Category Archives: Georges St. Pierre

What A Weekend For MMA

It’s been a long weekend in our sport, and I’m pretty exhausted.  After the IFL Grand Prix and UFC 79, it’s enough to make you wonder how we got to this point from the days of tiny shows in civic center arenas that went straight to VHS tapes.  How far we’ve come.  Anyway, it’s Monday morning now, so back to work…

I keep reading on the internet how surprised people are that Ryan Schultz beat Chris Horodecki for the IFL lightweight title.  Apparently, no one even gave Schultz a chance, which is odd when you consider he’s the only man to beat Roger Huerta, so he must know a thing or two about this MMA stuff.  What’s really strange to me though are the people who seem to think Schultz’s victory spells doom for the IFL.

I mean, really?  First, people complain that the IFL is propping Horodecki up and protecting him as the league’s golden boy.  Then, when he loses his first fight to a tough guy like Schultz, they think the IFL is finished?  I just don’t see it.  Maybe I’m a little biased, but I think the more diversity and unpredictability the IFL has, the better.  Who wants to see the same guy win every time?  Now the division is wide open, and it should be interesting to see Schultz’s first title defense.  I know for a fact that he and John Gunderson have wanted to fight each other for a very long time, and that could be an explosive one.

On the whole, the five championship fights on the IFL card were all great ones, and all ended decisively.  What really surprised me was not so much Schultz winning, but Benji Radach losing.

Matt Horwich has got to be a truly baffling fighter to go up against.  His style is so awkward and it doesn’t seem to bother him at all to get hit in the face over and over again.  Radach was doing a great job in the first round, circling away and landing solid shots.  But Horwich just never stops.  He may be a little on the weird side, but that really only makes him more difficult to figure out in the ring.  I can’t wait to see Horwich and Tim Kennedy go at it, which has got to happen hopefully sooner rather than later.

I didn’t get to see any of the UFC fights until returning home yesterday afternoon, but they, too, were worth the wait.  Georges St. Pierre proved what a dominant fighter he can be with a submission victory over Matt Hughes, and Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva treated fans to a truly memorable battle.

After the GSP-Hughes fight, I have to wonder what Matt Serra is thinking right now.  He shocked St. Pierre the first time, but does he believe he can do it again?  St. Pierre looked to me like one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world on Saturday night.  When he comes in ready and focused, I don’t think there’s a 170-pounder in the world who stands a chance, Serra included.

The other question at hand is, what becomes of Hughes now?  He’s said before that he only has a few fights left in him, and if he can’t beat GSP there’s little hope for him in the welterweight title picture, so what’s he waiting around for?  The answer may be a grudge match with Serra after his GSP fight.  That’s the only thing that makes sense for Hughes, other than retirement.

As for Liddell, the win over Silva is a tremendous career boost and will stand as a hallmark moment in his already Hall of Fame career, but I don’t think it qualifies him for an instant title shot.  I’d like to see him against somebody like Forrest Griffin first, but that probably won’t happen now that Griffin and “Rampage” Jackson are coaching the reality show.  More and more, TUF seems like an albatross for MMA, and for exactly that reason.  It puts the title picture on hold in whatever division the coaches come from.  So what does Liddell do now?

Well, how about a fight with “Shogun” Rua?  He got beat pretty soundly by Griffin, but it might make for a good contender match.  Then again, the UFC will probably just hold Liddell out of action until after Jackson-Griffin, rather than take a chance on him losing and getting tossed back in the 205-pound ranks.  Oh well.

As for Silva, he fought well enough to prove that he can still make some waves in the UFC.  He’ll probably never wear another major MMA title, but a rematch between he and “Rampage” still has some heat, though that’s a long wait for “The Axe Murderer.”  Wait a minute, what’s Keith Jardine up to these days?  Hey, I’m just saying.

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Filed under Chris Horodecki, Chuck Liddell, Georges St. Pierre, IFL, Matt Hughes, MMA, Ryan Schultz, UFC, UFC 79, Wanderlei Silva

Fun With Betting Odds: UFC 79

It’s a big weekend in MMA, which is only fitting considering the year we’ve had.  I’m in Connecticut for the final round of the IFL Grand Prix, while across the country the UFC has one of their best offerings of 2007.  That’s enough great MMA in one night to last you several months, but if you really want more there’s always the Fedor-Choi New Year’s Eve show in a couple of days.  In case you haven’t heard, that fight will supposedly feature special rules outlawing knee strikes (aka: Choi’s best weapon), thus upgrading it from a farce to a mockery.

Anyway, now it’s time for one of my favorite little games: breaking down the betting odds.  Bodog has odds on the UFC, IFL, and Yarrenoka! (Fedor’s going off at -1500, in case you were curious), but I’m going to stick to just the UFC so as to avoid any conflict of interest.

