absolutely sucked at it — athletes whose hapless failures made the champions’ triumphs look even more outstanding by comparison. Baseball has its Mario Mendozas, its Bob Kammeyers, its Pete Rose Jrs. We have our Joe Sons, our Tiki Ghosns, our James Toneys. So in honor of the brave competitors who proved that MMA is even harder than it looks, we humbly present this “tribute” to the worst UFC fighters of all time.
A couple of notes to start: 1) We chose fighters solely based on their performances inside the Octagon. Some of these fighters achieved great things in other organizations, before or after their time in the UFC; for the purposes of this feature, we’re not really interested in that. 2) Instead of ranking one form of suckitude against another, we’ll group the 50 fighters into sections and arrange them chronologically. Use the links below to navigate, and if we omitted anybody notable, please let us know in the comments section.
When “Style vs. Style” usually meant “Talented vs. Untalented.”
1. Art Jimmerson (UFC record: 0-1) Sole appearance: UFC 1, 11/12/93
Even before we really understood what the UFC was, it was clear that Art Jimmerson didn’t belong there. What was a one-gloved boxer going to accomplish in a no-holds-barred fighting competition? In the end, the glove gimmick was completely beside the point. Jimmerson wasn’t able to land a single punch with either hand before he was taken down by early franchise star Royce Gracie, and tapped out before Gracie even got a chance to sink a submission hold. These days, Art is gainfully employed as the head boxing instructor at the UFC Gym in Rosemead, California, and spends his free time calling out Kimbo Slice. Legend.
2. Fred Ettish (0-1) Sole appearance: UFC 2, 3/11/94
A kenpo karate stylist who wanted to challenge himself beyond point-fighting tournaments, Ettish sent a letter to Art Davie asking for a spot on UFC 2, and was brought on as a stand-by alternate when Ken Shamrock broke his hand before the event. But instead of letting Ettish warm up and keep focused backstage, the UFC tried to kill two birds with one stone by having Ettish wrangle fighters at the arena, Burt Watson-style. When Frank Hamaker injured his hand during his round-of-16 victory over Thaddeus Luster, shit got very real, very fast:
“I’d just brought up [Minoki] Ichihara, the guy who fought Royce in the first round. I was going downstairs to find the next fighter at the same time Rorion Gracie was coming up the stairs. He grabbed me by the arm and asked, ‘Are you ready to fight?’…I had to go find my guys in the crowd, drag them backstage, get my gear, stretch and try to get myself prepared. This all happened in about a 10-minute window, and I was headed out to the Octagon…I wasn’t able to get my mind right. I checked out psychologically.”
Johnny Rhodes destroyed him. Ettish’s front-kicks were more of an annoyance to his opponent than anything else, and by the time Rhodes knocked him to the mat and began firing strikes from above, Ettish only had the “earthquake defense” to protect him. Rhodes eventually won by way of a choke-hold that he seemed to have invented on the spot. Luckily, Ettish didn’t get discouraged. He went on to open a Pat Miletich-affiliated MMA gym, and returned to competition in 2009, scoring a first-round TKO of a guy who was half his age. See? Nice guys don’t always finish last.
3. Emmanuel Yarborough (0-1) Sole appearance: UFC 3, 9/9/94
Manny Yarborough proved that a 416-pound weight advantage was no advantage at all, especially if you have zero practical combat training outside of shoving other fat guys, and you can’t get off the floor without assistance. As soon as his opponent Keith Hackney landed a Hail Mary palm strike, Yarborough tumbled to the mat and nearly swallowed Hackney up in his massive gravitational pull. After a re-start due to Octagon gate-failure, Hackney pot-shotted Yarborough until he was able to knock the big sumo down again, then smashed Manny with blows from above until Big John McCarthy was forced to intervene. Yarborough wasn’t invited back to the UFC, though he did pick up a win via smother-submission during a Shooto fight four years later.
How did a guy who never lost in the UFC make it onto this list? Well, just watch the video of Jon Hess‘s UFC 5 fight against Andy Anderson, and it’ll start to make a lot of sense. A co-founder of SAFTA — that’s Scientific Aggressive Fighting Technology of America, noob — Hess decided to pursue MMA after watching UFC 4 and concluding that he could beat Royce Gracie “very easily.” But once he got in the Octagon and started flailing around like a spaz, it wasn’t clear that he’d ever studied a real martial art. And despite his size advantage against Anderson, Hess resorted to blatant eye-gouging twice in order to get out of trouble.
