UFC commentator and all around good guy Jon Anik was gracious enough to chat with CageSide Commentary for an EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW about the current state of MMA. The stylish, suit-wearing Anik dished about Strikeforce, the next generation of UFC stars and his love for the sport. Peep the highlights below. (JK)
For wannabe sports journalists, ESPN is the gold standard. And working for ESPN is the dream. At 30-years-old, Jon Anik was living that dream. The gig included work in radio, broadcast and a foray into the up-and-coming sport of Mixed Martial Arts. Boston bred Anik was already a sports lover, but in MMA he found a soul mate.
“I had heard about this lurking giant [MMA], but had reservations about the sport as I was a boxing guy,” Anik recalled. “I was asked to cover an MMA show and that did it for me. One show and I was hooked. Anything can happen, and the finishes, for my money, are some of the best highlights we see in pro sports.”
MMA has an unmistakable allure: an intoxicating blend of artistic violence, perfected technique and explosive athleticism. Like a cool drink on a hot day, once you get a taste for MMA you develop a constant thirst. For Anik, the dream had been ESPN, but MMA had changed it.
“ESPN was great, a place I never thought I’d leave. But, I believed in the UFC product enough to leave ESPN, the destination I had always tried to get to,” Anik said. “I took the UFC job hoping it would be a lifetime commitment because that’s how passionate I am about the sport.”
One of life’s most difficult decisions is determining what we want to do with our lives. For many of us, we must first experience success and failure, before finding that right fit. Not for Anik. His calling was an obvious one.
“I had a great historical framework growing up in Boston watching sports. I always knew what I wanted to do. Since I was 16, I wanted to be involved in sports,” Anik said. “Now with the UFC, I get to do what I love and I’m so thankful to them for that.”
Beyond the sport itself, one of the reasons we love MMA are the stars, the larger-than-life combatants that dazzle us with their fists and amaze us with their talents. Combat sports have always relied on marquee names to drive big business. MMA is no different. But, with many of the UFC’s established stars retired or getting older, how will the UFC fill the void?
“The good news about professional sports is that new stars always seem to emerge. And UFC shows like the Ultimate Insider have gone to great lengths to build stars. It takes money and promotional effort and the UFC utilizes both,” Anik explained. “I think stars will definitely emerge. Whether it’s Erick Silva or a guy like Rory McDonald, stars always emerge.”
With recognizable, young stars comes a new audience. And as a growing sport and brand, the UFC is constantly attempting to lure in new viewers. For MMA junkies, the UFC is wonderful in that they continue to provide free content in an effort to continue reaching a wide variety of people. For those whose interests have been piqued, Anik offered you his UFC pitch:
“The product is compelling and with so much content available to the fans you’re bound to find something you like. Unlike other sports, MMA doesn’t have an offseason.”
Anik also had some great sound bites on the following topics.
On MMA Oversaturation:
“There are so many talented fighters on the UFC roster, over 400 fighters. The fighters are getting better as are the athletes. These guys deserve the showcase. And I do believe there is an appetite for this many shows.”
“Being in the belly of the beast, it’s all about expansion and getting the UFC into these markets where they are wanted. The key is constant exposure and saturation to the point of over saturation. You’re not going to hear me say there is too much UFC.”
On Recent String of Injuries:
“Injuries are only a huge factor when it happens to the stars. The good news is that you will see a lot of these stars in the next few months. You’ll see Cain, Junior, Anderson, GSP, Rashad…”
On Rising Stars Erick Silva and Rory McDonald:
“There is a language barrier in the UFC that other sports don’t have to deal with. Erick Silva has star power written all over him, but doesn’t speak English. If he wants to embrace that like Junior Dos Santos then he becomes a very billable star.”
“Rory McDonald is a stud. He is the real deal.”
Would he fight GSP? “…No doubt about it. Rory is about the same thing Georges is: proving himself as the number one fighter in the world.”
“The promotion doesn’t have a lot of traction. I don’t know how imminent its demise might be, but they certainly have a lot of talent we would love to have in the UFC.”
Welcome back to another installment of Counter Punch Commentary where Jordan and Andrew face off in a literary death match. Actually, there is absolutely nothing of significance at stake, so if you were here for the bloodshed, we suggest you leave now. If, on the other hand, you stopped by to debate this weeks hot button MMA topics, take a load off because you’re in the right place.
