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Quick Pride "Real Deal" thoughts

After all the talk, speculation and the hype Pride finally ran its first show in the U.S. I have to say, it was not a bad show. There was a large enthusiastic crowd, some entertaining fights and heart tugging moments. But there were a few . . . uhhhh . . . differences from your “normal” MMA show, too.

  • First off, who chose the entrance music? I wanted to light candles and pour some wine when they started playing Robbie Lawler’s entrance song – and it went downhill from there.
  • But that was not the strangest thing about the night. Easily the strangest thing was the 20 minute intermission during a live PPV event. Whichever Pride official thought that was a good way to spend the promotion’s money needs to have his head examined. Luckily I had been recording the show on my DVR, and between the pauses and times I rewound the action, I was able to fast forward through most of the intermission. If I could not do that, I think I might have pulled my hair out.
  • The Wanderlei Silva appearance in the ring was nothing more than pure pro-wrestling hype. Pride wants to create interest in the U.S. by calling out Chuck Liddel, but (unfortunately) I do not see anything that has changed since Dana White said the fight is off.

Now . . . on to the fights.

  • Fedor Emelianenko did what everyone expected by beating Mark Coleman – with the same arm bar he used to beat Coleman the first time they fought. Fedor showed no rust from his 10 months out of the ring nor any ill effects from his hand surgery.
  • Inevitably, whenever you see Fedor take apart another opponent you begin to wonder who could beat him. I used to believe a K1-level striker could beat Fedor, but Fedor dominated Mirko “Cro-Cop” Filipovic and I do not think Mark Hunt could stop Fedor’s take downs. Tonight, I kept thinking that the Mark Coleman of 10 years ago would have had a lot more success taking Fedor down. So my new theory is that a good wrestler, who understands arm bar defense, might be the ticket.
  • It was heart wrenching to watch Coleman suffer both physically and emotionally after the fight. It was hear tugging to hear Coleman tell his daughters that daddy was O.K. But, did anyone else think it was a bad idea to bring his daughters in the ring after the fight? I, for one, was very uncomfortable watching them cry in their father’s arms with his face swollen and bloody. I kept thinking that the poor girls were suffering emotional trauma in front of an international PPV audience.
  • Speaking of fighters coming back, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua just served notice that he is ready to re-stake his claim as the number one light heavyweight on the planet. The fact that he showed such slick submission skills on the ground only proves how well-rounded his game is. I am a major fan of leg locks, so the knee bar looked real nice to me.
  • Kevin Randleman, on the other hand, served notice that he is exactly the same fighter we have long known. He is probably the most physically gifted fighter in MMA, but he seems to go into such a zone whenever he fights that his brain shuts off and he runs on pure instinct. The problem is that he has stubbornly refused to expand his horizons and learn about jiu jitsu and submissions, so he has no instincts if he is put in a tricky situation on the ground.
  • Josh Barnett proved that my personal slogan is correct. “No matter where you are, there is always a figure 4 toe hold.” But he did not look his sharpest, and he would be well served by taking some time to rest and recharge his batteris before he fights again.
  • Dan Henderson did a good job of beating a listless Vitor Belfort. I officially stopped hoping to see the “old” Vitor show up a few years ago. I wonder how long until promoters feel the same way.
  • Henderson does a great job closing the distance by throwing a big looping right hand while moving in for a take down. It is like he decides whether to concentrate on the punch or the take down as he is throwing the technique. Fighters would do well to take a good look at how Henderson does this – and at how Henderson avoids getting kneed in the face (since he looks wide open to a knee).
  • It looked like Phil Baroni was able to convince the referee that Yosuke Nishijima was either tapping or getting his shoulder ripped apart because Nishijima sure didn’t tap. By the way, 194 pounds is not a good weight for Phil. I hope he drops down to a better weight for his next fight.
  • I am not sure why the announcers were so impressed with Travis Galbraith. He has heart but he is nowhere near the level of most Pride fighters, yet.
  • One other thing about Galbraith. He looked like his head was spinning so much from adrenaline that he might pass out before they rang the bell to start the fight. It also looked like the adrenaline rush made him gas early, so I am open to giving him another chance (as long as he learns how to keep his hands up when he punches).
  • Robbie Lawler’s knockout of Joey Villasenor was true highlight reel material. But, Lawler looked softer than he did in some of his old fights. He should dedicate himself in the gym before his next fight because they won’t all end that quickly.
  • Finally, I feel bad for Villasenor. I have been watching him fight since 2000, and with 27 fights under his belt, he truly earned his shot in Pride. But, he has come up short in both Pride appearances. I hope he gets another chance at redemption.

