Locked in the Guillotine MMA News Report 4.18.14: Return to Fox Edition
Posted by Robert Winfree on 04.18.2014
News and thoughts on Jake Shields signing with WSOF, the numbers from the new TUF season's premiere, thoughts on the results out of The Ultimate Fighter: Nations, a preview of UFC on FOX 11 and more!
Hello everyone, it's nice to see you all getting Locked in the Guillotine again. There's an abundance of cards to talk about this week, so we'd better get into it pretty quickly. Before getting into the MMA goodness this week, have you checked out the Radulich in Broadcasting network? If you haven't, now is a great time to do so, there's tons of quality shows to choose from that cover pretty much everything you could want. We've got sports, MMA, music, film, and a couple of shows that definitely fall under the miscellaneous criteria. Give it a shot while you're reading this, driving to work, bored at work, basically anything.
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Alright, hopefully you've got some quality internet radio going right now and are ready to get into the MMA action.
Confession time, I forgot about this card last week. I should have previewed it but just completely forgot it was coming up, and forgot it was on a Wednesday. My bad, and I apologize for missing it. I don't want to go through every fight, mostly because the majority were forgettable, but I will give some quick thoughts on fights that I enjoyed.
Mitch Gagnon vs. Tim Gorman: Mitch Gagnon deserved better than this. He was out for quite some time with injuries but has looked good since returning and was on a 2-0 run prior to this and had finished both Walel Watson and Dustin Kimura in that time. He shouldn't be curtain jerking against a TUF washout. Gagnon won a clear cut decision and hopefully he'll be higher up the card next time.
Michael De La Torre vs. Mark Bocek: Considering the short notice of this fight for De La Torre, and that he normally fights at featherweight, he looked great against a proven veteran like Mark Bocek. I wouldn't have complained had the split decision gone to De La Torre instead of Bocek, and I'm really curious as to how one judge gave all three rounds to Bocek. I really hope to see De La Torre back in the near future.
KJ Noons vs. Sam Stout: KJ Noons blasted Sam Stout thirty seconds into the first round. Noons hit Stout so hard I think Stout forgot math. Seriously, it was a couple of brutal shots from Noons and a really nice right hook on the feet that just ended Stouts night. Stout actually tried to put the referee in a front headlock after the fight was stopped. Noons desperately needed a win, and didn't just win but got a great finish. Stout has been around the game, and the UFC in particular, for a while now and it's possible the mileage is starting to catch up with him.
Dustin Poirier vs. Akira Corassani: Dustin Poirier finished Croassani with strikes in the second round. Poirier still has some striking issues from a defensive perspective, but he has been working on them and the move to American Top Team continues to pay dividends for him. Poirier should be fighting a top five, or thereabouts, opponent in his next outing. I wouldn't object to a rematch with The Korean Zombie Chan Sung-Jung.
Tim Kennedy vs. Michael Bisping: Tim Kennedy beat Michael Bisping by unanimous decision. Kennedy was able to get Bisping to the mat and keep him there, or land a big right hand on the feet. Bisping was showing some ring rust here, he wasn't throwing the same volume of strikes he normally does and he seemed to have trouble with the clinch game of Kennedy. Kennedy stepped up for the biggest fight of his career, his top game and clinch work are smothering and a lot of fighters would have been worn out by the style and pace Kennedy used here. Kennedy should get a top five opponent next.
The Ultimate Fighter drops: The overnight ratings for the debut of the nineteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter are in, and they're not good. The show is reported to have averaged 595,000 viewers. If true this is the lowest rating for a U.S season in the history of the reality show. This season, coached by BJ Penn and Frankie Edgar, features middleweights and light heavyweights.
Bellator wackiness: A couple of quick notes from Bellator last week. Congratulations to Blagoi Ivanov on his win over Lavar Johnson, the former sambo world champion continues to rack up wins and will likely wind up as Bellator's heavyweight champion if the UFC doesn't want him. Longtime MMA veteran Vladimir "The Janitor" Matyushenko retired at the event following a submission loss to Joey Beltran, Matyushenko has been in the sport since 1997 and even fought Tito Ortiz for the UFC light heavyweight title in 2001. Now the wackiness comes in the form of an announced fight between Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko and Tito Ortiz. I am just flabbergasted at this matchmaking. I understand the promotion is paying Ortiz a lot of money and they need to get him into the cage for that to start paying off, but what led to this decision? Ortiz was scheduled to fight Quinton "Rampage" Jackson on Bellator's first PPV last year, but got injured and the PPV idea was scrapped for the time being, Jackson got his first Bellator fight a little later and knocked out Joey Beltran. Shlemenko is a middleweight, and likely could make the cut to welterweight given his frame, while Ortiz has been a career 205er. Shlemenko will move up to the light heavyweight division for the fight. Shlemenko has fought at 205 before, and I understand his desire to fight Ortiz. Tito Ortiz theoretically still has some name value and it's a winnable fight for the Russian, I'm a little surprised the promotion decided to go this route. Early prediction is Shlemenko via body blows in the second round.
