Sanchez or Penn: whose cardio chokes first?
There’s not much enthusiasm left to beat the tired drum about B.J.’s lack of cardio conditioning, particularly in light of recent, long-form fights. (A TKO loss via mugging against Georges St. Pierre being the exception.)
Doesn’t matter: if Sanchez is at all likely to overcome Penn, his best chance remains in the championship rounds, where he can keep Penn going backwards and wasting oxygen on resisting aggressive takedown attempts.
This all assumes Sanchez has the cardio for the last ten minutes, which is no guarantee: he’s never seen the back two in his career. And while he’s often looked fresh enough at the conclusion of three, he’s never seen three against Penn.
Will Mir’s muscle be binding?
Frank Mir weighed 245 lbs. for a July rematch with Brock Lesnar. Friday, he expects to cut a pound or two in order to make the 265 lb. ceiling for the heavyweight division. Through strength training with Mark Phillipi, he has now carrying the equivalent of a lean Thanksgiving turkey.
This is intended, Mir says, to help offset the power presented by Lesnar in his hoped-for rematch. What demands it will place on Mir’s cardiovascular system is something Cheick Kongo should be wondering about. Nearly two thirds of his 16 pro fights have ended in the first round, and he’s given few indications that his cardio base had a lot of surplus to lose. If MMA is closer to a triathlon, why is Mir training like a power lifter?
Can Cheick Kongo stay on his feet?
Kongo has been dumped to his back by Cain Velasquez (no shame) and Heath Herring (some shame), while Mir has never shown any particular proficiency in getting the fight where he wants it. Against Lesnar, David "Tank" Abbott, and Tim Sylvia, he just somehow winds up there. Kongo’s increasing ability to punish fighters coming in -- as seen against Velasquez, whom he rattled -- and Mir’s additional horsepower make for a brand-new equation.
Can Greg Jackson top Clay Guida’s game?
Opinions vary on whether Guida’s all-systems-go attack is amazing or just stifling, but he remains a heavy burden for anyone in the 155-pound division: beating him should be worth hazard pay.
Guida flirts with the top of the totem, but he never quite gets a consistent hold: wins over Nate Diaz and Mac Danzig got swallowed by losses -- hard, close losses -- to Sanchez and Roger Huerta. Training with Greg Jackson’s Albuquerque finishing school might finally allow him to compliment his top game by adding conclusive skills. If you can finish a fight, the other guy can’t take it away from you.
Is Jon Fitch clogging the 170 lb. drain?
In 11 Octagon appearances, Jon Fitch has lost only once, and only after making St. Pierre work for 25 minutes. He can outwrestle virtually anyone in the division, stays out of trouble standing, and generally can’t help but make good fighters look bad by ripping out their batteries. What do you do with a guy like that? Because of his style -- Fitch has run out the clock in his last five fights -- the crowd isn’t behind him; that same game may be preventing some good fighters from moving ahead. It’s hardly Fitch’s fault that he’s tough, but it does make division traffic slow down.