Archive for the ‘Strikeforce’ Category

I don’t do my research anymore, so my picks are even more suspect than ever, but I’m inspired to take another shot at it because of a couple of interesting fights on the card. I’m picking only those fights where I already know the fighters.

 

George Roop v. Rob Font

I’m still quite bitter that Roop lost to Hioki, ruining what would otherwise have been a perfect night of picks for me*.

Roop by decision.

* Okay, so I made a sentimental pick that ruined the perfect score anyway, but based on my discussion of the fight on Fight Fans Radio, it’s clear I knew Nelson would beat CroCop.

 

Chris Camozzi v. Bruno Santos

Bruno who?

Camozzi by decision.

 

Uriah Faber v. Alex Caceres

This is a ridiculously one-sided match up, but what else is the UFC to do? Uriah can’t beat Barao or Cruz but is head and shoulders above everyone else. They have to put him against lesser talent that has no chance. Of course, now that T.J. Dillashaw is champ, Uriah has an opening to get back into the title picture without everyone saying, “Been there; done that,” but this fight was already booked.

Faber by 1st-round dismantling (KO/TKO).

 

Uriah Hall v. Thago Santos

Yeah, Hall can throw a wheel kick. Do you know who else can throw a wheel kick? Me. It was my signature kick when I got my black belt in TKD. We measured it, and the power was scary. However, I won’t be winning a UFC championship anytime soon, and neither will Hall. If he connects with them against people on the UFC roster, then maybe we can stop calling that kick a fluke, but until that point, it’s not a selling point for picking fights.

Santos by decision.

 

Stefan Struve v. Matt Mitrione

A year ago, this was an easy pick, but Struve’s heart condition not only sidelined his fighting but also his training. I can’t believe he’s as sharp as he was.

Mitrione by 1st or 2nd round KO/TKO.

 

Ronda Rousey v. Alexis Davis

Now it’s time for my customary “I told you so.” I predicted all of this long before Dana White or even Scott Coker knew Rousey existed. However, while I certainly don’t wish ill will on her, she’s now “on my list.” I take partial credit for getting her a title shot against Tate when she did. She would have eventually done so without my help, but I’m responsible for getting her that shot about 6 months earlier than she did (with a serious hat tip to Erika Lewis). And before you call bullshit, Ronda acknowledged this in an interview; she just didn’t name me. She said “someone on Twitter” got the ball rolling. Trust me when I say I don’t want to be in the spotlight, but I found that a bit odd. Of course, none of this affects how I’m picking these fights.

Ronda by 1st round armbar or whatever else she chooses. There’s simply no one to challenge her in WMMA right now.

Please note: I’m not taking credit for her bronze medal, her actual winning of the title, her general self-promotion, or her harai-goshi. That’s all Ronda, and she should be proud of all four (and so much more).

 

Chris Weidman v. Lyoto Machida

Contrary to what some armchair fighters have said, Weidman’s wins over Silva were not flukes. He beat Anderson twice. Contrary to what Weidman himself has said, most people recognize that Weidman’s wins weren’t flukes. He’s not “underrated” or “not being given the credit he deserves.” However, I’m still picking against him. This is about how fighters match up against one another, and Weidman is almost tailor-made for Lyoto. Have a nice nap, Chris.

Machida by 2nd round KO/TKO.

 

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Here’s some more news on the proposed women’s mixed martial arts (WMMA) superfight between current Strikeforce bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey, and suspended former Strikeforce featherweight champion, Cris “Cyborg” Santos.

Random Drug Testing and Follicle Testing

Some of the buzz making its way through the MMA internet comes from Darin Harvey, manager for Ronda Rousey. Harvey is making it clear that any contract establishing a fight between his client and Cris “Cyborg” Santos will have to include some fairly strict drug testing requirements if they expect to get Ronda to sign it. Here’s a story by Mike Chiappetta spelling out Harvey’s demands, which include both random testing during the training process, and follicle testing, which would determine whether Santos has been doping during her suspension.

