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Ben vs. Ben: UFC 105 Edition

(Sure, the relationship looks intense now, but in five years Swick will be taking him for granted and Hardy won’t even bother to do his hair anymore. Photo courtesy of Combat Lifestyle.)

To get ourselves pumped for tomorrow’s UFC 105 event in Manchester, England, we’ve been really working on our dry wit and our stiff upper lips.  Results so far have been, shall we say, mixed, so we’re going to take a break from all that dignified crap and go back to insulting one another while making broad claims that we don’t even attempt to back up.  You know, real American stuff.  This is Ben vs. Ben. 

Randy Couture is going down in weight (again) to give yet another boost to his seemingly endless career.  What do you make of his chances to beat Brandon Vera on Saturday, and what happens next for "The Natural"?

BF: I have to admit that despite all the amazing things we’ve seen Randy do, some part of me always thinks that his next fight will be when Father Time finally catches up with the ageless wonder and stomps him into an unrecognizable mass and blood and pulp before looking down at him and saying, ‘That’s for making me chase you all these years.’  I can’t shake the feeling that this will happen some day, but then again, I don’t think it will necessarily be this Saturday, nor do I think it will necessarily happen against Brandon Vera.

This ought to be close, but Couture will win this.  He’ll win it by being more aggressive and forcing Vera to play his game in the clinch and on the mat.  Vera might think he’s going to leg and body kick his way out of this one, but by the third round he’ll have that I-didn’t-know-it-was-going-to-be-this-bad look that we’ve all seen before.  Couture by decision.

After that, maybe he takes another fight with Tito Ortiz.  Whether Tito wins or loses at UFC 106, there’s bound to be some fan appeal there.  Both of them might be talking that title shot jive, but the light heavyweight strap is currently dealing with some other issues and is not available to take your call.  Please leave a message at the beep. 

BG: I’d love to take the opposing viewpoint here — Randy’s slowing down, Vera’s length will be a massive problem for him — but Couture always has one more comeback left in the ol’ fanny-pack, and Vera tends to lose to good fighters. His decision win against Krzysztof Soszynski in August was his most notable victory in the last three years, and he didn’t even look good in that fight. Vera is susceptible to being bullied around and broken down, which is what Couture does best. My God, Randy, we just can’t get rid of you.

If Couture beats Vera and Tito Ortiz beats Forrest Griffin next week, then Couture vs. Ortiz will be the next #1 light-heavyweight contender’s match. We don’t have to like it, but that’s business; the UFC is dying to give one of these guys one last shot at a belt. I know, Machida and Rua have to have their rematch first before the title’s sorted out, but it’s not like Couture or Ortiz are strangers to long layoffs. No matter what happens tomorrow, I hope the UFC lets Randy take on old veterans and champions from now on, and not use him as a stepping-stone for up-and-comers. He deserves better than to ride out his career taking reverse spinning elbows from Jon Jones.

Is the winner of Dan Hardy/Mike Swick a legitimate challenger to Georges St. Pierre?  Who’s getting his hand raised at the end of this one, btw?

BG: Oh, God no. Is Hardy a better striker than Thiago Alves? Is Swick a better wrestler than Jon Fitch? Do either of them have a fraction of BJ Penn‘s jiu-jitsu prowess? No, and those other dudes got flattened. GSP’s takedowns and top control are too good; nobody can andull his riddum. Mike Swick might be able to keep it competitive against the champ for a round or two, but neither he nor Hardy is on St. Pierre‘s level. So congrats, Georges, you’re getting a squash match for your next fight.

Despite Hardy’s toughness and gameness, Quick Swick will win tomorrow’s #1 welterweight contenders bout. His striking’s a little better, and his grappling is a lot better. Swick likes to bang, but he’s not going to get into the kind of slugging war that Hardy can come out on top of. If Hardy begins to win the standup, Swick will revert to wrestling and ground-and-pound and take back control of the fight. It’ll be a good scrap, but it’s also an easy one to predict. Swick is a better fighter, and will probably win by unanimous decision. This ain’t rocket science.

