Category Archives: Mac Danzig

Danzig, Huerta Prove Themselves at TUF Finale

Mac Danzig’s moment in the sun has been a long time coming, but he proved why he deserved it last night in his dominating victory over Tommy Speer.  Forget the hype about the country-strong farm boy against the Hollywood vegan.  This fight was about experience and technique.  Danzig had both and Speer had neither.

It took only two minutes for Danzig to get Speer to the mat, gain the mount, and secure a rear naked choke.  Judging by Speer’s face afterward you might have thought it was a three-round war, but that just goes to show that Danzig truly was head and shoulders above the competition on this season of The Ultimate Fighter.

Danzig said even before the fight that he plans to move down to lightweight, where he belongs, so it should be interesting to see who the UFC puts him against now that he’s won the “six-figure contract”.  They’ve shown a penchant for protecting their reality show winners for the first year or so after their victory, but I can’t help but wonder if Danzig’s dominating run through the competition on the show will mandate that he be tested right away against a legitimate 155-pound contender.

One such contender — now that Sean Sherk has reportedly been stripped of the title following his failed steroid suspension appeal — has to be Roger Huerta.  He showed all the poise and skill of a champion in his exciting win over Clay Guida last night, weathering early pressure from the Cro-Magnon-like ball of energy that is Guida, eventually locking in a rear naked choke in the third round.

Guida looked good early on, taking Huerta down at will and remaining unphased no matter how many punches and kicks he had to eat on the way in.  But Huerta never got frustrated and kept a steady pressure on Guida, wearing him down before eventually submitting him.

Huerta’s calm under extreme duress seemed particularly impressive last night.  Immediately after being taken down he looked slightly annoyed, if anything, and would then begin working back to his feet as if it was already a foregone conclusion that he would get there.  I was a little surprised that his takedown defense wasn’t better than it was, but if that’s the biggest hole in his game it’s a relatively easy one to fix.

As Kenny Florian pointed out, however, one thing Huerta will have to learn as he faces tougher competition is that sometimes he should settle for gaining a superior position on the mat instead of always looking for the quick submission.  Several times Huerta attempted to roll right into an armbar or kneebar instead of just moving into a better position to strike from, and Guida was wily enough to escape and maintain control at the same time.

This is the kind of thing that “El Matador” will surely learn with more experience against top-tier opponents.  The UFC should give him all serious contenders from here on out and see if he really has what it takes to be a champion.  They’ve groomed him enough and we should see his next fight come against someone like Florian, which ought to give us an idea of exactly where he stands in the division.

In the other fights of the night, Jared Rollins and John Koppenhaver put on an exhilarating show in their back-and-forth match, and in the process Koppenhaver proved he’s not the fragile-minded fighter he looked like on the show.  Rollins missed several good opportunities to end the fight and saw it all come unglued when he got swept with a move straight out of Jiu-Jitsu 101, giving “War Machine” the mount and the chance to pound him into unconsciousness.

Matt Arroyo also looked good in his submission over John Kolosci, proving that his ground game might really be as good as advertised.

Ben Saunders and Dan Barrera fought to another decision, though this one more decisive in Saunders’ favor.

Troy “Rude Boy” Mandaloniz continued to prove his toughness and punching power with a TKO victory over Richie Hightower, despite letting his inexperience show when he failed to go after Hightower after hurting him several times early on.

All in all, a very successful event for a free TV UFC card, and one that provided more top-to-bottom entertainment value than some of the recent pay-per-views.

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Filed under Mac Danzig, MMA, Roger Huerta, Sports, TUF Finale, UFC

Betting Odds and Breakdowns: TUF Finale

The finale of The Ultimate Fighter offers a good chance to take advantage of the general lack of knowledge surrounding the reality show fighters.  Few people have seen enough of most of these guys to have a really good fix on what they’re capable of, and the variance in the betting lines from one online sportsbook to another bears that out.

It’s with this in mind that we now examine the odds for Saturday night’s TUF Finale, using the lines taken from bodoglife.com.  As with any analysis that you get for free, you should realize that I stand behind my picks, but am not responsible for/generally don’t care about the state of your finances should you choose to put money down on these fights.  Betting on professional fighting ranks just below scanning the beach with a metal detector as far as financial strategies go, so be warned.

That being said, let’s have some fun.

