Paul Daley's Blogs
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?
UFC 103 Post-Mortem: Belfort, Daley Issue Statements
By: Jake Rossen
Of all the athletes who promised to reenact some of their better days Saturday, Vitor Belfort might have been considered the least likely to succeed.Read more
A returning Frank Trigg had amassed a tight 7-2 record since leaving the UFC in 2005; Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic swore up, down, and sideways that surgery had left him a new man. Belfort? Coming off two impressive victories at 185 pounds, he was fighting 10 pounds heavier, was prone to frequently disappointing…and looked somewhat depressed.
A hanging head might be expected. Being Belfort involves a weird amalgamation of having incredible expectations layered on top of none: in 1997, he was considered a blitzing badass with unlimited potential. By 2000, he was written off as mentally knocked out.
Primer: UFC 103
By: Jake Rossen
In and out of the cage, Rich Franklin is making a career out of lateral movement: bumped from the middleweight division by Anderson Silva, he appears to have settled into a complacent role as filler putty for headlining holes in the UFC’s main events.Read more
UFC 93 was a light heavyweight bout against Dan Henderson; UFC 99, a catch-weight bout against Wanderlei Silva; now there’s Dallas and UFC 103, which sees him in another 195-pound fence-straddle against a returning Vitor Belfort. It’s hard to ascertain exactly what the fight means: Franklin is supposed to be a 205-pound presence, so beating Belfort -- who eyes the 185-pound division -- can’t influence that much. Belfort has more to gain here.