In short, Hess was completely unathletic, would have been destroyed by any fighter his own size, and was most likely a total asshole to begin with. The UFC reportedly fined him $ 2,000 for his fouls and never allowed him back. In his second (and final) MMA fight the following year, Hess was invited to face Vitor Belfort at a SuperBrawl event on four days’ notice, and by the power of Christ, Belfort set the karmic balance back in order.
6. John Matua (0-1) Sole appearance: UFC 6, 7/14/95
And now, the internal monologue of everybody who watched UFC 6 live: “Damn, John Matua looks like a beast. Did Michael Buffer just say he studies the ‘brutal Hawaiian art of bone-breaking?’ Yeesh…R.I.P., random biker guy. It’s kind of weird that I’ve been subscribing to Black Belt magazine for the last three years and yet I’ve never heard of Kuialua; I’ll have to ask my sensei about ways to defend against it. Okay, they’re fighting, and HOLY CRAP, TANK IS BEATING HIS ASS! BONE-BREAKING HAS BEEN EXPOSED AS USELESS IN A NO-HOLDS-BARRED SCENARIO! PIT-FIGHTING IS THE FUTURE! Oh man, is Matua dead? He’s definitely dead. Wow. Best $ 14.99 I’ve ever spent. [puts on Everclear CD]” See also:Thomas Ramirez
7. Paul Herrera (0-1) Sole appearance: UFC 8, 2/16/96
8. Moti Horenstein (0-2) First appearance: UFC 10, 7/12/96 Final appearance: UFC 14, 7/27/97
With a background in karate, kickboxing, and krav maga, Israeli striker Moti Horenstein wasn’t looking to roll around the mat with anybody. His game-plan in the cage was to unleash the kind of vicious kicks that would later score him a Guinness World Record in baseball-bat breaking. (Yes, there is such a thing.) Unfortunately, Moti’s luck in drawing opponents was cosmically, hilariously bad. Horenstein debuted in the quarterfinals of UFC 10′s open-weight tournament against former NCAA Division I wrestling champion Mark Coleman, who swiftly took him down and unleashed his trademark ground-and-pound until Horenstein tapped from strikes at the 2:43 mark.
Horenstein gave it another shot the following year, entering UFC 14′s four-man heavyweight tournament. And who was his opponent this time? None other than former NCAA Division I wrestling champion Mark Kerr, who was simply a larger, younger, and more savage version of Mark Colemon. Bleacher Report aptly described the match as ”the worst case of a Jew being led to slaughter since Jesus.” Horenstein got TKO’d in 2:22 and thankfully never showed up in the UFC again.
9. Reza Nasri (0-1) Sole appearance: UFC 11, 9/20/96
The UFC’s pre-Zuffa era featured two short-lived Iranian prospects — Tae Kwon Do stylist Saeed Hosseini, who competed at UFC 13, and Reza Nasri, who preceded him by three events. (Coincidentally, both fighters were matched up against juiced-up Americans wearing form-fitting Stars ‘n’ Stripes briefs, which made it clear who the fans were supposed to root for.) But while Hosseini put in a valiant effort before being TKO’d by Jack Nilsson, Nasri didn’t do anything for the budding reputation of Iranian MMA, getting beat down by Brian Johnston in under 30 seconds.
Nasri entered the Octagon with a Greco-Roman wrestling background, but it wasn’t clear if he’d done any striking training before joining the eight-man tournament at UFC 11, and he certainly hadn’t taken any jiu-jitsu lessons — you can tell that by the way he completely stopped fighting after Johnston put him on his back. Perhaps Nasri was waiting for the ref to award Johnston three points and stand them back up. Instead, Johnston unleashed a torrent of head-butts (still technically legal in those days) and punches that ended the Iranian’s UFC career as quickly as it began. Now, if Johnston had only come at Nasri with a knife in slow-motion, who knows what would have happened?
10. Tony Halme (0-1) Sole appearance: UFC 13, 5/30/97
Unlike the inept first-timers in this section, Tony Halme already had a proven history of failure in MMA by the time he made it to the UFC, racking up an 0-3 record for Japan’s RINGS promotion. A former professional wrestler who had competed in the WWF under the name Ludvig Borga, the hulking, tatted-up Finn certainly looked like your stereotypical cage-fighter/Aryan prison-gang leader. But against a top-shelf wrestler like Randy Couture, he was roadkill.
