Heads up: WEC 44 goes down next Wednesday in Las Vegas, with featherweight champ Mike Brown defending his belt against terrifying knockout artist Jose Aldo, who has ended all five of his appearences in the WEC via highlight-reel stoppage; his last opponent, Cub Swanson, lasted all of eight seconds. But is Mike Brown scared? Nah. "He’s never faced the caliber of fighter that I am," Brownie says. "It’s not gonna be an easy fight of course, but if I do my thing, I’m gonna win the fight." Check out the full lineup here.
But, you have to admit, at least some of it has to do with how these guys have chosen to spend their free time over the years. While Chuck is getting fall-down drunk and picking fights frat boy-style outside of parties, Couture is getting his active rest in. While Chuck is at bars, feeling too sexy for his shirt, Couture enjoys quiet evenings at home with his next future ex-wife. Different philosophies at work, really. We’re not here to say that one is better or worse than another, just that one is demonstrably better for career longevity if you fight other people for a living.
Tonight’s episode of TUF 10 will feature the season’s first quarterfinal matchup, in which polar-bearish grapplers Justin Wren and Roy Nelson — arguably the two strongest fighters in the house — go toe-to-toe in a Youth vs. Experience matchup. Because they practice on the same team, each dude always has one eye on the other, though the vibe between them is generally respectful. Rashad feels uncomfortable with the prospect of training his guys against each other, because he doesn’t want to look like he’s playing favorites — though that ruse won’t last long considering Schaub and McSweeney obviously are his favorites. Check out the episode tonight and come back tomorrow morning for group discussion…
Coming off a weekend where an MMA event aired live on network TV to millions of homes, it’s worth remembering that it wasn’t so long ago that the sport was still in its dark ages. Perhaps nothing illuminates that more effectively than videos of Igor Vovchanchyn‘s victories in the one-night "Mr. Strong Guy*" tournament in Minsk, Belarus back in January of 1996. "Ice Cold" fought three times that night, once against a guy who appears to be wearing street shoes, and all three times in a pit covered by a wrinkled tarp. The footage is in black and white and we can only assume that it’s because color TV hadn’t made it to Belarus yet, or else it had and they simply thought it frivolous. And the music? Well, obviously it’s nothing less than an inspired, though somewhat risky choice for a bare-knuckle fighting tournament.
We post these not to suggest that any MMA that comes out looking better than this is beyond reproach, but rather to remind ourselves that complaining about watching the world’s best heavyweight for free on CBS, even if it did thwart the DVR technology that didn’t even exist in 1996, is a very recent luxury for MMA fans. That’s all. Well, that and the fact that this whole tournament seems pretty damn fascinating in a weird way. The other two videos of Vovchanchyn’s victories are after the jump. There’s really no way for you to not watch them and still call yourself a fan.
* Some people say the name of the tournament actually translates to "Mr. Powerman SEKAI," but that’s more confusing and not quite as funny as "Mr. Strong Guy," and is therefore the inferior translation in our eyes.
Here’s some footage I took at the Strikeforce post-event presser on Saturday night, which all the main event fighters showed up for. You’ve already heard what Fedor had to say, but check out the reactions from everybody else…
— Fabricio Werdum says he’s earned a shot at Fedor, who Werdum believes is the best fighter in the world. After a week of rest, he’ll be back to training hard.
— Chechen-Polish upstart Mamed "Cannibal" Khalidov scored a surprise first-round knockout of Sengoku middleweight champ Jorge Santiago. After a takedown by Santiago, Khalidov was able to stun Santiago with a punch from the bottom, then scrambled to top position and quickly finished the fight. Because it was a non-title bout, Santiago remains the champion. Love it when that happens.
— Kevin Randleman and undefeated Bulgarian prospect Stanislav Nedkov put on a three-round wrestling match that ended with one judge scoring it for Nedkov and the other two calling it a draw. In keeping with Sengoku’s ridiculous traditions, the two judges who didn’t pick a winner were required to cast "must decision" votes, and Nedkov walked away with a split-decision victory. Full results plus more fight videos can be found after the jump.
If you were one of the people who actually sat through the commercials with an intense focus during Saturday night’s broadcast of Strikeforce on CBS, then you probably saw the impressive first ads for EA Sports’s MMA game, complete with what they claim is actual gameplay footage of Brett Rogers and Fedor Emelianenko going at it. It’s no surprise that the people behind the bulk of great pro sports video games currently on the market managed to put together a good trailer for their first effort at an MMA game, but is the power of the EA Sports brand enough to compete with the UFC? Sure, they’ve got Fedor. They’ve got Mauro Ranallo screaming his head off. They’ve got "Mayhem" Miller, even if he’s not pleased with his stats.
But say, just for the sake of argument, that you are both an MMA fan and a video game enthusiast. How many different games do you really need at your disposal? How important is it to you to be able to play as Fedor, rather than simply making your own off-brand version in the UFC game? Does having the EA Sports label slapped on there matter, or is all pointless if you don’t have a digitized Dana White yelling at you?
Two days after we were introduced to the new-hotness that is Marloes Coenen, I had the opportunity to be charmed by her in person. The Golden Glory veteran’s domination of Roxanne Modafferi at Fedor vs. Rogers secured her shot at Cris Cyborg‘s 145-pound Strikeforce title, though Coenen was pretty much the last to find out. In the above quickie-interview, Coenen discusses how she matches up with Cyborg, and her eerily focused demeanor before a fight. (You kind of had to be there — hopefully the video will emerge at some point.) Will Marloes be able to exploit her grappling advantage over Cristiane Santos when they meet up in January?
Following the Fedor vs. Rogers press conference on Saturday night (more on that later), I was one of several MMA scribblers to corner Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker for a family-style follow-up interview. Some highlights are above: Coker revealed that Marloes Coenen will be the next challenger to Cris Cyborg‘s 145-pound women’s title, threatened that he would be Strikeforce’s heavyweight champion if Alistair Overeem continues his shucking and ducking, and gave his generally positive analysis of Strikeforce’s first CBS show. Regarding his rivalry with the UFC, Coker says "Every day when I wake up, I’m thinking about what Strikeforce needs to do, not what somebody else needs to do, or another company’s doing" — which seems a lot more pleasant than Dana White’s morning routine. More viddys to come…
Dammit Mayhem, you got nothing to be sorry for. You fought hard against a tough opponent. It’s just too bad you didn’t get to show off your chosen discipline of "slap boxing" a little more. Those of you who still haven’t seen the fight can check it out here.