(“When you lose one fight it’s a bad night, but when you lose three it’s a shitty night.” – Wittman on what’s at stake this weekend.)
One of the most respected striking coaches in the game, Trevor Wittman, will have his hands full on March 19th, with three of his fighters competing at the long anticipated UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones event in Newark, New Jersey. Eliot Marshall will look to make a successful return to the UFC against Luiz “Banha” Cane, Nate Marquardt will square off against Dan Miller, and Brendan Schaub will face the toughest challenge of his career against the legendary Mirko Cro Cop.
Wittman is a head coach at the Grudge Training Center, which is located at the City of Wheat Ridge, suburbs of Denver, Colorado. Grudge Training Center is represented by top ranked MMA fighters such as Nate Marquardt, Brendan Schaub, Gerald Harris, Shane Carwin and many others. Here’s what Trevor Wittman had to say about the upcoming UFC 128 fight card, the evolution of Mixed Martial Arts, ZUFFA’s purchase of Strikeforce and much more.
UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones goes down March 19th at the Prudential Center in Newark, and we’ve got the extended trailer for your viewing pleasure. Personally, I’m already a little burned out on watching the main eventers’ fight highlights and hearing the crusty old “youth vs. experience” debate. If you are too, just skip to the 4:51 mark to hear more about two other fights that aren’t getting nearly enough attention.
As Japanese MMA seems to slowly dwindle away from the glory days of the sport, hardcore fans like myself shed a tear for our great loss. It wasn’t just knowing those obscure 135-pounders whose names had syllables our gaijin tongues could barely pronounce, or the fact that it was the land where stomping and soccer-kicking a human being in the face was perfected into a sweet science. More than that, it was the stars that were produced that we came to know and love, whether they were fighting someone on their level or tearing open a tomato can — and that is where this list begins.
Blatant mismatches aside, JMMA gave us so many beautiful fights with men like Fedor Emelianenko, Mirko “Crocop” Filipovic (go tell your favorite TUF noob that his last name is not Crocop and relish in their confusion), Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Ikuhisa Minowa and Kazushi Sakuraba. For every epic bout that went into the history books for their unbelievable drama, we had other fights that we remember for less than pleasant reasons. Yes, the freak show fights! What would a JMMA event be without a match worthy of a 1930′s carnival? The big question here was how do I rank something that is mediocre to begin with? Well, I’m as clueless as you are, so let’s get started on this journey down “Freak Show Lane,” across the street from “What Were They Thinking? Boulevard”…
10. Daiju Takase vs. Emmanuel Yarbrough
Pride 3, 6/24/98
This was the first freak show fight in Pride history, and earns a place on this list for that merit alone. It pit 169 lb. Daiju Takase against 600 lb. Emmanuel Yarbrough, who most fans will recall was clobbered into submission by Keith Hackney and his broken hand at UFC 3 (Yarbrough has no luck in any event associated with the number three). The sumo plodded around the ring tossing his hamhock arms at Takase, while the smaller Japanese fighter fled and slowly wore down Yarbrough.
Takase makes the mistake of going for a lazy single leg on Yarbrough, which results in the large fighter flopping onto his belly and absorbing Takase into his flesh. As Stephen Quadros lamented, “This is horrible! This is like “Jaws!” Eventually, Takase slid out from the greasy underside of Manny, and in an ending eerily similiar to his UFC 3 fight, Takase went to town with clubbing hands to his exhausted opponent’s face, leading to a tapout in the middle of the second round.
As has been noted on this website in the past, we can only assume that it is really, really hard for anyone – even actual Croatians – to find Croatian-to-English interpreters. Either that, or whoever is doing it for www.CroCop.info is just totally half-assing it. As you can see with your own two eyes, the “English” subtitles on the above video only make “sense” in a highly impressionistic, inexplicit kind of a way. If the translation can be trusted at all, it purports to be a local news report about our guy Mirko, where he insists that he is healthy headed into 2011 and “can hardly wait” to see some kind of the positive return on the “investments” (we assume he’s talking physical and financial here) that he’s made in training.
Also, we’re not sure if we should just laugh or be kind of legitimately mad about the 20 second span from the 52-second mark to 1:12 when the subtitles drop off entirely and the words “About Croatian Politics” appear on the screen in red type. Look, are we interested in Croatian politics? Hell no, but we’d like the opportunity to make the decision for ourselves. We don’t need CroCop being our Jack Valenti, but it’s whatever, on to the fighting stuff.
(One of the few moments on Saturday when Travis Browne wasn’t in danger of getting his nuts demolished. Photo courtesy of MMAFighting.com)
Though many UFC fighters have gotten bad reputations for everything from eye-poking to greasing, nobody’s as consistently rotten as heavyweight Cheick Kongo, who put on another notorious performance against Travis Browne at UFC 120. Kongo started things off in the second round by launching his trademark strike — a knee to the balls, straight up the middle — and wound up costing himself the victory in the third frame when he continued to grab Browne’s shorts despite warnings from the ref; the resulting point-deduction led to a unanimous 28-28 judges’ decision. At this point, it’s pretty much indisputable that Kongo is the dirtiest fighter currently on the UFC roster. Who could forget his other career highlights…
If you were one of the poor bastards who suffered through UFC 119‘s woeful main event, you may have noticed Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic and Frank Mir having a little chat in the third round. Mid-fight trash talk, perhaps? A friendly "is that all you got, bitch?" maybe, or the ever-reliable "you ain’t shit"? Not exactly. As Cro Cop explained to Index.hr (translated by Fighters Only), he was asking if Mir would be kind enough to let go of their clinch so they could stand and bang. The exchange basically went like this:
Cro Cop: Let me go, let’s go to the center and fight. Mir: Let’s go to the mat. Cro Cop: OK — if I’m on top. Mir: We’ll stay in the clinch.
