MMA Fighter Challenges People to Punch Him in the Face, Everyone Fails

December, 2008

Ben vs. Ben: UFC 92 Edition


(‘You seem like a nice boy.  It’s a shame what Rashad is going to do to you.’)

Merry Christmas, Potato Nation.  In the spirit of giving, we present to you our customary pre-event face-off.  It was either this or a gift card to The Pottery Barn.  So, you know, you’re welcome.  Enjoy the holiday, and all the best to you and yours.  Don’t forget that we’re back on schedule tomorrow and liveblogging UFC 92 on Saturday.  Doin’ work, son.  

Exactly when and how will the three marquee fights end?

BG: Let’s start with the easy one. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira subs Frank Mir via armbar at 2:52 of round 3. And it’s not just because he has better jiu-jitsu and can absorb more damage. He will win because that’s how the TUF 8 story ends. It is written: Big Nog represents everything that is good and pure about this sport, while Mir is the cocky John Kreese–like asshole who didn’t care that the house pranks were interrupting Efrain Escudero’s sleep. (Monster!) Minotauro is going to beat Mir standing for the first two-and-a-half rounds, and then an ill-advised takedown attempt from Mir during the third will blow up in his face, leading to the submission win for Nogueira. We need this to happen, just like we need Lesnar vs. Nog for the real heavyweight title.

If Forrest Griffin can stick to the game plan he had against Rampage — playing it smart and safe, but pouncing when there are opportunities — he’ll beat Rashad Evans in a split decision. Here’s a fun stat: Evans has never won a unanimous decision in the UFC, even though five of his eight Octagon appearances have gone the distance. I’m not saying that judges don’t like him (although who knows, maybe they don’t), but it may suggest that if a fight goes to the scorecards, it’s because he wasn’t able to dominate his opponent. Also, Rashad’s never gone five rounds — Griffin has been there before.

Finally, Wanderlei Silva beats Quinton Jackson via unanimous decision in UFC 92’s Fight of the Night. It’s a difficult outcome to predict because of all the variables separating Silva/Jackson III from the previous two installments but Silva definitely has the advantage. I’m going to give Rampage the benefit of the doubt and say he’s eating normally this week, rather than following his occasional fasting/hallucinating routine. And while Wolfslair might not be the most acclaimed MMA camp in the world, the friendly and nurturing environment he’s found there will give him the confidence he needs to not perform like a shambling wreck. Jackson might get beaten to a pulp, but he won’t be knocked out.

BF: I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of some way Mir might win, just to be contrary, and I’ve got nothing.  He definitely won’t sub Big Nog.  He doesn’t have the cardio or the faith in himself to outpoint him over the course of five rounds.  And if Mir becomes the first person to knock Nogueira out there’s simply nothing left for me to believe in.  Nog submits Mir via rear naked choke at 3:55 of round two.  That’s that.

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The 10 Greatest One-Night Tournament Performances in MMA History

#10: Kaitlin Young @ HOOKnSHOOT 2007 Women’s Grand Prix (11/24/07)

Defeated: Suzi Smith (KO, 0:22 of R1); Miesha Tate (KO, 0:30 of R1, shown above); Patti Lee (KO, 0:53 of R1)

Though HOOKnSHOOT has been putting on high-caliber women’s MMA bouts since 2001, the organization’s most infamous moment was the eight-woman tournament it held last year, where an unknown Minnesotan named Kaitlin axe-murdered her way through three opponents in less than two minutes of combined fight time. Young would go on to face Gina Carano in the first women’s MMA match to be broadcast on network TV, at EliteXC: Primetime in May of this year. Even if she never wraps her wrists again, Young’s MMA legacy is secured.

#9: Gegard Mousasi @ DREAM Middleweight Grand Prix Final (9/23/08)

Defeated: Melvin Manhoef (sub. due to triangle choke, 1:28 of R1, shown above); Ronaldo Souza (KO, 2:15 of R1)

Unless you caught him in his PRIDE Bushido appearances in 2006, you probably had no idea who Gegard Mousasi was when he entered DREAM’s middleweight tournament earlier this year. But after choking out the highly-regarded Denis Kang in the opening round in April, and beating Dong Sik Yoon to a decision in June, he proved that he had a right to be there. And after the finals in September, he proved that he was one of the most talented middleweights in the world.