Roger Huerta (-115) vs. Clay Guida (-115)

Interesting choice here by Bodog.  By giving the same odds on each fighter, and yet making those odds slightly worse than even, they’re basically asking you not to bet on this fight unless you really, really want to.  This is a reflection of how unpredictable this fight is.  We haven’t seen Huerta tested in the UFC, and while Guida has faced some tough guys he hasn’t always done well against them.  Huerta is still my pick, but Guida keeps saying he’ll be surprised when the cage door closes.  I could see this going either way, and that’s why I’m staying away from it.

Mac Danzig (-150) vs. Tommy Speer (+120)

Danzig is the favorite, and for good reason.  He’s more experienced, more technical, and seems to have a sense of inevitability ala Hillary Clinton two months ago (note to Mac Danzig: I apologize for comparing you to Hillary Clinton just now.  I, uh, it just happened, okay?).  The downside is, as Danzig has said, the pressure is all on him.  Speer is just happy to be in the finals, as well he should be.  If he loses to Danzig people will just talk about what a great talent he’ll be someday.  If Danzig loses, it’s going to seem like this torturous experience after such a long climb up was completely wasted.  I’m picking Danzig, but so are the oddsmakers.

John Koppenhaver (-125) vs. Jared Rollins (-105)

I’m a little surprised to see J-Roc as the slight underdog.  He’s an all-around better fighter than Koppenhaver, not to mention that “War Machine’s” mental game is questionable at best.  We all saw him psych himself out on the show, and I have a feeling he’s just waiting for an excuse to lose here.  J-Roc will give him one upside his head, and the odds, while not great, are good enough.

George Sotiopoulos (-500) vs. Billy Miles (+300)

Stay faaaar away from this one.  The only way Miles is beating Sotiropoulos is if he sticks his thumb in his eye.  The odds reflect that.  It’s a longshot that could pay off big time if somehow Miles is a new man on Saturday night, but many a down-and-out gambler has been ruined by hopes like those.  Don’t do it.  I know it sounds cool in Bukowski novels and Hold Steady songs, but don’t do it.

Richie Hightower (-145) vs. Troy Mandaloniz (+115)

I like “Rude Boy’s” chances of pulling off the minor upset here.  Hightower never looked good on the show except against Blake Bowman, who is, you’ll notice, not on this card at all.  Mandaloniz has hopefully asked his friend B.J. Penn for a few jiu-jitsu tips since the show ended, and we all know he has a decent defense and some heavy hands.  I’m going with “Rude Boy”, no question.

Ben Saunders (-260) vs. Dan Barrera (+200)

I think this is going to be a lot closer than the first meeting, so I’m surprised the odds are so out of whack.  Saunders is good at using his lanky, awkward attack on the feet and the ground, but Barrera can be a buzz saw when he wants to be.  He lost that first fight due to inexperience, and I happen to know he’s been training with Tim Kennedy in the interim, which can’t possibly hurt his technical skill level.  I’m going with Barrera, but mainly because the odds are so great.  Saunders is going to be very tough.

Matt Arroyo (-330) vs. John Kolosci (+260)

Wow.  This surprises me.  Arroyo’s ground game gets touted on the internets a lot, but look at his record.  He’s 2-1 against nobody who matters.  Kolosci has had much tougher competition along the way to an 8-4 mark, and he beat jiu-jitsu fighter Erik Tavares, who I’ve trained with and can attest is an overwhelming presence on the mat.  I don’t know what people are seeing that I’m not, but I’d definitely be willing to lay a bet on Kolosci here.  He looked bad against Danzig, sure, but so will a lot of people.  Kolosci is my underdog pick of the night.

Roman Mitichyan (-500) vs. Dorian Price (+300)

I know what you’re thinking, but back away from the ledge.  Price has great striking skills and only needs one opening, but Mitichyan is another bad-ass Los Angeles Armenian who trains with Karo Parysian.  Think he knows how to spike a guy on his head and capitalize once he’s on the mat?  I do.  The odds on Kolosci (see above) are almost as good, and the chances of him actually winning are much better.  Look there if you want a heavy underdog so bad, you jerk.

Jonathan Goulet (-500) vs. Paul Georgieff (+300)

How come Georgieff is the only TUF contestant who has to fight a real, experienced opponent here?  Everyone else gets another reality show guy, he gets Goulet.  Talk about getting screwed.  If I’m Georgieff I’m wondering why they won’t feed me Blake Bowman.  Sotiropoulos gets Miles and he has to fight a veteran?  It just seems mean.  Anyway, I don’t think I have to tell you who I’m picking here.  Unless Goulet is injured or drunk for this fight (both, maybe?), he should get the win.

