Friday, February 22, 2013

UFC 157: Rousey VS Carmouche

Rousey submitting Miesha Tate with her signature armbar
to become the Strikeforce 135lb Champion.
On Saturday February 23rd, the UFC is taking a giant leap forward in hosting its first ever women's fight.  Ronda Rousey destroyed every opponent in her amateur and professional career with a first round armbar on her way to a Strikeforce Championship.  The UFC has decided with the folding of Strikeforce and the domination of Ronda that it is finally time to have women in the octagon.  She is destroying gender barriers on her way towards greatness.  Although she is a heavy favorite and the future of women's MMA almost depends on Rousey defending her belt, Liz Carmouche is going to do everything within her power to beat her.  Carmouche is ranked towards to bottom of the women's division, but this does not mean she is someone to be underestimated.  She only has lost 2 fights in her career: first for the title against crafty veteran Marloes Coenen and then to Sarah Kaufman.  In the Coenen fight, Liz dominated the first 3 and a half rounds before being caught in a brilliant triangle choke.  The fight was eerily similar to Chael Sonnen's first fight with Anderson Silva but obviously did not draw as much hype.  In addition to being part of the first UFC fight in the women's division, Liz is the first openly gay fighter in the business.  Dropping boundaries and making history is what the UFC will be doing with this main event on Saturday night.  Oh yeah, did I mention Dan Henderson is fighting Lyoto Machida.  There is a whole card full of great fights to go along with these great main and co-main events.

The night will start on Facebook:
  • When welterweights Nah-Shon Burrel and Yuri Villefort square off, they will be battling for their UFC lives.  Both guys are coming off of losses and the UFC just made a major statement by cutting 16 fighters, including top welterweight Jon Fitch.  If Fitch is out of the division, you can almost assure the loser of this fight is canned as well.  I am taking Burrel to win this fight with a TKO victory just because of the fact that Yuri has never really beat anyone of substance.  Burrel should keep the Strikeforce train rolling with his win.
  • Another pair of welterweights will follow up the opening fight.  Both Jon Manley and Neil Magny will be fighting for the first time since appearing on the most boring season of TUF ever.  Manley showed decent talent but was dominated but the season's winner Colton Smith in the semifinals.  Meanwhile, Magny was one of the top guys on the show before getting knocked out by finalist Mike Ricci in the knockout of the season.  Manley struggled against a wrestler but Magny is more of a stand and throw guy.  I see Manley winning a decision by pushing the pace and avoiding damage just because Magny could come out tentative after being knocked out in his last fight.
  • The UFC's welterweight division is probably the most loaded division in the business right now as I have mentioned before.  The third fight on Facebook is between welterweights Kenny Robertson and Brock Jardine.  Brock "the Machine" Jardine has showed a lot of potential despite losing his last fight to Rick Story.  Meanwhile, Kenny Robertson is undefeated outside of the UFC, but 0-2 in the octagon so far.  This one is a toss up for me, so I am just going to take Brock "the Machine" Jardine to win a decision just because of his name.  Brock "the Machine" Jardine just sounds so much better than his brother Keith "the Dean of Mean" Jardine's nickname.  I really have nothing to back my pick of Brock since I have never seen either guy fight but I am sticking with Brock and hoping for the best.
At 8 PM the FX preliminary card will continue showing fights:
  • UFC veteran Sam Stout will try to cool off the Strikeforce fighters winning their UFC debuts against Caros Fodor.  Stout has a lot of Fight of the Night bonuses including those from his trilogy with Spencer Fisher.  Stout also has a lot of losses.  He has losses to Jeremy Stephens, recently cut Terry Etim, Thiago Tavares, and most recently John Makdessi.  None of these guys are really considered top talent, but you cannot ever sleep on a veteran like Stout.  Fodor has 2 career losses, including his last fight where he was choked out by Pat Healey.  I believe this guy has enough talent to keep the train rolling and get Strikeforce fighters another win to their impressive start in the UFC.  Fodor wins it via decision and Stout gets cut from the UFC, just like the other 3 losers on the Facebook card.
  • Since losing on the TUF 14 season finals, his 3rd consecutive loss, Dennis Bermudez has found his game with wins over Pablo Garza and Tommy Hayden.  All 3 of his professional losses have been by submission, but at UFC 150, he took home the Submission of the Night honors.  Lucky for him, he is not going against a crazy submission guy.  Matt Grice is a solid fighter with Ricardo Lamas being the only man to beat him in his last 6 fights.  (Ricardo Lamas is on a mission to ruin the dreams of top featherweight fighters lately.)  This is a tough one for me to call, but I am going to go with Matt Grice to win a decision.
  • Speaking of the Ultimate Fighter, TUF Live winner Michael Chiesa finally gets back in the octagon for the first time since submitting Al Iaquinta to win the 15th season.  He is undefeated so far in his brief career and has made a living with rear-naked choke finishes.  On the show, Chiesa was one of the most likable guys in the house and you couldn't help but root for him with the passing of his father while he was at the house.  His opponent, Anton Kuivanen is no slouch in the submission game either. Kuivanen has talent, but ultimately I do not see him able to win this fight.  When I was watching Chiesa on the show I could not believe how good his takedown offense and defense were, in addition to having a wicked submission game.  I think Chiesa will stay undefeated with a RNC victory.
  • Brendan Schaub against Lavar Johnson, in my opinion, does not belong on a preliminary card ever, regardless of who is on the PPV card.  If it were up to me I'd swap this fight and have Court McGee and Josh Neer fight on the prelims.  Enough of that though, Schaub wins by KO.  No analysis is needed for this fight, they will slug.  Schaub can take him down if he gets bettered in the stand up which is why I see him winning.  This will probably be a huge KO leaving fans on the edge of their seats, so don't blink.
Following an entertaining group of fights on Facebook and FX, it is time to go to your local bar, or order up the PPV.  UFC 157 should be a dandy.  History will be made, and the fights will be great.  I do not see this card being a flop whatsoever.  Here is my take on how the main card will play out:

