TUF 15 Finale Pre-Fight Analysis: Part II

Charles Oliveira vs. Jonathan Brookins In a matchup of fighters trying to establish themselves in the 145 pound division, former Ultimate Fighter winner Jonathan Brookins returns to the octagon to face Brazilian prodigy Charles Oliveira..

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Charles Oliveira vs. Jonathan Brookins

In a matchup of fighters trying to establish themselves in the 145 pound division, former Ultimate Fighter winner Jonathan Brookins returns to the octagon to face Brazilian prodigy Charles Oliveira. Both fighters are coming off of rebound victories in their previous appearance with Brookins defeating Vagner Rocha in February and Oliveira defeating Eric Wisely in January.

Brookins is a well rounded fighter who has shown the ability to finish with both strikes and submissions. He seems to lull opponents to sleep with his calm approach and unassuming personality. I would imagine fighters have a difficult time working up any animosity against Brookins who is one of the more humble and peaceful competitors in the UFC. But despite his personality, he has finishing instincts as he showed in his previous fight when he took out Rocha with ground and pound in the first round. Brookins seems to be confident wherever the fight goes so I expect him to stand with Oliveira until he feels threatened. If he starts to lose in the standup game, look for him to try to push Oliveira against the fence and turn the fight into a dirtier game of clinch work and scrambles. Oliveira appears to be the more talented fighter but that hasn’t stopped Brookins in the past and look for him to do whatever he can to take his young opponent out of his gameplan.

Oliveira is one of the most exciting young fighters in the UFC. He burst on to the scene at age 20 with an explosive armbar submission victory over Darren Elkins. After another victory, he lost two out of three fights against title caliber fighters Jim Miller and Donald Cerrone with a no decision against Nik Lentz due to an illegal knee sandwiched in between. I question why the UFC was putting him against that type of competition at age twenty one but it may turn out to be for the best as he has decided to move down to the featherweight division and was dominant in his first fight at that weight against Wisely. He made quick work of his overmatched opponent with a ridiculous calf slicer that most fight fans including myself had never seen used to finish a fight. This fight represents an appropriate step up in competition. He should have the advantage over Brookins wherever the fight goes but he will need to stay tight with his technique to earn the victory. Look for Oliveira to utilize his excellent striking game while being perfectly willing to display his grappling gift should Brookins decide to take the fight in that direction. Either way, Oliveira has the potential to give the fans an explosive finish.

Oliveira is a solid favorite at -200 with Brookins the underdog at +170. Oliveira has the talent advantage everywhere in this fight and I’m actually surprised the line isn’t a little more one-sided but I don’t blame the bookmakers for being wary of underestimating Brookins who has a habit of upsetting more talented opponents. Oliveira should have opportunities early against Brookins but if he doesn’t take advantage or if he gets sloppy or overconfident, Brookins can steal this fight. A longer fight benefits Brookins and if he can turn this into an ugly scrap with lots of close fighting against the cage, he might be able to grind his way to a decision.

By Alan Wells

Recipe For Greatness

As I sit here day dreaming I can’t help but feel a little sad as I recall the fun of Memorial day weekend and how at this point it’s already ancient history…Friday night was spent.

As I sit here day dreaming I can’t help but feel a little sad as I recall the fun of Memorial day weekend and how at this point it’s already ancient history…Friday night was spent sparring in the gym in preparation for my second amateur fight on June 30th. Saturday, I was fortunate enough to attend a Brazilian jiu-jitsu seminar featuring multiple time world champion grappler Pablo Popovitch. On Sunday, my brothers and I made the trip to the Monster training facility in Miami for a FREE grappling tournament hosted by our generous friends at FXG. Monday I enjoyed a healthy dose of ice, ibuprofen, and household cleaning. Tuesday, my first day back on the job, I seem to have blacked out completely. Now Wednesday, my selective awareness has acknowledged my surroundings and I somehow find myself back on the grind.

Before the suffocating tediousness of the rat race sucks away the joy of life for the next few days—I’m writing this at my real job instead of doing what I’m supposed to be doing—I thought I would share some thoughts (maybe too strong of a word) I had during my kickass holiday weekend.

First, let’s spend a few moments considering what makes a good MMA fighter: decent jiu-jitsu, and kickboxing are definitely the utmost barestestEST of essentials. Add three spoonfuls of wrestling, throw in a heaping helping of strength & conditioning, a shake of mental toughness and four hundred pounds of solid technique and you might even have the ingredients for a champion.