Jake Shields signs with World Series of Fighting: I said a couple of weeks ago when the UFC released Jake Shields that he wouldn't have any trouble finding another promotion if he wanted to, and that's proved to be true. The World Series of Fighting got the former Strikeforce champion and UFC title challenger to sign a multi-fight deal with them. The WSOF has a solid crop of welterweights, Jon Fitch, Josh Burkman, Steve Carl, and their champion Rousimar Palhares. Shields has also fought at middleweight in the past and could decide to compete there. Either way Shields will have an immediate presence in the promotion.
The UFC is back on big daddy FOX this Saturday and bringing with it a main event that will determine the next challenger to the heavyweight title. They've been hyping this as "The most exciting network card in UFC history", though I'm not sure that will wind up being accurate since Brad Tavares is on the card. Anyway, let's get into the fights.
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov: This is technically a preliminary fight, but I want to talk about it because it's a relevant fight. If either Gilbert Melendez or UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis are unable to make their scheduled fight in December of this year, the winner of this fight is likely getting slotted into it, and since I've made it known I don't think Pettis will make that fight, the winner here is likely fighting Melendez for what I imagine would be an interim lightweight title. Dos Anjos has been on a good run, he's got great submission skills, solid wrestling, and power in his punches. He's on a five fight win streak since losing a somewhat questionable split decision to Gleison Tibau and has beaten Mark Bocek, Evan Dunham, and Donald Cerrone in that time. Khabib Nurmagomedov is unbeaten as a professional fighter at 21-0, incidentally also the Wrestlemania record for the Undertaker this year before his loss to Brock Lesnar, and has been flawless in execution inside the Octagon with the exception of his fight with Gleison Tibau where he struggled against the Brazilian. Nurmagomedov has a long reach for a lightweight and has some of the best grappling in the division. Nurmagomedov has also been improving his striking, specifically his jab, and has emerged as one of the very best in the division. I think Nurmagomedov out wrestles and out works dos Anjos to win a decision and likely a title shot this December.
Brad Tavares vs. Yoel Romero: Brad Tavares has lost just once in his UFC career and is on a five fight win streak. Yet no one remembers he's with the promotion. There's a reason for that, his fights aren't exciting and his wins aren't that compelling. Yoel Romero has just one loss as a professional, he was over matched by Rafael Cavalcante in Strikeforce in what was just Romero's fifth fight as a professional. Romero has finished every opponent he's been in the cage with, his mix of powerful strikes and Olympic caliber wrestling are a tough combination to beat. Romero has been taken down in the past, and Tavares is primarily a top position grinder, so he could pull out a win. I think it's more likely Romero times a flying knee and turns out the lights of Brad Tavares.
Donald Cerrone vs. Edson Barboza: At the very least this fight wont be boring. Both Cerrone and Barboza are striking specialists with little fear of exchanging blows. Cerrone has a problem with fighters he can't out strike, and much of his striking offense is predicated on his leg kicks. Barboza is similar in that much of his offense is based on his leg kicks, but Barboza is also the only man in UFC history to stop two different fights with leg kicks. Barboza's weakness comes when he's pressed, he tends to back up in straight lines and doesn't move his head. That habit got him stopped by Jamie Varner and nearly stopped by Danny Castillo, but it's also a trait that tends to come with wrestlers learning the striking game as opposed to the strikers we see in MMA. I think Cerrone tries to trade kicks with Barboza and will come out on the losing end, either via decision or a powerful body kick.
Miesha Tate vs. Liz Carmouche: These two are a combined 1-4 in their UFC careers, the lone win belongs to Liz Carmouche who beat Jessica Andrade. Tate is 0-2, losing to Cat Zingano and Ronda Rousey. These two fight very similarly, they like grappling, top position, and looking for their offense from there. If Miesha Tate can't win this fight she should retire, she's been in the game for a while and hasn't been able to elevate her game, she seems content to try and follow her normal fight pattern and see where that goes. Tate should be better than Carmouche and should take the decision.
Travis Browne vs. Fabricio Werdum: The winner of this fight will take on UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez in Mexico for the title. I've said before that I'm done picking against Travis Browne, and I'm keeping to that philosophy here. Werdum is a wizard on the mat, and his striking game has been evolving, but Browne has proven he's a beast. Browne is a big man, even for the heavyweight division, and has learned to use his reach. Plus Browne has proven his elbows are deadly if his opponent finds themselves looking for a takedown against the fence. I think Browne lands a big punch that rocks Werdum and then he uses those elbows to finish him off as Werdum tries a desperation takedown.
Before closing shop this week, I've got some news. This will be the final weekly column for me with this format. Don't worry, Locked in the Guillotine will still be here every Friday, but the format is going to change a little bit. Instead of being so broad spectrum and covering so much with each column I'll be focusing on more specific items, either news pieces or fights that I break down. I hope you'll all enjoy the new format I'll be running, and I'll see you all back here next week to get Locked in the Guillotine again. The 411 Ground and Pound radio show will be live this Sunday at 9pm eastern and will be breaking down UFC on FOX 11 as well as The Ultimate Fighter: Nations finale, I hope you can join us. Plus, it is a call in show and the relevant number is (323) 657-0901 so if you've got something to say I will be giving you a platform to do so. I'll see you all next week, until then keep your heads up and your necks safe.