Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Pride Final Conflict Absolute

Just got done watching the Pride Final Conflict Absolute and must say it was a great show. Let me fist say I’m more a UFC fan the Pride although I have been catching up on my Pride with the FSN shows. I prefer the octagon cage to the ring. I just hate the whole move them to the center of the ring if they go under the ropes thing as well as the stomps and soccer kicks on the ground. Those scare the crap out of me. That said, here’s my thoughts on the Absolute Finals:

Mirko Cro Cop vs Wanderlei Silva- I admit these are my 2 favorite Pride fighters Cro Cop in particular. I haven’t seen enough of Vandy’s recent fights to truly judge his skills against the best fighters in the world but based on reputation, I expected more. I know there’s the size thing but it really isn’t all that significant. Cro Cop just destroyed him. This was far and away the most dominant Cro Cop has looked to me. He’s totally progressed from his days as a kick boxer to a MMA stud. That final kick was just ugly and scary.

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs Josh Barnett- Way too close to call and I honestly don’t know Pride judging criteria as well as UFC’s. Great, great fight though. I’ve gained a lot of respect for Josh Barnett even in his losses. I was in Vegas when he beat Randy Coture and was not impressed. His doughboy like physique fooled me into thinking him soft. He looked phenomenal in this tournament and he has the one attribute that will help get Pride over to more mainstream US fans. He cuts an awesome promo. Noguiera just seems impossible to beat via knockout or tap out. I’d love to see this fight again.

Alexander Emelianenko vs. Sergey Kharitonov- Like with Barnett, I probably let Alexander’s appearance belie his ability and also his size. He is a devastating striker. On the same hand Kharitonov should be dope slapped for his taunting and showboating as I had him winning the first round.

Mirko Cro Cop vs. Josh Barnett- This was simply Cro Cop’s night. I was impressed Barnett hung in there taking some crazy hard shots. Even without the war with Nogueira I don’t know if Barnett was beating Cro Cop on this night. I don’t know if anyone was.
This left me salivating for another Cro Cop/Fedor fight. For Cro Cop to be considered the best in the world he has to beat Fedor and I don’t know if I see that happening

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Time to walk away?

Last Saturday I watched the Arturo Gatti/Carlos Baldomir fight. Now I know little about Baldomir other then he beat Zab Judah but either he's a spectacular name to watch boxer or, more likely, it's time for Gatti to retire. I can say without a doubt Gatti was the most entertaining fighter of the last decade. But, the Gatti I've seen in his last 3 fights is more reminsiscent of the post rising star pre Mickey Ward Gatti who gave it his all but who's style against the best in his class usually ended with him on the losing end and his face looking like something out of Raging Bull.

A lot of boxing "fans" only know Gatti/Ward and don't know much of the pre-Ward Arturo "Thunder" Gatti. We're talking a man who has earned fight of the year honors 5 times including 3 years in a row. If you've never seen these fights, go out of your way to see them particularly Gatti/Rodriguez and Gatti/Ruelas. These fights will tell you all you need to

know about Gatti's style. In both fights he came back from vicious beatings to snare victory from the jaws of defeat. His career seemed to stall after going up in weight to lightweight and engaging in wars with Angel Manfredy and Ivan Robinson (the 2nd Robinson fight was again fight of the year). Experts started thinking his all out style which made him so popular was going to end his career early. After the Gamanche incident (which changed the ruling on fight weigh-ins) and an ill advised move up in weight class to fight Oscar De La Hoya, He returned to Jr. welterweight for the now famous (and profitable) Micky Ward trilogy. Since then, particularly the last 3 fights you're simply not seeing the same fighter.

We saw some of the same Gatti in fights against Morin and Leija but he was made to look foolish agaisnt the skills of the current best fighter in the world in Floyd Mayweather. The Gatti who fought Baldomir was smaller, slower and weaker then his opponent. I almost had to stop watching. He's just been through too many wars. He breaks his hand nearly every fight. Step away Thunder. As one of the many who cheered while you bled for us I say walk away. As one of the many who jumped up and shouted when you came off the canvas with an eye so closed it looked like a special effect to knock out Wilson Rodriguez I say walk away. As someone who lived and died by every round with Micky Ward and had his faith in boxing restored I plead...WALK AWAY. You've got personality and charisma, hopefully you've save some money, and you all but own Atlantic City. Walk away Arturo, walk away. Thanks for all you've done, but please, walk away!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Recent thoughts across the board

Some recent thoughts on all subjects:

