Paul Daley's Blogs
UFC/Strikeforce Postmortem: Judge Dread, Knockouts
By: Jake Rossen
Leonard Garcia file photo: Sherdog.com
Among Mike Goldberg’s usual duties -- sponsor plugs, broadcast generalship, tanning -- is reciting the standard “Rules of the Octagon” narration over a graphic, which states points will be awarded “based on striking, grappling, aggression, and Octagon control.” At 10 seconds in length, this will never be mistaken for an instructional video, but it’s become very obvious that Nevada judges in attendance Saturday haven’t even bothered with that much.
After handling Leonard Garcia for three rounds, pushing Garcia backward, landing while Garcia whiffed in open-mouthed “offense” and even taking a round with a conceivable 10-8 work effort, two judges ignored Nam Phan and scored the bout 29-28 Garcia. (The third saw it 30-27 Phan, cementing his status as human with two functioning corneas.) It stands next to New Coke, “The Phantom Menace” and the Hula burger as one of the worst decisions of all time.
In typically boorish bureaucratic fashion, these judges will never be asked to explain their scorecard, will never be asked to provide evidence of their competency, and will probably not be reprimanded in any meaningfully way -- all expected outcomes of virtually every other botched job on the planet.
Nothing can suffocate the enthusiasm of fans more quickly than something purported to be “As Real as it Gets” burdened by the inexplicable presence of officials who use a fictitious set of standards to oversee fights. Athletic commissions are assumed to be competent; as we saw with Chael Sonnen’s hearing Thursday, some members can’t even tell the difference between a mixed martial artist and a boxer. At this point, it’s becoming impossible to tell the difference between a fight judge and a brick. Read more
UFC 113 Post-Mortem: Rua’s Return, Daley Unforgiven, and More
By: Jake Rossen
This is what makes fighters a different breed than the rest: seven weeks after being sedated and cut open for an appendectomy, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua went back into the gym and prepared for a fight that was already the most important of his life. Instead of making excuses, he delivered the first knockout loss of Lyoto Machida’s career, earned a UFC light heavyweight championship, and eradicated the memory of poor performances. It’s a pretty good example of the patient making a successful recovery.
Even though he had all his organs, Machida has nothing to be ashamed of: he canned good fighters in Rashad Evans, Tito Ortiz, and Thiago Silva, and could very well beat anyone else in the division. (Nobody’s kickboxing is more dangerous than Rua’s.) He also holds the distinction of being the only man in the past three years to defend the 205 lb. title at least once. The fact that it’s changed hands five times since 2007 is a strong case for that belt being the most heavily disputed in the sport.
But his future is unclear. Part of Machida’s appeal was the mysticism he brought into the Octagon -- the puzzle of being a traditionalist in a sea of biker-gang tough guys. Now that Rua has proved pressure is a potential solution, Machida can no longer be sold as an anomaly. Flaws in his system have been exposed. If people tolerated his disciplined approach because they were curious to see him figured out, that appeal is gone. It is up to him whether the return of his family’s karate will be as compelling an attraction as its emergence. Fortunately, most classic martial arts stories revolve around revenge. Read more
Poll: Kos vs. Daley Outcome
By: Mike Fridley
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Thursday Mail: Kos vs. Daley
By: Mike Fridley
Tuesday’s quick mailbag entry comes from Nottingham, England, where Isaiah writes in to debate the outcome of Saturday’s Josh Koscheck vs. Paul Daley bout at UFC 113.
I just saw some odds for UFC 113 and I’m shocked that Semtex is a big underdog against Koscheck. Daley has won his last four whilst Kos has dropped two of five. He can’t touch Daley’s striking and heart. It’s going to get ugly in Montreal.
Mike Fridley: Sorry to ruin your day Isaiah, but I couldn’t disagree more. I have to side with the oddsmakers in this instance, as Koscheck has an enormous advantage in the wrestling department and experience that your hometown fighter just can’t match.
Although Daley (23-8-2) has competed in well over 30 professional MMA bouts, without question, this is the biggest fight of the Brit’s career. On the other hand, this is just old hat for Koscheck, who has faced the best of the best at 170 in his five years with the UFC. Saturday will mark the 32-year-old’s 17th duel in the Octagon (not counting TUF-eliminator bouts). This is an experience edge that can’t be overlooked.
As big as an advantage as the experience is, it’s nothing compared to the difference in wrestling ability that Koscheck (14-4) holds. I believe that the American Kickboxing Academy fighter has the skills to put Daley on his rear end and keep him there. Once this match hits the floor, the native of Waynesburg, Penn., possesses the tools to control, submit or pound out the dangerous slugger without much of a fuss.
I cannot argue that the Team Rough House knockout artist is the more explosive striker. He smoked two highly-respected welterweights in Dustin Hazelett and Martin Kampmann while hardly breaking a sweat. If he gets to Koscheck’s chin, he can surely end the contest with a single blow. I just don’t see it happening.
I expect this bout to unfold similar to Daley’s battle with Nick Thompson last February at MFC 20, except I don’t see it going the distance. Koscheck by rear-naked choke in round two. Read more
UFC 108 Post-Mortem: ‘Semtex,’ Evans, More
By: Jake Rossen
For a card that the vocal online community was as enthused about as a tooth extraction, UFC 108 turned out to deliver exactly what it advertised: a sequence of good fights, exciting finishes, and implications on title contention.
