UFC 263

I have some good news and some bad news. The good news: This card is stacked. Even the prelims are entertaining.

Bad news: I have some unpopular picks.

Paul Craig vs Jamahal Hill – Craig. All day.

Demian Maia vs Belal Muhammad – Maia. I know he’s at the end of his career, I just love his dangerous ground game. Does he have one more? I hope so.

Leon Edwards vs Nate Diaz – Come on now. Nate subs Leon in a FOTY classic!

Deiveson Figueiredo vs Brandon Moreno – The racist photos posted by Moreno’s coach reflects badly on Brandon. Figs by KO.

Israel Adesanya vs Marvin Vettori – If Vettori goes HAM on the wrestling, he’ll leave with the belt. If he decides to freeze up (they all do somehow) he’ll go home with regrets. I got Vettori.

See you all after the main card!

M

Not much to report

I probably should have had something to say after UFC 261, but between Weidman’s leg, Zhang’s head and the fakery that is the welterweight division, there was just not much to say. I could mention Andrade’s mistake of talking recklessly about Valentina’s ground game, but is there any need?

No.

The next Fight Night was supposed to be The Return of the Snake, but there’s a whole lot of is he in or is he out drama at the moment, so nothing to report there.

Tonight in ONE, Eddie gets a do-over.

That’s something.

M

Disappointment

What a weekend in sports. Where to start? Wolves, Liverpool, Manchester City, UFC Main card? Let’s go in order.

Manchester City – I don’t like Man City. I guess I respect Pep; he’s a great coach with a lot of money at his disposal. And I love Kun Aguero, but he’s at the end of his time out there. And that’s about it. The rest of this current team is just unlikeable. I’m sorry, they just are. They have also been on a win streak and are at the top of the table. But that win streak was ended this weekend by Manchester United, of all teams. Why am I disappointed? Because this is the 2nd week I’ve put 3 City players in my FPL team and they blanked on me again.

It’s petty. I know.

Wolves – I find myself rooting for the Wolves ever since the injury to Raul Jimenez. They are a scrappy team, stuck in the middle of the table, with a tendency to pull off a win after I turn the game off at halftime. The disappointment comes from the fact that they had so many chances to score and failed to finish. I’m not sure what Nuno can do about this, but he better get to work. One or two more signings, get rid of that bodybuilder, and pray that Jimenez can be ready for next season.

Liverpool – My goodness. They need help. Now! It’s sad to watch them actually, they are falling apart right before our eyes. I think Klopp made so many changes because the fight for the Prem is over – is he resting guys for the Champions League match later this week?

I said earlier in the season that whatever the problem is, it has nothing to do with the absence of VVD. I still believe that. When he was injured, the team managed to win games with Fabinho and Matip at the back. They even rose to the top of the table at one point. But once Matip went out, then Fabinho, then Hendo . . . things just unraveled. And of course, the guys in front stopped scoring.

At the moment, things are a proper mess. Will Origi, Shaq, Ox, Matip, Milner and Keita be around next season? I hope not.

UFC Main Card – But first, let’s talk about Dom Cruz, who won his fight then went on a rant about some dude at Monster. It was a whole lot of inside baseball that I don’t care about. Apparently, he wants a fight for charity with the Monster guy who happens to be 100lbs heavier than he is.

This is ridiculous and one of the reasons I am sick of the fighter/commentator crew who are becoming the real stars of the show. Guys are happy to win fights, but the chance to talk to Joe Rogan and ask to be on his podcast is the real treat.

Dom doesn’t have title aspirations anymore and he must have a safe full of FU money to feel confident literally picking a fight with a major sponsor. But he’s one of Dana’s chosen ones, so this lack of professionalism is what we’re subject to on any given weekend.

Then there’s Joey B, the saddest guy I’ve ever seen. Good Lord, how many times does he have to lose and act like all 5 of his dogs died? On one hand, fighters act like they are savages and warriors and us fat fans on the couch better not say a word of criticism. Or, we have to actually experience cage fighting in order to have an opinion on it. Then on the other hand, we gotta see Joe crying into his wife’s arms like he’s just been released from a POW camp. It’s a professional fight and he’s been paid handsomely.*

Main Card – I’ll keep it short. It’s fun to watch Amanda win because she is more likeable as time goes by. I think I said previously that she was boring, and she is that, a little bit, but she seems to be a wonderfully nice person. But they have to get rid of the 145ers. It doesn’t make any sense.

Izzy vs Jan – Well, I was wrong. It remains my opinion that Mr. Adesanya has won fights where he should have lost (Kelvin, Yoel), but the UFC’s promotional apparatus was all in for him to win. They were hoping that a relatively small guy who fights at 185 could go up to 205 and beat the champ. A champ with Legendary Polish Power. With a ground game no one expected. Jan Blachowicz was completely overlooked because they wanted another champ-champ situation and a potential matchup with the GOAT, Mr. Jon Jones.

Welp. It turned out to be a rerun of Poirier vs McG.

The UFC has got to stop doing this and let the fights play out. There’s always room for these money fights between folks who don’t want to or can’t fight for the belt. Let them run their mouths on Twitter, perform comedy skits on social media, stage fake confrontations with each other at hotels or on the street (it’s on sight!). Whatever. This is what they do for attention. Let the real fighters fight for the belts.

And speaking of the belt: I was upset, even a bit sad over the way Aljo’s fight played out. I was rooting for him and it sucks that he won the belt that way.

Yes, it was illegal. No, he could not continue.

But you shouldn’t be able to win the championship like that. There’s a lot to say on this topic, but I’ll just say this: An intentional foul should be enough to strip the champ and call the fight a no-contest. This would eliminate a lot of shenanigans.

*I remember when he was an absolute jerk on TUF to Henry Cejudo because Cejudo was proud to be Latino and wanted to be seen as a role model. I don’t like Cejudo’s fighting persona (the Triple C), but he is a role model and a champion.

Wolves vs Liverpool next week.

M

Freeze

Yes, I’m in Texas. Yes, I have power, for now. We’re having rolling blackouts and you never really know when it’s going to roll back around.

And yes, it’s freezing. But enough about my misery; that’s not the freeze I’m thinking about today.

Last weekend, we saw the title fight between Gilbert Burns and Kamaru Usman. Gilbert had Usman rocked in the first round and froze. He could be holding that belt right now, but he froze at the worst time.

The patterns of behavior fascinate me. Why do these guys freeze when they’re about to win the fight? Gilbert knows Kamaru very well, so he’s not starstruck. Maybe the moment is a bit overwhelming? I don’t know.

It’s like they forget the basics of the very thing they’ve been training for their whole lives. And you don’t get title shots in the UFC for kicks. Well, sometimes you do*, but for the most part, title shots are earned and a guy has been through fire to finally get there. So when they get there and freeze – that is interesting.

Remember when Kelvin fought Adesanya? He had Izzy rocked and froze. Let him recover. I was screaming over here, “finish him!” Nope. Izzy went on to win the fight and is now preparing for Champ Champ stuff.

Yoel Romero is a prime example. He literally froze inside the cage across from the man. Hit Izzy hard once then stood there frozen for most of the “fight.” Yoel was on a tear before that title shot, then decided to waste it.

I’m not sure whether to include DC in this. His second fight with Stipe was odd: The man who lives and breathes wrestling, decided to keep the fight on the feet and got TKO’d via body shots.

MMA is puzzling at times.

Gilbert had Usman rocked and didn’t go for the finish. Why? The KO was right there. But no, he let him recover, just like Kelvin did, then spent a few minutes on the mat. He was doing that stupid thing like Werdum used to do. It was dumb then and it looks even worse now. Is your opponent supposed to look at you and say hey, sure I’ll lay inside your guard for a bit. Sure!

We’ll see Gilbert again, like Yoel, talking about he’s coming back stronger. And he’ll probably win a few more too, but I don’t trust him in another title shot. If you got the champ doing the beginning of the chicken dance you gotta finish that fight.

I’ll be shocked, beyond shocked if Mr. Polish Power all of a sudden forgets how to fight and freezes in the cage during his fight with Adesanya. Who am I kidding? He will. It happens too many times to be shocked anymore.

*I’m almost at a place where I can mentally relive the events after UFC 199.