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Filed under Betting Odds, Clay Guida, Mac Danzig, MMA, Roger Huerta, Sports, The Ultimate Fighter, Tommy Speer, UFC

An Interview With Mac Danzig

Thanks to Crave Online, I got the chance to interview MMA fighter and TUF contestant Mac Danzig. If you couldn’t tell from the show, he’s an interesting guy with a lot of unique viewpoints. Here’s an excerpt from the interview.

Thanks for taking the time to talk with me, Mac. I know a lot of people probably want a piece of you right now.

Mac Danzig: No problem. I’ve been really busy and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with so many calls and emails all the time. I’m trying to keep a handle on it but I’m really not used to this.

I’m sure it must be pretty hectic. Did you anticipate that being on The Ultimate Fighter would change your life this much, this quickly?

MD: I did. I’ve known a lot of other cast members from previous seasons. I’m pretty good friends with guys like Forrest Griffin, Gray Maynard, and Andy Wang. I knew what they told me and so I had an idea of what to expect, but you don’t really understand what it’s going to be like until it happens.

I’m a pretty private person, but I did this for my career. It was a step in the right direction. I’m glad I did it, but I’m not the kind of person who indulges in the type of attention that comes with this. I just like fighting and training and I was trying to put myself in a spot to help my career. I anticipated that it would change my life, but I didn’t really know how much it would change things.

Let’s talk about you being such a private person. At times on the show you’ve made comments to suggest that you’re almost disdainful of the whole process, like you were upset that you had to go on this show in order to get into the UFC. Is that an accurate description of how you felt about it?

MD: I feel bad that I reacted that way. It was just a negative way of looking at things. The problem was that it was hard to maintain a positive attitude on that show. There were some good guys there, but I was also surrounded by guys who I wouldn’t normally choose to be around. Some of them, I don’t even know what they were there for. Maybe they were just there to be on TV and screw around and try to fight.

You’re always going to have some people like that on a reality show, but it just seemed like the percentage was a lot higher this time. I never meant to be disrespectful, but it was just that I was very serious about the position I was in and I was trying to win, and there were more than one or two guys there who were just along for the ride. It’s difficult for me to respect that.

There were definitely times when I wondered, what am I doing here? But I had friends who helped keep my mind right. You could see it in one other guy on (Matt) Serra’s team, George Sotiropoulos. He was in a similar position to me. He was very serious and wanted to work hard and he had these guys who expected him to be an alarm clock for them. I didn’t know that stuff was going on at the time, but when I saw the episode I knew how he felt. There are always guys who are serious and guys who aren’t. The guys who aren’t just get in the way.

Now that these episodes are airing, are you absolutely glued to the TV each Wednesday, anxious to find out how it came out?

MD: I was a little more worried about it at first. I think the worst part is over for me, but you never know what they’ll show and what they won’t. They’ve already chosen not to show quite a few things that I thought for sure they would. On one hand I’m a little concerned about it, but on the other hand what’s done is done and they’re going to show it or they’re not.

The one thing that I really regret was the way I kind of went off on Blake. I was angry and it wasn’t even at him, really. The way that I went about it wasn’t cool and if I could edit out anything it would probably be that. But hey, I did it and everything you do gets filmed, so that’s that.

I get an advance copy of each episode one day before it airs so I can do a little write-up, like a blog I’m doing for Spike TV. Even if I might have done some things I’m not proud of, I know who I am. I can’t help what other people are going to think of me now.

On the show you come off as something of a misanthrope. Do you think of yourself that way or is that just the result of reality show editing?

MD: I have misanthropic tendencies. That’s just part of my personality. Just about anybody has said, at one time or another, ‘Man, I can’t stand people.’ But I actually kind of do feel that way.

I’m a good person and I have a lot of friends, but when it comes down to it I like to be alone and I like nature, so when you stick me in a house with fifteen other guys who have very different personalities, that brings out more of the negativity in me. I’m not saying that I’m better or smarter than they are, but the producers put all those people together on purpose to create conflicts. I don’t hate human beings. It’s just that I would rather be by myself most of the time.

 

Seeing the show now and getting a sense of how things were on the other team, do you ever wish you could have been on Matt Serra’s team? Did you get a chance to learn from him at all while you were there?

MD: Going into it I never had any strong feelings about Matt Hughes or Matt Serra. I knew both guys would be good coaches in their own ways and both would be different from me in their own ways. I’ll be honest with you, I was expecting Serra to pick me second after Joe Scarola, but he didn’t. I was just there to win so I didn’t care too much.