Now let’s consider what makes a SUCCESSFUL MMA fighter……….anyone?? Besides all of the above you could probably make pretty good use of outstanding genetics, in the reach and chin departments a la Jon Jones and Dan Henderson. Having rich parents would probably help as well, as BJ Penn, Carlos Condit and Donald Cerrone can all attest. Maybe you just have to be really really good friends with Steven Seagal…look I don’t know that’s why I’m asking. I just want to point out that skill and success don’t necessarily go hand in hand.

To better illustrate my point—or more likely my lack of one—let’s talk about the Popovitch seminar. For those of you who don’t know, Pablo Popovitch is one of the most badass submission grapplers on the planet. He is an Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling Champion as well as a multiple time no-gi world champion. People call this guy “Weapon X,” yeah as in THE “Weapon X”, as in this guy would b*tchslap Wolverine in his mouth and make him say thank you. It’s true….google it.

All that jive aside, the guy was NICE. I mean REALLY nice. After the seminar, I bothered him for a picture while he was eating and then had to go back twice because my technologically challenged friend Moses took terrible pictures. He just smiled and said ‘no problem buddy’. He could quite possibly be the coolest badass on the planet not named Morgan Freeman. Ok back to my original train of thought: what makes a SUCESSFUL MMA fighter?

Popovitch had his MMA debut in 2010 against Jeff Savoy and beat the living hell out of him, scoring a fantastic 2nd round submission due to strikes. Right about now you may be thinking, “yeah dude, he’s a world champion grappler big surprise he won, he probably fought some scrub.” While this might be true, it does offer some interesting insight into our question. Let’s look at a similar case with a totally different result.

Marcelo Garcia is widely considered one of the best grapplers alive. Arguably the pound for pound best, he has personally beat Popovitch twice in competition (although I believe Popovitch eventually beat Garcia to win ADCC). For his MMA debut, Marcelo squared off with CMA Korea’s Kim Dae-Won—a guy with four first round submission losses. Several sloppy takedown attempts later and Garcia is smothering his opponent with constant pressure from the top. Fast forward to the end result and we have a 2nd round TKO doctor’s stoppage when Marcelo’s face explodes after winding up on the wrong side of Kim’s fists. What the f*ck happened? Maybe he had a bad night? Maybe he ran into some bad luck? He was winning the fight handily right up until fate said, “No, not today Marcelo…today you bleed.”

At the end of the day who or what, if anything, is responsible for an individual’s success in the cage? Is it the men themselves, boldly snatching victory from the hands of destiny? Is it the team rallying behind an individual, carrying a fighter to greatness? The training then perhaps, forging hardened monsters through blood and sweat? Could it be some all-inclusive mix of socio-economic and physiological factors? Shit maybe nothing can ensure success in the cage and everything that occurs within is at the mercy of total random chance. After all, it’s MMA, anything can happen, right? Maybe that’s the whole reason we love it.

Maybe the very nature of MMA is defined by this idea: An endless number of variables offering an equally infinite number of potential paths to both victory and defeat, in a way that it then becomes possible for a great fighter to be overcome by a lesser one. So I leave you all with this: one world champion prevails while the other falls…why? Is MMA the great equalizer? All theories/other examples welcome, comment section, go!

Dana White: An irreplaceable legacy envisions the future of the UFC and his retirement

The UFC promotion is comprised of not only the fighters, but the colorful characters beyond the octagon that fans have come to know and love. Inside the mindset of any fan is the evident realization.

The UFC promotion is comprised of not only the fighters, but the colorful characters beyond the octagon that fans have come to know and love. Inside the mindset of any fan is the evident realization that fighters have a shelf life; at any time, they could get severely injured, choose to retire, or get released from the UFC. So what makes the sport timeless? Of course it’s the octagon, thrill, and competition, but we find a sense of permanence and shared passion with the executives and voices of the UFC. Joe Rogan, Mike Goldberg, Bruce Buffer, the lovable President of the UFC, Dana White, the referrers, and cut men are as much the sport as the fighter. I couldn’t imagine the UFC without these personalities present. However, just as every fighter, we have to accept that everyone has a shelf life. And the irreplaceable Dana White has been hinting at the end of his.