  • Again we go back to the welterweight division.  For the first time ever I am taking a Strikeforce fighter to lose his UFC debut.  They have done great so far, but the first fight on the main card is a huge mismatch.  Josh Koscheck will be taking on Robbie Lawler to kick off UFC 157.  Koscheck has won 5 of his last 7, with losses to GSP and top contender Johny Hendricks.  Some even say he beat Hendricks in that split decision loss, but at the same time it can be argued he lost that split decision win over Mike Pierce too.  Either way, Josh is still a great wrestler and striker looking to pop his name back into the mix near the top of a deep division.  As for Lawler, I do not understand why the UFC signed him at all.  He has lost 5 of his last 8 fights despite it being against top competition.  Jake Shields, Babalu, Jacare Souza, Tim Kennedy, and Lorenz Larkin are the 5 guys to beat him.  Dropping to welterweight should help, but he is still outmatched by a more talented and more experienced fighter in Josh Koscheck.  Lawler will probably hold his own in the standup before Josh decides to take the fight to the ground and grind out a decision win.  Koscheck via unanimous decision.
  • Next up is the fight I mentioned earlier: Court McGee against Josh Neer.  Court is a solid fighter, dropping from middleweight into that packed welterweight division I keep talking about.  You think there are a lot of welterweights on this card, get ready for UFC 158 in Montreal!  Back to McGee though, his only three losses are to very talented middleweights Jeremy Horn, Costa Philippou, and Nick Ring.  No shame in losing to these much bigger guys, but it is time for Court to start making some noise at welterweight.  His opponent Josh Neer has been around for a while, but on Saturday he will be fighting for his UFC life.  More cuts are expected to be made to make room for the Strikeforce guys coming over, and the fact that Jon Fitch got cut is making a lot of fighters worried they need to start winning and winning impressively.  When you have 2 guys coming off of 2 consecutive losses (which again qualifies this as a preliminary card fight!) it makes things difficult to predict.  These are talented fighters that currently are lacking confidence.  I think Court has some serious talent and now that he is fighting at a better weight class for him, I think he should get an impressive win streak started.  Court McGee via decision is my prediction for this fight, but anything could happen.
  • The fan favorite Urijah Faber steps into the octagon next against Ivan Menjivar.  These two met back in 2006 where Mejivar took a DQ loss.  Now it is time for them to battle it out for real.  The crafty veteran Ivan Menjivar is nobody to take lightly, but Faber is still one of the best in the sport despite what many believe.  Faber only has 6 losses in 32 fights, and 5 of those were in WEC or UFC title fights.  He is the only man to better Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz and is one tough competitor.  I think Faber will put on a show and finish Menjivar with a highlight reel KO.  Yes, you read that correctly.  A bantamweight fighter with KO power is not a myth.  Barao, McDonald, Faber, Pickett, Jorgensen, Wineland and other 135 guys have the ability to knock guys out, so be ready for this one on Saturday.
  • Women in the UFC has already caused a stir.  So many people are outraged the main event is the women's fight and not this one.  Nevertheless, the MMA legend Dan Henderson will put his chin to the test against Lyoto Machida in the co-main event of the evening at UFC 157.  Let me start by discussing the curious case of Lyoto Machida.  He is easily the most elusive guy in the light heavyweight division, using is karate and crazy movement to keep opponents off balance.  Only Jon Jones and Shogun Rua have been able to truly solve this complex puzzle inside the octagon.  However, his status in the 205 division is equally puzzling.  Is this guy a top 3 guy at 205?  Or is he not even in the top 10?  Here is an interesting breakdown of Lyoto and his current status.  Since becoming the undefeated and undisputed champion back in 2009 when he knocked out Rashad Evans, Lyoto's career has been a confusing one.  At UFC 104, he "defended" his title against Shogun.  But let's be real, anyone who saw that fight knows Shogun should have won that decision.  The fight was not even close.  The UFC saw this and rewarded Shogun for being graceful in his "defeat" and gave him an immediate rematch.  Shogun basically said screw you judges and went out and knocked Machida out in the first round to give him his first official loss.  Lyoto then lost to Rampage in Detroit on a controversial split decision.  In his next fight he had one of the most spectacular knockouts of all time with a flying kick to the face of Randy Couture.  Couture is a legend and an impressive name on a hit list; but again, when looking at that fight it is not a huge deal that he won.  He knocked out a 47 year old man who has taken a ton of damage over his years of fighting.  