M

Skills

A few nights ago, I got lost in a hockey match. The TV was just on and somehow I got obsessed with the game. I think it’s the ice: I live in a warm climate and I miss the snow and ice. When I watch the winter Olympics I get the same feeling. All of a sudden I want to ski. Or ice skate.

Something strikes me about this game though – You need a very diverse set of skills to excel at hockey.

  • At the very minimum you have to know how to ice skate. I have never put on a pair of ice skates. Ever. This rules me out of this sport immediately.
  • Knowing how to skate is not enough. You have to be a strong skater, not just someone who knows how to stroll back and forth. No. You must be able to skate with speed.
  • And just so you know, this ain’t speed skating. You have to know how to skate with speed, and with aggression. You have to be comfortable pursuing and being pursued without losing composure. If you’re scared easily, homie, stay home.
  • Know the rules and regs of the game, natch.
  • This sport is played with a large stick and a hard puck, so please consider the risks of the stick going upside your head and the puck landing near or on your mouth at a high rate of speed. Players in the past understood these risks and played with gusto, sacrificing their teeth to the game. Hardcore. I thought maybe present day players had more protection, but their face masks still have the nose and mouth exposed. Still hardcore.
  • And last, rudimentary stand up fighting skills are strongly recommended, applied as needed.

In conclusion, hockey is exciting and wildly underrated.

M

Another fight night tonight. Be safe.

End of year

We are living through some very strange times: Everton’s in 3rd place, Arsenal is 15th. People are calling for Lampard’s firing – and should we light a candle for Rhian Brewster? One day he was riding high with the champs, the next he’s missing a penalty kick and being sent out of town to Sheffield. Life is like that. I’ve been thinking about him during this not-so-festive season.

I never wrote my post-mortem on the last fight night. So how did it go? It was a good night for Anthony Pettis, who fought out his UFC contract. He will be taking his talents elsewhere in the future as Showtime has signed a new contract with the PFL. Good luck to him.

It was also a good night for Marcin Tybura. Seems he also has Polish Power in his hands, because the ground and pound TKO of our friend Greg Hardy was brutal. But Greg Hardy though –

The MMA community hates him with a passion, and to be honest, he is a bit problematic. Kinda sad to lose your NFL career over some nonsense and end up fighting in a cage without your inhaler. But what else can he do? Fortunately for us, the novelty of a fighting ex-NFLer has long worn off. Hopefully he’s one of the soon-to-be departed. And the roster won’t suffer without him – the Contender Series supplies enough to fill out an entire prelim card.

Jose Aldo won his fight against Chito Vera. He looked decent. A lot of people were saying how great he looked, but I disagree. He’s nowhere near as dangerous as he used to be: He won a decision against Chito, who has been fighting lower level fighters for quite some time. This one was a big step up for him and he extended Aldo to 3 rounds. As I said before, Aldo is not washed, and he still has dreams of being champ again. Bantamweight is an exciting division and Aldo in the mix is good for everyone.

The main event had Wonderboy looking pretty good. He wanted this one. Bad. He knows the deal just like we do. Will he get another title shot though? Does a win over the #11 ranked guy do anything for him? I don’t think so, but his aggression and passion should keep him in Dana’s good graces. For now. Going forward, he needs a sense of urgency. Drop the nice guy routine and call some mofos out. Now. He ain’t getting any younger.

Last – I saw today that Scott Coker wants to wait before scheduling the rematch between Ilima-Lei and Juliana Velasquez. He wants the time to build it up again. But Ilima-Lei was relieved to lose the belt. Relieved. Rose Namajunas said the same thing. That’s puzzling to me. Look at Valentina, she lives to fight. I don’t think JJ was relieved to lose, she still claims to be The Strawweight Queen. Male fighters don’t lose their belt and act happy about it, they just sabotage themselves before the fact, like Yoel and Rumble. And Kelvin.

It’s late.

M

Fight Night at the Apex

First, I would like to thank Dana White for all this speculative material. All I can think about is who is leaving the organization next.

So who’s next? We might get a bit of clarity this weekend at The Apex.

