(Why you don’t get into a pointing contest with Dana White. Photo courtesy of Sherdog.)
You know what this is. This week we get all argumentative about Patrick Cote’s odds, Anderson Silva’s future, UFC 90 bonuses and which pairing will produce the evening’s worst bout. And there’s some Shane Carwin talk thrown in there too, just for the hell of it. Ben vs. Ben starts…now.
It’s no secret that Patrick Cote’s chances of beating Anderson Silva are not great, but at what odds would you consider it worth the risk to bet on him? What about his odds of just making it out of the first round?
Fowlkes: Look, I love taking risks. I drink milk past the expiration date. I fall asleep in bus stations. Sometimes I get jacked up on allergy medication and run across busy streets. But even I have to draw the line somewhere, and Patrick Cote is on the other side of that line.
Oddsmakers have pegged Cote somewhere around a 5-1 underdog this week. That’s not good enough for me. If I’m going to bet on Cote, I’d need at least 8-1 odds. He can talk all he wants about his KO power, his willingness to stand in there and bang with “The Spider,” but I look at his record and think, who’s the best fighter he’s beaten? Jason MacDonald (via submission)? Ricardo Almeida (via decision)? He’s never faced anyone at Silva’s level. He doesn’t yet know how much he doesn’t know. 8-1, and I’ll consider it. 10-1, and it almost sounds like a good idea.
As for getting out of the first, 4-1 sounds about right. Silva likes to take the first sixty seconds and get a feel for the best way to destroy a man, but he could always take longer or Cote could stall him with a takedown or by staying far, far away. No way it goes past the second, though.
Goldstein: Let’s be honest — Cote wins this fight 0 out of 100 times. It doesn’t matter if his odds are 5-1, or 8-1, or 20-1, because I’m not throwing money away on him. You’re better off buying lottery tickets, if we’re talking about return on investment. In fact, if you want to make some cash, you might want to take a closer look at Silva’s odds. BetCRIS has him as a -600 favorite, which, by my calculations, means that if you bet $100 on him, you’ll score a $16 profit if he wins. So if you’re in dire need of $16, I’d say go for it. But then again, why would you need $16 if you already have $100? Hmm…maybe don’t bet on this fight at all.
And I’d even set those make-it-out-of-the-first-round odds longer than 4-1. Of all the opponents that Silva has faced in the UFC, who does Cote most remind you of? To me, his skill-set is comparable to Chris Leben‘s and James Irvin‘s — standup specialists who thought they could take 10 to land one, and who ended up getting demolished in a minute or less. Anderson Silva’s striking game tends to look sharpest against other strikers. The guys who have made it to round two against him lately were a submission ace (Travis Lutter), a wrestler (Dan Henderson), and a former champion who already knew what fighting Silva would be like (Rich Franklin II). If you can find someone offering a “fight doesn’t go past the first 2:30″ bet, that would be a much smarter wager than betting Cote makes it to the second bell.
Anderson Silva has five fights left on his UFC contract after Patrick Cote. Assuming he beats Cote, who are the three people you absolutely need to see him fight before he retires?
Goldstein: Unfortunately, there are a handful of potential opponents that Silva simply won’t fight because of his friendship with them, which is probably influencing his decision to retire when his current contract is up. Of the fighters who are available, I think a non-title match against George St. Pierre is the one I’d most want to see. Only GSP and BJ Penn have skill levels that are comparable to Silva’s, and Penn is just too small to make a Prodigy/Spider bout compelling. I’d even say that St. Pierre has more of a chance to beat Silva than any of the UFC’s light-heavyweights do. The fight is a classic waiting to happen.
Silva also needs at least one more meaningful middleweight title defense, against someone he hasn’t already beaten. Since he refuses to fight Paulo Filho, and I have no interest in seeing him face Yushin Okami, I’d love to see the UFC either re-sign Robbie Lawler — who should be a free-agent in the wake of EliteXC’s collapse — or pick up Gegard Mousasi to put against Anderson. The styles of both fighters would almost ensure an explosive fight, and both have the talent to at least make things competitive.
Finally, it would be great if Silva ended his career with two championship belts, Lyoto Machida be damned. If Silva took on the winner of December’s Griffin/Evans title fight, it wouldn’t be a direct conflict of interest and he could vacate the title directly afterwards if he really wanted to. I don’t think there are any light-heavyweights that Silva couldn’t beat, and now that Chuck Liddell‘s losses have reduced his star-power, a super-fight against a 205-pounder wouldn’t really interest me unless a belt was on the line.
Fowlkes: I agree about GSP and Lawler. But if they don’t want to resign Lawler I’d also – and I almost don’t want to admit this – be up for seeing him have another go with Dan Henderson somewhere down the road. I just think that style-wise Hendo can give him a fight, assuming he doesn’t fall apart in the second round again. Not that I’ll lose sleep thinking about it if the fight doesn’t happen, but honestly, who’s come closer to beating Silva in the UFC than Henderson?
