Far be it from us to accuse UFC matchmaker and noted “mean little f*cker” Joe Silva of phoning it in, but when rumors started to circulate that former middleweight title challenger and reborn welterweight Demian Maia would be facing former welterweight title challenger Josh Koscheck, we balked at the idea. Balked I tell you! Sure, Koscheck’s a seasoned veteran, perennial contender, and world-renowned motorboater, but in what universe does it make sense to have a guy on a two-fight losing skid fight a guy on a three-fight winning streak? This one, apparently.
Brazilian outlet NewsMMA was the first to report the matchup, which has since been confirmed by both fighters Sherdog pages.
Like we said, we were quick to dismiss the notion of this pairing…at first. But then we got to thinking: What possible motivation could the UFC have for booking this fight? And then, it all became so clear. The UFC is severing its ties with Josh Koscheck.
Don’t buy it? Well, let’s just take a little trip down memory lane, shall we?
(They say a picture is worth a thousand words, yet the only one that comes to mind when looking at this one is ZOMGBARFLOLLERCOPTER. Via Getty Images.)
Mixed martial arts is a cruel mistress, Potato Nation, and we’re not just talking about Fallon Fox. As the sport’s popularity has increased over the past decade, its participants have been forced to take on the added pressure of not only supporting their families with the oft paltry salaries they take home every few months (if they’re lucky), but winning fights and winning them impressively for the sake of their ever-increasing fanbases, who will turn on them at the drop of the hat should they fail to meet expectations. At the risk of sounding too cliche, MMA is a game that truly offers the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. It’s also a sport that Tim Sylvia once declared 90% half mental.
No, it’s not every day that we see a Randy Couture or a Georges St. Pierre who can recover from a brutal loss or string of losses and use them as motivation to refocus or completely resurrect their career. And in light of Wanderlei Silva and Mark Hunt’s recent triumphs, we go to thinking: Who Had the Most Unexpected Career Turnaround of Them All?
That was the text I received this morning from a friend who is very much a casual MMA fan regarding last night’s UFC 156. Even though I assumed that my friend was talking about the end result of Bigfoot vs. Overeem, that statement could just as easily apply to almost any other fight on the card. We’re all familiar with the cliché that any fighter can beat anyone else on any night at this level, but we rarely see the underdogs win as frequently – and as convincingly – as they did last night. Simply put, it was an awful night for the guys who were supposed to win.
So let’s start off with the fight that went exactly as we all assumed it would: Jose Aldo defeated Frankie Edgar by a close, yet unanimous decision. Naturally, Edgar grew stronger as the fight went on. And naturally, the fight was close enough to justify an immediate rematch if one were to be booked (it probably won’t but who knows), because that’s just how Frankie Edgar fights work.
It’s impossible to be disappointed with Frankie Edgar’s effort in any given fight, and last night was no exception. Edgar provided Aldo with his stiffest challenge to date – after the champion returned from the longest layoff in his career, mind you – but Aldo was simply the better fighter.
Tonight at UFC 156 in Las Vegas, Jose Aldo goes for his fourth-consecutive UFC featherweight title defense, while former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar attempts to become the third fighter in UFC history to pick up a belt in two different weight classes. And that’s just the cherry on top of a stacked Super Bowl Eve card, which is loaded with big names and high stakes from start to finish.
Round-by-round results from the Aldo vs. Edgar pay-per-view card will be stacking up after the jump beginning at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT, courtesy of George “Bigfoot” Shunick. Refresh the page every few minutes for all the latest, and please toss your own thoughts into the comments section.
After hitting a wall at middleweight, Maia dropped to 170 earlier this year, debuting with a fluke-ish TKO-via-muscle-spasm victory over Dong Hyun Kim. But against Rick Story at UFC 153, we finally saw flashes of the Old Maia, as he picked up his first submission victory since his triangle-choke of Chael Sonnen in February 2009. And man, was it nasty.
We all know that this is going to be a grapple-fest, and odds are that it’ll go the distance. But considering that Fitch has turned over a new leaf in his approach to fighting — and that Maia has located his jiu-jitsu again — it could be an entertaining scrap. Who y’all got?
If there’s a word that sums up UFC 153, it’s got to be “wow”. Anderson Silva gave another performance indicating that we do indeed live in the Matrix. Jon Fitch was in the most exciting fight of the night, and one of the best of the year. Big Nog submitted a man impervious to jiu-jitsu. Demian Maia choked/neck-cranked a man so hard he had a mini-hemorrhage and blood spurted out of his nose. And perhaps most impressive of all, Wagner Prado actually stopped a hat thief.