BF: I agree that this is Swick’s fight to lose, though I was a little surprised to see that he’s a 2-1 favorite.  Hardy could make this very competitive if he fights smart, and any time you go to a decision in the other guy’s backyard there’s always a very good chance that you could get screwed.  I don’t care how experienced a judge you are, those damn soccer chants would sway anybody. 

But no, neither Swick or Hardy would stand much of a chance against GSP right now.  Truthfully though, who would?  Jake Shields is the best welterweight outside the UFC, and judging by his performance against “Mayhem” Miller last weekend, he’d get absolutely wasted by St. Pierre.  The point is, if there’s no one out there who can give him much of a fight, and if he can’t really go up or down in weight very easily, you might as well give him the winner of Swick/Hardy.  Maybe they get lucky and pull a Matt Serra-style upset.  More likely they get beat up.  But if you’ve got any better ideas that don’t rhyme with Schmarius Baromskis, I’d love to hear them, smart guy.

Not surprisingly, this UK card is littered with UK fighters, many of them from the British-flavored season of TUF that seemed so forgettable in light of the current Kimbo-tastic season.  Barring established Brits like Bisping and Hardy, which of the limeys are you most excited about seeing, and who do you think has the most potential of this bunch?

BF: I think Terry Etim is probably the best young British prospect the UFC has.  Lately they’ve been feeding him relatively easy opponents, and Shannon Gugerty looks like highlight reel fodder for him.  He’s a young guy with great size and range for the weight class, and if he shores up his wrestling and ground game, he could be around for a while.

Of the Team UK TUF guys, however, I have to admit that I’m most interested in seeing what Andre Winner will do.  I was surprised that he didn’t win the finale, but he seemed like the best pure athlete on the cast and also the one with the greatest potential.  I think he runs through Roli Delgado in the first round on Saturday and reminds everyone of what a bad-ass he seemed to be until that plodding fight against Ross Pearson, who I’m still not at all excited about seeing this weekend.

BG: Sure, choose the guy that Joe Rogan once compared to Anderson Silva. That is so like you, BF. As for Andre Winner, I was interested in him myself until he couldn’t cut it against Ross Pearson, so I’ll be withholding my Winner-interest until further notice. No, my personal U.K.-scrapper guilty pleasure is Paul Kelly, who was fun to watch as a welterweight, and has serious potential as a lightweight. He’ll be taking on Dennis Siver, who’s streaking lately, but Kelly is bigger and stronger, and he has a natural talent for wrestling that a lot of his countrymen lack. And I hope he does win, because the British crowd could be in for a rough night at UFC 105. Both TUF 9 winners are on the card, and they’re both underdogs in fights against more-established Americans. Bisping might lose, and Hardy is almost definitely going to lose. It’s pretty much up to Kelly, WInner, and Etim to put in brilliant performances, and follow them up with those barely-intelligible victory speeches we’ve come to know and love.

Should the UFC do another Country vs. Country season of TUF? If so, what would it look like, ideally?

BG: Team U.S. vs. Team U.K. was a great concept that fell a bit flat in execution. The British fighters were just too polite, and too eager to earn our respect. Not that I need every episode to contain fruit trays being pissed in, but it’s nice to have a little drama once in a while, and legitimate rivalries between the teams — which is hard to guarantee, unless the teams are Japan vs. Korea, or U.S. vs. Iran. Sure, I’d like to see what kind of talent can be dug up in Mexico, or Canada, or the Netherlands, but I don’t think that curiosity is worth basing a reality show around.

Not to get all IFL on your asses, but it would be a much better idea to try out a Camp vs. Camp season on TUF. I’d go with American Kickboxing Academy vs. American Top Team for the first installment, partly because the Greg Jackson camp was already represented so well on TUF 10. The coaches for AKA vs. ATT would be Jon Fitch and Thiago Alves, who would finally get to have their rematch at the end of the season. The team bonds would be much stronger because the fighters would already be coming in as friends and training partners. And it would expose more casual fans to a couple of the leading MMA camps in the United States. Later you could do Xtreme Couture vs. Nova Uniao or Team Quest vs. Golden Glory to bring the international aspect back in. The rivalries wouldn’t be manufactured, and the bragging rights would be so much sweeter.

