The MMA Rundown #6: MMA Fighters Say Dumb Things & Other Shockers

It’s time for another edition of the rundown, kiddos. Buckle up for an oversized dose of what Chuck Klosterman calls “the lowest form of criticism”, which is “pointing out something (obviously) stupid and reiterating how stupid it (obviously) is”. I must do this. I must do this because sometimes I read quotes so brazenly dumb and poorly thought out that the armchair psychologist lurking inside of me screams “Get on your intertube webzine and pick ‘em apart like buzzards on a shit wagon!” (My inner armchair psychologist sounds alot like Yosemite Sam.) Maybe I’ll chitchat about some fights, too. Who knows.

Cody McKenzie

“All these people who talk about fighting, it’s like a million virgins watching a porno. They’ve never had sex, but they all want to put their input in. It’s ridiculous. They all have their input, but until you’ve been in a fight you have no clue what it’s like. That’s the bottom line. It’s like sex. Until you’ve done it, you have no clue what’s going on.”

Why should I be bothered by a quote from the immortal Cody McKenzie? There’s no reason. It’s embarrassing to admit that a man who once fought a fight in the UFC wearing 8 dollar basketball shorts (with the tag still on) can bother you with something he says. But he did. Bit by bit.

It isn’t “ridiculous” that I have “input” into the sport that I love, just because I’ve never competed. I’m a fan. I’m allowed to have an opinion, and you’re allowed to disagree. In other words, we’re both allowed to be adults. It’s also not revolutionary to respond to any hypothetical criticism I have for a fighter by saying “Well, Cody McKenzie would kick YOUR ass.” Geez, you think so, Doctor? He fought in the UFC. I once suffered a TKO loss to a locker door in the 7th grade. You aren’t exactly breaking new ground with that poorly thought out retort. This doesn’t relate directly to McKenzie’s quote, but it’s a humdinger that I’ve heard more than once.

“Until you’ve been in a fight you have no clue what it’s like”, is both 100% true and completely unrelated to the criticism he’s trying to make. “Until you’ve done it, you have no clue what’s going on” is pretty dubious logic. Some of the worst commentary and judging I’ve ever seen was done by former (and current) fighters. Competing in MMA doesn’t guarantee wisdom and knowledge of effective broadcasting; in fact, you could argue that it impedes thoughtful analysis. Instead of calling action and objectively breaking down the fight, you might be subconsciously rooting for a guy you train with or thinking about what you would do if you were in there. There’s a reason guys like Brian Stann stand out as excellent color commentators; it’s because so few former fighters have truly been good at it. Also, I’m not proclaiming myself to be an MMA genius, but I’ve watched and thought about the sport long enough to call myself educated. Why am I doing this? Let’s just move on and look forward to Cody McKenzie rematching Marcus LeVesseur in 14 months.

Dan Henderson

“…With the DUI that he’s had and now testing positive for cocaine, he’s not acting as a good role model for kids and nobody the UFC would want as a role model for kids growing up that watch the UFC. It’s a shame, it’s unfortunate that he is that way but we’ll see what he does with it.”

I bring up this quote only to illustrate how funny it is that Dan Henderson has officially become one of the old Muppets on the balcony:

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Brendan Schaub

(on Brock Lesnar’s possible UFC return) “He hasn’t been competing and training like I have. If he comes back to the UFC, I would 100 percent send him packing back to the fake wrestling.”

I love this quote for two reasons. The first is that it really illustrates how far hardcore fans have come in terms of unbiased analysis. Before the Lesnar Experiment, if a decent MMA fighter had uttered this, the choruses of reactionary vitriol and nerdy hyperbole would have been deafening.

“Tell ‘em, Brendan! Tell ‘em how arrogant he is for assuming he could destroy in MMA just because he’s a big dumb brute! He can’t punch! He isn’t cross-trained! THIS THREATENS THE FABRIC OF EVERYTHING THAT IS RIGHT AND TRUE!!!” *head explodes*

Now? Everyone collectively thought, Dude, a 37 year old Brock Lesnar that hasn’t won a fight in five years would still walk in and absolutely paste you, Brendan. You might get off a punch, but all that’ll do is make Old Man Lesnar mad.