Let’s make some picks:

Pettis vs Morono – Pettis is on his last fight with the UFC, fighting an unranked fighter. I’m picking him to win. I love Anthony Pettis. I tune in for his fights and I love seeing him point to “Showtime” on his back. I hope he has one more in him.

Tybura vs Hardy – Tybura. I hope. Hardy has dreams of being a boxer now, threatening to knock out Fury, Wilder, etc. Tybura needs to win this and usher Mr. Hardy on to the boxing world.

Pereira vs Khaos Williams – Williams. I really hope this is fight of the night wild madness, with enough flipping and spinning to drive Nick Diaz crazy.

Jose Aldo vs Chito Vera – OMG. If you’ve been reading my posts you would know I consider Aldo the featherweight GOAT and that I have a soft spot for TUF LATAM fighters. I don’t root against them. So who wins? Gotta go with Chito.

Is Aldo on the bubble? I think so, but he’s not completely washed. But he does need a good win to stay alive. If he’s dominated like Jacare, Ferguson and JDS – the clock will start ticking.

Wonderboy vs Geoff Neal – Let me just say that I don’t know where Wonderboy is going. Does he want to be champ or is he just fighting for a paycheck like Cub? He’s already had 2 title shots against Woodley and wasn’t able to win. Is he working his way to another title fight, this time against Usman? He seems to be stuck in place and confused about the way UFC does business. And he’s 37, soon to be 38.

In order for him to remain in the mix at 170 and with the organization, he needs a headkick KO. A KTFO that we will talk about for an entire week. If he insists on a boring point fight or a counterpunch clinic he’s done.

Aldo, Pettis, Wonderboy. Who’s next?

M

UFC 256 debrief

Fun stuff. Seems it’s not just us fans worried about who’s getting cut. Fighters seem rattled as well.

Cub won his fight and got a bit emotional afterwards. He has 3 kids to feed.

Oh Jacare. He lost in a bad way to Kevin Holland. Got KO’d from the bottom Niko-style. Wow.

JDS lost in a quick one. Got clipped on the side of the head and started arguing that it was on the back of his head. It wasn’t. JDS looked old and worried in there. Like maybe he knew it was his last fight.

Tony Ferguson looks done. He was on a 12 fight win streak before the Gaethje fight. It’s sad and amazing how fast it goes. Oliveira is good. And several years younger.

The Main Event was a fantastic fight. Moreno extended the champ to 5 rounds and looked really good. An eye poke and a groin shot cost Figureido a point in the 3rd, but it doesn’t cost him the belt. The judges call it a majority draw. And by the way, Dana says this is the best fight in the history of the flyweight division and I agree.

Get some sleep. Southampton is playing at the crack of dawn.

M

UFC 256

UFC 256 is a great card of fights. It’s a great card despite the lingering idea that some of these guys might get cut.

Prelims on now. Question: Why do people get very publicly engaged, but never get married? What’s that about?

Anyway, my picks:

Cub Swanson vs Daniel Pineda – Cub is on the bubble, hope he gets the win.

JDS vs Ciryl Gane – Oh JDS, I’ll just go with him for the sake of nostalgia. And the fact that he’s also on the bubble.

Jacare vs Kevin Holland – Jacare is on it too, but Holland is not on this level yet. I got Jacare.

Dern vs Virna Jandiroba – I might be the only person who doesn’t care about Mackenzie Dern. She’s a strawweight, so she has to get through Rose, JJ, Andrade and of course the champ, Zhang Weili. Wake me up when she beats JJ or Andrade.

Tony Ferguson vs Charles Oliveira – What about Tony? He’s 37 and if he loses it’s a wrap. He either gets used as an elite gatekeeper or he’s done.

Deiveson Figueiredo vs Brandon Moreno – Moreno looked good in his last fight, but I’m going with the champ. Fig has faced some adversity on his way to the title: He had to fight Joey B twice (an unnecessary do-over) and now has to deal with DJ’s trash talk, “Only time will tell if the hype is real.”

Hype? Why does he care what’s going on with the UFC’s flyweights? He claims to be happy in ONE Championship, getting a hero’s welcome, and thinks they do a better job of promoting their flyweights. Then why is he talking about the UFC? He should probably worry about his own stuff, mainly the situation at ONE.

Enjoy the prelims.

M