Dana White is UFC. He has been with the UFC since 2001, when ZUFFA took over the promotion, and has since resurrected and expanded the organization in unimaginable ways, making it the fastest growing sport in the world. As of August 2011, the UFC made a seven year deal with FOX, airing the sport on network television for the first time. Dana White has described what will become of the UFC during this time; he wants to see the promotion go to every country, and even the forbidden state of New York. The president of the UFC believes he will reach his goals for the promotion at the end of the deal with FOX. And this has led him to consider retiring after it’s done. As stated, he has had a long run with the UFC, and has tremendously developed the promotion. There comes a point in everyone’s career, however, when you feel you have reached your maximum potential, and I think the end of the FOX deal is just that for Dana White. His recent medical illness must also be considered in this recent development. He has been diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, an affliction in the inner ear affecting balance and hearing. This leads to tinnitus, vertigo, and hearing loss. This would be incredibly hard news for anyone to hear, but especially someone in a career where hearing is such a vital component. All the traveling necessary for Dana White’s career would also put an unbelievable amount of stress on anyone’s body. Dana White has a plethora of responsibilities including: conferences, speeches, traveling, vlogs, fans, obligations with fighters, media appearances promotional events and of course appearing at every live UFC event. He has to deal with all this, and much more, on a daily basis.

Every career has to come to an end eventually, so why not quit when you are at the pinnacle of it? Whatever the reason behind Dana White’s contemplation of retiring, he will never be able to be replaced. His personality and whimsical charisma is unmatchable, his extreme love for the sport and respect for the fighters is undeniable, and what he has turned the sport into is unforgettable. Whether you love him, or love to hate him, the UFC will never be the same. And on behalf of all MMA fans out there, Dana White will be greatly missed.

-Emily Kapala

Joe Rogan and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson: Finally friends?

Joe Rogan is unarguably one of the best color commentators in the world of mma today. I, personally, have met him, and not only is he an excellent candidate and representative for the sport, but.

Joe Rogan is unarguably one of the best color commentators in the world of mma today. I, personally, have met him, and not only is he an excellent candidate and representative for the sport, but he is also a legitimately down-to-earth, cool guy. It is difficult to dispute and disagree with his opinions and judgments on a fight, match-up, or fighter. He is a very persuasive commentator, and always has an edge of comedy in his execution. He’s a funny person, and is relatable to the “everyday guy” .

However, there was one character that did not see the likes of Joe Rogan in this way. That is, none other than, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Rampage is undoubtedly one of the best fighters in the Light Heavyweight division. He is not the kind of man you want to get on your bad side. He reportedly was fed up, and almost disgusted with Rogan’s commentating. Here are a few of the comments Rampage made about the star commentator when talking with “Fighter’s Only” magazine:

– “If you win then Joe Rogan’s got to do an interview with you. And most likely he has been talking some crap about you and how you don’t throw leg kicks.”

– “He’s so one-dimensional, he’s so one-dimensional – he’s going on about jiu-jitsu the whole time. That’s why [when it’s time to talk to him] I’m like, ‘Oh here comes Joe Rogan’ and he’s all fake in his face like he’s not just picked apart your whole game like he’s the best fighter in the world and he knows every decision you’re gonna make while he is just sitting there watching you.”

– “I would beat the sh*t out of Joe Rogan”

Clearly, Rampage had some unresolved feelings and issues with Rogan. However, just recently these two had a real talk together. No “fake” commentating, no employed reporters asking questions. Rogan approached Rampage after a UFC event, and the two talked about the beef they had. Watch the video below:

Click here to view the embedded video.

This truly shows that both men have a respect for each other, and respect the sport of mma. Rogan is a true gentleman to approach Rampage like this, to clear any misunderstandings they have of each other. Both men have gained a new respect and understanding for each other, and I think they both have come to terms with the fact that the other man is simply doing his job.

-Elise Kapala

UFC 146 – Thoughts and Opinions

–Let’s make this all-heavyweight card a one time experience. I enjoy watching the big guys go at it but for fifty bucks, I’d like to see more than 22 minutes of fights out of the.

Cain

–Let’s make this all-heavyweight card a one time experience. I enjoy watching the big guys go at it but for fifty bucks, I’d like to see more than 22 minutes of fights out of the main card. And with all the prelims airing on Facebook and FX, the old fix of just plugging in the earlier fights to fill the gaps in the broadcast isn’t as reliable because most fans have already seen them. The entirety of the five fights on the main card didn’t even add up to one full five round fight. So while the heavyweights are usually good for some fireworks, let’s make sure we mix in some lower weight classes to balance out the first round knockouts with some hard fought scraps that go the distance.