Halme met the Natural in the semi-finals of UFC 13′s four-man heavyweight tournament — which happened to be Couture’s MMA debut — and opened the bout by running directly into a double-leg takedown. Couture easily placed the 300-pounder on the mat, transitioned to Halme’s back, then finished him with a choke, all in just 56 seconds. It was the last attempt at MMA for Halme, who went on to win a seat in Finland’s parliament for the ultra-right-wing True Finns party, before spiraling into drug-and-alcohol-fueled insanity, and killing himself in January 2010. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer person.
11. Greg “Ranger” Stott (0-1) Sole appearance: UFC 15, 10/17/97
His entire MMA career lasted only 17 seconds, but it taught us so much. For one thing, being 240 pounds doesn’t necessarily make you a heavyweight — sometimes it just means you need to reduce your carb intake. Also, the Octagon is no place to test out new martial arts systems that you made up in your garage. So it went with Greg Stott, an Army Ranger who debuted his own Ranger Intensive Program (“RIP rules, and all other styles rest in peace“) at UFC 15 against the nightmare-inducing Mark Kerr, a true heavyweight in every sense of the word. After Stott tossed out a few awful-looking jabs to demonstrate how unqualified he was, Kerr clinched up and launched an Overeem-esque knee straight up the middle, putting Stott’s lights out. The Mississippi fans booed the quick stoppage, angry that Kerr didn’t literally beat Stott to death. Indeed, it was a crowd that desired bloodshed above all else.
12. Yoji Anjo (0-3) First appearance: UFC Ultimate Japan 1, 12/21/97 Final appearance: UFC 29, 12/16/00
The four-man heavyweight tournament at Ultimate Japan 1 featured two Japanese professional wrestlers, who entered as a publicity stunt for their Kingdom Pro Wrestling league. One of them was Kazushi Sakuraba, a last-minute injury replacement who managed to win the tournament and went on to become an MMA megastar in Japan. The other was Yoji Anjo, whose fight career couldn’t have turned out more differently. After losing a 15-minute decision to American fan-favorite Tank Abbott, Anjo was booked on two subsequent Japanese UFC cards, for no other reason than his nationality. In a pair of mismatches against middleweight up-and-comers, Anjo was choked out by Murilo Bustamante at UFC 25: Ultimate Japan 3 and TKO’d by Matt Lindland at UFC 29. Yoji Anjo retired from MMA competition with an overall record of 0-5-1. The fact that he was also responsible for the most epically failed dojo-storming attempt in martial arts history is a tale for another day. See also:Daiju Takase
13. Chris Condo (0-1) Sole appearance: UFC 20, 5/7/99
I’m going to be honest with you — I don’t know a damn thing about Chris Condo. I don’t know where he came from, and I don’t know what became of him after his brief stint in the UFC. Maybe he was simply a spectator who was asked to replace a fighter who had dropped out at the last minute. Your guess is as good as mine. What I see in the screen-cap above is a heavy-set “grappler” whose dopey, innocent expression is reminiscent of Private Pyle from Full Metal Jacket. When Condo faced Ron Waterman at UFC 20, he was, to quote that movie, in a world of shit; Waterman TKO’d him in just 28 seconds. I remember watching the fight online a while back, and I remember that it was ugly, but the video has disappeared from the Internet. Chris Condo never fought again. His life remains a mystery.
When asked by Ron Kruck if there was a Silva v Sonnen III in the works UFC President Dana White had a succinct reply.
“He’s beat him twice. It’s not like this is the rubber match. He beat him twice. He beat him. Chael is in a position that most guys are — when you go on a run at the title, and you lost two times, back at the end of the line.”
Sometimes news cycles the Monday after a major event can be rather slow. Well, let’s just say yesterday wasn’t one of those days.
The avalanche of noteworthy stories included everything from Chael Sonnen’s coach barely ducking a tidal wave of bad publicity, to the NSAC taking a potshot at Anderson Silva, and Rampage Jackson finally netting an opponent for his UFC curtain call.
Slight rumblings of a Jon Jones vs. Anderson Silva superfight even hit the wire, straight from the mouths of Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta. And all the while, every Zuffa-employed fighter was begrudgingly stuck in back-to-school mode for the UFC Fighter Summit, which led to a hilarious day-long Twitter dialogue that featured countless cellphone photos of high school-esque note-passing and bored-out-of-their-mind fighters passed out on their desks.