Second, the impact of Joe Rogan’s complete and utter dismantling of Schaub’s continued failures makes this bombastic quote (and whatever quotes might come in the future) seem like sad and desperate overcompensation. Millions of people heard Rogan verbally crush Schaub’s dreams, and millions of people read about Schaub going home and crying. While I understand Schaub’s desire to stay relevant, it honestly seems like he’s trying to spite Rogan’s personal views. Does this mean more foolishness is to come? I sure hope so. I want to hear Brendan Schaub talk about how he’s an all time great heavyweight that would have owned Fedor in 2004. I want to hear him brag about inventing modern MMA with Rorion Gracie and Bruce Lee. I want it all.

“Conor McGregor is fighting Conor McGregor this weekend, in Conor McGregor, Massachusetts.” – Jordan Breen

Thanks, Jordan. I predict that Conor McGregor will Conor McGregor his opponent, Conor McGregor, into submission. He’ll then call out Conor McGregor before talking about Conor McGregor at the post fight press conference, where Conor McGregor will be. Conor McGregor. Andy Dufresne. Conor … McGregor.

Watch out for the bouncy German/Russian, Conor. He’s not bad.



The MMA Movement’s 4th Annual Year End Awards: The Subs

Tapouts have always fascinated me. They come in so many different forms. There are the outright goofy (Tim Elliott tapping to Joe Benavidez with both feet; Alexander Emelianenko tapping Josh Barnett’s ass; Joe Riggs doing Joe Riggs things), the understatedly dramatic (Fedor Emelianenko’s one tap special to Fabricio Werdum), the slow burners (Where guys initially defend the submission effectively but eventually succumb), and anything Rousimar Palhares has ever done (0 KO’s, 14 subs, 9 heel hooks, at least 5 guys screaming in agony, at least 8 total weeks of MMA media scrutiny).

But which one’s were the best this calendar year? Let’s sift through and see what my muddled brain comes up with. Here … we … GO!

Liam McGeary vs. Kelly Anundson @ Bellator 124

I’m getting this one out of the way early, only to point out that it was absolutely ridiculous. Anundson took McGeary down, and proceeded to get his ass kicked on top (in side control!). McGeary flopped his legs around for the better part of an entire round, hoping to secure a preposterous low percentage submission that he eventually secured because Anundson gave up right away. Then one of the Bellator announcers proclaimed “Wow, that’s the 3rd inverted triangle we’ve had in Bellator!”, inadvertently insulting Bellator’s talent pool. Absurd.

Adam Fritz vs. Jeff Mack @ Hardcore MMA 60

Hey, here’s your annual “Guy who looks like Ed Herman Jr. gets armbarred by a guy in grappling pants and Mike Pyle’s haircut” number. Very nice. Jump to 6:41 for the finish.

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Ben Saunders vs. Chris Heatherly @ UFC Fight Night 49

Finally, an omoplata inside the octagon. Cross that one off of your UFC Bucket List. To be fair, this matchup was the perfect storm for a potential omoplata finish. You had a veteran fighter with super long legs and an active guard taking on a subpar opponent that had the full deer-in-the-headlights look going right from the opening bell. This wasn’t a shocking, high level tapout like … well, we’ll get to that in a minute. Still, pretty cool stuff.

Brandon Halsey vs. Alexander Shlemenko @ Bellator 126

Halsey put Shlemenko to sleep in under a minute, hurt his feelings, and took his belt, leaving him nothing but his gold chain and trademark Russian stoicism. Most people had Halsey favored here, but to see a longtime champion (and a good one, at that) in a high level promotion get taken to the woodshed in just 35 seconds was absolutely bananas. Can we get Shlemenko in the UFC? I want to see him take the heads of C+ level fighters and rack up performance bonuses.

Pat Curran vs. Daniel Straus @ Bellator 112

Lots of Bellator subs on this list. That wasn’t my predetermined intention, trust me. I guess when I think of 2014′s UFC submissions, mercy killings like Cormier-Hendo come to mind. What a somber bummer of a fight that was. Dan pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes with that Shogun KO. He’s been done as a high level mixed martial artist for about 5 fights now.

Anyway, this one gets drama points out the wazoo, having occured 24 minutes and 46 seconds into the fight. It was a close contest up to that point, but I still had Curran down 3-1. He needed a finish to win, and if there’s one flaw Pat Curran has, it’s fighting from behind. He fights with the exact same level of intensity and urgency every second of every round, whether he’s losing soundly or picking someone apart. So when he got the back and went for the RNC with about a minute to go, my thought was “Oh wow, good start, Pat, but come on, you ain’t finishing Daniel here. You’re losing a 48-47 decision.” And for most of the sub attempt, it looked like I’d be right. Then, he started grimacing and squeezing, and the “Holy shit, he might get this thing!” thought occured just as Straus was tapping. Unbelievable. Pat Curran actually won a race against time.

Eduardo Dantas vs. Anthony Leone @ Bellator 111

The Moonwalk RNC! Dantas basically defended a single leg attempt by doing a trust fall right onto Leone’s back. In order to come close to a sub of the year candidate, it’s good to leave people saying “”I’ve never seen anything quite like that before!” (Check), and the stakes need to be relatively high (Even though Leone was kind of a lame challenger, I think the Bellator’s bantamweight belt being on the line qualifies). This one isn’t quite the sub of the year to me, but Eduardo Dantas gets serious style points for subbing Leone in about zero seconds flat. Very cool.

Charles Oliveira vs. Hatsu Hioki @ UFC Fight Night 43

Ding ding ding! I love high level, aggressive grappling, and the second round of the Oliveira-Hioki fight was legitimately thrilling. Takedowns, reversals, guys diving onto submissions, guys going for broke … just a ton of fun. It looked like it was going to be a three round grapplefest, with the winner being tough to decide because I don’t peg Sal D’Amato and those like him as dudes who would be particularly astute at judging that kind of fight correctly (or any fight correctly, for that matter).

So when Oliveira dove onto Hioki’s neck and actually had the sub so tight that he was able to CLUTCH HIS BICEP … I mean, you don’t just … trap Hatsu Hioki like that.

Hioki’s losses normally come because he undermines himself with poor strategy. Not this time. Great fight, and a giant feather in Charles’s cap. It’s my call for the 2014 MMA Submission Of The Year.



The MMA Movement’s 4th Annual Year End Awards: The KO’s

I haven’t posted an article since October 29th. This is due to a variety of reasons, but in my defense, it feels like about a week and a half has passed. This happens every year; Halloween happens, then I blink twice and it’s time to bang out my annual year end awards. Which is fine, really. I love writing these, and I love that people read them. Lists! How bout ‘em?

(As always, I will accept all arguments for snubs, and counter arguments against whatever I pick as the KO/sub/fight of the year. This is open for discussion. There’s a reason I didn’t rank everything. You can create a list that doesn’t drown in it’s own minutia by simply not doing rankings. Being in the discussion is what counts here.)

2014 was a fantastic year for knockouts, and I mean “knockouts” in the purest sense of the word. There were boatloads of times where guys found themselves face to face with a naked Indian in the desert, and whittling this list down to a reasonably-timed read is going to be difficult. I’ll try to keep it in the “one solid bowel movement” range.