Eventually the ref broke them up and Cro Cop got his wish, even though he was knocked out by a knee to the jaw shortly after. Filipovic now joins the super-exclusive club of whacked-out MMA fighters who try to negotiate better positions during a fight, only to be refused by their opponents and then lose in humiliating fashion. At this point, the only other member of that club is Paulo Filho.
After returning to Croatia, Filipovic did another interview in which he flagrantly violated a recent CagePotato Ban — bad Mirko! — and assured everyone that he’ll be returning to the UFC. Twice, in fact…
(Seriously Mirko, you didn’t miss much. We’ll tell you about it later. PicProps: Vancouver Sun)
There were times during UFC 119 when it felt like everyone involved spent Saturday afternoon chugging tons of codeine cough syrup. Everybody looked just a little slow, a little out of it. It sure didn’t help that the two main eventers were totally sleepwalking during the first 14 minutes of their fight before Mirko CroCop ended things with his vicious head butt to Frank Mir’s knee. The “co-main event” was also entirely forgettable, as Ryan Bader outpointed Roger Nog to reportedly win the Jon Jones Sweepstakes. Guess we’ll have to check in with him in six months, find out how that worked out for him …
This was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a great effort from the world’s largest MMA promotion. It also wasn’t quite as bad as a lot of people are saying. We’re not talking “worst show of all time” territory here. Credit local boys Matt Mitrione, Sean McCorkle and Chris Lytle for salvaging what they could of the day. Also, Evan Dunham and Sean Sherk’s back-and-forth battle was by turns exciting and totally bizarre. Too bad it was marred by a shaky judges’ decision. And hey, the good news is, if you liked UFC 119 you’re gonna love Oct. 16’s UFC 120, which looks just as terrible on paper but at least airs for free on SpikeTV.
(Well, now I’m going to have nightmares. That’s great. Thanks for nothing, Joe Rogan. PicProps: UFC.com)
Look, we’ve been trying to think of a good way to tell you this. In the end, maybe it’s best if we just come right out and say it: UFC 119 isn’t a great PPV card. Your main event features two guys just trying to cling to life in the heavyweight division, while the rest of the card is kind of … meh. Not saying it’s terrible, but if you wanted to save your money for, say, UFC 121 and just follow the live blog for this baby, we’d understand. We got you, player. That’s what we’re here for. And if you’re some big swinging dick who has money out the yaz (even in these tough economic times) and you’re ordering the thing, but for some reason still feel compelled to follow along online – maybe as a respite from how empty and shallow your life really is, maybe just to toss out sweet zingers in the comments section — that’s fine too. We don’t discriminate. Except against fat people. And the old.
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After an unsuccessful stint in rehab, the Gambling Addiction Enabler has returned to do what it does best — make large, ill-advised wagers simply for the thrill of gambling. We’re not saying you should follow our betting advice, necessarily, but there are plenty of opportunities to beat the bookies at UFC 119, which goes down this Satuday in Indianapolis. The betting lines are below, courtesy of bestfightodds.com. If you can’t afford to waste real money, please hit up MMA FightPicker and throw down some virtual PotatoChips on the fights. And if you don’t know what these numbers mean, please read this first.
MAIN CARD Frank Mir (-220) vs. Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic (+215) Ryan Bader (-165) vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (+155) Chris Lytle (-125) vs. Matt Serra (+120) Evan Dunham (-204) vs. Sean Sherk (+190) Melvin Guillard (-150) vs. Jeremy Stephens (+140)
SPIKE TV PRELIMS CB Dollaway (-295) vs. Joe Doerksen (+270) Matt Mitrione (-140) vs. Joey Beltran (+136)
UNAIRED PRELIMS Thiago Tavares (-290) vs. Pat Audinwood (+240) Steve Lopez (-115) vs. Waylon Lowe (-115) T.J. Grant (-150) vs. Julio Paulino (+145) Mark Hunt (-215) vs. Sean McCorkle (+200)
With Sonnengate taking the piss out of the fact that there’s a UFC event this weekend, a lot of us (myself included) forgot that he UFC 119 countdown show was on last night.
If you happened to miss it and you were looking for something to do at work today instead of finishing up putting the new cover sheets on your TPS reports, we got you covered. We won’t spoil it for you, but the first thing that becomes clear in the latest episode is that they have switched up the format which gives the show a David Fincher movie feel to it.
I’m a fan of the new style, but then again the frenetic pace and non-stop jittery transitions seem to mimic my ADHD-controlled thought pattens, so it could just be me. A few notes on the show after the jump: