Category Archives: UFC 75

Bashing Bisping, and Other Judging Woes

I’ll be the first to say that I don’t think Michael Bisping deserved a split decision victory over Matt Hamill at UFC 75. Hamill looked strong from start to finish, winning every round in my book, and he surprised a lot of people in doing so. But the bigger surprise came when the judges’ scores were announced and Bisping was somehow awarded two of the three rounds by two of the three judges (one of whom was Cecil Peoples, but what’s the other guy’s excuse?).

But a recent Yahoo! Sports article by Kevin Iole made a big deal over Bisping’s perceived lack of class after the match. In the post-fight press conference he was asked by a man who Dana White later claimed to be a Hamill cornerman whether he felt he truly won the fight. When Bisping responded that he did, the faux-journalist asked, “Seriously?”

Anyone who’s ever been in a post-fight press conference can tell you there’s only one reason a reporter (or cornerman) would ask that question. He was trying to get a rise out of Bisping, trying to prod him into action under the guise of asking a real question. Unfortunately, he got what he wanted.

According to Iole, Bisping responded by saying, “”What do you mean, seriously? Do you want to go three rounds? … Of course I won the decision. Get the (expletive) out of here. Get that smile off your face.”

Then, reports Iole, Bisping made an obscene gesture.

So this is where everyone piles on Bisping, criticizing him for his lack of grace when just a few hours earlier he was the media darling. I understand the sentiment, but Bisping deserves a break.

What people are upset about to begin with is the bad decision. I agree it was the wrong call, but it’s not Bisping’s fault. He fought his heart out. Unless he got absolutely pummeled a fighter will almost always feel that he won. It’s like when a bad call works in favor of your favorite sports team. You immediately want to believe it was the right call, even if some part of you knows it wasn’t.

Now just imagine how that feeling would be amplified if you were on the team, the only one on the team, and if your paycheck was riding on the call.

It’s reasonable for Bisping to have blinders on here, and it’s also reasonable for him to react angrily to someone hiding among the press corps and trying to tear him down in front of international media.

But the bigger problem that people are struggling with is the judging, especially since the UFC had to select their own judges due to the lack of MMA regulation in the U.K. From my experiences with the IFL, I know how quick people are to blame the organization for a bad call, even though it’s completely absurd.

Whatever I may think of Dana White, I do not believe he would instruct the judges to give a fight to a particular fighter. He may be crude and brash, but he respects fair competition and, as an astute businessman, would realize he has far more to lose than gain by putting the UFC’s credibility on the line like that.

The IFL stills gets emails from people who are upset about the decision in the Ben Rothwell-Roy Nelson fight. They claim we’re trying to prop Rothwell up, that the fight was a farce, that Jimmy Hoffa’s body was hidden under the ring. You name it. Nelson even appealed the decision, and for some reason he genuinely thought it might get overturned, despite the fact that this almost never happens.

The Rothwell-Nelson fight was closer than Bisping-Hamill. And I’ve talked to both Rothwell and Nelson several times since that fight and both are absolutely convinced that they won, so much so that they can’t even comprehend how anyone could disagree with them. They’re fighters, and that mindset comes with the territory.

But one thing all fighters know is that as soon as you allow a fight to go to a decision, you’ve already placed yourself at risk. The only way to be certain of the outcome is to finish the fight. Judges have done some crazy things, and they will continue to do more crazy things in the future. It doesn’t mean there’s a conspiracy at work. It just means that judges are people, and sometimes people make mistakes (especially those who have the word ‘people’ embedded in their last name, for instance).

It’s understandable to be upset about a bad decision, but there’s no reason to jump all over Bisping or the UFC for it, just like there’s no reason to keep sending crazy emails to the IFL about fights that happened six months ago.

The best way to deal with it is to do what the IFL’s John Gunderson did, when he was absolutely robbed of a win over Bart Palaszewski on the same card as Rothwell-Nelson. In the post-fight press conference, as well as in the post-press conference bar conference that has become my favorite ritual while on the road with the IFL, he allowed that, yes, he believed he should have won, but it was his own fault for not making that more evident. That’s class.

