Monday, September 17, 2007

Breaking down the UFC welterweights

With all of the attention the light heavyweights are getting lately I figured I would take a good look at a different class. The welterweights are a deep bunch of talented fighters but with recent events things are very much up in the air.

What we do know is that Matt Hughes will be fighting Matt Serra to get his title back, December-ish. I look for Hughes to win the show and more certainly to win the fight. I think Hughes will gain a lot from his time off, time not gearing up for the next number one contender. His last fight was Chris Lytle. Not to dis Lytle but I doubt Hughes put in too much work before that fight. Hughes showed against Royce Gracie that his knowledge of BJJ is strong and the odds of him being tooled on the ground are slim. What else does Serra have? I'm sorry I am not ready to bank on his 'heavy hands' just yet.

After that Georges St. Pierre is clearly next in line for whoever holds the belt and will possibly have a layoff of himself with no real competition out there. Look for him to fight the winner of the Sanchez/Fitch fight, and win.

Speaking of that fight. Fitch is on a roll and has showed some striking ability to go with the incumbent wrestling he has. I would give him a slight edge in the stand-up though I have to say that Sanchez may have the heavier hands. Right, Joe Riggs? Does Fitch have a guard though? I think we'll find out. Even if Fitch wins the takedown battle, if he even wants to, Diego's jiu-jitsu is so good it won't be long before he sweeps him and takes superior position. The Nightmare is not one for submission attempts either. He'll bang Fitch out and only take a sub if Fitch runs up the white flag.

So a possible Diego against Georges match-up looms and I admit it has appeal. As long as Diego can get the fight to the ground, or get GSP to do it for him. If the fight stays on the feet, and with GSP's phenomenal takedown defense it probably will, it will be nothing pretty. Neither will Sanchez's face. A grappling match between the two presents a little danger for the Canadian despite his brown belt in BJJ. Diego is a cut above your usual grappler.

The other top tier fighter looking around for a dance partner is Karo Parisyan. St. Pierre is a possibility but I don't think a likely one. It would't seem to be fair for GSP to have to fight another top ranked fighter to prove he's next in line. I don't think that will be it. Mike Swick would be one option but he's injured his ribs reportedly, no telling when he'll be able to fight again. Unless that was bunk to get him out of fighting Goulet so he could go up against a contender of Karo's stature. I'm just sayin'. Who else is there really? Marcus Davis is the only other name that comes to mind. Karo against Marcus would be a damn fine fight. Both have strong all around games but predominantly have one area where they are among the elite. The idea is growing on me.

The other welterweight fight of note is the upcoming bout between Kuniyoshi Hironaka and Thiago Alves, who's just back from suspension. Alves looks to be, along with
Marcus Davis, the best striker in the division. Hironaka on the other hand has a black belt in judo and jiu-jitsu so should this get to the ground it could be his fight to win. Alves though is so athletic and at his best at range, I don't see him letting this spend much, if any, time on the mat. Sorry, Hironaka.

Looking down the road

Well it's September, a busy month for MMA fans, and we here at Following the Flow are loving it! We just attended the Real Fighting Championships in Tampa and the champ, Edson Berto put on another dominant performance. But we'll get more into that later.

In the UFC we've had several interesting happenings. Rampage Jackson managed to outlast an elite fighter in Dan Henderson. I personally loved the fact that they both came out swinging. No Diego vs Koscheck feeling out, pussy-footing around. For Chuck Liddell fans this is bad news though because as long as Jackson holds the belt Chuck will only be able to stand at the screen door drooling. Then again if the Iceman does finally get to fight Wanderlei Silva and manages to beat him....well what better credential is there for another title shot? Okay, yeah maybe beating Shogun too, which probably would have to happen or some similar feat.

Roger Huerta continues to impress, wait no, amaze. It's hard to say who his next fight will be with Sherk still suspended and the title picture thus rendered hazy. I'd love to see BJ against Huerta but it might be too soon. Again, it all depends on what shakes out with the current champion. Clay Guida has a bad habit of making fantastic fights so he and Huerta would be simply explosive. Stevenson seems like he was primed in his last fight, a nice one against Kurt Pellegrino, to get a title shot. He's still very suspect on his feet though. I really thought that Pellegrino was the more impressive all-around fighter.

