Tuesday Blog: ‘Cro Cop’ Back to UFC

May 19, 2009

Evans Eager for Boos
By Jake Rossen (jrossen@sherdog.com)
Monday, 6:10 p.m. ET: Why Dana White is set to enjoy a pleasant afternoon of ramming his head against the wall: One of Rashad Evans’ trainers tells Sherdog.com that Team Sugar is looking forward to some boos.

“Machida is a tough nut to crack,” coach Mike Winklejohn said. “… We are going to counter the counter or make Machida come at Rashad. … I told Rashad if the crowd starts booing, that’s a good thing; we have the right game plan.”

Correction: That would actually be a spectacularly ill-advised thing considering that the UFC’s last main event -- Anderson Silva’s reserved dribbling of Thales Leites in Montreal -- drew unfriendly fan fire. The occasional headlining bore is inevitable in unscripted sport, but two events in a row featuring reluctant combatants? That ain’t good for business.

Indiana Next to Sanction MMA
By Jake Rossen (jrossen@sherdog.com)
Monday, 3:55 p.m. ET: Heads up, half-assed feeder shows: Indiana is set to begin regulating MMA bouts July 1. The state previously allowed cards, but had no formalized regulatory body. Events will now be accountable to the athletic commission, which could spell disaster for oily promoters everywhere.

Neal Taflinger essayed an interesting piece on just how ethically bankrupt sport organizers there can be. Choice excerpt:

“The 10th and final match sees light heavyweight Scott Robertson knock Gabe Holmes unconscious in just 4 seconds. Holmes lies unresponsive for several minutes while Sutherland's staff paramedics tend to him. He gradually comes to, begins speaking, and makes his way out of the cage under his own power, but there is no doctor present to determine if he needs to go to the hospital and no ambulance there to transport him.”

Wonderful -- hope Holmes didn’t need to remember how to drive or differentiate colors.

As Taflinger indicates in a postscript, not all promoters in the state used their commission exemption to cut corners: Many had genuine concern for athletes and took necessary steps to insure their safety. Unfortunately, it only takes one to bring the house down.

Penn Turns Down Any Free Vegas Time Shares
By Jake Rossen (jrossen@sherdog.com)
Monday, 1:40 p.m. ET: From the-story-that-just-won’t-die dept: UFC lightweight champion B.J. Penn recently told viewers of his Web site’s video blog that he has no intention of ever competing in Las Vegas again.

Rock-dwellers may recall that Penn’s contentious relationship with that state’s commission stems from allegation that opponent Georges St. Pierre was “greased” for their Jan. 31 welterweight title fight. Penn filed a complaint, but the commission has so far declared it a non-actionable item.

Sean Sherk expressed similar discontent with the California commission following their handling of his positive steroid test in the summer of 2007. He expressed no desire to fight in the state again -- and hasn’t.

Who really loses? UFC matchmaker Joe Silva, who already has to contend with injuries, title brackets and camp allegiances when assembling cards. Now he has to take into consideration an athlete’s grudge with entire states.

Strikeforce Ref Wants to Revisit Aina/Evangelista Call
By Jake Rossen (jrossen@sherdog.com)
Monday, 11:10 a.m. ET: SI.com’s Josh Gross spoke with referee Herb Dean on Monday about the controversial ending to Friday evening’s Strikeforce main event between Billy Evangelista and Mike Aina.

(CliffsNotes version: Evangelista struck Aina with a knee when Aina was considered a “grounded” fighter; Dean thought it landed on his head, so he disqualified Evangelista. Replay footage showed the knee did not land on the head, but on the arm/torso. Boos, flying soda and confusion ensued.)

“I don't know what other people are capable of doing, but I don't think anyone is capable of seeing that without a slow-motion replay and freeze frame,” Dean said. “No one at the time mentioned it was on the arm until after seeing the replay. As far as me doing my job, I think I did it well. But the ability to use instant replay, I think would have been helpful.”

Dean plans to suggest that the California State Athletic Commission review the fight and consider reversing the call from an Aina victory to a TKO for Evangelista.

Refereeing resembles good commentating or film scoring: If it’s done right, no one should notice. And if you screw it up, you’ll never hear the end of it.

There’s nothing ambiguous about the footage, though: Dean was just in the wrong position to see it. Evangelista did not strike Aina in the head and does not deserve a marred record as a result of a misunderstanding.

Flawless UFC Victories
By Jake Rossen (jrossen@sherdog.com)
Monday, 10:35 p.m. ET: The second in a weeklong series of main event UFC bouts that featured near-perfect combat strategy and application. Lyoto Machida could add himself to the list with the fight against Rashad Evans that caps Saturday’s UFC 98 event from Las Vegas.

