(The affable Gracie uses one of his patented knock-knock jokes to disarm Hughes just long enough to set up a collar choke. Photo courtesy of Combat Lifestlye.)
Your old pal the Enabler tried as hard as he could, but damned if he could locate any online bookmaker that was giving odds on whether or not the UFC’s hastily thrown together stadium in Abu Dhabi would collapse under the strain of a sandstorm and trap everyone inside its terrifying skeleton of twisted metal and promotional posters. I refuse to believe I’m the only person who thinks that the chances of that happening are at least as good as Demian Maia’s odds.
Anderson Silva (-650) vs. Demian Maia (+600) BJ Penn (-675) vs. Frankie Edgar (+552) Matt Hughes (-360) vs. Renzo Gracie (+361) Mark Munoz (-150) vs. Kendall Grove (+155) Terry Etim (-138) vs. Rafael Dos Anjos (+135) Phil Davis (-435) vs. Alexander Gustafsson (+420)
Not only does he freely acknowledge that Silva is probably the most complete fighter in the world, he also knows that he only has one chance to win and it involves getting him to the mat and submitting him. It’s the first part of that equation that seems like it might be problematic, though.
After a short week of pickin’ for UFC Fight Night 21: Florian vs. Gomi, it’s time to stretch out a bit. The pools for next Saturday’s UFC 112 card are now open on MMA FightPicker and two things are worth noting: 1) You have a full nine days to enter pools and make your selections, and 2) Up for grabs in the prize pool this time around is a 32-inch television. Seriously. And it’s a nice one, too. A 3,800-chip buy-in gains you access to the 25-person-limit prize pool, in which the first-place winner will score a Sony BRAVIA 32" 1080p LCD HDTV, valued at $549.99.
Yes, 3,800 Potato Chips is about 3,750 more than you have at this point; we realize that. So why not buy some chips? Put it this way: If you need a 32" flat-screen and you think you have a good handle on how UFC 112 will play out, you could pick up a brand-new television at a very deep discount. The prize pool requires a minimum of 16 players, and it includes a tie-breaker question that you’ll need to answer. Any of you sissies have the guts to play? Anybody feel like taking a look at the questions before making such a rash decision?
UPDATE: Okay, listen up crybabies. We realize it’s not fair to con you into buying chips when the prize pool could shut down for not hitting the minimum number of players. So we’re going to lift the minimum player requirement for this one. Thanks for all your feedback, and please check back later…
Following a hard-fought three round win over Dan Miller at UFC 109 that showed him to be more than just a submission expert*, Demian Maia will jump right back into training camp for the biggest fight of his career – an April 10th meeting with UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva in the main event of UFC 112 at Ferrari World on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. Maia replaces countryman Vitor Belfort, who underwent emergency surgery on his left shoulder earlier this week to fix a chronic injury that got worse in his training camp for Silva.
“It’s always tough when a top fighter like Vitor Belfort has to pull out of a big title fight, but we have found a high quality replacement,” said UFC President Dana White. “Top contender Chael Sonnen was not available due to injuries sustained in his fight with Nate Marquardt, so top six** middleweight Demian Maia will step in to fight for the title. Maia is an Abu Dhabi grappling champion, a five-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion, and he is 12-1 in MMA and coming off a win over Dan Miller at UFC 109. Anderson Silva vs Demian Maia will be a matchup between MMA’s best striker and MMA’s best grappler.”
* Sure. He’s also a mediocre kickboxer.
** Come on, nobody uses the phrase "top six." Just say "top five" and hope nobody questions it.
"We’ve spoken with Chael on many occasions and have the utmost respect for him. He’s never really come across in this manner, and it’s obvious he’s just drumming up hype in hopes to get a bout with Anderson…We are fine if this is what the UFC wants, but if you look at this logistically, Sonnen should fight Demian Maia first. Demian beat [him] easily, by submission, so why not make them fight first, to determine who gets a shot at the title?…
(Couture vs. Coleman hype video by Genghis Con. Respect your elders, son.)
ATTENTION, POTATO NATION: It’s Friday afternoon, which means there’s still time to join MMA FightPicker and submit your predictions for tomorrow night’s UFC 109 card. For the thousands of players who have already signed up, we thank you, and we want you to know that we’ll be battling alongside you. In fact, BF and BG have both joined "Palooka Pool 30 #173" in an effort to determine a house champion. (Ed. note: The loser of this challenge will have to get a tattoo on his ass that says "Ben owns this. Not me, the other Ben.") So please join a FightPicker pool if you haven’t already, then take a look at how we’re answering the questions this week…
1. Randy Couture vs. Mark Coleman at UFC 109: Who will win? BF: Randy Couture. If Couture can only beat one type of fighter on the UFC roster, it’s the type that Coleman happens to be: old, a little bit slow, and too dependent on his wrestling ability. BG: Randy Couture. Couture is the master of the gameplan. Coleman drives around Vegas for two days with his low-fuel light on because he’s always late to practice, and runs out of gas on the 215 even though he "put that little extra in there" to begin with. Difference in mental preparation, is what I’m saying.