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MMALibrary.com – 100% free MMA and BJJ techniques

If you are looking for a place to pick up the latest MMA and grappling techniques for free, I ran across a great resrouce.

MMALibrary.com

If you train, or even if you just want to learn a little bit more about the techniques you have seen on TV, you ought to check it out.

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If all elbows were like this . . .

If all elbows were like this, I would not have come out in support of banning elbows from MMA.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnpUkneMSWE]

I like knockouts from elbows, but elbows create many more cuts that spoil fights than knockouts.

(By the way, the video is new UFC champion Anderson Silva knocking out Tony Fryklund in Cage Rage.)

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Fight Opinion Radio: Episode 28 (Gareb Shamus)

With a busy weekend ahead, make sure you get caught up with the events in the world of MMA. This week, our special guest is Gareb Shamus from the IFL. Check out the IFL’s HP at www.ifl.tv for more information. We discuss what the Ken vs. Tito III 3.1 TV rating means, whether or not there is a crossover audience from both boxing & wrestling for MMA, and whether or not there is large growth potential for both the IFL & UFC in the American marketplace.

In addition, we review both the UFC 64 and HERO’s 10/9 Yokohama Arena events, plus a preview of the upcoming Bushido 11/5 Yokohama Arena show and the very special Fight Opinion grab bag. If you have any musical selections you would like to recommend to us for the grab bag segment theme, e-mail us.

You can catch the show over at fightopinion.com, download it here (click here to download) or just click play button below to listen.

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Why not sooner?

Nick Lembo, Deputy Attorney General of New Jersey and counsel to the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board, emails in response to a question raised on the September 21 Fight Opinoin Radio show about why the Athletic Commission did not begin correcting the Zuffa Myth sooner:

The only thing was the speculation as to why we did this recently (as opposed to sooner). To answer that specifically –

I don’t read promoters’ press materials and at the time it was covered
correctly by sites like Full Contact Fighter.

It was actually you [whaledog.com] and Ivan T [Ivan Trembow] that brought the issue to me by covering it on your web sites. At first, it was like well maybe it’s a couple of articles, but you and Ivan kept disclosing how many articles it truly was, and now in the national mainstream media.

Also, there are a lot of new fans, from TUF for example, who weren’t
around when this first started and don’t know any better. It’s nothing personal, but the facts are the facts and we are proud of our role in MMA. So you guys deserve the credit for bringing it to my attention or else I still might not have known about it since the comments weren’t seen by me in any Jersey newspapers that I read.

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New Jersey changes weigh-in rules

People have complained for years that fighters who cut weight the day before a fight, and then put in 15-20 pounds after weighing-in, have an unfair advantage against fighters whose actual weight is near the weight limit. Critics have generally proposed moving weigh-ins to the day of a fight in order to avoid excessive weight cutting. The problem has been, however, is that a fighter who cuts too much weight on the day of a fight would put his health at serious risk once he or she gets into the ring.

Now, however, the New Jersey State Athletic Commission has decided to go another route. For championship fights it is going to weigh in fighters 30 days before the fight and again 7 days before the fight. The fighter must be within 10% of his target weight30 days before the fight, and within 5% of the target weight 7 days before the fight.

The new rules are designed to protect fighters’ health, and for that reason I think they are a good idea. Of course, since the new rules only apply to championship fights in New Jersey they will not end the practice of excessive weight cutting, but at least this is a step in a positive direction.

Following is the official statement my the New Jersey State Athletic Commisison:

From: Commissioner Hazzard

Date: October 17, 2006

Subject: Weigh-Ins for Championship Boxing, Mixed Martial Arts, and Kickboxing Matches

This agency has been fortunate in that fighters involved in recent world championship contests held in Atlantic City have not had trouble making weight at the weigh-in held the day prior to competition. However, we are aware of the weigh-in problems that have occurred in jurisdictions outside of New Jersey. These weigh-in problems at championship fights held elsewhere have caused us to review our championship weigh-in policy. We have discussed this matter with staff, medical personnel and reviewed media articles on the subject.