Murilo Bustamante vs. Matt Lindland (UFC 37, May 10, 2002)

Composure is often a condition of mental preparation. Any fighter that slips punches, avoids submissions and applies his own offense to training camp standards can’t enter a fight emotional or hysterical.

Murilo Bustamante would’ve been well within rights to be all of those things following the first round of his title bout against Matt Lindland. After taking the Olympic Silver Medalist down, slipping into mount and applying an armbar that Lindland appeared to tap to, referee John McCarthy dubbed the gesture too ambiguous to end the fight on. To Bustamante’s amazement, it was restarted on the feet.

Obviously technically superior, Bustamante now had to contend with the psychological dent of having the fight won already. His center of gravity unshakable, Lindland could not take him down for the remainder of the round. In the second, the fight found its way to the mat only when Bustamante chose to pull guard. Lindland’s elbows, so successful before and since, were smothered by Bustamante’s evasive tactics.

Bustamante absorbed no punishment standing or grounded. He took down an Olympic wrestler. He never allowed his opponent to settle in. He survived the mental hurdle of a stripped victory early on to knock down Lindland in the third, then applied a guillotine choke for his second win of the night.

Unlike most sequels, it was better the second time around.

‘Cro Cop’ Back to UFC
By Jake Rossen (jrossen@sherdog.com)
Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.com

'Cro Cop' is back.
Tuesday, 3:05 a.m. ET: First reported on the fighter’s own blog and then confirmed by Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer, Mirko Filipovic -- who prefers to go by “Mirko ‘Cro Cop’” in the states, and who could argue? -- is making a return to the UFC for installment number 99 in Cologne, Germany, on June 13.

Opponent Mustapha al Turk’s last appearance was his first in the Octagon. He lost to Cheick Kongo via sinus smashing in the first round. Filipovic, meanwhile, went 1-2 in a 2007 UFC run, losing to Kongo (via decision) and eating a foot’s worth of irony in a highlight KO loss against Gabriel Gonzaga.

“Cro Cop” remains adamant that his recent slide -- after being one of the most vicious heavyweight strikers in the game from 2002-06 -- was due to recurring injuries and that he’s back on track. A win against .500 fighter al Turk may or may not prove his point, but a spectacular KO couldn’t hurt.

What’s more shocking: the late addition of Filipovic to the Germany card, or the fact that Filipovic blogs? You decide.

Mamoru Yamaguchi Returns to Shoot Boxing
By Jordan Breen (jbreen@sherdog.com)
Stephen Martinez/Sherdog.com

Mamoru Yamaguchi knows
how to stay busy.
Tuesday, 3:00 a.m. ET: It may not be MMA, but Shooto's afroed ace Mamoru Yamaguchi can't be cited for inactivity.

It was announced Monday that Yamaguchi will have his third Shoot Boxing bout in less than four months on June 1 when he takes on Naguranchun Masa M16 at the promotion's third installment of its "Bushido" series at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo.

An offshoot from the same combat sports family tree as Shooto, Shoot Boxing promotes "standing vale tudo" events that feature the full complement of punches, kicks, elbows and knees in addition to throws and standing submissions.

Yamaguchi, who will turn 32 on May 29, made his Shoot Boxing debut in February, where he took an impressive unanimous decision victory over Shoot Boxing 122-pound provisional champion Noriyuki Enari in a non-title affair. In his April return to the promotion, he dropped a razor-thin unanimous verdict to Akita Sakimura, 30-29 on all three judges' scorecards.

Shoot Boxing's top-ranked 125-pound fighter, the 30-year-old Masa M16 took a unanimous nod over Kohei Kusumoto at the promotion's Young Caesar Cup in Osaka on May 10.

The Shoot Boxing ring has provided a valuable outlet for Yamaguchi. The only man to hold Shooto world titles in two different weight classes, the former 132- and 123-pound king of pro Shooto hasn't had an MMA bout since last July, where he failed to regain his 123-pound crown from rival Shinichi "BJ" Kojima in their rubber match. Ahead on points with less than 90 seconds in the bout, Yamaguchi was ensnared in a guillotine and choked out cold for the second time in as many fights by his rival.

Despite being one of pro Shooto's more popular commodities, the colorfully coifed star has posed difficulties for Shooto promoters. As he showed in dominant bashings of up-and-coming flyweights Yuki Shoujou and Masaaki Sugawara last year, he is still one of the division's best fighters, but his success without his world title has only continued to fortify the logjam atop Shooto's 123-pound division. Making the Shoot Boxing ring a second home has allowed him to remain active while Shooto promoters foster prospects within the division and seek to create new and appealing matchups.

Check the blog all day for more entries.

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