As for Palaszewski, he admitted that it wasn’t his best performance and that he was surprised to have gotten the decision. He did not make any obscene gestures or swear at anyone, but then again nobody in the press conference was enough of a jerk to try and get him to.

Class is something we have a right to expect from everyone, after all, not just the fighters.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Bart Palaszewski, Ben Rothwell, Cecil Peoples, Dana White, IFL, John Gunderson, Matt Hamill, Michael Bisping, Roy Nelson, UFC 75

Is “Rampage” For Real? Plus, Other Post-UFC Thoughts and Regrets

Halfway through last night’s title fight between Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Dan (I guess we’re calling him “Dangerous” now?) Henderson, I couldn’t help but wonder i f maybe both these guys had something important to do after the bout. It was as if neither wanted to take a chance on expending too much energy by really trying for the finish, despite the fact that this was supposed to be the big time title unification bout.

I could understand a somewhat slow pace in the first round. Feeling one another out is normal, and the match was scheduled for five rounds, which is a long time just to keep your hands up in front of your face. But neither of these two really seemed to go for broke at any point.

The closest either came was a couple of heavy flurries from Jackson and a couple of attempted kimura locks from Henderson (though he seemed more interested in using them to reverse position than as a submission). Several times Henderson gained side mount only to wait for Jackson to escape.

In the fifth round I really expected to see at least Henderson – who had to know he was behind on the scorecards, what with Matt Lindland yelling at him between rounds – take a risk and try to make something big happen.

That moment never came, and Jackson got a hard-earned decision. A drop to middleweight is the best course for Hendo now. The size and strength difference is evident.

As for Jackson, he looked like a real fighter for the first time in a long time. No longer relying on pure aggression and power, he showed some technique and some poise. Maybe having a steady training camp and little more maturity with age is paying off.

Next stop: rematch with “Shogun” Rua?

“Cro Cop” Fizzles

I think it’s finally time to put to rest the notion that Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic is among the world’s most feared strikers. Cheick Kongo easily handled him for three rounds and only seemed to gain confidence with each failed high kick from the Croatian.

(Note to UFC commentator Mike Goldberg: I understand why you went out of your way to say that “Cro Cop” was a one-time member of the Croatian Parliament, and that it’s a governmental body equivalent to the U.S. Senate, but even you had to realize how silly you sounded.)

It’s going to be hard for the UFC to know what to do with “Cro Cop” now. There simply isn’t a good match-up out there for him anymore. They may try to put him against somebody they want to get over with the fans, but it’s debatable whether “Cro Cop” has any heat left at all after this showing.

Bisping Gets Hometown Love

The worst decision of the night came in the light heavyweight bout between TUF winner Michael Bisping and deaf former college wrestling champion Matt Hamill.

(Another note to Goldberg: Did you really say that the Div. III champion Hamill was the most decorated wrestler to enter the Octagon in a long time? Really? Somewhere Josh Koscheck is pissed, and Matt Lindland just shakes his head and shrugs at Randy Couture and Dan Henderson.)

Hamill looked better than ever, particularly in his striking game and stand-up defense. With his natural ability he could end up being a serious contender at 205 lbs. someday, though he’s still unable to do much on the mat after the takedown. Bisping was a game fighter from beginning to end, but he didn’t deserve the split decision victory and had the fight taken place in any other country, he wouldn’t have gotten it.

Now I know how Brazilians feel when they fight in the U.S.

Yet again we see judge Cecil Peoples on the wrong end of a bad decision. Granted, one other judge saw it the same way, but Peoples is a repeat offender. I mean, he must be bad because he’s the only MMA judge I can even name. It’s getting to the point where fighters who’ve just put on a strong performance have to feel a little sick when they hear the phrase, “and judge Cecil Peoples scores the bout…”

Seriously, someone ought to go stand by Peoples and make sure he’s really watching the fights. Maybe give him pop quizzes throughout just to keep his attention, and not just on the fight at hand either. Let’s see if he can judge any dispute between two conflicting parties.

Quick, Cecil, who won World War II?