BF: It’s interesting that you started that last paragraph with, “Not to get all IFL on your asses,” and then proceeded to get totally IFL all over all of our asses.  You know what the IFL’s biggest problem was?  Well, probably overspending and underperforming, or maybe the failure to get a reliable, live TV show.  But another big problem was that the teams weren’t organic.  And why?  Because it’s tough for any MMA camp to find unsigned fighters to fit all the different weight classes.  One gym didn’t have many middleweights, another might have their heavyweight get hurt, and the next thing you know it’s a bunch of ringers who meet their coach for the first time at the weigh-in.  Those problems wouldn’t go away just because you stuff them all in a house together.  You’d either need to find a bunch of guys in one weight class all training at the same gym, in which case odds are they’re not all ready for the big time.  Or you’d need to find guys from each gym specifically chosen to match up with guys of a certain weight from another gym.

Country versus country is problematic for different reasons.  As awesome as your Korea vs. Japan or U.S. vs. Iran ideas are (and they are), the language barriers wouldn’t necessarily make for great reality TV.  On paper, U.S. vs. UK is the best possible match-up of that sort.  There are enough cultural differences to make it interesting, you only need to subtitle some of the guys, some of the time, and there are no major disparities in skill level.  It should have been great, when you think about it.  And yet it wasn’t anything special.  I say abandon that concept all together, and focus on finding interesting coaches.  The fighters are always a crap shoot, and Kimbo Slice can only boost the ratings for one season.  The only sure way to generate some action is by getting two coaches with great personalities and making sure one of them hires Stankie as official motivator/crazy old coot.


Cagepotato Comments

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JackBauer- November 14, 2009 at 11:08 am
How about east coast vs. west coast... Always an interesting rivalry.
Zyz Zyx- November 14, 2009 at 8:34 am
Some day, I hope to see an all female TUF. A dozen women stuck together in a house for a month? It's going to be "that time of the month" for a few of them at any given time, so you know someone's going to die.

What I don't understand is why TUF has to always be about the UFC when they have so much untapped potential in the WEC. They're trying to build a 125 lb division while getting more exposure for the little guys, right? I guarantee the little guys would put on better fights than what we've seen this season.

I like the camp v camp idea, but the whole show would have to get reworked (which wouldn't be a bad thing at all). Why not have four teams represent with fewer fighters? Or maybe drop all that forced drama shit and just hold a tourny while film crews document the guys in their real life as they balance things like family and being broke while working their ass off to realize their dreams? Basically, TUF just needs help.
KidDinomite- November 13, 2009 at 4:11 pm
Damn, Fitc....... I mean Swick needs to eat a cheeseburger.... maybe he should eat two...
Derekrva- November 13, 2009 at 2:16 pm
I hate to get all late 90's hip-hop on your asses, but why not do a TUF by regions of America? There is the obvious East vs. West or you could do Farmland vs. The Dirty South. Just an idea.

I do like the idea of USA vs. Mexico or a Continental Royal Rumble between the 3 countries.
robthom- November 13, 2009 at 1:54 pm
I'm really getting sick of Vera's bullshit! And Randy's too, but more of Vera's. Hopefully after Randy gets the workman like decision after his workman like effort they'll kick Vera's overpriced ass to the curb where he belongs. It would actually do him good at this point so that he can give himself a remake Ala Nick Diaz.
just some dong- November 13, 2009 at 1:30 pm
Good comments. If the UFC ever decides to add a women's division, then having a whole season of TUF devoted to hyping their new female fighters would be genius. I'm also 100% for getting rid of the teams. It's so obvious that the "celebrity" coaches don't give a fuck 90% of the time and are mostly just interested in forwarding their own careers (which obviously aren't doing too well if they're stuck coaching on reality TV). Teams are pointless and stupid... I mean look at the mess right now with all of Rashad's guys having to fight each other, so they have no one to really train with. It's absurd. They should have forced Rampage's team to roll with them; it's not like they're up to anything else. And it's not like Dana couldn't have have just said to do that. But the bottom line is you wouldn't have this problem if there were no teams to begin with.
skeletor- November 13, 2009 at 1:22 pm
Couture takes this by ground and pound. I'd like to see a randy vs tito II as well.

