Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Deep cuts, death threats and getting naked.

Last month really set the scene for some serious trash talking . The amateur dramatics of January seemed to have spilt over into February, whipping the world of pro-mma into a state pantomime. A whole number of sub-plots and storylines with their various villains, heroes and jesters cropped up to provide us the fans with both entertainment and embarrassment in equal measure. The Celebrity merry-go-round continued to turn. Will Dana White take the mainstream bait of former MLB player Jose Canseco's relentless self-promotion? If he does it sends out a message to the world that all it takes to be a pro MMA fighter is a twitter account, the gift of the gab and some semblance of fading athleticism.  At least Kimbo had a whole backlog of YouTube beat downs to put forward as a reliable testament to his potential and...eh....skills.

It certainly looks like Strikeforce are entertaining the idea, as a picture of Canseco eating dinner with Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker was circulated on the internet. Maybe this is what MMA needs in order to help it adjust and become part of the mainstreams collective consciousness. A few cheap celebrity lays? These instances (Toney, Canseco, DMX etc etc) feel like MMA is acting like a desperate actress who is sleeping with directors in order to get a part in a blockbuster. Just believe in your sport and the appeal of your dedicated pro's and the exposure and growth will follow.

Frank Mir wants to 'kill' Brock Lesnar and make him the first official death in the octagon....wow. You make it so hard for us to warm to you Frank. Last month Lesnar accused you of being a stalker and I think this proves his point. This is truly stalker-ish type talk. I would not be surprised if he has a slightly over-sized voodoo doll of Lesnar in his glove compartment that he regularly pokes with his car keys. This whole Lesnar- Mir feud reminds me of the mind games played between Kevin Keegan and Alex Ferguson back in the tile race of 1995. Kevin Keegan famously lost it on Sky One and screamed 'I'd love it if we beat them' and well...they didn't. The mentally superior Alex Ferguson got in his head and made Keegan implode right in front of our very eyes. The same thing is happening with Mir. He is mentally playing into Lesnar's hands, angry fighter's often cripple themselves. Were his comments really that bad? To the outsider it probably reinforced their already negative pre-conceptions about MMA. To the informed and engaged fan it's just Frank Mir getting himself a little worked up.

Where did Chael Sonnen come from? It feels like he just popped up, defeated Nate Marquardt, trash talked and then got a title shot. He has certainly given Dan Hardy a run for his money in terms of self-promotion. He denounced Anderson Silva as 'over rated', branded Mark Coleman a 'bum' and derided Strikeforce for providing inferior opposition. It will come as no surprise then that Sonnen is also pursuing a career in politics. Hence he has mastered the art of spin. He did,however, put on a solid display of wrestling and managed to smother the dangerous offence of Marquardt. It was a solid performance. However, in the end it turns out he will not be fighting Silva next. He has not been cleared by doctors to begin sparring until early March due to the injuries he incurred from the Marquardt fight. Step up Demian Maia and his slightly improved but entirely inferior striking. I love Maia's grappling and he better love it too against Silva.

Chuck Liddel was recently involved in a random, yet hilarious YouTube viral of him working out naked in his gym with his girlfriend. Apparently it is a covert method to promote his sponsorship with Reebok. Chuck continues to be the guy that does the things we all want to do, but have neither the fame nor the sheer brazenness to carry out. The internet continues to be a source of mma amusement, with another chapter ubfolding in the photoshop wars on the UG forum between Josh Koshcek and Paul Daley. First Koshcek threatens to 'put his foot down Daley's throat' and then Daley rebuttals with the following...

Vesquez vs. Nogeuria was a fight that seemed to best symbolise the changing of the guard in the heavier weight divisions of the UFC. After a two-punch combination, he forced the stoppage with a five-punch medley on the ground at 2:20 into the opening round. Vesquez is a legitimate contender, the doubters have been silenced. Lets not be too quick to right off Nogueria. Randy Couture continues to silence his critics and has shown an ability to evolve. Nogueria possesses a similar kind of passion and fighter intelligence. If he can honestly re-evaluate his skill-set and put in place the necessary adjustments he will continue to be a a worthy competitor in the octagon. The heavyweight division in the UFC has really turned a corner.

George Sotiropoulos and Joe Stevenson were awarded matching $50,000 “Fight of the Night” bonuses at UFC 110 after their three-round battle ended in a unanimous decision victory for the Australian. Sotiropoulos, 32, showcased his well rounded skills particularly his black belt Jiu-Jitsu. I particularly enjoyed this fight. It was refreshing to witness a great display of world class grappling between these two fighters and see Sotiropoulos begin to fulfil his early potential. The Australian press had a bit of a field day with the blood bath that took place in the octagon. Anthony Perosh recieved a cut the size of the grand canyon which led to a doctors stoppage verses Mirko Cro Cop. Soszynski defeated Bonnar via TKO (cut) at 1:04 of round 3, which was caused by a controversial but seemingly accidental head-butt. It's a combat sport...people get hurt.

On a completely different note I recently attended a UK MMA event. I was generally impressed by the production of the event. However, one fighter 'no showed' for a title fight because he got into a fight on the way to the event. Some people in the crowd seemed to think that was 'well hard' and somehow worthy of our respect and admiration. I thought it was pathetic and disrespectful. This was a title fight. I don't want to be entirely negative about UK MMA, I genuinely enjoyed the evening, but this kind of unprofessional behaviour is just unacceptable.

The month of March is stacked with great fights. Jon Jones vs Brandon Vera, should be a great match up of styles. I am also looking forward to seeing the continued development of Junior Dos Santos when he takes on Gabriel Gonzaga. Strikeforce Light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi is expected to appear against Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal in the CBS network televised event. Mir vs Carwin will conclude another chapter in the heavyweight saga. Then there is our very own Dan Hardy taking on Georges 'Rush' St.Pierre.

Lets hope for more drama in the octagon than out of it this March.


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