The event was almost anti-climactic in the way that it played out. These were not epic battles — this was Gegard Mousasi simply outclassing Melvin Manhoef (who had famously massacred Kazushi Sakuraba in the quarterfinals), then upkicking the daylights out of “Jacare” (who had torn through Zelg Galesic and Jason Miller in the tourney’s previous rounds). When the dust settled, Mousasi had picked up his 10th and 11th straight victories as well as a DREAM championship belt — a perfect ending to a breakout year.

#8: Don Frye @ UFC Ultimate Ultimate 1996 (12/7/96)

Defeated: Gary Goodride (sub. due to fatigue, 11:19); Mark Hall (sub. due to achilles hold, 0:20); Tank Abbott (sub. due to rear-naked choke, 1:23, shown above)

You have to remember — beating Gary Goodridge and Tank Abbott used to mean something. Both men were responsible for some of the most gruesome finishes in the UFC’s early history, from Goodridge’s crucifix/elbow-smashing of Paul Herrera to Tank’s starching/mocking of Jon Matua. The Ultimate Ultimate ’96 was just about the toughest eight-man field that the UFC could throw together in those days — it also included Ken Shamrock, Kimo Leopoldo, and Paul Varelans — and Don Frye notched his second UFC tournament win by cruising through it.

Frye pushed Goodridge past the breaking point in the quarterfinals (back before there were those cushy one-minute breaks between rounds that our spoiled fighters have today). After eleven-and-a-half minutes of back-and-forth brawling, Big Daddy found himself underneath Big Mustache and decided to tap before he suffered permanent damage. Frye’s semi-final match was a breeze — he’d already defeated tournament alternate Mark Hall twice in his career, and the third time was no different — but the Frye/Abbott final was a true superfight. Tank had just finished nelmarking Steve Nelmark in the semis, and his intimidation quotient was at an all-time high. Though the Predator got clocked with some big punches early, he was able to capitalize on a Tank Abbott slip, quickly sinking in a rear-naked choke. Don Frye — the toughest S.O.B. alive — collected his big-ass check and strolled out, never to fight in the UFC again.

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Gambling Addiction Enabler: UFC 92


(Strictly business, baby. Photo courtesy of Combat Lifestyle’s UFC 92 press conference album.)

Important: With the holidays now upon us, our posting will be lighter than usual as we pause to get reacquainted with our estranged families.  But have no fear, Potato Nation, as we have some Christmas Eve and Christmas Day treats planned, then we’re back to semi-normal on Friday.  Naturally, we’ll also be liveblogging UFC 92 on Saturday night, so don’t wander off.

And now, some betting odds for your gambling pleasure, courtesy of the Venetian sportsbook (via Yahoo!).

Rashad Evans +110 v. Forrest Griffin -140
Frank Mir +300 v. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira -400
Quinton Jackson +110 v. Wanderlei Silva -140
Mike Massenzio +150 v. C.B. Dollaway -180
Mostapha Al Turk +250 v. Cheick Kongo -330
Dean Lister +220 v. Yushin Okami -300
Mike Wessel +300 v. Antoni Hardonk -400
Reese Andy +180 v. Matt Hamill -220
Brad Blackburn +130 v. Ryo Chonan -160
Dan Evensen +130 v. Pat Barry -160

Thoughts…

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Video: Dana White’s UFC 92 Vlog


Dana White’s UFC 92 Video Blog, Ep. 1 – Watch more free videos

The Dana White pre-event video blog returns…kind of.  As White breathlessly explains at the onset, he’s been busy.  So instead of a real video blog covering his event week activities, he’s starting us off with some behind-the-scenes stuff from the Spike TV video game awards.

Highlights here include a meet and greet with Mike Tyson, who almost seems ready to say something to Nogueira about Frank Mir until he’s alerted that Mir is standing right behind him.  Then it’s on to that awkward portion of the evening when an LL Cool J performance turns into a UFC 92 promo.  In case you were wondering whether it was as weird and stilted live as it was on TV, this video clearly answers that question from one of the worst seats in the house — right behind the guy who really loves LL Cool J. 