Once again, bet on MMA at your own risk.  It probably isn’t a good idea.  But I’m guessing people have told you that before, but you just won’t listen.

Matt Hughes (+190) vs. Georges St. Pierre (-240)

Even after Hughes’ last performance against St. Pierre and his face-heel turn in the last year and a half, I’m still a little saddened to see the line this lopsided.  Let’s not forget that Hughes dominated the welterweight division for years.  Those years seem to be all in the past, but after St. Pierre’s loss to Serra who knows what’s going on in his mind?  St. Pierre needs this win for his psyche and for his confidence.  If he starts out tentative Hughes could shock him, but don’t bet on it.  St. Pierre is still the favorite here for good reason.

Chuck Liddell (+110) vs. Wanderlei Silva (-140)

I’d be interested to know exactly what this line is based on.  Both guys are coming off two straight losses, both are on the downside of once-dominant careers, and both need this win to stay in the game.  Stylistically, Silva seems tailor made for Liddell, but so did Keith Jardine.  I still like Liddell in this one, and though the line isn’t great it might be good enough for small action.

Rameau Sokoudjou (-115) vs. Lyoto Machida (-115)

I’ve seen varying lines on this fight, with most pegging Sokoudjou the slight underdog.  That’s understandable, considering Machida’s ability to slow a fight down and control it.  Sokoudjou is explosive, but still untested.  I like him to win this, but it could easily go either way and the line isn’t much help at all.

Melvin Guillard (-225) vs. Rich Clementi (+185)

Guillard is the more athletically dangerous fighter here, but Clementi is a better tactician and technician.  If Guillard gets reckless Clementi could easily take him.  The line is good enough to justify some risk here.

Dean Lister (-325) vs. Jordan Radev (+250)

Radev had a wrestling background, so this isn’t as lopsided as some previous bouts the UFC has given to Lister.  Still, anyone with anything other than a stellar ground game is probably in trouble against “The Boogeyman”.  This should be interesting to see how Lister rebounds from a previous injury and how his striking game is coming.  If you’re one of the people who believe he’s dumb enough to stand and trade for very long before taking it to the mat, go ahead and put money down on Radev.  I am not one of those people.

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Filed under Betting Odds, Chuck Liddell, Georges St. Pierre, Matt Hughes, MMA, Sports, UFC, UFC 79, Uncategorized, Wanderlei Silva

Another Interim Title?

The UFC has done it again. No sooner could I type out my belief that they weren’t desperate enough to invent a match for Matt Hughes to replace the one he was supposed to have with a now-injured Matt Serra, than they proved me wrong. Not only will they have Hughes meet Georges St. Pierre for a third time at UFC 79, they’ve created yet another “interim title” for them to fight over.

Matt Serra said it best on UFC.com: “I can’t believe the position this puts me in.”

Neither can I, Matt. On one hand, the fight itself should be a good one, and I’m looking forward to this rubber match between two top contenders. On the other hand, an interim title? Why?

I understand that Serra, the champion, is injured. It’s unclear when he’ll be able to fight again. It could be six months, or it could be more than a year. But what message is the UFC sending to Serra — who claimed the title back when there was only one in each division — by marginalizing him the instant he has to sit one out?

It’s not that I don’t understand why they came to this decision. They want a main event for UFC 79, and they feel like a title needs to be on the line to make that happen. It’s as if they’re as adamant about having a title fight for this event as they were about trying to convince us that the non-title fight between Bisping and Evans was worth our money last weekend.

Even so, interim titles are not the easy answer to every problem. Just because a champion can’t make the first date you set for him doesn’t mean you can just create a new title out of thin air. If you do, then what’s the point of having one champion in each weight class?

I understand that one of the criticisms people will level at my argument is that Serra has not defended his title since winning it seven months ago. But that’s not Serra’s fault. The UFC kept him from defending it so they could use the reality show to pump up a title fight between he and Hughes. Now he’s been injured in training, but that’s a part of the game. You can’t just nullify his title right off the bat.

I’m also against this move because it may cancel out the planned fight between Hughes and Serra. If St. Pierre beats Hughes for a second straight time (which is possible, to say the least), then St. Pierre would fight Serra to unify the fake title and the real one. There’d be no reason to have Hughes and Serra fight after that.

It’s starting to seem as though what the UFC really needs is a stated policy about champions and inactivity. The fighters need to know what’s going to happen if they’re injured or can’t fight for whatever reason, and the rules should be the same for everyone. You can’t just invent a new title because you want to have two people fight for it on a pay-per-view. That defeats the purpose of a championship.