How Heavy?

Another controversy is whether the fight will occur at Rousey’s current division of bantamweight (135 lbs.), Santos’s current division of featherweight (145 lbs.), or at a compromise catchweight of 140 lbs. Rousey is adamant that, as champion, she shouldn’t have to cater to her challenger, so Santos should come to her. Santos responds that Ronda has competed in judo in two different weight classes, Ronda started WMMA at featherweight, and Santos has always had trouble making 145 lbs. In total, asking Santos to reach 135 lbs. is Ronda’s means of ducking the fight she knows she can’t win.

This is all, of course, hype. Santos is currently considering fighting in InvictaFC because there’s no one at 145 lbs. worth fighting in Strikeforce. Her prior claim that Ronda ran to 135 lbs. to duck her would seem hypocritical. Ronda had no reason to stay at 145 lbs. once Santos was suspended. However, Ronda is also making a demand that’s designed to screw with Santos’s mind. Ronda can fight at 145 lbs., but Santos might not be able to fight at 135 lbs. It’s a tactical demand designed to improve Ronda’s chances at wining.

Whose demand should be met? Ronda’s, because she’s the champ, and Santos has every responsibility to come to Ronda for the fight. When and if Santos moves to InvictaFC, right or wrong, she will be perceived as the one that’s running from a fight.

Putting Them Together

Seeing the connection between these two issues shouldn’t require a huge intellectual leap. Santos has had trouble making 145 lbs., but the accusation is that she’s been taking steroids for quite some time now, having only recently been caught. If her weight troubles were the result of her steroids use – something that we don’t know and would be unfair to assume – then a clean Santos might not have problems making 135 lbs. Of course, if the truth is that she’s be doping all along, that truth will never come out, so Santos could avoid 135 lbs. by continuing to claim that doctors have told her not to make the weight cut.

A WMMA PPV?

Chiappetta’s article raises another interesting point, though only in passing: The possibility of the fight appearing on a pay-per-view (PPV) event. Whether this would be a Strikeforce PPV or an Ultimate Fighting Championship PPV is an interesting question. Personally, I just want to see the fight; however, Zuffa knows that Ronda is sure to sell PPVs and, the fight would generate mainstream media coverage that Zuffa doesn’t generally get. From Zuffa’s perspective, the smart move might be to have the “Strikeforce” women’s bantamweight title headline a UFC card. This could give a title fight to a card that otherwise wouldn’t have one, improving an otherwise dismal PPV draw.

Just my 2¢.

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Apparently, Dave has been reporting since the early 80s. Or so I hope. That haircut better not have seen the 90s.

Dave Meltzer has been discussing a contract between Showtime and Zuffa, LLC, owner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (“UFC”) and Strikeforce. The latest word from Meltzer on the contract is that there is a list of fighters on the Strikeforce roster that may not fight on a UFC card without Showtime approval until the Zuffa-Showtime contract ends (2013 or 2014, depending on whom you ask). It’s important to note that neither Meltzer, you, or me have a copy of the contract (as far as I know). By Meltzer’s own admission, his information comes from someone who knows someone, and Meltzer has already changed his story once. Moreover, for what it’s worth, Dana White is telling us Meltzer is making up the whole story, which wouldn’t surprise me. This is all factual speculation, and I’m going to make it worse by adding some legal speculation.

Much Ado About Nothing

This isn’t that big of a deal. If the UFC wanted to do cross-promotional fights, they can still do it. Let’s say they offer Showtime two of six fights, with the UFC doing the other four. The fights will be, for example, Condit v. Marquardt, Dos Santos v. Cormier, or even non-title holders like Kennedy v. Diaz. Showtime would be so happy with having Dos Santos on their network, they’d gladly approve of such a deal even though it’s technically in the UFC’s favor. The only thing really stopping Melendez from fighting the Edgar/Henderson winner is Zuffa. If they want it to happen, it will.

It’s a Contract, but Is It Legal?