It’s either that, or let’s get a more competent judge in there. I’m thinking maybe one of those chickens that can play Tic-Tac-Toe. I hear they work cheap.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cecil Peoples, Dan Henderson, Matt Hamill, Michael Bisping, Quinton Jackson, UFC 75

UFC 75 Betting Lines: How Much Faith Do You Have In Your Ability to Predict the Future?

Whenever a big MMA card rolls around I always have to check the betting lines.  It’s strange, really, especially when you consider that I’ve never made a bet on an MMA fight except with friends (still think Hughes was a good pick over GSP, Matt Powers?  Sucker.)

As something of an industry insider, or at the very least, industry nerd, I feel like I should be able to pick fights better than the Vegas handicappers at least some of the time.  When the IFL went to Vegas, for instance, there were lines on some of our fighters who I’m sure the handicappers had never seen in the ring before.

And yet, when I looked at the lines for that event they all seemed pretty accurate.  That is, even if I thought that an underdog might win, the line wasn’t good enough to make the risk worth it.  Which is how betting odds work, when you think about it.  I guess my grandfather was right: they don’t build all those big casinos from people winning.

Here now, is a breakdown on the betting lines for UFC 75, as found on betus.com:

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (-140) vs. Dan Henderson (110)

It’s hard for me to understand why Jackson is the betting favorite here, unless it’s owing to so many MMA fans putting money on him because they can’t remember anything past six months ago.

I just can’t see how Jackson might win this one.  Hendo is nearly impossible to KO, and he’s excellent on the ground so a submission is out of the question.  The only explanation I can come up with is Henderson’s relatively poor record against 205-pounders.  Then again, “Rampage” isn’t exactly on par with the Nogueria brothers.

My pick: Henderson.  Even so, the betting line isn’t good enough.  +110 means laying down a hundred bucks gets you a hundred and ten, and it’s not out of the question for “Rampage” to land one big punch and get lucky.

Save your money and put it toward something useful, like an Affliction T-shirt.  I hear the ladies just go crazy for a middle-aged guy in one of those, provided that middle-aged guy is rich.

Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (-400) vs. Chieck Kongo (300)

This is where some money could be made.  “Cro Cop” is very beatable right now, and Kongo has some great skills when he decides to get aggressive and use them.  The problem is that both men are so unpredictable, and “Cro Cop” usually does well against strikers.

I’ve heard Kongo running off at the mouth about his wrestling skills of late, but it sounds like bravado to me.  Still, I can definitely see Kongo catching “Cro Cop” early on if he comes right at him.  Trying to hang back and counter-strike against the Croatian is a bad idea, but no one ever accused Kongo of having the greatest strategical mind.

My pick: Kongo.  If it were someone else’s money, or if I just had more of it to spare, I’d put a hundred down on Kongo in a second.  Then again, there’s a reason I’m not dipping into my savings to bet against “Cro Cop”, who can be vicious when he wants to be.

Michael Bisping (-240) vs. Matt Hamill (180)

Honestly, I’m a little surprised that Hamill isn’t a bigger underdog in this one.  The guy’s a good wrestler, but have we seen him do anything else very well?  Bisping is a complete fighter.  You’re not going to wrestle your way to a decision over him, and that’s pretty much Hamill’s strategy every time out.

The only reason this fight is even happening is because Hamill had the good (or bad?) sense to call Bisping out publicly a few months back.  That, added to the little bit of bad blood between them on the reality show, combined with Bisping being an obvious draw for an event in the U.K., is how this ended up on the card.

My pick: Bisping.  You’re not going to make any money off of it, and that’s the way the bookmakers like it.

Bisping needs to fight some tougher competition, and I think he will after this one is over.  It’s just too bad Thierry Sokoudjou isn’t in the UFC, because that would be an interesting match.  In the meantime, Bisping vs. Arona, anyone?

Houston Alexander (-160) vs. Alessio Sakara (130)

Assuming Alexander’s gritty performance against Keith Jardine (who has now been demoted to “The Guidance Counselor of Mean”) wasn’t just a flash in the pan, he should handle the striker Sakara fairly easily.