As far as the country v country TUF, Brazil and Japan would make for a good show, but probably lacks the star power to get the views of casual fans.
exes.for.iballs- November 13, 2009 at 12:58 pm
The next TUF should be nothin but foxy ladies who have to fight in tapout bikinis. I've always wondered why there's no womens division in the UFC.

Speakin of foxy ladies, are there any females in this forum?
ReX13- November 13, 2009 at 12:48 pm
Arianny goes brazillian?

Pics or it didn't happen.
Kimbos Bread- November 13, 2009 at 12:12 pm
Hardy gets KOed so bad he won't recognize his own mowhawk from Arianny's brazillian cut.
One Two- November 13, 2009 at 12:09 pm
I got Coture and Hardy the rest of the TUF bums i'll decide by
Cooler/more tattoos and entrance music.
reddog- November 13, 2009 at 11:54 am
Vera is gonna get smashed by ol man winter. Hardy is gonna be the surprise underdog win. Bisping is going down to kang. Should be a mediocre UFC tomorrow. I am not expecting great things, so they should be able to hit my low bar.
agentsmith- November 13, 2009 at 11:51 am
@ 831 Son:

But aren't all Russian fighters in the known universe already under contract with M-1?
agentsmith- November 13, 2009 at 11:49 am
Good news: judging by the clip of the TUF 11 tryouts I saw a couple weeks back, the talent level looks to be a lot better for next season. Plus, Stankie was there. Hopefully that means he's involved in the next season and wasn't just hanging out or lost or something.

My suggestion for TUF is to eliminate the teams altogether, and make it every man for himself. Cause in the end it is anyway... fighting isn't a team sport, especially in a tournament situation like TUF where the odds are high that someone is going to have to fight one of their "teammates" sooner or later. Just have a staff of impartial trainers like in Season 4 (plus Stankie), and fights are chosen by literally drawing names out of a Tapout hat. All you would lose is the coach-vs-coach rivalry angle, which is largely bullshit anyway.
831 Son- November 13, 2009 at 11:43 am
Im sure it wouldnt be too hard to just put in subtitles. But that shit doesnt fly too well in the U.S.

Russia vs US. Start another (cold) war.
Sabado Gigante- November 13, 2009 at 11:41 am
Religion Vs. Religion!

EX: Team Jewish vs. Team Muslim

Or radical establishment vs. Radical esteblishment!

EX: Team Nazi vs. Team Rampage

LargeMidget- November 13, 2009 at 11:33 am
Canada vs. Mexico would be pretty sweet.

US vs. Brazil, though they don't hablo english.

France vs. Germany (lol, jk)
NateGetsIrate- November 13, 2009 at 11:32 am
Team Dana White vs Team Joe Rogan: The Rejects.

And it's filled with the likes of Junie Browning, Andy Wang, Jesse Talyor, Kalib Starnes, and Shonie Carter just to name a few.

Ouch That hurts- November 13, 2009 at 11:25 am
Double post, sorry
Ouch That hurts- November 13, 2009 at 11:23 am
Couture/Vera is not even close to being a good fight. What has Vera done to be taken so seriously? His list of wins is like a 'who's that' instead of a 'who's who'.

He outstruck Frank Mir? That's not an accomplishment.

Justin Eilers, Assuerio Silva, Reese Andy, Mike Patt, and Krzysztof Soszynski? Really?
superflat- November 13, 2009 at 11:11 am
The other problem with the team vs. team thing: How do you declare a winner?

If you really want drama, go racial. Fortunately even Dana White (despite his name) has better judgment than that.
Merlin- November 13, 2009 at 11:07 am
I think The Natural will grind out a decision win over The Truth.
Quick defeats the Outlaw in the 2nd round.
And The Count will be bequeathed another questionable split decision over The Super Korean.

Oh and first.