In summary, we agree with the WBC and Mr. Jose Sulaiman that a 30 day and 7 day weigh-in should be held in addition to the customary weigh-in prior to championship bouts. Although this idea originated with the WBC and not with us, we are always open to the ideas of others and encourage other commissions to be open to such credible ideas as well. We do believe that New Jersey will be the first state to require that the WBC weigh-in procedure be followed. This agency will institute this new weigh-in policy for all championship bouts held in New Jersey after January 1, 2007.

The contestants will be able to be weigh-in at the nearest recognized athletic commission. The fighters will not be mandated to travel to New Jersey 30 days and 7 days prior to the bout. For example, if the fighter is training in California for a championship bout to be held in Atlantic City, that fighter could go to the California commission to weigh-in 30 days and 7 days prior to the bout. If the commission is unable or unwilling to weigh the fighter, arrangements can be made at another state facility or be certified by a licensed physician.

At the 30 day weigh-in, a fighter cannot weigh over 10% of his or her contract weight. At the seven day weigh-in, a fighter must be within 5% of his or her contract weight.

Unfortunately, it seems that certain championship caliber fighters are in the habit of dieting and using steam rooms, saunas and associated tactics in the week prior to the fight in order to make weight. Subsequent to the customary weigh-in, these same fighters gorge themselves with liquids and nutritional substances to attempt to regain proper physical stability to compete. This type of practice has a negative effect on a fighter’s short and long term health. Further, such a threat to a professional’s health and safety must be eliminated. This new weigh-in procedure would not be necessary if championship caliber fighter’s conducted themselves like absolute professionals and stayed in competition shape year round and at or near their fighting weight.

We do not agree that moving the weigh-in to the day of the event is the proper solution. In theory, we agree with the concept, but the practical reality dictates the opposite conclusion. A weigh -in on the day of the event will only increase the chances of seeing a dehydrated fighter competing during the event. While this approach may be successful in other sports like amateur or collegiate wrestling, these competitors are not subject to repeated blows to the head and are not trained by individuals who derive substantial revenue from a percentage of the fighter’s purse.

It is my hope that by enacting this mandate, professional combative sports contestants will place a greater emphasis on weight maintenance. I believe that this procedure will enhance the health and safety of the fighter (which, as regulators, should always be our primary focus) as well as the image of these sports.

As boxing attorney Pat English, Esq. has recently stated on this subject, there is a problem that is real and needs to be addressed. We agree with Mr. English’s comments that this solution is a partial answer and is not perfect, but something needs to be done.

This policy will also go into effect on January 1, 2007 for world class caliber professional mixed martial arts and kick boxing contests held here.

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Time for elbows to go

I think it is time to get rid of elbows from MMA.

There. I said it.

I have been a fan of MMA since the UFC advertised itself as having no rules. I watched the sport through the years when Mark Coleman was head butting opponents’ faces into a bloody pulp, and I cannot tell you how many times I have seen the highlight of Babalu soccer kicking a sprawled out Brad Kohler in the head. I am not squeamish about fighting or blood. But I want to see elbows banned from MMA.

I have not always felt this way. I attended the California State Athletic Commission hearings in 2000 that established the rules that were the basis for today’s unified MMA rules. The commissioners had proposed a ban on elbows and I was very concerned that they were going to ruin the sport. So, I was relieved when the MMA advocates were able to limit the regulations’ ban to only point of the elbow strikes.

But, I have long been in favor of rules changes that have helped turn the spectacle of NHB to the accepted sport of MMA. I remember giving Jeremy Horn and Matt Hughes a ride from a Fresno fight show to Los Angeles Airport, and discussing the (then new) rules in American MMA that banned kicking or kneeing an opponent who is on the ground. Horn felt very emphatically that fighters know what they are getting into before the step into the ring or cage, and the rules should not be changed to water down the sport. I told him that it was the introduction of rules such as these that were going to enable the sport of MMA to gain acceptance so fighters can earn a living. Horn had a good point, but I was right about the rules being better for the sport.

I think elbows hurt the sport of MMA.