Though, the most notable tidbit of all may have been a surprising development to an issue that has thus far divided MMA fans. Midway through an interview with ESPN, UFC President White was asked for his opinion on Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT), and he didn’t mince his words.
“(Anderson Silva’s) not 28. He’s 38, and he’s not doing Testosterone Replacement Therapy,” White declared. “This guy comes in 100-percent natural and he beats everybody. And something should be said for that. … To me, the bottom line is you don’t need that junk. If you don’t abuse stuff younger in your career, you’ll never need to use that kind of junk.”
White was then asked if it was up to him, would he make therapeutic use exemptions for TRT illegal. And his answer was clear.
6 MUST-READ STORIES
Peculiar Sonnen vs. Silva fallout. Scott McQuarry, a coach of UFC middleweight Chael Sonnen, planned to appeal Sonnen’s loss with the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) due to Anderson Silva’s controversial knee strike, however he quickly decided against it, instead calling on the fans to request another rematch. Meanwhile, NSAC executive director Keith Kizer stated he was “very unhappy” with Silva’s weigh-in shoulder strike, and he would not be disappointed if the next few Anderson Silva fights didn’t take place in Nevada.
UFC brass not ruling out Jones vs. Silva superfight. UFC President Dana White refused to rule out the possibility of an Anderson Silva vs. Jon Jones superfight, while Zuffa CEO Lorenzo Fertitta tweeted fans asking them to select Silva’s next opponent, with Jones as one of the available options.
The MMA hour. Ariel Helwani and The MMA Hour returned with another packed lineup featuring Mark Munoz, Chris Weidman, Renzo Gracie, Joey Beltran, pro wrestling play-by-play man Jim Ross, and our own Ben Fowlkes.
Kim injury revealed. A severe muscle spasm, not a rib injury, was the culprit of Dong Hyun Kim’s first-round loss to Demian Maia at UFC 148. Kim’s translator Brian Rhee revealed the injury on The Underground.
Rampage vs. Teixeira. Disgruntled former champ Quinton “Rampage” Jackson agreed to fight Brazilian up-and-comer Glover Teixeira for his final UFC match.
UFC 148 salaries, medical suspensions. Former UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin led the charge for both the UFC 148 payroll, and the ensuing medical suspensions. Griffin earned $ 275,000 for his decision victory over Tito Ortiz, but also got slapped with a three-month suspension.
Here’s the Dana White interview, and as always it’s a worthwhile watch. The UFC President broaches several subjects like the issue of fighter pay and the real reason he signed Brock Lesnar. But the most surprising cut comes at the 8:55 mark, when White reveals that if he had his way, testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) would be illegal in mixed martial arts.
Well, we’re only a couple days removed from “the most anticipated fight in UFC history” and the feeling among fans is… well, hard to put into words, really.
UFC 148 was like going on the worst date ever with the most beautiful girl in the world. Yeah, she looks fantastic – but you have to endure hours of inane conversation, the food tastes bland, and your waiter is a Korean guy who injures himself seconds into the meal trying to throw Demian Maia.
Yeah, it’s kind of like that.
Silva vs. Sonnen II arrived on a wave of hype and anticipation, but it departs in the wake of controversy galore. Yet despite that, the consensus amongst most MMA fans is “nothing to see here, case closed, Anderson is the man.” In a sport where referees are burnt in effigy and we love to stomp our feet and cry over every injustice…how can this be?
There’s a lot to pick apart here, and opinions are rapidly crystallizing on both sides. So this is my attempt to be fair to either side. I’m going to examine all the various controversies of UFC 148′s main event as straightforwardly as possible – and explain why (it seems) none of them actually matter.
So let’s dive in shall we, starting with the first bit of controversy from the day before.
The Shoulder Check of Doom!
What Happened: At the pre-fight weigh-ins, Anderson “chin checked” Chael with his shoulder during the face off at the end.
This is important because: Getting physical at the weigh-ins is wrong, yo! It can potentially affect the outcome of the fight. It sets a bad example. The commission should fine Anderson for getting so violent!
But it actually doesn’t matter because: Fans aren’t morons and know that world-class cage fighters aren’t hurt by the kind of shoulder check a mosquito could probably walk away from. All this did was give Sonnen fans ammunition to attack Silva as a classless fraud because he came face-to-face with the man who insulted his family and home nation in the press repeatedly and had the audacity to bump into him.