The bottom line is UFC 153 was an amazing card that delivered from top to bottom. Could it have been better if it had Frankie Edgar square off against Jose Aldo? Probably. But I’ll take another transcendental show from Anderson Silva any day of the week. And that’s exactly what his fight with Stephan Bonnar was. After a slip, Bonnar pressed Silva into the cage, presumably looking to wear the smaller fighter down. Silva wasn’t having any of it, offering a few knees, shoulder shrugs and nothing else. Bonnar backed away and then things got weird. Silva remained on the fence, hands down, encouraging Bonnar to hit him.
Now, I know Stephan Bonnar isn’t the world’s greatest striker. He’s never shown serious knockout power, and his technique has never been the best. But he’s still a 230 pound man who’s spent the majority of his adult life learning how to hurt people. He’s a professional fighter. And for about 4 minutes and 40 seconds last night, those facts didn’t amount to jack shit. Silva dodged, deflected or simply absorbed Bonnar’s offense for about two minutes, demonstrating what a black belt in Tae Kwon Do is worth against a man who seems to know what you’re going to do before you do. Then, Silva decided to end the fight. He tripped Bonnar, established some separation, and then connected with a debilitating, pin-point knee to the solar plexus. Bonnar – who had never been stopped with strikes before – collapsed and waited for the end to come. Mercifully, it did.
(Well, at least the poster is as half-assed as the main event.)
By Dan “Get Off Me” George
I’ll be honest, when I first heard of the new main event for UFC 153, I thought we were all the victims of some intricate ruse on the UFC’s part. Surely the head honchos at Zuffa didn’t consider a “fun” squash match on the level of Joe Lauzon vs Jens Pulver to be the best possible option for a country that was recently denied the biggest fight of all time, right? But I guess when an injury curse on the level of 2012′s hits, you do what you can to simply stay afloat, and in that sense the UFC has succeeded.
Luckily for us, the UFC has also succeeded in putting together a card that provides plenty of opportunities to prosper from a wagering perspective as well. This time around, I will attempt to follow the lead of Jared “Money Bags” Jones, who provided both the gift and thecurse for UFC on FX 5: Browne vs. Silva with his parlay picks, so follow me as I highlight a few names on the preliminary cards for Facebook and FX and breakdowns of all fights on the PPV portion of UFC 153. All betting odds come courtesy of BestFightOdds.
Facebook + FX prelims
Reza Madadi stands out in the two FB fights; Sweden has been hot in the octagon lately and I think “Mad Dog” (not Anthony Macias) at around -200 has the right combination of size and all around ground advantage to deal with Marcello’s submissions game and win his second straight UFC fight.
Gleison Tibau hovering around -160 should be able to stifle fellow Brazilian Francisco Drinaldo and find a way back into the UFC win column after dropping a hard fought loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 148. Tibau has fought solid competition throughout his lengthy UFC career and I do not think Francisco has the right tools to win this fight. An underdog that may be worth a look is Renee Forte at around +200 against Sergio Moraes, who dropped a unanimous decision last time out due in part to his in-ring demeanor, which did not seem to go over well with the judges.
Of course, reality is a cruel mistress, and YAMMA Pit Fighting ended up happening despite the best efforts of an injury curse. Much like the aforementioned Heroes of Wrestling, Meyrowitz attempted to cash in on our love of nostalgia by booking a bunch of aging has-beens, never-weres, nobodies and ne’er-do-wells to compete in the promotion’s inaugural event. Never mind that half of the roster hasn’t been relevant in a decade (using “relevant” as loosely as possible in some cases), or that one of the fighters was best known for getting knocked out by a leg kick, or that another fighter was best known to casual fans for his stint on Celebrity Rehab; they’re going to brawl, you guys! Add on one of Brock Lesnar’s Team Deathclutch punching bags, the cheapest journeyman-for-hire you can find, an obese former Toughman Contest champion and some obscure Russians who dabble at sambo — because, you know, Fedor — and we’ll have all the tools for an exciting bankruptcy case after no one watches this. Tack on the incredibly cheesy, stuck-in-the-mid-90s “On the streets it’s against the law — in the pit it is the law” tagline, and laissez les bons temps rouler.