Question 1: Is Jon “Bones” Jones versus Chael Sonnen good or bad for the UFC?
A question like this seems to boil down to an even greater question, that being, what do you define as “good for the UFC”. From the UFC executive standpoint, what is good for the UFC is the brand making lots of money and what is bad for the UFC is them not making lots of money. And let’s not fucking kid ourselves here, Chael Sonnen versus Jon Jones is going to make a lot of money.
I have no fucking idea why (and no that is not too many fuckings; this is my authentic voice when I get fucking pissed off, and yes, I have been drinking, and no I don’t think I have a fucking problem, thank for your concern though) but it seems like a very large contingency of UFC fans who still cling to the ideals of professional wrestling, have this insatiable desire to see Chael Sonnen continue his Stone Cold Steve Austin-like heel performances. Their willingness to pay money for the ensuing pay per view after weeks of Chael running his mouth is what is fueling this stupidity.
And please understand, this fight is fucking stupid. In no way is Chael Sonnen even in the top ten light heavyweight fighters in the world. If I set Vegas odds for a Sonnen vs. Machida fight, I would make Machida a 4-1 favorite. And Jones ate Machida alive. The true reason why Jones will fight Sonnen as his first fight since moving to 205 is because any other top tier fight he could have in the division, he would probably lose, and the UFC wants this pay day.
Let me be clear here. I really like Chael Sonnen as a fighter, and somehow, I find his ridiculous ranting awesome and sometimes comical. He does need to freshen some things up though. He got repetitive at some points during the Silva lead up, but as a comic I know how hard it is to come up with some new material, especially under a time constraint. Let me go even further by saying, I think Chael is a phenomenal fighter, truly talented and tough as nails, with a fighting ethic that values hard work and sacrifice over talent. His fighting style embodies the same spirit of wrestling that inspired Socrates. But my respect for him as an athlete and a warrior still does not shake the fact that he is untested by this class of fighters. There are many great light heavyweight wrestlers, many that could beat Chael Sonnen. Phil Davis for example is a perfect challenge that Chael probably could not conquer. But I digress…
Back to the original question, is this fight a good or a bad thing for the UFC, well ultimately it comes down to what you think is good for the UFC. Should the UFC simply make fights that people want to see and hold no responsibility to finding the most deserving opponent? Or should the UFC be above the push and pull of the masses (or hoi polloi, as my man Socrates would say) and has some responsibility to educate and illuminate fans and refine their view toward fighting to become more mature and intelligent? I think the UFC would do better in the long term if it participated a bit more in the latter. So in my opinion this is not the best thing for the UFC. But fuck it, it’s just a fight, and at least this time Jones can beat the shit out of someone who is actually entertaining.
Oh, Andy. How I’d like to swat your mouth and karate kick your nay-saying ass. For a guy who hates rankings, you sure use that card when convenient (“Sonnen isn’t even a top 10 LW…” Blah, blah, blah). Since Andy just answered the question a million different ways, let me try to make sense of this cluster fuck because I tend to agree with my comrade in MMA arms: whether this is good or bad for the UFC begins with the MMA fan base, depends on the money and ultimately ends with entertainment value. Let’s start with the fans.
MMA fans are wonderful in that their passion extends far beyond the action inside the octagon. They relish debating rankings, awaiting fight announcements, talking trash, interacting with the athletes and engaging in just about anything fight related. It is for this reason that when Dana White announced Jon Bones Jones would be coaching opposite Chael Sonnen on the next season of The Ultimate Fighter, it was clear the reaction from fans would be loud and divisive, which it has been.
Recently, Andrew and I discussed how the TUF franchise needs a facelift. Regardless of the new coaches, the format must be tweaked or the show will continue to languish in bad ratings purgatory. The UFC knows this, and they are determined to right the ship. Adding Sonnen/Jones to the coaching line-up is just the beginning. UFC is also changing its timeslot, moving from notoriously difficult-to-pull-ratings Friday nights, to a friendlier weekday slot. Dana White also promised that the new season will have fresh angles to liven up the show. Clearly, the UFC is fighting to keep the TUF franchise relevant and hopes Sonnen and Jones can infuse new life. But, at what price does that new life come at?
Make no mistake, Chael Sonnen absolutely does NOT deserve a title shot nor do I think he stands a chance against Jones. His last fight was a decisive TKO loss to Anderson Silva. The guy hasn’t fought at 205 lbs. in years. If you believe title fights should be exclusively reserved for those who have earned it, then this fight will enrage you. But, those deserving of title fights aren’t always the best opponents.
Nobody is trying to fleece you by contending that Sonnen deserves the shot. Life isn’t fair and is not about who deserves what. No, the UFC is a business and the right decision is being made to help the bottom line of the company. Sonnen/Jones should boost TUF ratings and the PPV fight will do big numbers – killing two birds with one stone. Perhaps more importantly though, there seems to be a strong contingent of fans that want to see this fight, or rather, want to see Chael Sonnen in the limelight, and ultimately, shouldn’t what the fans want matter most?
We can sit around debating the merits of contenders. Or we can accept that not every title fight will involve a legitimate challenger. And that’s ok. BJ Penn hadn’t earned his title fight against GSP at UFC 94, but I was excited to see that bout. Frankie Edgar hadn’t even fought at 145 in the UFC, but fans were ecstatic when that potential barnburner got made. Coming out of retirement after a loss and moving up to heavyweight, Randy Couture captured the title in one of MMAs most compelling moments. Point is, sometimes a fight that isn’t necessarily deserved can still capture the imagination in a positive way.
The UFC plans to take fans on a journey as it slowly builds rivalry, animosity and heat between Sonnen and Jones en route to their title fight in April. With Sonnen’s in-your-face antics and hype ability paired with the polarizing personality of Jones, this is a journey I don’t mind riding along for. Because sometimes even though you don’t like the destination, the route you take to get there is filled with excitement, fun, and moments like this.
Question 2: Who is the second best fighter of all time?
Last week Anderson Silva broke the will of Stephan Bonnar in another jaw dropping performance. According to most pundits, with 16-straight UFC victories, Silva has cemented his place as the GOAT. Though young phenom Bones Jones has the potential to one-day unseat Silva – that time is not now. With Silva comfortably nestled in as the greatest of all-time, the logical next step is to determine who is second best.
Before we go any further, I must caveat the conversation by admitting rankings are subjective. They can be debated furiously with no consensus being made. Though Andy will probably whine about how meaningless rankings are and how frivolous it is to discuss, we can send a whambulance to deal with that morose, Debbie downer looking schmuck. The truth is that rankings provide perspective and context for all-time great fighters, which is important for the history of the sport. Onward and upward to the rankings!
DISCLAIMER: The following answer in no way, shape or form has anything to do with the fact that I have a raging man-crush on Georges St. Pierre. Nor is the answer skewed by the fact that I’d gladly dump my long-term girlfriend for an opportunity to embark on a “bro-mance” with the welterweight champ. P.S. I love you, Georges. Call me, maybe?
Due to long layoffs and recent injuries, it’s easy to forget that GSP has barely lost a round since a fluke TKO to Matt Serra in 2007. The guy has dominated every single opponent he has ever faced. His two losses (Matt Hughes, Matt Serra) were avenged in devastating fashion. Since 2007, he has not been in any sort of fight danger, he has not been challenged, and he has not looked vulnerable. What GSP does is otherworldly; he takes opponents down with unstoppable wrestling and rarely lets them get up. Round after round, opponents know GSPs formula, but can do nothing to stop it – that my friends, is dominance.
The guy has beaten a who’s who of MMA fighters: Mayhem Miller, Sean Sherk, Jon Fitch, Thiago Alves, Matt Hughes (twice), BJ Penn (twice), Josh Koscheck (twice), etc. If GSP had finished his opponents with a flashier style, he would be in the conversation for the best of all-time. However, unlike many observers, I believe that label of “GOAT” is within reach – it’s just a question of whether GSP can stretch that high.
In the coming year, GSP has the distinct opportunity to fortify and then strengthen his legacy. Elite fighters like Carlos Condit and Nick Diaz lay in wait. And a potential superfight with Anderson Silva looms. Delivering decisive victories against those aforementioned welterweights adds another layer of accolades to an already lengthy resume. But, if GSP can be the first in the UFC to dethrone Silva, the GOAT conversation becomes dramatically different.
Few fighters have the opportunity to dictate how their story ends. GSP does.
In all likelihood, GSP will be pit against Silva and be given the chance to defy odds, make history and take his place as rightful King of the Seven Kingdoms. Wait, no. Sorry, we’re not talking about Robert Baratheon, but that’s still one hellva’ opportunity for GSP to write the ending to his own MMA tale.
Before my cohort Andy responds, let me say this: If you select any fighter other than GSP, I will surely not be impressed by your performance (iconic GSP phrase that you knew had to find its way into the column). And to Georges, remember, I’m pretty sure there’s a lot more to life than being really, really, ridiculously good looking. I hope you plan on finding out what that is. Like becoming the best fighter ever.
Is it safe to look now? Has Jordan finished slobbering all over GSP’s cock for the entire internet to see? I didn’t even have to wait to read Jordan’s answer to this question before writing my retort because I knew it would just be him salivating at the hope that GSP might one day read Jordan’s praise, and whisk him off to the magical land of Montreal, where they can spoon together in a four post bed that’s been set up in George’s magical Tristar gym. They can wrestle each other and George can give Jordan the singlet he wore during his own first wrestling practices. Then one day when GSP finally fights the big bad Anderson Silva, and in the fifth round when it looks like all hope is lost for Georges, he will look to his corner and see Jordan’s face, with his jaw stoically set, a tear in his eye, wordlessly mouthing, “I still believe in you George.” GSP will rise in the final minutes of the fifth drawing his strength from Jordan’s adoration, finally knocking out Silva with ten seconds left in the fight. And as Joe Rogan interviews him, St. Pierre will say, “That one was for Jordan!” They will hug in the ring and the whole world will cry with joy at the beauty of the moment, and celebrate their love as a single brotherhood of mankind.
Jesus kid, get it together.
First, let’s not kid ourselves, Anderson Silva would eat St. Pierre like my family’s dog eats dead possum from the side of the road. And by that I mean asshole first. And by that, I am inferring GSP’s beatdown would be more akin to a jailhouse rape than an MMA fight. As my boy R. Kelly says, that’s “real talk.”
To come down off that high, let me answer the question by giving the most obvious and truthful answer, and it is an answer that Jordan already alluded to. Jon Jones. Say what you want about Jones (and I know you haters out there will), but the dude has ran through the best fighters in the world, destroying them at will. And he is only getting better. Let me go further by saying it is only a matter of time before he surpasses Anderson Silva and claims the moniker of the greatest of all time.
Jones has never lost a fight. And no I don’t count his disqualification loss and neither should anyone with a brain. That fight would have been stopped by an intelligent referee well before those 12 to 6 elbows landed. Anyway, the point is that Jones is beyond dominant; he is a force of nature. He presents the only real challenge to the superhuman striking and speed of Silva. Obviously a super fight with Jones versus Silva makes much more sense and is much more appealing than a superfight with Georges. I only wish it would have happened when Anderson Silva was younger, so he wouldn’t be at such a disadvantage.
To ruminate on this subject a bit more, I’d like to say that the entire ranking of fighters specifically of different weight classes and different eras (which is how I view Silva and Jones, as fighters from different eras) is a silly mental exercise. We can either deal in realities or we can deal in our own imaginations. And talking about comparing different fighters who won’t fight falls in the realm of imagination. Well guess what in my imaginary world, I am the baddest motherfucker on two legs and I am the greatest fighter of all time. Don’t believe me, well, I guess my imagination is just better than yours. Am I making a coherent point here? In case I haven’t I’ll close with this, who gives a fuck about arbitrarily labeling fighters with ranks, especially when we know fighters in the future will only become better and stronger. In twenty-five years, there will be a hundred fighters who could destroy Anderson Silva. And guess what? There are already fighter today who could. He is named Junior Dos Santos. So our frail chubby asses calling him the greatest of all time or calling Jones or GSP the second greatest means about as much as my family’s dog farts blowing in the New Hampshire autumn breeze.
Michael Jordan is widely regarded as the greatest basketball player of all time. Towards the end of his career, every game had a familiar narrative – cherish these awe-inspiring moments watching MJ, because they will soon be gone. Now with the greatest MMA fighter of our sport entering his twilight years, every fight Anderson Silva has is being treated with the same reverence. The wordless poetry Silva displayed last Saturday at UFC153 must be treasured and relished because one day soon it will be gone.
UFC 153 was a card devastated by injury and hastily thrown together with replacement fighters. With an obvious mismatch in the main event and a dearth of undercard star power, the card was viewed with skepticism and trepidation. Yet MMA is amazing in that the seemingly worst cards can deliver the best action, and UFC 153 proved this point and provided us with one of the best events of the year.
