Locked in the Guillotine MMA News Report 1.24.14: First FOX of the New Year
Posted by Robert Winfree on 01.24.2014
News and thoughts on Shogun Rua possibly facing Dan Henderson again, Chris Leben retiring and more! Plus a preview of this weekend's UFC on FOX 10 card!
Hello everyone, it's nice to see you all get Locked in the Guillotine again. Well we've got a big one on the horizon tonight, UFC on FOX 10 is just around the corner and while I can't speak for everyone, I am personally of the opinion that anytime Benson Henderson fights it's cause for celebration. So there's that, plus the rest of the card, which looks solid for a free TV outing. Plus this week I want to take, arguably an overdue look, at UFC's Fight Pass. While reading this, or driving down the road, or working, if you're bored, or just want something to listen too, check out the variety of shows on the Radulich in Broadcasting network. I'm almost positive you'll find something worth listening too, so give it a try.
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Now that you've found something to listen too, let's get into the MMA related goodness.
Shogun and Hendo rematch: While not official, or officially confirmed since apparently you need both of those things now, word is that the UFC is planning on having a second fight between Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Dan Henderson as a possible main event for UFC Fight Night 38. Fight Night 38, which will be held in Natal, Brazil, doesn't have a lot of other fights announced yet. Rua and Henderson met in 2011 in what was declared the Fight of the Year, and here at 411mania it was named the second greatest MMA fight of all time, with Henderson winning a unanimous decision though several people, myself included, had the fight a draw. Since that fight Henderson is 0-3, losing decisions to Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans, then being knocked out in the first round in a fight against Vitor Belfort. Rua is 2-4 over the same stretch of time, defeating Brandon Vera before dropping back to back fights against Alexander Gustafsson and Chael Sonnen then most recently knocking out James Te Huna in the first round. I'm not sure how to feel about this fight, assuming it actually comes about, as there's virtually no chance it winds up comparing to their first encounter. That being said, neither man is doing much else right now so I just hope it doesn't become a parody of an MMA fight.
Leben is done: UFC middleweight fighter Chris Leben announced his retirement on Ariel Helwani's MMA Hour this week. Leben had a UFC career that lasted over eight years, starting as the prototypical drunken antagonist on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter his style of fighting turned him into a fan favorite. Leben retires with a professional record of 22-11, his most famous fight is likely his loss to Anderson Silva (in Silva's UFC debut) where he was TKO'd in under one minute, his biggest wins came against Wanderlei Silva via TKO in the first round and Yoshihiro Akiyama via triangle choke in the third round. Early indicators are that Leben will focus his energy on coaching and training others at Victory MMA in San Diego, California.
The UFC is coming back to big daddy FOX, and they're bringing former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson along with a pretty stacked free TV card so let's get into the fights.
Darren Elkins vs. Jeremy Stephens: Darren Elkins has lost just once in the UFC, but he was knocked out rather easily by Chad Mendes. He bounced back by out grappling Hatsu Hioki, but this will be the first time he's fought another guy with actual punching power. Jeremy Stephens hasn't lost at featherweight yet, but this will also be the first time he's fought a legitimate upper level fighter in his new division. For Elkins, he's going to need to clinch and get takedowns and control Stephens from the top. That's basically his gameplan in every fight, but doubly so against a power puncher like Stephens who could end his night with one strike. I'm actually leaning towards Stephens, he'll be bigger than Elkins and I'm not convinced Elkins will be able to deal with the power strikes of Stephens. I'll go with Stephens here, but Elkins is likely the smarter and safer choice.
Adriano Martins vs. Donald Cerrone: This fight has very little meaning, we've all seen the ceiling for Donald Cerrone at this point, but it's here to be an entertaining fight and I think it will serve that purpose. Adriano Martins had a successful UFC debut, but Daron Cruickshank isn't too much better than your average cab driver and Donald Cerrone is a proven commodity. This is almost a designated win for Cerrone unless Martins is about ready to explode and become a legitimate contender to the lightweight crown. I don't think Martins is in that position, Cerrone beats him up for a couple of rounds while avoiding takedown attempts en route to a second round stoppage.
Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Stipe Miocic: I don't rate Gabriel Gonzaga very highly, he looks awesome against sub par competition but falls apart whenever he moves up the proverbial ladder. Stipe Miocic looked good in his last outing and seems to have learned from his loss to Stefan Struve. Miocic is a former Division one collegiate wrestler and Golden Gloves boxer, he's proven mentally tough as well and this is a big opportunity for him. Gonzaga's best route to victory is grappling, if he can get Miocic down and work his submission game he'll be in a good position to win. The thing is, I don't think he'll be able to. Gonzaga has a bad habit of trading strikes and a worse habit of mentally breaking if things don't go his way. Miocic should be able to land crisp punches while avoiding the takedown, Gonzaga will mentally wilt, and Miocic will actually be at most two wins away from a title shot depending on timing.
Benson Henderson vs. Josh Thomson: Long time readers of this column will know that I do very little to hide my fandom of Benson Henderson. I will be doing my best to set that aside here, because this is actually a much closer fight than it might appear to be at first glance. Josh Thomson has very good movement and a strong kicking game to compliment solid wrestling and grappling credentials. It was movement and kicking that led to his TKO victory over Nate Diaz and earned him a title shot that was put on hold due to injury to champion Anthony Pettis. Thomson will be looking to avoid close quarters, land kicks and punches, then avoid the counter shots from Henderson. His best path to victory is constant motion and sniping attacks, similar to how he beat Nate Diaz. Benson Henderson excels at fast paced fights, his conditioning and ability to remain calm in the midst of chaos allow him to seemingly always come out on top of fast paced exchanges. His clinch work is great, as is his wrestling. This should be a fun fight, both guys show up and actually fight, but I'm really hesitant to pick against Henderson. His pace, conditioning, and the fact that he's pretty good everywhere make me favor him against almost anyone at this point in time. This one will likely go the distance as both men are hard to finish, but I think Henderson gets his hand raised at the end of the day.
I wanted to devote a little time to the Fight Pass this week. I've generally held off of talking about it at length because there would be issues, there always are with a newly released product, and I wanted to see how the promotion would handle it. To be perfectly honest, I'm not all that interested in it. I signed up for Fight Pass because I was doing coverage for an event held on it, I wont be staying signed up once the free trial period is over and if I weren't going to become the default live coverage guru while Mark Radulich is on hiatus I wouldn't sign back up once I had to pay for it. There's just nothing being offered on the service that I'm all that interested in. I don't care about The Ultimate Fighter, international or local, so that isn't part of the appeal, Dana White's video blogs are only moderately interesting when it pertains to see the immediate aftermath of an event, basically the only thing I'm going to be using the service for is preliminary fights, or events broadcast exclusively on Fight Pass while I'm providing live coverage.
Now I don't want to go into a protracted compare and contrast between UFC Fight Pass and WWE's new digital Network, because while the products are similar the companies are in different positions, but I'm genuinely curious as to what about Fight Pass has people either signing up or happy to retain the service. Prior to breaking down UFC Fight Night 35 on the 411 Ground and Pound radio show, Mark Radulich and I had a long discussion of why we're not that interested in Fight Pass, and I'm interested to hear if anyone disagrees with us. I'm going to wind up with Fight Pass for at least a couple of months, but I want to hear from those who read this.
Have you signed up for Fight Pass?
Why or why not?
Are you satisfied with Fight Pass?
Why or why not?
What changes would make you more interested assuming you're not?
If you currently have Fight Pass, will you be continuing your subscription once the free trial period is over?
Also, just anyone's general thoughts on the service.
Thanks in advance if you'd like to respond to those questions, and that will mean you've escaped another Guillotine. I'll hosting this week's 411 Ground and Pound radio show while we recap the events of UFC on FOX 10, if you'd like to participate the call in number is (323) 657-0901 and we're live at 9pm eastern this Sunday. Until then, keep your heads up and your necks safe.