My suggestion is that they institute a one-year rule. If a champion cannot defend his title due to injury, he gets one year to recover and make that defense or else he gets stripped of the title. A year should be enough time to recover from most injuries, while at the same time giving him the respect that a champion deserves from his organization.

What the UFC can’t continue to do is whip up these interim titles whenever they need to boost their pay-per-view numbers. Given enough time, eventually they’re going to run into a scenario where a true champion and an interim champion are both unable to fight at the same time. This is the hurt business, after all. What will they do then, create an interim interim title? It’s madness, I tell you.

The saddest part about this particular case with Hughes and St. Pierre is that we don’t need an artificial title to make it a worthwhile fight. It’s a good match, and one that makes some sense if Serra is going to be out for a while.

But just because one of those guys will get a belt put around his waist at the end of the night, that doesn’t make him champion. Just like how calling a fight between two reality show stars a main event didn’t make it true in New Jersey.

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Filed under Georges St. Pierre, Matt Hughes, Matt Serra, MMA, Sports, UFC

Championship Questions Abound for the UFC

Anderson Silva’s title defense at UFC 77 on Saturday night got me thinking.  The fight was one-sided from the beginning, but it was a satisfying event nonetheless mainly because a championship belt was at stake.  That makes everything more interesting.  Even if it seems like a mismatch (the way Franklin-Quarry was, or the way St. Pierre-Serra looked on paper), a title fight will always be a big deal.

So why, I can’t help but wonder, is the UFC not in more of a hurry to put the other titles up for grabs?  Why are they content to let some belts stay out of circulation while others get defended every couple of months?

I’m referring now, of course, to the welterweight title.  Matt Serra shocked the MMA world when he upset Georges St. Pierre with a first-round TKO to take the 170-pound strap away from the Canadian, but that was back in April.  That’s the last time we saw the welterweight title up for grabs, and why?  Apparently, so the UFC could use the current season of The Ultimate Fighter to pump up a title match between Serra and Matt Hughes.

I can’t say I don’t understand why they’re doing this.  It’s about money.  They saw an existing rivalry between Hughes and Serra and pounced on it.  They figured that if they spent the entire reality show season reinforcing the idea that these two don’t like each other, their title match at UFC 79 (entitled “Nemesis”, by the way) would bring big pay-per-view money.

Understandable though it may be, this is somewhat disturbing.  It seems like the UFC sees Serra as a Buster Douglas in the making.  They don’t believe he’ll successfully defend the title against any top-tier welterweight, so they want to make sure they squeeze all the cash they can out of him before he gives up the belt.

The real loser here is St. Pierre.  He has to sit on the sidelines and wait for this “Nemesis” bout to happen, and then he’ll probably have to sit around some more and wait for a fight with the winner.  And what does he do in the meantime?  He already beat Josh Koscheck, who was climbing toward number one contender status after his win over Diego Sanchez.

Now he has to hang around waiting for his next shot at a paycheck, figuring whether he’ll get to rematch Serra or whether he’ll have to beat Hughes again (and does anyone have any doubt that he will?)

What bothers me about this situation is not just that the title is on the shelf for so long because of a TV show, it’s that the UFC is putting so much emphasis on the need for a rivalry match.  Other than Hughes’ legacy as the longtime-champ, the only reason he’s getting this title shot at Serra is because the two men hate each other and people will pay to see that.

I’m all for a rivalry match from time to time, don’t get me wrong.  But if you already have the title at stake, you don’t need to manufacture a rivalry on a TV show.

For instance, what’s going to become of the lightweight title after Sean Sherk’s appeal at the end of the month?  Unless he becomes the first person to get a steroid suspension overturned in the state of California, he’ll be stripped of the title.  Then what?  Will the UFC look at their lightweight stable to see who they can make a rivalry fight with, then put those two guys in together?

In other words, will they arbitrarily decide which two men get to fight for the vacant title, and if so, who will they be?  Kenny Florian and some guy who hates Kenny Florian, assuming such a person can be found?

It’s no way to decide the future of a championship belt.  It rewards people who manufacture controversy rather than people who put on good fights (paging, Dr. Ortiz).  It’s more pro wrestling than it is pro fighting, and while I understand that a company’s objective is to make money, it seems smarter to look at the big picture rather than just the short term pay-per-view cash on the table.

Maybe I’m the only one bothered by this, I don’t know.  But if the next season of TUF features coaches Tim Sylvia and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, we’re all going to be longing for the good old days when title fights happened without the benefit of a drawn out reality show.  That, and wondering why the UFC didn’t learn from Sylvia’s disastrous appearance on Blind Date.  I know I did.

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Filed under Anderson Silva, Georges St. Pierre, Matt Hughes, Matt Serra, MMA, Sean Sherk, Sports, UFC