Take the recent Sean Sherk vs. Kenny Florian fight. Sherk dominated the fight for 5 rounds. But in the second round, Florian landed an elbow to Sherk’s forehead while Sherk was in his guard. The elbow did not look like it stunned Sherk, however it opened up a cut on the vein in Sherk’s forehead that did not stop bleeding until Sherk received stitches in the hospital after the fight. It would have been a shame if Sherk, who was clearly the superior fighter, ended up losing the fight because of that cut.

I like fights that end with a “lucky” knockout or a “fluke” submission. There is finality to those fights – one fighter catches the other fair and square. But fights that end because of cuts caused by elbows just leave me disappointed, as if we never get to see who the better fighter is. All we got was a lot of blood and unsatisfied fans.

What is even more frustrating is hearing fighters talk about how they train specifically to open up cuts with elbows, and they use that as their main tactic rather than try to submit or knock out their opponents. Those fighters are trying to win a fight legitimately and within the rules, but also in a way that leaves fans feeling that they did not get their money’s worth.

So, I am saying something I thought I would never say. I would like to get rid of elbows from MMA.

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Heat Herring vs. Pedro Rizzo in the WFA

In case you have not seen Gleidson Veinga’s Brazilian Notebook on sherdog.com, the latest rumor from Brazil is that Heath Herring will fight Pedro Rizzo in the Dec. 9th WFA card.

Neither fighter is on the top of his game right now, but that can quickly change for the winner.

Be sure to check out the Brazilian Notebook for the rest of the latest news from Brazil.

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The IFL just seems to "get it"

As things stand right now, there is a lot to like about the IFL. The IFL pays its fighters a salary so they can afford to train full time, it provides its fighters medical insurance, it is preparing a year-long schedule so fighters can know in advance when they are going to fight and it has stated that it plans to give stock in the company to its team coaches.

The IFL just seems to “get it.” They treat the athletes like professionals and MMA as sport. They even understand grass roots promotion:

PORTLAND, Ore., October 17, 2006

Olympic Silver Medalist Matt Lindland, NCAA champion Mark Kerr and mixed martial arts champions Pat Miletich and Carlos Newton will head an “All-Star” lineup of instructors at a clinic for high school and collegiate wrestlers at Team Quest Training Center in Portland onTuesday, October 31, from 7 – 8:30 p.m. The clinic is open to all high school and collegiate wrestlers in Oregon and Southwestern Washington.There is no charge to attend (pre-registration required), and all attendees over 18 and/or their parents will receive a voucher good for two free tickets to the International Fight League (IFL) World Team Championship, a mixed martial arts event to be held at Memorial Coliseum in Portland on November 2.

The evening will include demonstrations and discussions by the champions, along with hands-on instruction in the sport of wrestling. Team Quest is located at 18206 SE Stark St. in Portland. Those interested in attending should contact Jerry Milani at the IFL at 212/765-5700 x626, or press@ifl.tv for more information.

“This clinic is a unique – maybe even once-in-a-lifetime – opportunity for high school and collegiate wrestlers and coaches to learn from the masters of our sport,” said Lindland. “They can all benefit greatly from the combined knowledge of these great champions. And as a bonus, those over 18 can come out and experience a great night of mixed martial arts.”

The four stars will be in town along with more than 30 other coaches and athletes as part of the IFL event, which will feature semifinal matches between Lindland’s hometown Wolfpack and Bas Rutten’s Anacondas,based in Los Angeles, as well as Miletich’s Silverbacks vs. Newton’s Dragons. The night will also feature two Superfights,including Kerr vs.Mike Whitehead and Allan Goes vs.Daniel Gracie.

I can hardly think of a more positive thing the IFL could have done to promote its event and also create interest among one of its most natural fan bases – amatuer wrestlers. Who knows, tomorrow’s great champion just might get his first taste of MMA at the seminar.

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Isn't it ironic, don't ya think?

It’s like rain on a wedding day for the UFC – which has continued to enforce its senseless policy of denying press credentials to the major MMA media outlets.

MMA Weekly reports that ESPN has ordered its affiliates to stop airing UFC commercials since the events do not appear on a Disney-owned network (Disney owns ESPN and ABC). It seems that the UFC tried to find a loophole to this rule by buying advertising time from local advertising affiliates, but Disney caught wind of this and shut them down.

Karma is a bitch.

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