Now, let’s tackle the good, the bad, and the ugly of UFC 153.
Big Winner – Anderson Silva
How can you be the big winner of the entire fight card, when you were the heaviest favorite we’ve seen in MMA since… well, when Jon Jones fought Vitor a couple of weeks ago, but that’s beside the point. When you are expected by almost everyone in the world (except Bonnar and Joe Rogan apparently) to win, how can one be the biggest winner on the card simply by doing what everyone expected? Simply put, you do it in a way that no one envisioned.
First, you must enter the mind of Anderson Silva. You become death, you become the destroyer of men. Then you have to realize that not only does the world expect for you to win, but they also expect you to put on a show. Finally, you have to then decide to allow your opponent to implement his game plan, fight the fight on his terms, and still destroy him with your will.
Mostly likely you won’t do any of those steps. That’s why you read MMA blogs and don’t train twice a day while taking pointers from the great merchant of death, Steven Seagal. You simply don’t have the willpower or great Hollywood connections needed or the ability to enter into other people’s minds and that is okay.
But seriously, Anderson Silva and the legend that is invoked with the mere mention of his name grow exponentially with this fight. Silva broke Bonnar’s spirit and at the same time seemed to be testing himself, measuring himself against the other fighter by seeing if he could withstand the best Bonnar could bring. Silva was more than up to the task.
Silva stuffed every takedown Bonnar through at him. As he was pressed into the cage, he remained calm and composed slowly working underhooks and peppering Stephen with shoulder strikes and quick hands. At some point against the cage, Anderson silenced his corner letting them know he was in full control despite appearances to the contrary.
After a break in the clinch, Silva willingly chose to remain against the cage, as if to tell Bonnar, “Here. I’ll fight to YOUR advantages. I’ll beat you in this fight on whatever terms you want to dictate.” It was an electric moment like when he let Okami punch him in the face and then began dodging (which he did here as well), or when he matrixed Griffin, or tapped Chael. It was legendary. He showed that bit of greatness that compels writers like us to declare his the greatest over and over. His greatness is so large that it cannot be overstated.
Fans in the arena surged with energy as they saw Silva decide to end the fight. It was a clear moment. You saw a bit of silent resolution creep over his face. And just like that Silva was dodging Bonnar’s fist with speed that made Stephen look fossilized, and Silva was throwing fists that scored at will. As he surged forward to deliver another highlight reel finish, everyone knew the end was a foregone conclusion. The punches to a downed Bonnar seemed unnecessary and almost vulgar, as if the referee just had to smudge a Michelangelo masterpiece.
And just like that, the fight was finished. And the more cerebral and introverted amongst us were left to wonder how many more times we will get to see this amazing fighter do his art. Martial arts are supposed to not just elevate a person physically, but also create men of great character, people who inspire passion and allow others to see the untapped potential within themselves. In this way, Anderson Silva is the true embodiment of a martial artist and it is an honor to watch him fight. (AML)
Rising Stock – Jon Fitch
Jon Fitch has been one of the more divisive figures in the UFC for a long time. He’s the guy fans love to hate. With his blue-collar, wrestling-based, grinding style, his performances are not always the most aesthetically pleasing, and fans often shake their heads with exasperation after his bouts. Even so, Fitch was a fixture atop the welterweight division for years. That was until he managed a lackluster draw against an undersized BJ Penn, suffered several injuries, and then took a dirt nap courtesy of a well-placed Johnny Hendricks left hook.
It looked as though Fitch had begun his descent from perennial contender to faded star. That is, until Saturday night. Fitch was given the difficult assignment of facing rising star Erik Silva, on Silva’s home turf, coming off a long period of inactivity. The odds did not bode well for Fitch, and it looked as though he was being used as a springboard to propel an up-and-comer into the limelight.
Fitch, though, had other ideas. In arguably the greatest performance of his career, Fitch used Silva as a sacrificial lamb to boldly declare, “I’m not done yet.”
Bucking the odds and emphatically reasserting himself into the division’s elite, Fitch brought the fight to Silva in a back-and-forth war of attrition that saw Fitch eventually break the will of Silva. Never before had a Fitch fight so obviously endeared him to fans, but even the Brazilian crowd showed respect for his performance.