So with Sherk out does that mean Stevenson fights the number one contender, Penn? Or do we finally see another Pride fighter make his UFC debut. Could we see Takanori Gomi, the reigning Pride lightweight champion, get a shot at avenging a loss to BJ Penn? Wouldn't that be one hell of a fight.

Sorry to run off but I have stuff to do. More later, I promise.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

AfterMMAth : UFC 74

What a nice fight card brought to us by the UFC braintrust. It was solid from top to bottom and all of the fights were keepers. Maybe not truly "great" fights but all exciting and well fought. And then again maybe that Huerta/Crane fight deserves the tag of "great" on second thought.

All of the fights were hard fought but this had to be the fight of the night. Despite having a huge advantage in the striking arts Huerta showed that he was more than willing to go to the mat against savvy Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion Alberto Crane. The two fought like two anacondas over the last piece of dinner and, miraculously, Roger Huerta seemed to be the better grappler as well. This guy seems to be the real deal and like a Clay Guida always seems to be in the full-on wars. Speaking of Huerta and Guida..............hmm..........damn...I think I lost my train of thought.

Joe Stevenson notched another victory on his way to an eventual title shot when he beat Kurt Pellegrino in a nice little battle that went to and fro. The two grapplers put on an exhibition on par with the one shown by Crane and Huerta. They roamed all over the cage seeking submission attempt after attempt but neither was quite able to finish against his highly skilled foe. Pellegrino really seemed to have the better hands and a lightning jab but there was no way this fight would stay on the feet for long. In the end Stevenson pulled off the unanimous decision but we have not seen the last of Pellegrino.

Some people sold Georges St. Pierre short, questioning his heart after a tough loss to Matt Serra. Frankly, I didn't see it. Anyone can get caught and he did, early. He never recovered and caught a beatdown by a more experienced fighter. Looking back though I remember a truly heartbreaking loss to Matt Hughes where "Rush" could have held on to go to a second round but tapped a little too early. Did that ruin his career, damage his soul or even cause an unsightly blemish on his skin? No, he bounced back and beat BJ Penn in what was probably his most hard fought fight ever. Beat an absolute phenom who himself had beat "the most dominant welterweight in the world." Next up, Matt Hughes and he embarassed the champ on the way to an 2nd round TKO.

So, no I didn't expect to see a hollow man with a fleur-di-lis on his calf. I said going in that he the takedown exchanges would be key and hotly contested. I didn't know how right I would be! Ouch.........damn....ow ow ow.......I think I just dislocated my shoulder patting myself on the back. Damn. Okay, I'm going to try and finish this post for you guys with one arm. Where was I? Oh, GSP took down Koscheck (who stated before the fight that he would not be outwrestled) multiple times and stuffed at least one such attempt of Kos' in spectacular fashion. Deciding to put a guy like Koscheck on his back is absolutely the right gameplan and it paid dividends as GSP controlled the fight and indeed did out wrestle Josh Koscheck exhibiting strong takedowns, takedown defense and base. Unanimous decision for the Canadian crusher.

The main event saw Randy Couture continue to be the the real American hero. Though his opponent, Gabe Gonzaga, was a bit over touted by many he was still a legitimate threat. He looked plenty the worse for his time in the Octagon with the Natural but still managed to show promise for the future. Randy tooled him with his patented punch to the face while ducking in for the clinch or for a leg and continued to brutalize him in the clinch and with takedowns.

In Gonzaga's defense an accidental broken nose incurred in one such takedown really made his day much harder as he had to spit blood and breath through his mouth for the duration. With Randy leaning on him the whole time. All in all though Gonzaga looked pretty good on his feet, showing the ability to kick and punch in good timing when coming out of clinches and whenever the opportunities arose. One such kick caught Couture on the head nicely as he leaned in to his left but Captain America simply shrugged it off and took Gonzaga down, scoring more points.