Several people have raised this question, and answering it without seeing the contract itself would be irresponsible. Being a nerd and a lawyer, though, I love throwing around hypothetical, nerdy, legal propositions, especially ones that might break new legal ground.

In an employment contract, you can have a covenant-not-to-compete, which prevents the employee from working for a competitor for a limited period of time in a limited geographical area after leaving the company. You’ve probably heard of this, so it’s not news. If the terms are too restrictive (e.g., it lasts too long, it covers too large a geographical area), the term will be deemed void. Virginia takes a strict approach to this. If the terms are deemed too restrictive, it’s completely thrown out rather than modified. For example, if a Virginia contract restricts you from being employed for five years in a 50-mile radius, and the court determines that to be unreasonable, the court won’t change it to “1 year in a 10-mile radius” to make it reasonable. Instead, the court will throw out the term altogether, saying there’s no covenant not to complete. Different states might try to reform the contract instead, changing its terms to something reasonable.

Enough of that. Let’s get back to the Zuffa-Showtime contract.

This isn’t an employment contract, of course, but if you think this doesn’t directly affect the fighters’ employments, you’re naive. Because it’s clearly having such a huge impact, I could see a court drawing an analogy to the covenant-not-to-compete and voiding it. After all, the geographical scope is international (events are held all over the world), and the term might be 2 years (assuming it expires in mid to late-2014). Moreover, pro athletes are more sensitive to these kinds of restrictions. Their shelf-life is limited, and keeping them out of the action or limiting their growth for even a short period of time can end or permanently damage their career.

Still, the analogy probably doesn’t hold up, at least not if the contract lives up to how Meltzer is reporting it. This isn’t analogous to restricting employment but rather like restricting in-house promotions for an existing job. Would Gilbert Melendez’s career really be so terribly harmed by being forced to fight Strikeforce-caliber fighters for the next year or two? I’m guessing not.

Career Suicide

On the other hand, Melendez’s career could be harmed by suing.

Keep in mind that in order for a fighter to sue, he’ll have to prove they were the ones facing harm. The only fighters that could possibly claim that harm are the marquee fighters appearing on the list. If one of those fighters sued Zuffa (suing Strikeforce wouldn’t yield results), the UFC would fire them, forcing them into the minor leagues for all time. The cash reward the fighter received from the case (assuming they could win) probably wouldn’t be nearly as valuable as staying Zuffa’s good graces. If Saturday’s Strikeforce card is a sign of things to come, being in Strikeforce isn’t such a bad thing anyway. That card was awesome.

There might be enough here that some fighters could sue over this contract (without receiving sanctions for a frivolous suit), but I doubt they’re foolish enough to do so. They’d be biting the hand that feeds them, and no one will feed them as well as Zuffa.

The Future

As mixed martial arts grows, contracts like this might generate more lawsuits, as the threat of going to “the minor leagues” might not be so intimidating a prospect. It’s impossible to guess whether those lawsuits would win on the grounds I’ve outlined here. Other than these grounds, I don’t see much of an argument based on what little I know of the contract, and I’m really reaching with this idea. A litigator might have better insight.

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While watching Strikeforce last night, I got into a Twitter conversation with Frank Trigg and some guy I don’t know (@mahklynch on Twitter) about Frank getting a shot as a color commentator with Zuffa. Frank should get such a position. He’s experienced, having done booth analysis for Pride FC and, if I recall correctly, having served as a color commentator for at least a few fight cards with smaller promotions. From what I’ve seen, he does a particularly good job. He apparently does his research and does a good job explaining what he knew to the fans. That’s his job, and he does it well.

Now, you might say that I’m saying this because Frank has such a good personality for the fans, being very responsive via Twitter to fan comments, not to mention sprinkling in some decent humor at time. Well, yes, that is part of why I’m saying this, because those are good characteristics for a commentator as well, and Zuffa recognizes those as good characteristics for its employees. As I’m sure you all know, Zuffa rewards its fighters for good interaction with their fans through Twitter.