I never really got to train with Serra or anybody on his team after that first day of evaluations. After that we were never in the gym at the same time for anything other than the fights or the weigh-ins. But even though our team had a losing streak I would much rather have been around the guys we had than some of the guys they had. It’s better to be on a team that has to deal with some losses than a team that has three or four complete imbeciles.

Matt Hughes seems to be coming off as kind of a jerk in this season. Do you think that’s accurate? What were your feelings on Hughes after the show?

MD: It’s hard for me to judge Hughes. He was kind of up and down, like the rest of us. The entire experience was an emotional rollercoaster for all of us, even the coaches. I really didn’t like the way he handled his coaching when we started dealing with the losses, but I can’t judge him for that. He’s only human and everybody deals with stuff in their own way.

I mean, I flipped out on Blake and treated him poorly for no real reason, so there were times when I didn’t deal with stuff in the best way either. He may have let his rivalry with Matt Serra cloud his judgment and some of those practices were really negative and made me not want to be there. But he also has good sides to him and is very caring.

He wanted to win and he’s very competitive. Maybe he’s a better fighter than a coach. I guess that’s the best way I can say it. I still don’t really know him. The environment of the show was a synthetic environment. They call it “reality” because it wasn’t scripted, but it wasn’t real either. I have no vocabulary to explain how strange the whole experience was.

Read the full interview at Crave Online.

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Filed under Mac Danzig, MMA, Sports, The Ultimate Fighter, UFC, Uncategorized

The Ultimate Fighter Rolls On With Another Mismatch

Readers of this blog will already know that I like The Ultimate Fighter. I never miss it if I can help it, which puts it up there with Hardball with Chris Matthews as the only TV shows I make it a point to watch. But last night’s episode drove home a point that’s been bothering me for several seasons, and it has to do with casting.

Last night’s episode featured a match between Team Serra’s Richie Hightower and Team Hughes’ Blake Bowman. If you didn’t see it I’m going to spoil the ending for you by telling you that Hightower won easily in the first round. But then, just a little research into these two competitors might also spoil it for you , because that’s when you’d discover that while Hightower is a respectable 7-1 as a pro, Bowman is 0-0. As in he’s never had a professional match. As in what the hell is he doing on a show that purports to match rising MMA stars against one another to determine the “ultimate fighter”?

No matter how they might try to spin it, that’s a credibility problem. That tells us that Bowman was cast because he’s a funny, likable guy. And he is that. He seems like someone you might like to hang out and joke with. But he doesn’t seem like a fighter. In the words of Mac Danzig, “what is he doing here?”

The sad thing is that, as Danzig implied, Bowman is in someone else’s spot. Somewhere in America there is a capable guy who auditioned for TUF who’s sitting at home, watching Bowman yuck it up en route to an ugly performance in the Octagon, and he’s mad as hell. He knows that he could have at least had a chance on the show, while Bowman was finished before he even started.

I have to believe that no one — not the producers, not Dana White, not whoever Bowman’s trainer is — expected him to have a legitimate chance at winning the TUF competition. Which means the entire show is, to some extent, a set-up.

Let’s say Mac Danzig wins, which seems very possible. He’s a great fighter who’s been doing this for years and has racked up an impressive record against quality opponents. If he wins TUF, that becomes his identity, the way it did for Diego Sanchez and Forrest Griffin and Michael Bisping and so on. He gets a six-figure contract and a fast-track to UFC success.

But what does winning TUF mean if the field is made of guys like Bowman? Of course they’re not all like that — some are serious threats — but if the producers are willing to put a mark like Bowman in the place of someone who might have had a chance just because he’s more entertaining on camera, the accomplishment means a little less.

Danzig, to his credit, seems to have figured that out. He also seems pissed off about it. Not only does he hate Richie Hightower just for being himself, the previews for next week show him turning on Bowman. I’m sure the producers are going to edit that into a major face-heel turn by Danzig, but it might be the most rational response possible. He’s realizing that this TV show is not an entirely serious competition. It’s more like a, I don’t know, TV show.

This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop watching TUF. But I can’t understand why they don’t realize it’s to their benefit to fill the roster with credible fighters. So far this season, all the fights have been quick, unsatisfying affairs. That’s because they’ve got a huge gap in talent between the guys they picked for competition and the guys they picked because they needed someone for those other guys to beat up on.

I don’t know if they think a one-sided beating is something MMA fans want to see, but it’s not. At least, not me. I’d rather see a real match between two real competitors. I guess I’ll have to wait for the end of the season.

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Filed under Mac Danzig, MMA, Sports, The Ultimate Fighter, TV, UFC