Fighting like a man with no tomorrow, Fitch displayed an unwavering resolve that only champions possess. Will Fitch ever obtain that sought after belt? We don’t know. But, we’ll be damned if we ever count Fitch out again. This win puts Fitch back “into the mix” and with revitalized spirit; don’t expect this to be the last you read of him defying the odds. (JK)
Career Revival – Demian Maia
Great magicians have the ability to make things disappear, only to further amaze you when those same things reappear some time later. Demian Maia is the David Copperfield of MMA, except instead of making beautiful women disappear, Maia’s BJJ was the thing blinking in and out of existence.
Demian Maia burst onto the UFC scene by utilizing his breathtaking jiu-jitsu to contort five straight opponents. Maia was a cerebral fighter who fought by utilizing his strengths: grappling and submissions. He knew he wasn’t a great striker and never tried to be. In each match up, he would take the fight to the ground and submit his opponent. Simple, but effective.
But, then something strange happened. The Maia of old disappeared and was replaced with something entirely different. This new incarnation of Maia was bizarre – he fought stand-up wars he couldn’t possibly hope to win with his rudimentary striking. He abandoned his wrestling and forgot about his slick jiu-jitsu. Maia, who was once a feared ground technician, became a beatable shell of his former self. And just like that, Maia the contender vanished.
Sure Maia was still around, but no one clamored to see him fight and worst of all, he was no longer feared. The new Demian Maia wasn’t taken seriously. He became an able body that the UFC could feed to rising contenders like Mark Munoz and Chris Weidman. After his defeat to the latter, Maia decided to make the drop from 185 to 170. Most pundits saw it for what it was, a last ditch effort to save a flailing career. But, given his previous performances, few expected Maia to make waves as a welterweight.
A magician may bore you with a dull trick or two, but the great ones can always reel you back in with one captivating, magnificent performance. In an instant, the Maia that disappeared had suddenly re-emerged in his first fight at 170. Against Dong Hyun Kim, Maia reverted back to what made him successful in the first place, by using his grappling and submissions.
And again on Saturday, Maia repeated the same trick that had originally made his magic so potent. He immediately took down a tough Rick Story and quickly submitted him with an improvised face crank that jettisoned blood from Story’s nose and mouth. Neither the Kim fight nor the Story fight was remotely competitive, and with back-to-back wins against solid opposition, Maia looks to have found himself once again. The magician is almost 35-years-old, but he appears primed for one last dazzling finale. (JK)
Clown of the Night – Stephen Bonnar
Though we realize that this distinction might infuriate some of you out in the bizarre world of the internet, the fact remains, Stephen Bonnar leaves Rio de Janiero not on a 747 airplane, but rather scrammed inside of the tiniest car you’ve ever seen. This time around we decided that he could use some company in that tiny car. But let’s not confuse things; Bonnar is at the wheel of this clown car.
Largely, this award is not his fault. Most clowns earn their distinction with braggadocio and the unfailing need to say the dumbest thing that pops in their head constantly. But this clown act was forced by the behest of one Anderson Silva.
Like a savage, brutal warlord who is not just content with annihilating his enemies, but also wants to see them humiliated and demoralized, Silva painted poor Stephen’s clown make up on his face with every moment inside the cage. Silva powdered Bonnar’s face white as he stuffed every takedown attempt, rouged his cheeks a fine, bright red when he slipped back against the cage, and stuck a big red foam nose on him with a brutal knee to the body which destroyed a man who was said to be unstoppable.
None of this is Stephen Bonnar’s fault. Anderson Silva can turn the greatest challenger into a mere clown. In fact if Clown of the Night awards can be given posthumously (to use a word that really doesn’t belong, but somehow works), CageSide Commentary would like to award one to every opponent who has ever faced Anderson Silva in the UFC. Also, we would like to bestow one to Anderson Silva as well, for the silly shit he pulled in Abu Dahbi. That was clownish.
But in summation, Stephen Bonnar will be spending the next week or so, painfully staring at the mirror, looking morose and depressed, slowly wiping off the thick layers of clown make up like so many of Anderson’s victims before. Our heart goes out to him. (AML)
Clown of the Night #2 – Dave Herman
Typically, the Clown of the Night is reserved for one truly deserving individual that exemplifies a comedic mishap deserving of shame and scrutiny. However, on this evening, we felt it necessary to call out not one, but two clown-like characters. The second Clown of the Night is proudly awarded to heavyweight doormat, Dave Herman.