I was of the position that Frank should have gotten his second chance with the UFC as a fighter. Yes, that was a position I took based on emotion. I’m an old-school fan of the sport, having been with it from the start, and even working for a promotion at one point (the now-defunct Extreme Fighting, formerly out of New York City). Frank got that second shot in the UFC, and it didn’t work for him, so in a sense I was wrong.

This is different. Frank’s not “past his prime” as a color commentator. Frank should get the job, or at least be next in line when a new one opens up. I understand that there aren’t many positions available, so it could be that there’s nothing open right now. However, Zuffa has too many duds on the payroll already: the idiotic Mike Goldberg, the embarrassing Bruce Buffer, and Frank Shamrock, who hates Dana and constantly insults him. At least if Frank Shamrock were let go Frank (Trigg) could instantly get a job. Of course, part of the problem is that the UFC doesn’t feel it owes Frank anything, but does feel it owes Stephan Bonner, Kenny Florian, and Randy Couture those jobs if they want them. At least Stephan and Kenny still do, so that’s a problem. Also, Chael Sonnen has a job if he wants one, whether he’s retired or not. Scott Coker, however, isn’t in that same position (except, unfortunately, with Frank Shamrock), so that’s a more likely place for Frank Trigg to land.

Zuffa made a smart move pulling Jon Anik away from ESPN’s MMA Live. Jon is a knowledgeable and good to the fans. Picking up Frank Trigg would be another step in that direction, and I’m hopeful that either Dana White or Scott Coker will make that move.

#ZuffaShouldHireFrankTrigg

Edit: @mcmax3000 made an observation that I need to point out. If Frank were actually to be hired as a color commentator for Strikeforce, it would be Showtime that would have to hire him. Showtime manages the production, so Mauro Ranallo, Frank Shamrock, etc. are actually employed by Showtime directly. This could be good news for Frank (Trigg). Whereas Coker might feel he owes Shamrock (he was their first middleweight champion), Showtime may have  picked him up based simply on star power alone rather than a personal “debt.” If that’s the case, a more competent broadcaster that still retains star power (i.e., Frank Trigg) could more easily supplant Shamrock. There are details to the Shamrock contract we don’t know, so how and when this could occur is ultimately beyond our knowledge. My point stands though: Frank Trigg would be an asset to any broadcast team. He should be near or at the top of the list of those next in line.

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No kidding. Last night’s Strikeforce card was every bit as good as any UFC card I’ve seen, and this isn’t attempted as an insult against the UFC. As I often mentioned here and on my appearances on Fight Fans Radio, even UFC cards that on paper look like duds are almost always good cards. Truthfully, despite initial appearances, there are no bad UFC cards. Well, this was UFC-quality. We had drama, a “changing of the guard,” plenty of finishes, and two title fights. While some of these guys aren’t UFC-caliber, they certainly make for exciting match-ups against each other. Strikeforce is just getting better and better. Scott Coker should be proud of how he’s handled the merger with Zuffa.

Frank Shamrock and Mauro Ranallo should be replaced, though.

It should go without saying, but it’s good to say it from time to time. Thank you to the fighters for putting on a show at great risk to themselves. Yes, they get paid (now), and yes, most, if not all, of them love what they do. Nevertheless, they’re a necessary part of a sport we love, and they deserve our thanks.

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It’s now official: Ronda Rousey will be fighting Miesha Tate for the Strikeforce Bantamweight (135lb) title. This has produced numerous threads on Facebook, Twitter, and all the MMA forums, with each post seeming to fall into one of two categories:

1. Ronda will armbar Miesha in less than 61 seconds; and
2. Ronda didn’t deserve the shot, and Miesha will prove that by knockout.

It’s surprising that there appears to be no middle ground among those offering an opinion, which is great because it means there’s serious buzz being generated. This is good for Strikeforce and women’s MMA generally. Although I also fall into one of these categories, I promise you that it has nothing to do with that hype. I simply get something that some others are missing.