2. Randy Couture vs. Mark Coleman: Who will score the first takedown? BF: Randy Couture. This is a little tougher to call, because sometimes the first takedown is determined in part by who’s gunning for takedowns right out of the gate, which should be Coleman. I still think Couture can stifle him until he’s ready to work for something out of the clinch, maybe early in the second round. BG: Randy Couture. Ditto to all that. You might see these two guys try to prove a point by slugging for a couple rounds, but the Natural will eventually put Coleman on his back from the clinch.
Tom Lawlor was a 2-1 underdog in his bout with C.B. Dollaway at UFC 100. Conventional wisdom said that he’d be an entertaining guy to have on the card prior to the opening horn, but wouldn’t stand much of a chance against Dollaway’s dominant wrestling and smirking self-assurance. The entertaining part turned out to be true. Lawlor painted himself in homage to the infamous Just Bleed Guy for the weigh-in, and then used man-dog Seth Petruzelli as a prop in his entrance. That’s where the fun was supposed to stop, but just seconds into the first round he locked up an arm-in guillotine choke off a Dollaway takedown attempt and held on to it until his opponent’s lip uncurled and his eyes rolled back in his head. Maybe it wasn’t the most technically brilliant move, but he did choke C.B. Dollaway unconscious, which meant we didn’t have to listen to him talk for a little while. That ought to be worth something.
9. Jake Rosholt ruins Chris Leben’s hometown party
(UFC 102, 8/29/09)
UFC 102 in Portland, Oregon was supposed to be Chris Leben’s homecoming. Coming off a long steroid suspension following his loss against Michael Bisping, he drew the relatively inexperienced Jake Rosholt in his return. But early on in the fight it became apparent that Leben came to throw wild, looping bombs, while Rosholt came to fight a mixed martial arts bout. After trading on the feet for a little while Rosholt finally got smart and put Leben on his back long enough to lock up an arm-triangle choke. Leben considered tapping, but didn’t get around to it before his brain called it quits. Somehow, Rosholt got cut after losing his next bout, while Leben still has a job with the UFC. This crazy world.
Sherdog: Are you planning to go to the next Abu Dhabi Combat Club event? Maia: No. Now, I’m just planning a 10-day vacation [Ed. note: That's like a half-day vacation for every second of work. Must be nice!], because I trained so hard for this fight, so I think it will be too close to compete at ADCC. I’m going to be in Europe for a series of seminars by that time, and I probably will go there to see the event. But I’m not going to compete because my priority is the UFC, and I must be 100 percent if I want to fight at the end of the year.
(Even when you’ve knocked your opponent into a 180-degree tailspin, the Bad Boy eyes are always watching. Photo courtesy of Tracy Lee via Cagewriter.)
The UFC paid out $1,525,000 in reported salaries and bonuses for UFC 102, with the night’s headliners taking home just over half of the total. The numbers are below. Keep in mind that they don’t include income from sponsorships, cuts of the pay-per-view revenue (which Randy Couture reportedly receives), or the UFC’s shadowy "locker room bonuses" (which Silva and Duffee likely got a taste of).
– Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira: $460,000 (includes $150,000 win bonus and $60,000 Fight of the Night bonus) – Randy Couture: $310,000 (includes $60,000 Fight of the Night bonus) – Nate Marquardt: $140,000 (includes $40,000 win bonus and $60,000 Knockout of the Night bonus) – Gabriel Gonzaga: $120,000 (includes $60,000 win bonus) – Jake Rosholt: $86,000 (includes $13,000 win bonus and $60,000 Submission of the Night bonus) – Brandon Vera: $70,000 (includes $35,000 win bonus) – Thiago Silva: $58,000 (includes $29,000 win bonus) – Keith Jardine: $55,000
("So, I feel that I’ll be comfortable wherever the fight goes, and as long as I can stick to my gameplan and — Shawn, if you don’t get that Flip Cam out of my face, I’m going to stomp you a new asshole. Seriously. Last warning." Photo courtesy of this set on Combat Lifestyle.)
The word "legend" gets thrown around a lot in this sport, to the point where it loses much of its meaning. Well, we won’t bother with the cliches. Suffice it to say that two old dudes are going to fight in Portland tonight, and one of them is so old that it’s hard to believe he’s still fighting, and the other is actually more old-looking than old, and maybe it would have been better if they fought like five years ago, in a city where people could actually afford to go see it, but here we are, and what are you gonna do.
Elsewhere on the card, Keith Jardine and Thiago Silva clash in a high-profile light-heavyweight scrap, while Nate Marquardt and Demian Maia fight for what may or may not turn out to be a #1 middleweight contender spot. Live UFC 102 results await you after the jump; refresh the page every few minutes for all the latest. Let’s have a good, clean liveblog. Obey all my instructions, and protect yourself at all times. If you want to order pizza, do it now, and go back to your couches.