Both Paul Daley and Junior dos Santos were considered to be fairly lethal standing: those warnings grew louder after quick and explosive knockouts over the respected Dustin Hazelett and Gilbert Yvel, respectively. Further up the ladder, Rashad Evans survived a third-round scare against Thiago Silva and issued a report that his loss to Lyoto Machida wasn’t the beginning of a decline.
The big names the event lacked may have turned out to be a blessing: the higher the fighter on the marquee, the more he has to lose, and the more conservatively he’ll fight. This was an event filled mostly by athletes looking to earn or boost reputations, not defend them.
Next for Evans: Apparently Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, fresh off “The A-Team” set. Read more
Daley, Stout Break Down Victories
Video courtesy of UFC.com. Read more
4 Questions: UFC 108
By: Jake Rossen
Will Evans be apprehensive?
Ugly knockouts tend to take away delusions of invincibility: until you’ve been hammered, you might not believe you can be hammered. Rashad Evans had that mystery stripped away by Lyoto Machida in May: against Thiago Silva, another intimidating striker, he might back off where he’d normally wade in, take fewer chances than normal, or find himself unable to rip off the kind of offense needed for a decisive win. Better or worse, the Evans we see Saturday won’t be the same guy who walked in against Machida.
Is Daley the welterweight heavy hitter?
For all of the incredible, rounded talent on display at 170 lbs., the class lacks the kind of nervous-anticipation strikers housed at middleweight (Anderson Silva, Melvin Manhoef) or light heavyweight. Read more
UFC 108 Primer
By: Jake Rossen
How beleaguered is the UFC’s first card of the new year? Hampered by recurring injuries and illness, it’s invited speculation that some kind of occult practices are at work, that the program is “cursed,” and that Scott Coker is right now, as you read this, covered in chicken blood and chanting something in a dead language.
The show and its promoters are largely a blameless party. With 20 (or more) events planned for the year, not all of them are going to produce incontinence on the part of excited fans. And lack of anticipation is not necessarily an indication of quality. (It actually has one fight that’s worth maybe half the $44.95 asking price by itself: see below.) It just means we’ll probably get some good fights without the boost of an emotional response to their outcomes.
When fans gripe -- as they have, nearly to the point of embedding snoring .wav files into forum posts -- and proclaim that “the show sucks,” what they really mean is, “I am not aroused by this card, but I acknowledge the fights themselves may be entertaining.” Feeling nervous for fighters can make boring fights riveting; lack of prior interest can make good fights easily forgotten. No one is particularly beside themselves for Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva in the way they might be over Anderson Silva’s 11th UFC win or Randy Couture smashing a clock to pieces or Brock Lesnar displaying some kind of inhumane technique. Sometimes a show is just a show. Read more
UFC 104 Post-Mortem: Split Decisions, Raising Cain, and More
By: Jake Rossen
No amount of complaining, debate or controversy will change the fact that Lyoto Machida entered Staples Center as the light heavyweight champion and exited the same way during Saturday’s UFC 104 event. He’s 16-0, and only a positive drug test -- unlikely at best -- will change that. It is what it is.
But the fight result tells an incomplete story: the “unanimous” decision for Machida doesn’t apply if you count fan reaction, with many in the media and on the couch believing Mauricio “Shogun” Rua had edged him out. (I had the fight 49-47 for Rua, with a rare-but-allowable 10-10 first round and Rua taking all but the third.) Rua found a home for his kicks to the torso with increasing accuracy; Machida parried and landed with less frequency. Watch the entire fight over without trying to measure strikes and see how often Rua comes forward while Machida steps back. Aggression counts.
There was no “robbery” and Lee Murray was not seen fleeing the arena. Rua may have appeared to look better than he did because we’ve grown accustomed to Machida operating in complete control. Rua has a right to be upset, though: he should’ve woken up next to something beautiful and shiny Sunday morning.
Next for Machida: Rounds 6-10 with Rua.
Next for Rua: Rounds 6-10 with Machida.
Next for Cain Velasquez: A shot against the Brock Lesnar/Shane Carwin winner on 11/21. (If Carwin deserves his bid, so does Velasquez.)
Next for Ben Rothwell: A sponsor other than Extenze, and possibly Antoni Hardonk or Roy Nelson.
Next for Anthony Johnson: Stomach stapling. Paul Daley.
During the post-fight press conference, Mauricio Rua said his team had assured him he was winning the fight and he didn’t feel the need to press the action. When you want objective scoring, maybe stay away from your own corner…No major media outlet on my radar scored the fight for Machida; athletes Twittering didn’t express any support for the champion, either: Frank Trigg and Jorge Gurgel used the word “robbed.” Strikeforce lightweight Josh Thomson voiced minority attitude: “Machida won. You have to beat the champ to be the champ.”…Patrick Barry knocked out $120,000 in bonus dough, taking $60,000 each for KO of the Night and Fight of the Night against Antoni Hardonk. Read more
By: Jake Rossen
Should Vitor Belfort get a title shot against Anderson Silva?Read more
Only in combat sports could a guy win a 195-pound fight and immediately get thrown in as a middleweight contender. The problem is that Dan Henderson and Nate Marquardt -- the two guys who are far more deserving at the moment -- wouldn’t excite fans as much as a Belfort fight, and probably need to fight each other to avoid giving Silva multiple rematches. (One is more than enough.) There’s also the issue of capitalizing on Belfort’s current wave of durability before he fades against another contender.
Should “Cro Cop” hang up the checkered shorts?