Before I begin, a few honorable mentions: Big Country finally taking Big Nog out back and shooting him in the head for good (In a troublesome year for Brazilian legends, this moment of euthanasia stands out as particularly sobering); Albert Tumenov vs. Matt Dwyer (Matt Dwyer isn’t super skilled or anything, but the fact is, he’s a head taller than Tumenov. They had one of the most ludicrous weigh in photos ever. It looked like a grown man was about to fight a 7th grader who had just sprouted his first pube. And Tumenov went upside his head twice. Twice!); Marcus Brimage vs. Jumabieke Tuerxun (Brimage sliced through Juma’s face like a Goddamn Slap Chop)

Onto the brain rattlers …

Daron Cruickshank def. Erik Koch @ UFC Fight Night 40

Double headkick alert! Cruickshank grazed Koch with a right kick upstairs, then followed up immediately with a left headkick that found it’s target. A maniacal flurry of ground strikes followed, and that was a wrap for Erik Koch, once considered a can’t miss featherweight prospect. Now, he’s getting wiped out, losing 3 of his last 4. In Koch’s defense, he always seems to get hit with hellacious shots. It seems like he’s been running into the best possible version of his opponents. Ricardo Lamas scored his signature win over Koch, ripping open his face and brutalizing it with elbows on national TV. Dustin Poirier just laid a schoolyard ass kicking down on Erik. And then, this. Poor Erik Koch. He’s still a very skilled guy, and he’s only 26. Let’s not wave the white flag for him yet.

It was a pretty good year for Cruickshank, as he won 3 out of 4, 2 in spectacular fashion. Thumbs up to “The Detroit Superstar”, or as I call him, “The Pride of Chernobyl”.

Johnny Eduardo def. Eddie Wineland @ UFC Fight Night 40

Tons of violence on that Cincinnati card, huh? That was the card that Matt Brown took Erick Silva’s life. Ugh.

Anyway, hell of a knockout here for Johnny Eduardo, just your typical everyday 36 year old Nova Uniao product who’s been fighting pro for 18 years and was coming off a nearly two year layoff. Totally the kind of guy you’d expect to come in and plunk a perennial contender.

Huh?

Yup. This wasn’t a fluke knockout, either. Eduardo showed a speed advantage early, lured Wineland into an exchange, and obliterated him with a counter right hand over the top. He made Wineland do the “wacky inflatable arm flailing tubeman” before running in and landing a crushing follow up right hand for good measure.

Where’s Johnny Eduardo, Sean Shelby? Break him out of that fire extinguisher case you have him concealed in and match him up with more good bantamweights. This guy has something special for dudes on the feet.

Ronda Rousey def. Alexis Davis @ UFC 175

Sixteen seconds.

Damacio Page def. Brian Hall @ Legacy FC 36

Super slo-mo …

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… pineboxed. *in Bruce Beck voice* Our thoughts are with Brian Hall right now …

Josh Samman vs. Eddie Gordon @ UFC 181

Eddie Gordon made that face people you can’t trust make right after you ask them how their marriage is going.

Mike Wilkinson vs. Niklas Backstrom @ UFC Fight Night 53

This was your classic “Up-and-coming fighter gets a favorable matchup to look awesome in front of his home crowd” scenario … what could go wrong?

Well, it’s probably not a good idea to throw the laziest front kick this side of Nick Diaz with your hands down on a guy who’s already clearly pissed off that everyone in the building thinks he doesn’t have a snowballs chance in hell of winning. Uppsy daisy! We even got the obligatory moment where the ref takes 0.9 seconds too long to realize that the fight’s over, and during that time Wilkinson dribbles his head off the canvas like Muggsy Bogues.

Come back stronger, Niklas. And less lazy.

Dong Hyun Kim vs. John Hathaway @ UFC in Macau

This one does it for me, and it’s a totally biased pick for KO of the Year because I’ve always immensely enjoyed watching Kim fight. But to watch him make a conscious decision to change the way he fights, and then to follow through on that decision by knocking out a very good fighter with a low percentage technique was something special. Sure, he got brutally finished in his next fight because of this change of heart, but still. Let the record show that this one was scintillating. John Hathaway might still be asleep on the canvas in Macau. Long live Dong Hyun Kim.

Subs of the year coming tomorrow.