Monday Morning Reverie: The Nice Guy Finished First

By Mike Sloan Nov 20, 2006
I remember the days of yore when bad things would happen to me or those close to me and there was always some optimist spewing the nonsensical cliché: “good things come to those who wait.”

Rather than trying to figure out a formula to solve a problem or at least give sound advice to someone in an adverse situation, the clown would just spout those words, expecting everything to work out automatically.

I, for one, never bought into that theory about good things happening to good people with patience. I always used the ideology to “suck it up, figure things out and get on with your life.”

Forget waiting around like some jerk without a purpose. Everyday of my life, basically, I scoffed at that tired and useless cliché, disregarding it merely as some sort of positive-thinking farce — an easy escape hatch away from actually helping someone stuck in a rut.

That was until Saturday night.

Georges St. Pierre (Pictures) is hands down the friendliest, most honest and warm-hearted man in the sport of mixed martial arts. Aside from when he’s inside the realm of battle, I don’t think Georges has a bad bone in his body. He’s always smiling, is a social butterfly and a personable bloke who truly adores his fans and fellow fighters.

MMA is filled with respected and respectful fighters, but St. Pierre shows so much respect he borders on being too much of a fan of his compatriots.

In a nutshell, the 25-year-old St. Pierre is that rare breed of human being these days: a genuinely nice guy. And this past Saturday, he certainly finished first.

While Matt Hughes (Pictures) isn’t exactly a bad guy and I personally have nothing against him whatsoever, it sure was fun to watch his arrogance bludgeoned. The smug cockiness that has engrossed his attitude lately — the one that made him out to be a pompous ass on season four of The Ultimate Fighter — was smeared all across the canvas of the Octagon.

That plus the fact that St. Pierre is such a good-hearted guy who wanted nothing more in life than to get another crack at Hughes, brought a broad smile to my ugly mug.

It was all worth it.

Naturally, many of you will drop all sorts of moronic e-mails in my inbox saying I’m a Hughes hater. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I have always given Hughes the respect and credit that he has commanded over the years, and he is clearly one of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport. But watching his head slowly swell began to eat at me and many others. Evidence of his arrogance was on display throughout the fight, as he defiantly tried to bang with St. Pierre the entire time.

I understand that Hughes has worked tirelessly with a boxing coach and he felt that his striking ability had grown leaps and bounds recently, but since when did the farmer suddenly become Anderson Silva?

Hughes had a terrible strategy coming into the fight and it cost him his welterweight title. After being lit up like a Christmas tree for the first three or so minutes of the battle, the now-former champion tried only once for a takedown, when everybody knows his bread and butter is grappling on the floor.

If Hughes was ripping into St. Pierre on his feet, then I’d understand and support his decision to mime “Cro Cop.” But my question is — and this is so easy coming from my office chair — at what point did Hughes think to himself, OK, this isn’t working. Let me go back to what got me here.

The answer, after watching the fight numerous times, was never.

Granted, I can’t speak for Hughes. Maybe he tried to instill his ground-and-pound skill set but was thwarted. However, from the outside looking in, it appeared like Hughes’ ego got the best of him, and St. Pierre, being the ultimate fighter he is (pun heavily intended), took full advantage, seized the opportunity and worked the Illinois native like a Malaysian sweat shop employee.

A bad night?

Naturally every fighter, even the elite of the elite, are entitled a bad night at the office. Hughes was trounced for just over six minutes and he looked like a complete amateur. He may have been injured coming in. He may have been over confident. Or he may have just had a bad night coupled with a perfect fight from his foe.

I am willing to bet my next two Sherdog paychecks (about $11) that hordes of people will leap off the Hughes’ bandwagon and if they do, they deserve to tumble painfully to their deaths down the side of a treacherous and rocky cliff.

When the St. Pierre and Hughes meet again (yes, they will meet for a third time within a year), I can rest assured that the bout will be more competitive. Unlike B.J. Penn (Pictures), Hughes cares about his legacy and doesn’t slack in the gym. A rubber match is a lock, and though I am not yet predicting a reversal of fortunes, the fight itself will not mirror what happened in Sacramento on Saturday night.

