UFC75: The Pickening
The domestication of the British Isles by the UFC continues unabated. Following UFC 70 (in which Manchester was sacked by two High-Energy Rocket-Powered Badmans Dem From The Black Country. My memory is fuzzy, but I think the entire city was destroyed), and UFC 72 (in which the good people of Belfast were treated to a poorer card than you see at the majority of numbered UFC events), the iron fist of big-time MMA smashes into London in a just over a week.
Why is this important? Because we’re going! I really am very happy indeed that what looks likely to be one of the best main events of recent times coincides with one of our always funny, always drinky and especially always getting-losty MMA away-days. In honour of this and as displacement activity for some of the excitement, arm geein’ yow mar picks.
Note: No original ideas were exploited during the making of this post.
Lightweight: Naoyuki Kotani vs Dennis Siver
I’d only ever seen Siver when he was armbarred quickstyle by Liaudin and only ever seen Kotani when he was knocked out evenquickerstyle by Azerado, but it dawned on me that Kotani fought Thiago Tavares on UFN 9 and that I had that amongst a pile of unwatched DVDs. Having viewed that I’m not a massive amount more the wiser, but (and although people who know what they’re talking about often say that he’s better than his record might suggest) all of Siver’s losses are by submission and Kotani seems to know one or two of ’em. I’ll say Kotani by sub, and for the sake of argument I’ll guess at round 2.
Welterweight: Anthony Torres vs Jess Liaudin
Jess is one of those great examples of why you shoudn’t take a fighter’s record as solid proof of their abilities – he’s much better than 11-8. Much, much better, in both strikes and submissions. Torres is best known for losing by decision to Luke Cummo on TUF2, although most recently he has a submission win over Pat Healy. Jess has wiley-veteran-osity, though. Liaudin by sub, round one.
Lightweight: Terry Etim vs Gleison Tibau
Reports that Scouse Terry has being trying to unsettle Gleison prior to this fight by eyeing up his hubcaps are unconfirmed and possibly made-up. The fact that I’ve picked all of the UK-based fighters (irrespective of the order in which you might read them, this is the one of these that I’ve come to write last) may seem unnecessarily nationalistic, but I don’t think I’m about to break the pattern here. There’s no question it’ll be a submission war, but Terry also brings some decent Thai to this and Gleison seemed to give up after a while against Nick Diaz (I request tedious people to note at this point that I’m not making a direct comparison between Diaz and Etim). I’m going to pick Etim by decision.
Welterweight: Marcus ‘The Irish Hand Grenade” Davis vs Paul “The Saddler” Taylor
Yeah, you read it. Paul Taylor is from Walsall, and as such I think “The Saddler” is a better nickname than “Relentless” (in Davis’ case, anything would be better nickname than “The Irish Hand Grenade”. Sigh. Americans. With a name like ‘Marcus’ you think he might go for “The Middle Class Teddy Bear” or such). I was full sore irritated that they altered the times and we thusly missed Paul’s fight last time around in Manchester, what with him being the first West Midlander in the UFC as well as him being a fighter I was already a fan of. He’s a physically powerful all-rounder, and with a particular strength in his kickboxing. Davis is a formiddable opponent, of course, a former pro boxer with strong submission skills who currently rides the wave of a nine fight victory streak (including wins over names like Jason Tan, Shonie Carter and Forrest Petz). He ain’t from the Black Country, though. That’ll make the difference. Taylor by decision.
Light Heavyweight: Tomasz Drwal vs Thiago Silva
I love it when Eastern Europeans get all vowel-less, although I’d dread to see what the text messages of their youth are like. I would never be so churlish as to pick against a man whose name I cannot pronounce and this principle overides all other considerations, hence Drwal by stoppage from strikes, round one.
Light Heavyweight: Alessio “Legionarus” Sakara vs Houston “I Have The Most American-Sounding Name In The World” Alexander
I can’t see this going past the first bell. I can’t see this involving any sort of grappling, either (although it would be funny if one of them jumped to guard, just to see the confused look on the face of the other). I’ve only seen Alexander in his win over Jardine, and on the (possibly unfair) basis of just that I see the Italian as being the more accurate puncher. Sakara by knockout, round one.
Heavyweight: Mirko “Cro-Cop” Filipovic vs Cheick Kongo
Kongo obviously isn’t there to win this as far as the UFC is concerned, although I don’t think Gonzaga was in April either and we all saw how that turned out. Still, Kongo can’t do anything other than strike, and Mirko is a better striker. A whopper (of a K.O.) from the copper, round one.
Light Heavyweight: Mike “The Count” Bisping vs Matt “Coppin’ A Deaf’un” Hamill
Bis-Ping! Bis-Ping! Bis-Ping! I’d call him the favourite here, but Hamill will present him with a few problems to solve. Bisping is a strikin’ man with a workable submission game, but (as we all know) his wrestling isn’t on the same level as a lot of the competition he faces these days. Hamill’s main strength, conversely, is his wrestling (unless you count his technical proficiency in sneaky cut-rubbing and eye-raking). I definitely foresee him taking Bisping down and holding him there for some unsportsmanlike tactics at least a few times during this fight. Boos and jeers for stand-ups will be fullsome, though. Fullsome, I tells ya. Will the ref cave? Quite possibly, and Mikey B’s blows will get more chances to take their toll. Bisping, stoppage from strikes, round three.
UFC & Pride light-heavyweight title unification: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson vs “Dangerous” Dan “Decision” “Hollywood” “Hendo” Henderson
Hnnnnuuuuuurrrrggg (it’s a good word, and I’ll let you use it too), I can’t make my mind up. I’ve gone back and forth of this one repeatedly. Their relative advantages have been debated in a squintillion other places on the internet with more insight than I’ll manage, but to put the main points as briefly as I can: Rampage, obviously, is a hell of a lot bigger than Hendo, with all the strength advantages that entails. He’s also the better boxer (especially defensively) and doesn’t lack knockout power, but it’s worth noting that Henderson has an iron chin and has never been knocked out or stopped by strikes. While we’re considering stand-up, we can never discount Hendo’s everyone-killing powerful right hand, which will bring Rampage down if it lands. In spite of being a two-time Olympian, Henderson doesn’t always rely too heavily on wrestling in MMA, whereas Rampage is known for his spectacular slams. With the size difference I’d say the latter will be able to get the former down more easily if that’s the plan, but Hendo has shown before that he’s perfectly capable of working from his back. I can’t see either of them going for a significant amount of submission work. I would assume Hendo will have the more efficient cardio on the night, which might make the fact that it’s a five-rounder work in his favour. He also always used to have an uncanny knack of winning decisions, although that was under PRIDE judging (I suspect it only seemed uncanny because he was the only person in the world to have fully figured out the judging criteria there. And I include the judges in that). Will he have adapted his official-pleasing style for the UFC?
Gah. At the moment I’m inclined towards Rampage by decision, but I’m likely to change my mind another ten times before the fight. This really is a great fight and I’m extremely glad I’m going to get to see it live.
September the 8th, Champion vs Champion. Let’s go.