Greasegate, Round 2
What happened: After Silva entered the Octagon but before the first round, he took the Vaseline applied to his face by the cut men, and liberally rubbed over his arms and torso.
More after the jump.
Found something perfect for the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we’ll include it in tomorrow’s column.
It’s possible that Silva will take on Hector Lombard should he be victorious in his UFC debut against Tim Boetsch at UFC 149 on July 21, 2012. However, if “Shango” doesn’t come out on top — or turns in an underwhelming performance — most mixed martial arts (MMA) pundits believe that the number one contender will be the winner of Mark Munoz vs. Chris Weidman, which will take place at UFC on FUEL TV 4 this coming Wednesday night (July 11, 2012).
Especially, if it’s Munoz who gets his arm raised inside the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.
The Middleweight match up pairs two top level wrestlers and fighters who are riding a big hype wave coming into this fight. Munoz comes into the contest on a four-fight win streak, while Weidman will enter the bout with a perfect (8-0) professional record.
Munoz has been on the shelf since Nov. 5, 2011, because of right elbow surgery. “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” sat down with “Inside MMA” to discuss his recovery progress, as well as his thoughts on his upcoming fight with “The All American.”
Check out the details after the jump:
“The doctor told me, he assured me, that I’d be back within six months. I’m back and, I’ve been consistent with my rehab and training. Now I feel great, and I got a straight arm, now, as you can see. Before, I was just barely throwing hooks. Now, I feel great.”
The now healthy Munoz is excited about Wednesday night’s fight, but the thing he looks forward to the most is his being able to use his favorite technique: “The Donkey Kong Punch:”
“I see this fight being everywhere. I see this fight being on the ground, and if he takes me down, I’ll pop him back up. But I’m gonna look to take him down, too. I’m gonna try and ground-and-pound, and use my ‘Donkey Kong punches’ to my advantage, like I always do. I’m prepared for it to be on the feet too, and we all know that when two wrestlers fight, we neutralize each other, and it happens on the feet, mostly, so I’ve been working on my stand-up a lot for this fight. I expect it to be a stand-up war, but at the same time, I expect it to be everywhere; in the cage, on the ground, wherever — on the feet, I’m prepared.”
Both fighters have similar strengths and weaknesses. They both come from a wrestling background, and have achieved at a very high level.
Even so, Munoz was quick to point out that there is a key difference:
“Usually, when I fight, it doesn’t go the distance, but sometimes it does, and usually, I end up coming out on top with decisions. So, yeah, I’m looking forward to this fight. He’s a finisher, I’m a finisher, too. It’s gonna be a battle of wills in there. We do come from similar backgrounds. He’s a wrestler, and I’m a wrestler, too. He wrestled for Hofstra. I wrestled for Oklahoma State. He was an All-American, and I was a National Champion, so that’s a difference there. When it comes to MMA wrestling, his is pretty good. Mine, as well, too. So, we’re gonna be battling it out, for sure.”
For more information on UFC on FUEL TV 4, check out the entire archive here. Also, be sure and check in Wednesday night for LIVE, blow-by-blow coverage and results for UFC on FUEL TV 4: “Munoz vs. Weidman” right here.
UFC 148 promised to be the biggest event of the year, and at least so far it seems that it was. Rivalries and careers both came to a close, along with a little weirdness sprinkled in for good measure. Now, a closer look at the biggest winners, losers, and everything in between.
Biggest Winner: Anderson Silva Did he attempt to move some Vaseline from his face to his body? Yes he did. Did he grab Chael Sonnen’s shorts in a blatant violation of the rules? Yep, that too. Did he win the fight anyway and dispatch his most significant rival in violent, legal fashion? Absolutely. Maybe some of Silva’s methods weren’t all that gentlemanly, but it was Sonnen’s own blunder with the spinning backfist attempt that marked the beginning of the end. For Silva, the win only further cements an already solid legacy. Don’t think he’s the world’s greatest middleweight, and arguably the greatest MMA fighter of all time? Okay, you’re wrong. Silva has dominated as UFC champ for nearly six years, and even at 37 he’s showing few signs of slowing down. It’s not at all unreasonable to think that he could stay on top for another couple years, if he wants to. For the sake of his legacy, he needed Sonnen. No one feels for a hero who hasn’t trembled, and you can’t have Batman without The Joker. By winning the second fight in such unambiguous fashion, Silva finished that important chapter of his career with a violent flourish. Whatever he does from here on out is just extra credit.