Another bad night

UFC 65 as a whole was a good view. It was certainly better than the past several UFC pay-per-view events, despite the inclusion of a horrendous title fight between heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia (Pictures) and challenger Jeff Monson (Pictures).

I hit the nail right on the head in my debate with a bitter Greg Savage when I wrote the fight would end up exactly how it did.

“I honestly couldn’t care less about this fight,” I wrote in the debate. “What is there to look forward too? Sylvia by horrendously boring unanimous decision. Wake me when it’s over.”

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but could I have made a more accurate prediction?

Sylvia’s a good guy and an excellent fighter. His stand-up is well-rounded and he’s hard to take down (just like former champ Ricco Rodriguez (Pictures)). But it’s gotten to the point where I can’t stomach sitting through another dreadful fight with this guy.

Sylvia’s tussles with Assuerio Silva (Pictures), Andrei Arlovski (Pictures) in their third bout and now Monson are collectively the dullest 65 minutes of MMA “action” anybody can imagine. Seriously: if you take seven tweakers who just blew two lines of meth and forced them to watch those three fights, they’d either fall right asleep or perish from boredom.

Ken Shamrock (Pictures)’s rematch with Dan Severn (Pictures) was hands down the worst contest in the history of the fight game, including every Larry Donald, Ed Mahone and Vaughn Bean fight combined in the sport of boxing. No contest will ever top the Shamrock-Severn II staring-contest as the worst fight ever, but it sure seems as though Sylvia and his opponents are trying their damnedest to achieve that unfathomable feat.

Don’t think I am beating up on Tim by himself. His opponents are probably more to blame than the champ for the doldrums we have suffered through since his foes know full well not to get cracked with that crippling right hand of his. They are too timid to engage with the sleepy giant and instead move around the cage trying to figure out a way to take him off his feet.

Eh, I’ll just blame Dana White for that … that’s usually the safe route.

Quite frankly, Mir is done

Yes, Frank Mir (Pictures), pack it in. Your immense talent has gone the way of the dinosaurs. Unless Hiram Bingham can somehow excavate the wasted talent the former UFC heavyweight champion used to exhibit, the Vegas kid should consider changing careers.

The last time Mir looked like an absolute world beater — a young gun many tabbed as possibly the first truly perfect heavyweight — was against Pete Williams in March of 2002, almost 30 UFC pay-per-view events ago.

After watching the gifted former champ corrode into what he is today, he should learn this simple catchphrase: “Would you like fries with that?”

Misc. debris

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try and try again. That is what can be said about Joe Stevenson (Pictures)’s guillotine submission win over Dokonjonosuke Mishima (Pictures). Stevenson has a ton of potential, naturally, but after getting stuck in a guillotine three times within two minutes, at what point did Mishima ever think about changing positions? Apparently he didn’t until he was tapping. …

The war between Alessio Sakara (Pictures) and Andrew McFedries was hands down the fight of the night. It was the best fight in the UFC in a very long time, eclipsing the overrated war between Scott Smith and Pete Sell (Pictures) from last week. The only drawback was the way in which Sakara got taken out. Did he get injured? Run of out of gas? I am still baffled as to why he just dropped to the canvas and allowed his opponent to batter him. Oh well, let’s hope they do it again. …

James Irvin (Pictures) may not be the best fighter in the world. He’s not even close. But almost no other fighter in the sport today is as exciting as him when it comes to finishes. If the UFC was smart, they’d wrap him up in a juicy contract and keep feeding him B level guys who come to bang, not grapple. There is no telling how popular this guy can become. …

Who actually wants to see Chuck Liddell (Pictures) fight Tito Ortiz (Pictures) again? I, for one, absolutely do and apparently so do several thousand others. From what I’ve heard the huge December 30 UFC event is almost sold-out.

Drop Mike a line at www.myspace.com/sherdogsloan
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