–Give us a rematch between Junior Dos Santos and Cain Velasquez. I know the result will probably be similar to the first fight but after feeling the champion’s power, maybe Velasquez will be more aggressive in getting the fight to the ground and be able to put up a better fight. And more importantly, does anyone want to see Alistair Overeem anywhere near the UFC belt? He has long been considered one of the most egregious PED abusers in the sport based on circumstantial evidence and now that he’s been popped by the commission, can’t we just move on from the idea of him as a legitimate MMA contender? His body has changed more over the course of his career than Barry Bonds. I’ve been watching him since he was a young fighter with good striking, a weak chin, no cardio and no ground game fighting in Pride in Japan. Now, he looks like a completely different human being and having grown up in the era of PED use in all sports, I refuse to be naive and believe him when he says he’s clean.

–The entire MMA community is showering Cain Velasquez with praise after his win over Antonio Silva. Everything I’ve heard and read refers to the performance as dominant. To my eyes, that was not a dominant performance. Early in the first round, Silva threw a kick and Velasquez used it to score a takedown. Silva was defending well on the ground and keeping Velasquez from landing anything cleanly. The former champion managed to slip an elbow through Silva’s guard and even though it wasn’t a powerful strike, it opened a gushing gash on the bridge of Silva’s nose. From there, the cut blinded Silva and Velasquez was able to take advantage and land punches to finish the fight. I guess I just don’t consider landing a glancing elbow and then beating up a blind opponent to be as impressive as most other people in the MMA community, which leads to the next point.

–I suspect that if the situation on Saturday night was reversed and Silva had landed a glancing elbow that turned Velasquez’s face into a blood fountain, people would be calling the outcome a fluke and arguing for the UFC to ban elbows to the head of a grounded opponent. But because Velasquez was perceived to be the superior fighter going into the fight, his performance is viewed as justification of his status in the heavyweight division. So, should the UFC remove elbow strikes to the head of a grounded opponent from its fights? No. The only things that should be removed from the sport are techniques that can either cause life-altering injuries or require absolutely no technical skill. The classic example of that is groin strikes. Groin strikes are not allowed because anyone can kick someone in the groin and if they were allowed, the entire sport would be based on around developing a stance that protected the groin while setting up a myriad of groin attacks. And no one wants to see that. Obviously, elbows on the ground don’t fall into that category so they should remain a part of the sport. And while I’m on the subject, the UFC needs to bring back twelve to six elbows and knees to the head of a grounded opponent. I know they’re more focused on getting licensed in every state and in reality, they should be. But I’m tired of watching guys put one hand on the ground so they can’t be kneed. That goes against the spirit of the sport and it looks cheap. The more techniques remain in the sport, the faster and more fluid the fights will be.

UFC 146 – Post Fight Recap

The only surprise in the main event at UFC 146 was that Frank Mir was able to survive the first round against Junior Dos Santos. Mir attempted to take Dos Santos to the mat almost.

The only surprise in the main event at UFC 146 was that Frank Mir was able to survive the first round against Junior Dos Santos. Mir attempted to take Dos Santos to the mat almost immediately after the fight began but was never close to succeeding. Dos Santos stuffed the attempt easily and from that point, Mir seemed to resign himself to being unable to ground his opponent and spent the next six minutes playing a dangerous game. He stood in front of Dos Santos without utilizing much motion. He managed to land a few low kicks and touched Dos Santos with his jab but the conclusion of the fight seemed inevitable. Dos Santos was obviously not threatened by Mir’s striking and waited patiently for his opportunity to attack. He landed his first big punch at the end of the first round and followed with a flurry that pushed Mir back against the cage. The fight would have ended there if not for the bell signaling the end of the round. One would think that after feeling Dos Santos’ power, Mir would come out in the second round and desperately try to drag the fight to the ground. Instead, Mir employed the same strategy of standing in front of his opponent throwing low kicks. Predictably, the champion eventually landed a counter right hand that sent Mir reeling. Dos Santos landed a few more punches on the ground and Mir seemed to lose his bearings in the cage as he rolled toward nowhere in particular. Dos Santos used the opportunity to land one last hammer fist before Herb Dean stepped in to stop the fight. He probably could have let it go on longer but the outcome was inevitable and the stoppage saved Mir from suffering the brutal knockout that was clearly on its way. Mir will continue to be a fixture in the UFC heavyweight division but he doesn’t have the tools to be a champion in this era of MMA. Dos Santos will await the UFC’s decision as to who he will fight next. That fight will likely come against either Alistair Overeem after his nine month suspension or Cain Velasquez after his performance in the fight preceding Dos Santos’.