Ronda in 60 Seconds

Ronda Rousey will easily beat Miesha Tate the same way she does everyone else: submission in round 1. If you disagree, then you’re actually giving women’s combat sports too much credit. I’ve been an advocate of women’s MMA for some time now, having faith that, once developed, it’ll be a great product. Whether it’s ever as good as the men’s division is hard to predict but in any case irrelevant to the point. It will be a product worth watching — in fact it already is — and will eventually generate the kind of buzz we’re seeing with this fight, but much more often.

As for this fight, those in category #2 just don’t understand that there is only one well-developed, high-quality combat sports organization that’s available to women, and that’s USA Judo (of which she’s been a member almost since birth). USA Judo is highly organized, highly competitive, and international in scope. Miesha Tate wrestling in high school against two other women statewide (yes, I’m exaggerating) does not prepare her the same way Judo prepared Ronda. The fact that Miesha trains with men doesn’t change the equation. Every professional combat athlete will tell you that training with the best doesn’t compare to actually competing against the best. When it came to competing, Miesha simply didn’t have the same level of competition because 1) there aren’t many competitors in the first place, and 2) she didn’t fight people beyond her relatively small region. Thus, the complaint that Ronda lacks experience is actually ridiculous. Miesha is far too green for this fight, and the fear in her eyes and ridiculousness of some of her comments on the matter demonstrate that.

Please note, that by “fear” I’m not saying Miesha is afraid of getting hurt. She’s a fighter, and when she loses, she’ll bounce right back and gladly get hit in the face on her climb back up the ladder. What scares Miesha is that she knows her lack of experience will likely result in a quick loss. If she fights Kauffman and rematches Coenen, she has the chance to legitimize her status as champion with two successful title defenses. If she fights Ronda and loses in 60 seconds, people will unfairly call her win over Coenen a fluke. One-and-done usually means you’re a fluke (unless your opponent also is one-and-done, which would instead suggest parity). This will be unfair, of course, because removing Ronda from the equation, Miesha really is the best 135-lb fighter in Strikeforce, and perhaps in all of American WMMA. Ronda, though, is just too far above that pack to lose a fight, even if she goes into it with food poisoning.

Other complaints include that Ronda can’t take a hit. She can. I can personally vouch for her claim that there are almost as many punches thrown in judo as there are in kickboxing (for what little my judo experience is worth). I’m certain she’s been hit hard and fought through it. There’s also the concern that Ronda can’t handle the weight drop, but Ronda walks around at 145 lbs. She doesn’t have to “make weight” for featherweight, and so she should have no problem dropping 10 pounds. In fact, she’s fought in two different weight classes while in judo.

Keep Talking, Mr. Anonymous

Many of you will continue to kid yourselves into thinking Miesha has a prayer, then sink into silence when she loses in a minute or so. Having published my opinion on a blog that I promote, I don’t have that luxury, so feel free to come back and take me to task. On this issue, I’m not the slightest bit nervous. In fact, if Ronda takes more than a round to defeat Tate, I’ll happily characterize myself as “wrong.”

In closing, I’ll remind you that our talk means nothing. The fight will happen, and the results will be the results regardless of any of our predictions. As Ronda continues to embarrass the other women, though, I’ll continue to say, “I told you so,” at every step of her career. The only real challenges she faces are Cyborg Santos (after suspension) or Kyra Gracie (if she ever makes the move to MMA). Why are these women challenges whereas the others are not? Because women’s MMA is a bit better developed in their home country of Brazil. Not surprisingly, 5 of Santos’s 11 wins have been first round stoppages (including the one against Hiroko Yamanaka that was just declared a no contest), and only two of those were decisions, showing that she’s also head-and-shoulders above the rest in her division. Kyra has yet to compete in MMA, but when she does, she’ll set the WMMA world on fire. Nevertheless, the smart money is still on Ronda, as her highly-organized vehicle for development was international, not merely national, in scope. In any case, that’s when things get interesting. Those three represent the cream of the crop as far as women’s combat sports is concerned, and until they meet one another, the outcomes of their fights will be predictable.

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