While I like Sakara – mainly for his awesome ancient Roman tattoos, but also for his skillful striking – I can’t understand why he doesn’t seem to have a sense of urgency about learning the ground game.  Dean Lister submitted him faster than he used to submit me when I trained at Fabio Santos’ (then again, Dean is too nice a guy to beat the hell out of beginners), and Drew McFedries made similarly short work of him in a very winnable bout for “Legionarius”.

My pick: Alexander.  I’d like to see Sakara win a big one here, but I learned long ago not to bet with my heart.

Marcus Davis (-210) vs. Paul Taylor (165)

Do you even care?  Seriously?  Fine.  But here’s a word of advice: when the UFC brings in a guy nicknamed the “The Irish Hand Grenade” to fight on a card in the U.K., it’s not so he can lose.  Not unless he’s fighting a Brit, that is.

My pick: Davis.

P.S. Nobody tell the London crowd that Davis is really from Bangor, Maine.  Not unless you want to see them start a riot and turn over a bunch of funny-looking British cars and weird red telephone booths.  On second thought, go ahead and tell them.

Leave a comment

Filed under Betting, UFC 75

Is UFC 75’s Main Event a True Unification Bout?

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is the UFC’s newly crowned light heavyweight champion.  Dan Henderson was the reigning middleweight and light heavyweight champion at the time of Pride’s decline and fall.  But now that Pride is just a pleasant memory, does this still count as a title unification bout?

Short answer: maybe not technically, but it’s close enough.

I mean, let’s be honest.  It’s not the kind of unification bout that Fedor Emelianenko versus Randy Couture would be.  That’s the stuff pay-per-view dreams are made of.  But this is good enough for now.

What we have is a former Pride fighter in Jackson (who was, let’s not forget, basically spit out the bottom of the ranks and into the quickly defunct WFA) who caught a quick break in the UFC based mainly on his charisma and marketability.  He beat Chuck Liddell for the title, and no one can take that away from him.  I have a feeling that if they fought ten more times Liddell would win nine, but it doesn’t work that way.

That being said, championship reigns have been built on frailer ground.  “Rampage” is the UFC champ, and that’s that.  But what of Henderson?

He was most successful in Pride as a 185-pounder until he went up in weight for a second time and destroyed Wanderlei Silva.  Of course, Silva fans will tell you that Wanderlei lost because he was battling everything from injuries to illnesses to Brazilian gypsy curses, but that’s irrelevant now.

All sources indicate that debuting as a light heavyweight in the UFC was Henderson’s idea, which is a little surprising.  He’s a bulldog of a fighter with almost no finesse in his game, and going up against 205-pounders means giving up size and strength.  Of his five losses, four are against light heavyweights.

It begs the question: did Henderson decide to fight at 205 pounds before or after Jackson won the title?

The main argument against this fight as a unification affair is that it’s essentially two Pride fighters going at it.  It doesn’t give us a good sense of which organization had the superior champion, at least not the way the Liddell-Silva bout would have back before Silva started to look like a fighter on the way down.

But the truth is Pride is gone now, so the question now longer matters.  The time to have a true unification bout was last summer.  It didn’t happen.  What we can get from this bout is an end to the bickering.  Whoever wins is the legitimate 205-pound UFC champ, making him the legitimate 205-pound  MMA champ, at least for the time being.

Either way, Liddell will have an opportunity to earn his way back to a title fight.  So will “Shogun” Rua, and so will Wanderlei Silva.  If what we’re looking for is some kind of bout to cement a permanent champ, forget it.  This is the best we’re going to get, and kudos to the UFC for making it happen right away and putting it on free TV in the U.S.

The influx of Pride fighters into the UFC is a great thing for fight fans.  But not because it gives us the opportunity to match them up against each other over and over again with the hopes of proving which organization was “better”.  That’s silly and ultimately answers nothing.

It’s a great thing because it means better fighters, more competitive bouts, and a seemingly endless train of legitimate contenders at almost every weight class.  You can’t ask for much more than that, though that’s never stopped anyone from trying.

Leave a comment

Filed under Dan Henderson, Quinton Jackson, UFC 75