Posts Tagged ‘MMA’

Is Jon Jones the world’s top pound-for-pound fighter?

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

By Matt Larkin

Guest Writer

That may have been Jon Jones’ most impressive showing in the Octagon yet. This is a recording.

“Bones,” the UFC’s light heavyweight champ, was proven human for a few brief moments by challenger and Karate master Lyoto Machida last Saturday at UFC 140 in Toronto. To me, that made Jones’ performance even more staggering. He took a hard shot or two, realized he was in a fight, adjusted and proceeded to embarrass one of the world’s best fighters. He needed a single elbow to turn The Dragon’s forehead into a bloody mess. The image of him dropping the unconscious Machida to the canvas after a standing guillotine choke will be replayed for years.

After the victory, buzz among MMA pundits suggested Jones deserved to vault Georges St-Pierre in the world pound-for-pound rankings. To me, that isn’t even an interesting topic to debate anymore. GSP has fought four times in the last 36 months, winning only by decision. Jones has annihilated four opponents in the last 10 months. Three of Jones’ conquests – Machida, Shogun Rua and Rampage Jackson – have been UFC champions before. None of St-Pierre’s last four opponents has.

To me, Jones is clearly the No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter on Earth. The more interesting question is where he ranks relative to Anderson Silva. “The Spider” deserves the unofficial title of greatest mixed martial artist of all time, but comparing his last four fights to Jones’ last four makes the waters murky. Silva was lackluster against Demian Maia and was 110 seconds away from losing to Chael Sonnen.

Then again, Silva humiliated his last two opponents, Vitor Belfort and Yushin Okami, using his Muay Thai. He’s also won 15 straight fights. If you count Jones “loss” to Matt Hamill, he’s actually walked through 16 straight opponents, but Silva still has the more impressive overall body of work.

The Spider still probably deserves No. 1 status – but we’re bordering on a 1A/1B situation here.

Was Henderson vs. Rua really the ‘fight of the century’?

Friday, November 25th, 2011

By Matt Larkin

Guest Writer

Well, that was the war we all knew it would be.

Dan Henderson versus Mauricio “Shogun” Rua was a match 10 years in the making and an extremely difficult one to call. Both guys possessed tremendous knockout power, both had beaten the best in the business and both were masters of their respective disciplines – Henderson Greco-Roman wrestling and Rua Muay Thai.

So it was no surprise the two star 205-pounders put on an epic show. Both guys took such horrific beatings that they were posing together for photos in the hospital after the fight. The UFC handed both of them six-month medical suspensions. Henderson got the decision but it easily could have gone the either way in such a back-and-forth bout. I personally scored it a draw (the first three rounds at 10-9 for “Hendo,” the fourth round 10-9 for Shogun and the final round 10-8).

It was a legendary bloodbath and a great way to showcase the new five-round format for non-title main events. But for me, the praise stops there. Some pundits and fans have resorted to hyperbole, labelling it the “greatest MMA fight of all time.”

That’s where I jump off the bandwagon. Though it was a fantastic battle and certainly one of the 2011’s best, I don’t consider it the best fight we’ve ever seen. I believe it was missing a few crucial elements necessary to elevate it to the all-time pantheon. To illustrate what I mean, I’ll refer to some of the bouts I do consider the best ever.

Did it feature a remarkable comeback?

No. It almost did. Shogun was inches away from being stopped midway through the fight, woozy from blood loss and turtling as Henderson rained down punches. That he rallied to utterly dominate Hendo in the later rounds constituted an absolutely remarkable comeback. But there was just one problem: he didn’t complete it. Shogun still lost.

One of my picks for the greatest fights of all time, Matt Hughes versus Frank Trigg II, featured the complete comeback. So did Frankie Edgar versus Gray Maynard III.

Did it feature non-stop action?

The kneejerk reaction is to say “Yes, are you kidding? It was all-out carnage.” Yes and no. Both fighters gave it their all – but to the point where they were exhausted and “zombified” by the final round. Hendo had nothing in the tank. It was rather anti-climactic.

For a non-stop tilt in which both guys kept swinging for five full rounds, give me Leonard Garcia versus Chan-Sung Jung any day of the week.

Was justice served?

Can a fight truly be one of the best ever if so many people believe the other guy won? From what I’ve heard and read, the judges were just about the only ones to score it in Hendo’s favor.

If you want a war on par with Henderson versus Rua, but where the right guy wins in the end, watch Forrest Griffin versus Stephan Bonnar I. It certainly wasn’t an easy decision but the case for Griffin’s win was very strong.

Based on the above questions, I believe Henderson /Rua fails the “greatest of all time” test. But don’t get me wrong; it was still a fantastic fight that deserves to be celebrated.

Five suspicious things about the Dan Hardy/Chris Lytle fight

Monday, August 15th, 2011

Five suspicious things about the Dan Hardy/Chris Lytle fight

By Matt Larkin

Guest writer

I hate when I get this feeling about MMA bouts – but the Dan Hardy/Chris Lytle main event on Sunday’s UFC on Versus card made me sick to my stomach. If felt very suspicious, almost artificial, like a WWE event. Here are five reasons why the Chris Lytle’s submission win over Dan Hardy made me nervous that it was fixed – almost more so than any other fight I can remember.

1. Chris Lytle was retiring after the fight and looking for a storybook ending. It almost felt too perfect. Lytle wanted to end his exciting career on a high note, with another bonus for a finish or Fight of the Night, and the victory with less than a minute on the clock was awfully convenient.

2. Since when does Dan Hardy not throw kicks? It felt like Hardy and Lytle agreed before the fight that boxing would be their primary fighting style and that they’d keep the other forms of striking to a minimum. Hardy is a Taekwondo black belt. Why did he use so few kicks to set up his strikes? He turned himself into Lytle’s personal punching bag, eating tons of shots while barely attempting to block them.

3. Since when does Dan Hardy attempt takedowns? We all know that Hardy’s weakness is his ground game. His wrestling and BJJ are passable at best. So why on Earth did he attempt late in the fourth round to take down Lytle, a man with superior ground skills? It felt like he was setting himself up to be submitted when he should’ve been going for broke with his fists.

4. Since when does Dan Hardy tap? Remember when Georges St-Pierre caught him in an armbar? No matter how hard GSP bent back his arm, Hardy wouldn’t quit. He’s known as a guy who simply doesn’t tap. To submit him, you must put him to sleep…or so we thought. Instead, Hardy surprised us all by awkwardly tapping after only a few seconds.

5. Hardy kept his job despite losing his fourth straight fight. In the UFC, three straight losses usually signal your demise in the UFC. Heck, these days, with all the mergers, even two losses can be enough to get you fired. But Dana White vowed to keep Dan Hardy after Sunday’s loss even though The Outlaw has now dropped four consecutive bouts because he likes guys who “war.”

Combining all the factors together paints a disturbing picture. Hardy appeared to abandon his gameplan and make life easy for the retiring Lytle, giving him all sorts of opportunities. The fight reeks of “do this favor for Lytle and we’ll make it worth your while.”

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

Monday, July 11th, 2011

With the major MMA promotions, the UFC and its little brother Strikeforce, taking a little holiday for the next few weeks, now is a good time for a matchmaker column. Though matchups get leaked earlier than ever these days, there are a few great fights still waiting out there. Here are some I’d like to see.

Dominick Cruz vs Jose Aldo

This is a fight we don’t necessarily “need” yet, as it’s always risky to make champions from different weight classes fight each other. But, watching Cruz run circles around Urijah Faber a couple weeks ago, I couldn’t help but wonder if this is finally the guy who can match Muay Thai master Jose Aldo’s speed. The weight class wouldn’t matter as each guy has fought at both bantamweight and featherweight at various points of his career.

Melvin Guillard vs Ben Henderson

Melvin Guillard has annihilated the lightweight competition since joining Greg Jackson’s camp. Since I doubt he’d fight his teammate Clay Guida, Joe Silva could consider pitting Guillard against Ben Henderson, whether or not Henderson loses to Jim Miller. Henderson would make for an interesting opponent in that he might have the grappling edge yet also wouldn’t be afraid to stand with Guillard.

BJ Penn vs Carlos Condit

Ooh, boy. This would be something special. Penn and Condit remind me of each other; they’re both great on the ground with BJJ but both guys are heavy-handed, underrated boxers. Best of all, few fighters care more about finishing opponents than these two. They would go for broke.

Mark Hominick vs Chan Sung Jung

Mark Hominick versus the Korean Zombie has already been rumored. Let’s see it happen! Hominick’s boxing is outstanding and the Zombie has been in many a slugfest in the past.

Thiago Alves vs Vitor Belfort

This could be an amazing display of striking if Alves would be willing to move up a weight class and fight at 185 pounds. He walks around at far more than that anyway, so why not? Alves is probably tired of facing grapplers anyway and would love the chance to throw bombs with an equally dangerous knockout artist.

MMA Gym North York, Toronto, Brampton, Etobicoke, Markham, Mississauga, Oshawa, Peel Region, Pickering, Richmond Hill, Scarborough, Thornhill, Vaughan, Woodbridge, York, York Region Ontario Canada.

Is the A-Team movie a make-or-break moment for MMA?

Monday, June 7th, 2010

Things should get very interesting for Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and all of MMA starting, say, next weekend.

On Friday, June 11, The A-Team premieres in North American theatres. One of its stars is, of course, Rampage, who plays the Mr. T. Role, B.A. Baracus. I can’t help but wonder if the release of the high-budget, high-profile picture presents a boom/bust opportunity for MMA’s popularity.

Rampage was already one of the most recognizable mixed martial artists in the world. Now, whether the movie bombs or not, it will still draw big enough audiences to probably make Rampage the most famous mixed martial artist alive. That means, more than ever, that he’ll be forced to become an ambassador for the sport.

The next question: would that be a good thing for the fight business? The Los Angeles Times already published a controversial piece on Rampage this week, painting him as a foul-mouthed, chauvinistic, homophobic man. In most sports, that type of image “puts bums in seats,” as stars with attitude draw media attention and attract ratings.

But the UFC and MMA in general are different in that virtually all of their athletes, whether it’s fair or not, are already cast in a controversial light. The outsider’s perspective doesn’t often see mixed martial artists as disciplined athletes who combine skills like Karate with the cerebral Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu strategy game. It instead focuses on the F-bombs, tattoos, energy drinks,  ring girls, Affliction T-shirts and, most of all, the blood.

Unfortunately, few mixed martial artists embody the “Xtreme” stereotype like Rampage does. He’s brash, he howls like a dog, he gets in car crashes, he wears a huge chain around neck…and he goes by the name “Rampage,” for cryin’ out loud! His overexposure could cement the negative MMA stereotype. It’s a shame that Randy Couture’s upcoming mega-movie The Expendables wasn’t released before the A-Team, as Couture is a much better spokesman for the sport. The real solution would be to cast the eloquent, honorable Georges St-Pierre in something. Anything.

Worse yet, Rampage has openly admitted that he “almost regrets doing the damn movie.” He blamed it for his loss against wrestling juggernaut Rashad Evans last week and is openly uncomfortable with the upcoming PR tour he must do for The A-Team. If Rampage really doesn’t want to be there at every tour stop, chances are he won’t be the friendliest cast member to interview. That makes it even more likely that he’ll make immature, off-the-cuff remarks.

The hardest part for the rest of MMA is that it didn’t have a say in all this. Rampage can’t be faulted – he has to live his own life – but there’s no questioning that his decision could potentially impact the way the rest of the world sees MMA. It’s how the media machine works these days. In this era of sound bites and YouTube clips, one bad apple can spoil a sport’s already-fragile global reputation.

By Matt Larkin
Guest Writer