I completely disagree with you when it comes to light heavyweights, though. There are plenty of interesting fights there without a title involved, and he doesn’t want to jump ahead of his buddy Machida in that line. All he needs to do to make it interesting is fight a big, legitimate 205-pounder to put his own skills in perspective. Preferably this would be a former champ known for his power and resiliency, who’s also a little crazy. See where I’m going with this?
If I could only pick three opponents for him before he calls it quits, I have to go with GSP, Lawler, and “Rampage” Jackson. In that order.
How will the bonuses be distributed, and what will be the most boring fight of the night?
Fowlkes: Anderson Silva will take Knockout of the Night for what he does to Patrick Cote’s face, which emergency room nurses will declare “a real shame.” Submission of the Night will, once again, go to a Miller. This time it will be Dan who pulls off a Millerplata on Matt Horwich, and yes, I am prepared to call any submission applied by one of the Miller brothers a Millerplata from this day forward.
Fight of the Night, that’s a little tougher, but if Josh Koscheck and Thiago Alves put on any kind of show I think Dana White is going to feel like he should throw a little extra cheddar their way for being such good sports.
The most boring fight has to be a contest between Sean Sherk/Tyson Griffin and Gray Maynard/Rich Clementi. Because Clementi threatens to inject some brief moments of excitement into his bout, I have to give it to Sherk and Griffin. The two of them together is the ideal formula for a plodding, three-round snoozer.
Goldstein: Yeah, Anderson Silva is the obvious choice for the KO bonus, but I’m hoping he’ll finish Cote by flying heel-hook just to fuck with people. Fabricio Werdum has just as much chance to pick up Knockout of the Night, simply because he’s a world-class fighter and his opponent, Junior Dos Santos, is about as random as they come. Dos Santos should be leading off a UFC Fight Night undercard against another Octagon newbie, not throwing down with a top ten heavyweight. It’ll be an ass-whuppin’, to be sure.
I can confidently say that Thales Leites will get the submission bonus. If Drew McFedries can be tapped by a UFC first-timer like Mike Massenzio (see last month’s UFC Fight Night 15), he’ll definitely find himself choked/’barred by the badass jits of Leites. I’ll agree that Koscheck/Alves is looking like the Fight of the Night, considering the rest of the card is made up of a few squash matches and a whole lot of bouts that could turn into dragged-out decisions, heavy on the hugging.
But as for Shittiest Fight of the Night, do not overlook Josh Burkman vs. Pete Sell. Burkman invented an entirely new style of boring fighting — the standing lay ‘n’ pray — in his UFC Fight Night 12 match against Mike Swick, and his last win via stoppage was eight fights ago. Pete Sell, like Swick in the Burkman fight, is cutting down to welterweight for the first time, so power might be an issue — not that he showed much in his last three losing efforts. Also, he hasn’t finished an opponent in three-and-a-half years. Individually, these two suck incredibly hard. By placing them together, we may witness an unparalleled display of God-awfulness.
We both clearly love Shane Carwin. But the dude needs a quality opponent. Who should he be given next?
Goldstein: The fact that Carwin still hasn’t made it to the second half of the first round of a fight means he simply isn’t facing the right competition. He deserves a big step up the ladder, but putting him against a mid-level gatekeeper with deficient takedown defense like Herring or Cheick Kongo probably wouldn’t be much of a challenge either. Shane Carwin and Cain Velasquez have proven that they can steamroll guys – great, now make them fight each other. Yes, one of the UFC’s heavyweight golden boys will go home with his first loss, but it’ll help create a legitimate pecking order in the division. It’s a fight that would actually matter. Continuing to match them up against cupcakes may help maintain the illusion of depth in the division, but it gets in the way of genuinely compelling fight-booking.
So, Velasquez is the logical answer, I think. Though I’d also like to see Carwin take on Frank Mir if Mir loses to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in December. Mir barely escaped a TKO loss against the similarly-equipped Brock Lesnar, and it would be interesting to see how he’d perform against another club-fisted wrestler with a bit more MMA experience.
Fowlkes: Your reasoning for putting Carwin against a fellow wrestler in Velasquez is sound, but I’m in no hurry to see it and I think the UFC is in no hurry to make it happen right now, for exactly the tarnished golden boy problem you mention. It would be one thing if Carwin was dominating dudes based purely on his wrestling, but he’s not. He’s dominating with power and athleticism and raw aggression.
So let’s see him fight another powerful, athletic fighter who presents different problems. Yeah, I’m talking about Cheick Kongo. It’s way too soon to label him a gatekeeper, plus he’s with the Wolfslair now and that’s…good? I have to/want to believe that his takedown defense is improving by the day, and his stand-up is sharp enough that it should let us know exactly what Carwin has in that department as well. It also lets the UFC either help along a future star or revitalize a prospect that has dimmed, and the UFC loves win-win situations like that.
Of course, if Mir loses that also makes sense, in a way. But if Lesnar also loses, I wouldn’t mind seeing those two bulls go at it. Just make sure the Octagon is reinforced so they don’t go charging through the fence and take out poor Wilmer Valderrama.