Biggest Loser: Cody McKenzie In the post-fight press conference, UFC president Dana White stopped just short of apologizing to Chad Mendes for wasting his time with such an unworthy opponent. Later, when Forrest Griffin joked that while he wasn’t done fighting yet, he wasn’t about to call out Jon Jones any time soon, White quipped that maybe they’d give him McKenzie next. The room erupted in laughter. That’s a little ungenerous to McKenzie (not to mention just needlessly mean), but we have to admit that he did not look good in the 30 seconds he spent in the cage opposite Mendes. In fact, he looked bad. He looked like he didn’t belong there, which is exactly how Mendes treated him. Was it just a bad night? Too much too soon? Or has he masqueraded as a better fighter than he is, albeit with the UFC’s help (it’s worth remembering that he didn’t book himself onto the main card of UFC 148)? I’m not sure, but I can tell you that he was in way over his head this weekend. Maybe he can use it as a learning experience, brief though it was.
Most Impressive in Defeat: Tito Ortiz We have to qualify our remarks when we talk about Ortiz these days. When we say he looked good, what we mean is he looked better. When we say he looked impressive, we mean when compared to the last half-decade of his career. White said he thought Ortiz and Griffin both looked “old,” and maybe he’s right. But by dropping Griffin twice and walking through the many, many punches that bounced off his skull, he still looked surprisingly adept for a guy who’s only won one of his last nine. Is it time for him to retire? Absolutely. But no one can say he didn’t give us everything he had left on his way out the door.
Least Impressive in Victory: Khabib Nurmagomedov
The Russian fighter who calls himself “The Eagle,” (Like Yahoo’s Maggie Hendricks, I prefer “Nurmy,” but anything not to have to spell his last name over and over again) got the decision victory over Gleison Tibau, but he did it largely by holding Tibau captive against the fence and nullifying his offense. That’s one way to do it, since it gives your opponent little chance to do anything that might impress the judges, but it’s not much fun to watch. Nurmagomedov was a little too content to settle for stalled takedown attempts in between brief, wild flurries that involved putting his head down and hoping for the best. It might have been enough to barely edge out Tibau, but that approach won’t take him far in the UFC.
Most Bizarre: Forrest Griffin You’d think that after he took so much heat for running out of the cage following his loss to Silva, he’d have learned by now that it was best to stay put and take your medicine after the fight. I totally understand the impulse to run and hide when you’re upset, but professionals don’t get to do that. He only made things worse by seizing the mic after the decision was announced and conducting a weird (though, actually pretty decent) post-fight interview of Ortiz. That should have been Ortiz’s moment with Joe Rogan to reflect on his career, his retirement, and his performance in his final fight. Instead, Griffin made himself the center of attention. It’s kind of like the MMA equivalent of Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift, except that Griffin isn’t as obnoxious as Kanye and Ortiz isn’t as adorable as Taylor. But I digress. Griffin’s always had a reputation as something of an oddball, and the UFC has been pretty good about putting up with that when it has to. But if you’re an oddball and you have a boss who thought you looked old at 34 years of age? Not a great combination.
Most Oddly Charismatic: Chael Sonnen Sonnen tends to become as gracious and reasonable after a defeat as he is bombastic and outrageous before a bout. If he wanted them, there were plenty of available excuses he could have grasped for following the loss to Silva. Members of the media offered up several such candidates for complaint in the post-fight presser, and Sonnen shot them all down. Did Silva grab his shorts? Sure, Sonnen said, “but I grabbed his right back,” and “I’ll grab someone else’s shorts down the road.” Was the knee while he was down a legal blow? “I hate those rules anyway,” Sonnen said before insisting that he didn’t much care about the distinction between legal and illegal in that scenario. Most other fighters probably would have taken a different view (remember B.J. Penn’s response to “Greasegate?”), but Sonnen, who is so deft at avoiding responsibility for his own mistakes in other areas of his life, was almost eager to take more than his share of the blame. He even lauded Brazilian fans for “back[ing] their guy” and showering him with vitriol, saying, “I should be getting booed” when taking on Silva. That’s an abrupt about-face from some of his pre-fight comments, but it’s the right move at the right time. Say what you want about how he sells a fight, but a lot of other fighters could learn a thing or two from him about how to lose with class.