It’s like it doesn’t matter where you go, whether it’s the movies or an awards show, that guy is always there, standing just in front of you and shouting "Mama said knock you out!"

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Cro Cop Enlists Giant Croatian Basketball Player to Prep for Hong Man Choi

Mirko Cro Cop Filipovic
(Props: Sportal.vecernji.hr)

That tall son-of-a-bitch you see on the right is Franjo Arapovic, a former Croatian basketball star who scored silver medals at the 1988 and 1992 Olympics. And he’s been brought in to replicate Hong Man Choi’s pituitary freakishness as Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic prepares for their showdown on New Year’s Eve. So how did he get the gig? As FreeFightVideos translates:

“Franjo is the tallest man I know. Only three centimeters shorter and ten kilo grams lighter than my opponent. I‘m able to simulate Choi’s height and feel his weight” said Cro Cop.

Fair enough, but I still think Cro Cop should have ponied up a little more money to hire Yao Ming. You can beat up Croatian basketball centers for months, but it won’t really prepare you for the sight of a seven-foot-tall Asian person.

Some rather-awesome pics of Cro Cop armbarring and head-kicking poor Franjo are after the jump. You know you wanna see that.

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UFC 95: Free on Spike

BJ Penn Joe Stevenson UFC MMA
(Lookin’ forward to another gutsy performance by Joe Daddy. Photo courtesy of slam.canoe.ca.)

It’s official — UFC 95 (February 21st, London) will be broadcast on tape-delay on Spike TV. This is good news for two reasons:

1) MMA fans are going to be tapped-out cash-wise from pay-per-view cards in January, with UFC 93 (1/17), Affliction: Day of Reckoning (1/24), and UFC 94 (1/31) all competing for the dollars that you pretty much already spent during the holiday season.

2) As of now, there’s no major matchup that would warrant spending $45 to buy this card. UFC 95 has that lightweight match between Diego Sanchez and Joe Stevenson, and a reported match between Nate Marquardt and Wilson Gouveia, but that’s about it right now. The addition of a title fight seems extremely unlikely.

Speaking of the UFC and the U.K., Michael Bisping has named his main assistant coaches for TUF 9, in which he’ll be leading a team of British fighters. As the Count told MMA Weekly: "[O]n the grappling side of things I’ll be bringing in Mario Sukata, who is my jiu-jitsu and my wrestling coach. Fantastic coach, he’s a bit of a legend in Brazil, so he’ll be doing that side of things, and Dave Jackson, who’s a Thai boxing coach, he’ll be coming out there and helping out with the striking side of things…I’ve got a lot of friends out in the States who might be stopping by from time to time, coming in and offering their experiences."

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Sign of the Apocalypse #3,122


(The end is very nigh, indeed.)

So this fight is really happening, isn’t it, K-1 Dynamite?  You’re sure there’s nothing I can say to talk you out of it?  Fine, have it your way.  

But at some point in the night on New Year’s Eve, when Bob Sapp is standing in the ring across from a dude in a mask, you’re going to have to answer some pretty difficult questions about how you got to this point.

And yeah, I know that in Japan on NYE the rules are a little different.  I can accept that.  When Fedor fought Zuluzinho, then later Hong Man Choi, I was willing to chalk it up to cultural differences. 

But this is Bob Sapp.  Against a dude in a mask (not that exact same mask, but still).  It might sound like a lot of fun for a crazy New Year’s Eve show, but you’re going to hate yourself for this in the morning.  Or at least you ought to.

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Rashad Evans Exclusive: “You Can’t Make People Like You”


(Yeah, that’s a dragon on his t-shirt. Go ahead and say something and get your ass whipped right here in baggage claim.)

Rashad Evans is a unique case among UFC fighters.  He’s undefeated, a former Ultimate Fighter winner, and now stands one victory away from claiming UFC gold.  And yet he’s still far from a fan favorite, despite his recent brutal knockout of Chuck Liddell and his rise through the light heavyweight ranks.