1) Silva-Lidell- Wow. I mean, wow. However, they are going to have to promote the crap out of how good Silva is to pop a big buyrate as the live crowd kinda seemed like...who? It's a risk to have Lidell possibly get destroyed and NOT pop a huge buyrate. That said, I think the rules favor Chuck as without the stomping and soccer kicks you take away a lot of typical Silva finishes

2) ECW-I'm in a quandry here. I want to like it, but man, it's hard. I mean, to date Jerry Lawler's old creedo of Extremely Crappy Wrestling is the truest thing about the new ECW. The idea of bringing in mainstream WWE guys every week is great for ratings but is doing nothing to build the fan base they are looking for. I'm looking forward to CM Punk but having seen him live and on countless ROH vids, I fear the long match concept that got him over will never happen here.

3) I have lost a lot of interest in Smackdown (partly because of the night it's on) and rarely if ever get back to watching it (I TiVo it). That said, I think the 2 tag teams of Kendrick/London and Kash/Noble are the most exciting thing on the show and have a chance (however small) to get over.

4) Similarly, I have lost inerest in TNA. They really took the onus off the best part of the company by moving Joe, Styles, and Daniels out of the X Division. I'm hoping Sen She can catch fire and undo the hard the loss of these three guys and the negative rub of Kevin Nash has done to what was the best part of any PPV's

Monday, July 03, 2006

Recent UFC thoughts

Catching up on recent UFC issues:

The Ultimate Finale- Well, man, once again a top notch show. The Ed Herman/Kendall Grove fight was beyond anything I would have suspected. Both guys left nothing on the table and the fight could have gone either way. Both gave out and received tons of punishment. Herman seemed stroger but Kendall's cardio was unreal. I was un the edge of my seat the whole fight. How Ed hung in at the end was amazing. The 2 contract thing will become old the more often it happens, but it was the right call. This was a more ground based version of Stefan Bonner/Forset Griffin and depending on how they do against other opponents, a rematch eventullay would garner a lot of interest.

Michael Bisping may be the find of all 3 seasons. He's fast and strong and if he hadn't messed up on the knee while opponent is on the ground would have easily scored a fast first round victory. He has a little attitude as well which a lot of fans like. With Europe being a major target market, UFC is banking on this guy. Josh Haynes proved to be a tough guy and a great story. I can't beleive he's talking about dropping to 175 as he looks kinda "loose" even at 205. Well, he probably earned himself another fight or 2.

Kenny Florian continues to impress me. I'm amazed how well he did at 2 weight classes above his natural weight. His striking (especially those razor sharp elbows) has improved a ton and his ground and submissions are top notch. I am really hoping they can establish the 155 weight class as the action is unbeleivable.

On the rest of the show, I was pumped Little Evil Jens Pulver was back as he was a personal favorite and a real challenge at 155. The Shamrock/Ortiz dynamic was totally missing from the show. It would have really been the time for one of Ken's pro wrestling promos to sell a few more PPV buys. Keith Jardine got what should have been his second win in a row after getting jobbed against Stefan Bonner and Matt Hammill looked much improved since the show. If he can learn some submission, watch out

Ultimate Fight Night-A much more exciting show top to bottom then T.U.F. While I didn't feel the best fight was as good as Herman/Grove, The Cummo/Goulet fight was off the charts exciting. While by UFC judging the scores seemed about right as Goulet really dominated the action, I feel Luke came a lot closer to actually finishing the the fight and the 2 chokes at the end were unreal. Luke has actually upped his worth in 2 close losses. The rest of the card really seemed to me to be a recent trend of all the T.U.F. guys moving up in competition and really showing where they are at. Bonner has been unimpressive in his last 3 fights including being dominated by Rashad. Rashad has great wrestling skills but is the kind of fighter the fans hate as he simply controls the ground and does nothing from there. Leben was destroyed in remarkable fashion. Joe Stephenson already lost, Brad Immes seems to have disappeared, Nate Quarry got destroyed and may be done. The true stars from the show appear to be Winners Forest Griffin who remains strong despite the loss to Ortiz, Diego Sanchez who remains a top contender despite being very unpopular with the crowd, Kenny Florian a real threat at 155 and Mike Swick who continues to impress. OK, I know that was a real rant. In general tho, I was really impressed with Goulet, Cummo, and Anderson Silva...really impressed with Anderson Silva.