The next time Lyoto was in the cage he lost to Jon Jones by an embarrassing standing guillotine choke that dropped him limp to the matt.  So really after another spectacular KO to Ryan Bader, where does Machida now sit in the division?  He is arguably 2-4 in his last 6, if you give Shogun credit for the win he deserved in their first fight.  By the way, Shogun, Bader, and Rampage are all ranked outside the top 7 in the light heavyweight division.  A win for Machida does not mean he should get a title shot over Gustafsson.  Henderson however, should get a title shot if he wins on Saturday.  As I mentioned before, Henderson deserves a shot at UFC gold.  Unfortunately for Hendo, Bigfoot is now slated to take on Cain for the Heavyweight Championship next at UFC 160.  Sorry Gustafsson, but if Dan Henderson beats "the Dragon" on Saturday night, he should get the title shot he deserves.  In that very same article I wrote before, I also basically said Lyoto has no chance to win this fight.  Obviously I am just a big fan of Hendo, and have tremendous confidence in him.  He is an insane wrestler that has a chin made of steel.  He has stupid knockout power and I do not think Lyoto is elusive enough to dodge the H-Bomb all day.  Henderson will land the H-Bomb and take home KO of the Night on his way to potentially taking the belt from Jon Jones.  As I said above, Lyoto is a curious case, but I just do not think he is that good.  He is now a solved puzzle that presents a little bit of trouble because of his elusiveness and unorthodox attacks.  This is no trouble a MMA legend like Henderson hasn't already seen before. Dan Henderson steals the show at UFC 157 with this win.
  • Finally comes the main event of the night: Ronda Rousey against Liz Carmouche for the first ever women's fight in the UFC for the UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship.  Where do I even begin?  6 professional fights: 6 first round armbar victories.  That is the resume Ronda Rousey comes into this fight with.  She is the perfect storm of beauty, personality, and she is also one hell of a fighter. The UFC had everything come together so perfectly, the only thing that is left is the actual fight.  Rousey is responsible for bringing women's MMA to the biggest stage, the UFC.  Liz Carmouche knows that everyone is against her, including the UFC who is supposed to be unbiased.  She is a huge underdog and most of the people following women's MMA see nothing she brings to the table Rousey can't handle.  There are a couple things that make this fight really interesting.  Ronda Rousey has had the media attention on her relentlessly since she signed with the UFC.  She is the biggest media attraction the UFC has ever seen.  Is the training, the dieting, and the media going to wear her out before she walks into the octagon Saturday night.  Can she deal with her insane schedule wearing her to the ground, or is this just another challenge for her to overcome?  Is the pressure of the UFC going to get to her?  The future of women's MMA depends on her winning this fight.  She has the world on her shoulders.  This kind of pressure could make even a fighter as dominant as Ronda crack.  As for Carmouche, she is not a fighter to be underestimated.  She is not just known as the first openly gay fighter in the UFC, she is known for being one bad chick.  She has 2 professional losses to Marloes Coenen and Sarah Kaufman.  In the Coenen fight, she stepped up on short notice to take on the Strikeforce Champion.  Coenen was a veteran and heavy favorite, but Carmouche dominated her for the entire fight before being tapped out by a triangle choke in the 4th round.  She learned from these losses and looks to be ready for this fight.  Unlike Ronda the judo and armbar specialist, Liz is ready to fight whatever was she can.  She has wrestling, jiu jitsu, striking, cardio, and is ready no matter what happens.  Can Liz defend the armbar or Ronda Rousey?  She has to be practicing armbar defense every day for 5 hours if she expects to survive this girl's armbar.  Let us just say hypothetically she can defend the armbar: will Ronda have a plan B?  Can Ronda win fights after the first round?  Even though she has never needed to leave the first, based on the UFC Primetime and UFC Countdown shows, it looks as though Rousey is in excellent condition and has worked her boxing to a really high level.  Rousey looks as untouchable as Jones and Silva right now but you can never ever underestimate a fighter.  Liz Carmouche will be a more than game opponent for Ronda and I really look forward to this fight.  Despite my faith in Carmouche and my desire for a great fight, I have no choice but to predict Ronda Rousey wins with another 1st round armbar.
As I said before, order this PPV or go to the nearest bar that has this fight, it will be a dandy.

On a side note: I finally had a good event of predictions with UFC on Fuel 7.  I went 4 for 6 on the night raising my total to 25/52 (48%)

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