With his title shot just a few days away, Evans talks with us about dealing with the criticism, gameplanning for Forrest Griffin, and yes, even the Greg Jackson camp nipple tweak.

CagePotato.com: Thanks for talking with us, Rashad.  Now that fight night is closing in, how has your training camp been?

Training has been good.  I feel really strong and I’ve had a great camp.  I’ve had guys like James McSweeney, Georges St. Pierre, Nate Marquardt, Joey Villasenor and lots of others in here helping me.  With guys like that you can’t help but have a good training camp.

Your fight with Forrest is being billed as the explosive athlete (you), against the hard worker (Forrest).  What do you think of that characterization?

I can see how people would say that, yeah.  But I think there’s aspects of both those things in each of us.  I think I might be a little better natural athlete, but he can also be a real explosive fighter.  And it’s not like I don’t work hard, either.  I’m not going in there with any expectations of him in that regard.  He’s the champ right now, and you don’t get to be the champ if you’re not a good, explosive fighter.

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Ball-Crusher vs. Head-Stomper Added to ‘Dynamite!! 2008′

Alistair Overeem Chuck Liddell MMA PRIDE
(Overeem during his losing effort against Chuck Liddell at PRIDE Total Elimination 2003. Photo courtesy of AlistairOvereem.com.)

Though Alistair Overeem’s New Year’s Eve rematch with Mirko Cro Cop never panned out, another heavyweight match has been added to Fields Dynamite!! 2008 that almost makes up for it. In a new post on his website, Overeem writes:

NEXT VICTIM: BADR HARI!
The discussion was who would fight under whos rules first and Alistair stepped up first! Alistair will fight Badr Hari at K1 Dynamite 31 december under K1 rules! Since Badr Hari challenged Alistair he sees no other option than cause another demolition and knock Badr Hari out! Both fighters agreed to fight in MMA rules early 2009!

In their most recent bouts, Overeem kneed Cro Cop’s nuts up into his chest cavity, while Hari was disqualified for using PRIDE rules in a K-1 match. I say K-1/FEG should also book Gilbert Yvel vs. Mike Kyle, and hold a four-man tournament to crown the World’s Dirtiest Fighter. Maybe the finals could be a fight to the death. What, you wouldn’t pay thirty bucks to spend New Year’s Eve watching that on your computer?

All respect to Overeem for stepping up and agreeing to fight Badr Hari on Hari’s terms, but the Demolition Man is in for a world of hurt. When they have their MMA-rules bout next year, it’ll be a different story, as Overeem is pretty damn handy with a choke-hold. In a standup-only fight, however, it’ll probably be all Hari. It’s strange that K-1, who just finished stripping Hari of his heavyweight title and prize money, are basically letting the dude call his shots for the Overeem fight — why not hold the MMA match first, as punishment? But business is business, and Hari’s nasty DQ probably increased his drawing power more than any respectable victory ever could.

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Silva/Leites on for April in Montreal?

Thales Leites Pete Sell UFC MMA
(Leites smashes Pete Sell at UFC 69. Photo courtesy of miyanville.com.)

According to MMA Junkie, UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva and Thales Leites have verbally agreed to face each other at an April event (update: IntheGuard.tv says it’ll be UFC 97 on 4/18), though bout agreements have not been signed yet. As the story goes, the UFC is hoping to replicate the success of UFC 83 by returning to Montreal for the card, one year after "Serra vs. St. Pierre II."

This of course means that Silva won’t be headlining UFC 95 (February 21st, London), and it means that his next match won’t be one of those "superfights" that people love so much. Not taking anything away from Thales Leites, who’s obviously very talented, but does anybody believe that he’s truly the #1 contender in the UFC’s middleweight division? Though Leites is on a five-fight win streak — just like Patrick Cote was when he got his title shot — the only big name he’s beaten during his current run is Nate Marquardt, and he would have lost that fight if Marquardt didn’t have two points deducted for illegal strikes; one judge still scored the fight for Nate.

Now that Dan Henderson is (temporarily?) back at light-heavyweight, I see two guys ahead of Leites in the middleweight title picture…

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