Most Surprising: Cung Le He might be 40 years old and starting to get the old man torso just a bit, but he can still throw down for three full rounds. If Patrick Cote didn’t have bricks in his skull, he might have been knocked out by a few of those kicks. Instead, he took them and gave some punishment back. Ultimately, he had no answer for Le’s superior striking and varied attack. Does this mean we’ll see Le in a UFC title fight some time soon? Almost certainly not. But he can still fight and put on a show, even if, at his age, he’s probably going to need some time off after a battle like that. Just don’t tell White, who’s already agitating for Le to take a fight on the UFC’s debut in China this November. Le might want to start that vacation now so he can hurry up and get back into the gym.
Least Educational Performance: Demian Maia It’s not his fault. In what little we got to see of him, he looked great. He also looked like a fighter who was ready to return to his roots as jiu-jitsu terror. It’s just too bad that the injury to Dong Hyun Kim denied us the chance to see what he could really do at welterweight. What we did see, however, was encouraging. Could it be that Maia really will find new life in a new division, and maybe even go back to the being the black hole that sucked up every limb and neck that was foolish enough to get close to him? Maybe. Too bad we didn’t get the opportunity to find out.
After his evolution into MMA’s Mouth That Roared, Chael Sonnen surprised many with his relative silence in the final weeks leading up to UFC 148. During fight week, he revealed to MMA Fighting that the change was the result of a phone call from Renzo Gracie which caused him to re-think his approach.
On Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, Gracie said the point of the call was simply to help Sonnen refocus on the fight ahead of its marketing.
Gracie, who first met Sonnen years ago during his Pancrase days in Japan, said that Sonnen had always struck him as a “great kid,” both bright and open to advice. They’d spent some time together during the short-lived International Fight League, where he’d come to believe in Sonnen’s fighting abilities. Because of those experiences, he found himself a bit dismayed by the negative perception of Sonnen by the media and fans. But he also realized Sonnen was fanning the flames with his own words. In Gracie’s view, it was unnecessary, so with just less than three weeks until fight time, he dialed Sonnen and imparted a few words of wisdom.
“You have to understand, he is one of the most humble guys I’ve ever seen,” Gracie said. “He understood, agreed and completely changed.”
But what exactly did Gracie say? He simply reminded Sonnen of his priority.
“It’s very easy to get lost when you start talking trash,” he said. “It’s very easy to get lost of the real focus. So, in reality, I didn’t call to tell him to chill. I called to show the goal that he should be aiming for. He’s a great kid, he listened and showed that he can be an unbelievable professional when he needs to.”
Gracie acknowledged the role of Sonnen’s comments in his rise as an MMA phenomenon, noting that “if he didn’t talk that much, the fight wouldn’t have happened,” saying it’s a difficult balance to strike when it comes to marketing a fight and preparing for the actual physical combat. And in his view, Sonnen tipped too far to the former. In fact, Gracie regretted not calling him much earlier in the fight camp to offer the same advice.
As evidence of Sonnen’s mistaken approach, he offered up the results. Although Sonnen easily won the first round of the rematch, he threw an ill-advised spinning back fist in the second that changed the complexion of the bout. It was a move that is out of the norm for Sonnen, and it was the kind of thing that Gracie wonders could have changed with more focus during the preparation phase.
“In the first round he completely dominated, and it shows the caliber of fighter he is,” he said. “He was mounted in the first round. I know him, he could’ve done it for the five rounds if it was necessary. But when you end up getting lost in the media frenzy of talking trash and promoting the fight and insulting people, you end up losing the focus of the job that you have and the task you have ahead of you.
“When you hit that wall — and fighting Anderson is always going to be tough — so when you hit that wall of toughness, if you’re mind is not 100 percent there, it’s difficult to keep it up,” he continued. “In reality, I thought that’s what happened to him. Even though he had all the tools, his mind wasn’t there 100 percent.”
Gracie went on to say that he still believes Sonnen has all of the qualities to become a champion, and that he should not consider retirement.
As far as his own status as an active fighter, the 45-year-old, who hasn’t fought since an April 2010 loss to Matt Hughes, says he’s prepping for one more go in the cage.
“I’m starting to get in good shape now,” he told host Ariel Helwani. “The only reason I’m not sweating with the boys now here at the Academy is because I’m talking to you. I should be on the mat with them right now.”
The first official fight has been added to the UFC 153 card in Brazil. Officials from the promotion reported earlier today that former light-heavyweight champion Rampage Jackson will be taking on UFC newcomer Glover Teixeira. The event is expected to take place on October 13th at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As …
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