Shamrock/Ortiz 2- I don't think this fight has any chance of living up to the hype and will be a 2 round destruction of Shamrock (a personal favorite) by Ortiz. Ken just hasn't changed his style with the times and at his age, while always having a chance, unless Tito makes a mistake, he's looking at a one sided loss. Arlovski/Sylvia is a tough call. Arlovski seemed unbeatable until the shocking finish against Tim Sylvia last fight. I think Syliva is underestimated a lot but feel Arlovski is just too much. This one doesn't make it past the first round again

Saturday, June 24, 2006

ECW 2006

So we're 2 weeks in to the new ECW and the reviews are mixed at best. I'm hardly on the "extreme" negative end of things like a lot of people, but I also don't think there is any way the ECW of the past is coming back.

The largest hurdle to me is taping at large arenas that WWE shows are what people bought tickets to see. ECW in it's day was an outlaw promotion who's fans hated the current wrestling product and wanted something new. Small 600-2000 seat buildings created a totally different atmosphere then the generic WWE big arena shows. The low key, low class buildings were very much a part of the ECW experience. The idea of dimming the lights this past week certainly helped but it's simply not the same. If you ever attending an ECW show in the day, much like at One Night Stand, the audience was part of the experience. The chants, the bringing "plunder" to the show, the close proximity of the wrestlers...That's simply not going to happen at the DCU Center, Wachovia Center, etc.

The other major hurdle is the wrestlers themselves. Other then Sabu and maybe Sandman in his new role none of the old school ECW guys are going to get over with the fans. Most are being used as cannon fodder for the new WWE ECW guys and are there simply to bridge the gap for the old fans. They are going to have to stand by their concept of building and all new ECW. This is going to mean making stars of unknown development types. Paul Heyman has the ability to do this. The question is going to be will the other writers and VKM going to let this happen. Most of the WWE guys will consider moving to ECW a step down. You can already see a LOT of them are uncomfortable being so close to the unwashed masses. The other thing will be work rate and style. They have them on a pretty busy house show schedule right now and if they're working old ECW style, that's going to take it's toll.

I truly think this can work, but it's going to take time. Once the initial ECW/WWE feud ends (I don't think it will ever end totally but rather become less of a focus) they are going to have to truly develop their own style and stars for this thing to work. I'm hoping it does but I'm also aware it won't be MY ECW. That's cool too as I'm not the same wrestling fan I was back then.

Friday, June 23, 2006

T.U.F Season 3

With the Ultimate Finale looming this Saturday night I thought I'd weigh in (pun intended) on this season, the fighters, predictions, and T.U.F in general.

Format: I liked the new format with the winners making the matches, a tournament format, and no silly challenges. I always hated the idea that a guy could advance to the semi's without having won a fight and thought the challenges were wasteful and just an opportunity to get hurt. There were obviously issues (injuries, girlfriend problems) that upset the apple cart, but the concept was much better.

Coaches: From the outside looking in and reading the fighters comments after the show, Ken Shamrock simply didn't want to be there and did it simply for the sake of a payday and to promote the fight with him and Tito. He seemed lost and disinterested and his training methods and fighting style seem to have no changed since the early UFC's. Ortiz on the other hand came off as not only a better coach but a total babyface who truly cared for his "kids" (I think some of the guys were actually right around his age actually). From what I've seen and known of Tito's reputation he's either grown up a lot or that was the greatest performance of all time.

Fighters: Other then Bisping, I wasn't overly impressed with any of the fighters. Ed Herman has potential but for all his talk he clearly didn't dominate. matt has a HUGE upside, so we'll see. I thought they did a better job exposing the different personalities harkening back to TUF1. They really dropped the ball on TUF2 in this aspect. You could really feel the bonding with these guys as well as who did and didn't get along. You also got a better idea of what a strain living in that environment can be, especially with a lot of the guys in their late 20's and 30's with families at home

Overall: The hardest part with any reality show is what makes the finished product versus what really happens. Reading Tait Fletchers interview you get an idea how much of the show is clever editing done for dramatic effect. That said, I found the whole season compelling. Much better then TUF1. The whole Shamrock/Ortiz dynamic entered my mind very little as it all seemed forced.

Predictions: Bisping/Haynes- Bisping in a walk over. Haynes is lucky Matt got knocked out and even that Fletcher didn't want to come back in. I think he is simply outclassed here. he has a great story but I see Bisping by TKO first round
Grove/Herman is a little tougher. I'm assuming Herman comes in better cardio shape training with Coture and company and hence less likely to gas. I'm going with Herman in a close 3 round decision.

Well, we'll see