Cain Velasquez earned a gory victory over Antonio Silva with a first round TKO. Silva started the fight with a kick. Velasquez caught it and put Silva on his back. Silva appeared to be defending well until Velasquez slipped an elbow through his guard and opened a huge gushing cut on the bridge of Silva’s nose. The blood squirted from the cut directly into both of Silva’s eyes and made it impossible for him to defend himself. Velasquez took advantage and eventually was able to land several big punches in a row to earn the first round stoppage. This fight will undoubtedly reopen the debate as to the place of elbows on the ground in the sport but the real story is whether this performance was enough to earn Velasquez an immediate title shot rematch against Dos Santos. Alistair Overeem will return from his suspension in nine months and the UFC seems determined to give him the opportunity to fight for its belt despite the fact that Overeem is widely considered to be one the sport’s most blatant PED users. Many people within the sport speculated that a decisive victory by Velasquez would earn him the next title shot ahead of Overeem. The question coming out of this fight is how much of a statement did he make. The elbow that cut Silva was a glancing blow and had it not opened a freakish cut, who knows how the rest of the fight would have progressed. We may have seen a different outcome if Silva hadn’t been blinded by his own blood. But the elbow did cause the cut and Velasquez did exactly what he was supposed to do by seizing the opportunity to finish the fight. The UFC will have a difficult decision to make as to who deserves the next title shot but the one certainty is that the heavyweight division is deeper than ever before and several different interesting matchups are available.

Roy Nelson is a fan favorite for a reason. Actually, for several reasons. Fans love his belly, his beard and his right hand. Against Dave Herman, we got to see all three of them. But only for a short period of time. Nelson dispatched Herman in less than a minute with an overhand right flash knockout. The fight didn’t leave much room for analysis and because it was so short, we didn’t really learn anything about either fighter. Herman is a good fighter and anyone can get caught with a punch. Based on the short amount of time we got to see him fight, he seemed to have a good gameplan of trying to use his length to keep Nelson on the outside. We also didn’t learn anything new about Nelson. He has always had power in his hands and when he lands on the chin, the body to which that chin is attached usually crumples. Every Nelson victory is a victory for the fans who want him to remain in the UFC as long as possible and a knockout like that is the best way to secure his place on the biggest stage.

Stipe Miocic continued to progress through the UFC’s heavyweight division with a second round TKO victory over Shane Del Rosario. Del Rosario won the first round by repeatedly landing heavy kicks to Miocic’s body and legs. Miocic’s only weapon in that first round was his right hand and he was unable to land it cleanly. At the end of the first round, Miocic realized he could use his wrestling to easily put Del Rosario on his back and from that point on, Miocic completely controlled the fight. He took Del Rosario down again early in the second round and earned the victory by pummeling his opponent with hammer fists and elbows from the half guard. Del Rosario was unable to mount any defense and never really attempted to sweep or even regain full guard. If he hopes to compete in the UFC, he will need to put forth a better effort that he showed in this fight as he seemed to stop fighting once Miocic gained top position. For Miocic, this was an improvement over his last performance and he has showed growth in each of his UFC fights thus far. He is ready for a stiffer test and if he continues to improve, he could develop into an interesting presence in the UFC’s heavyweight division.

Going into the main card opener between Lavar Johnson and Stefan Struve, everyone who follows MMA knew that the fight had two possible outcomes. Either Johnson was going to land a punch and knock out Struve or Struve was going to get the fight to the ground and finish with a submission. Johnson did start aggressively and pushed Struve back against the cage with a flurry of punches. He landed one decent right hand but nothing clean enough to drop Struve. Having felt a hint of his opponent’s power, Struve grabbed an overhook and jumped guard. He pulled Johnson to the mat and quickly locked on to an arm bar to win the fight via first round submission. Struve did exactly what he needed to do in this fight and while he didn’t necessarily prove anything or show any growth, he did add a win to his record and earn the right to continue moving forward in the heavyweight division. If Johnson refuses to acknowledge the ground game, he will quickly find his way out of the UFC and back to smaller shows as a part of fights designed to put two big men in a cage and see who falls first. Hopefully, he’ll choose to work on the weak aspects of his game and come back with a skill set that can keep him competing at the highest level.