Long before Herman was talking trash about Brazilian jiu-jitsu (and then proceeding to get submitted), he was a college wrestler at Indiana University, my alma mater. As an MMA enthusiast, I had the opportunity to see Herman compete on the local circuit several times. More importantly, I got to see one of the most quintessential tough guy moments from this circus act.
While attending a frat party, I noticed Herman drinking himself into a stupor. Towards the end of the night, Herman was staggering, mumbling, and looking for trouble. He found it in the form of one unfortunate fraternity brother who asked him to leave the party.
That night, I learned that nobody tells Pee Wee Herman to leave parties. He doesn’t take kindly to those requests. With a quick 1-2 combination, Herman dispatched the offending frat brother and an all-out brawl ensued. It was the entire frat versus Herman, and I had front row seats. The next few moments were a whirlwind of violence, as Herman threw kicks, head butts, elbows, and hip-tosses as he slowly downed six or seven guys by himself. Just before leaving with beers in hand.
The point of the story is to paint an accurate picture of the Dave Herman I witnessed in college; a legitimate tough guy, who also happened to be a buffoon. Sure, at times he could be an affable nitwit, but from my perspective, the guy was a goon. Which is why we at CageSide Commentary were so happy to see him forced to eat his words.
I can’t be submitted, claimed Herman. Big Nog begged to differ. After beating up on Herman for a round in a half, Nog mercifully tapped the “untappable” Herman, thus forcing him to eat his words with a helping of shame and embarrassment. (JK)
Phil Davis outclassed Wagner Prado in their rematch of the great eye poke incident. Critics like Rashad Evans said that Davis looked like he might have been in trouble in their first match up and he might have been saved with that eye poke. That seems silly now, after seeing Davis eat Prado alive with a second round submission. He was so dominate, he silenced the Rio crowd and even earned some sincere applause from the Brazilians as the decision was read. This was a nice showcase for Davis, who displayed his unrelenting wrestling and ever improving submissions. With a seemingly endless motor and physique that us two fat guys envy, Davis has all the makings of a future champ. However, if he wants to reach that lofty expectation, he will need to continue developing his striking, which remains the weakest part of his well-rounded game.
Glover Teixeira is a beast. After destroying the indestructible man, Fabio Maldonado (with a doctor’s stoppage that saved ten years of his life), it became clear to anyone paying attention that this guy needs to fight top tier opponents. The light heavyweight division is thin and Glover infused some much-needed excitement. The hype was swelling after his first UFC fight and with the brutality of his latest performance, the hype is sure to reach a fever pitch. Give him a top tier opponent and if victorious, throw him in the deep waters (Jon Jones) and see if he sinks or swims.
Minatauro Nogueira is still our hero. He outclassed “Clown Act” Pee-Wee Herman in a vintage performance that brought Anderson Silva to tears. One CageSIde Correspondent was also brought to tries, but he was also very high so take that one with a grain of salt. But, what does the legendary Big Nog have left to prove? Here’s to hoping he retires, going out on top in front of his countrymen like the hero that he is.
Counter Punch Commentary
Counter punch commentary; where Jordan and Andrew take opposing sides as literary combatants and tackle the major issues plaguing the world of MMA. Jordan and Andrew will alternate answering two questions every week, with each taking a turn responding first and giving their counter opinion afterward. Feel free to judge a winner in the comment section…or you can just deem both of us losers. To the victor goes the spoils.
Question 1: What should the UFC do to save their reality TV franchise The Ultimate Fighter?
In an ideal world, the UFC would have the self-awareness to realize that the TUF format has gone stale and should be left to die a merciful death. However, we know that the UFC will dutifully continue force-feeding the same recycled show to us for years to come. Fortunately, I have a devised a strategy to revitalize the franchise and save the audience from excruciating reality TV.
Sex sells. Violence sells. So it’s only logical to combine both. Strikeforce Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey has emerged as a legitimate star. Fans are captivated by her sassy personality, sex appeal and in-cage skills. Former Strikeforce Featherweight Champion Cyborg Santos is a polarizing MMA figure with her brutal striking and fierce physical attributes – she’s essentially the Wanderlei Silva of female MMA. Pitting these two women against one another is a no brainer.
Women’s MMA (WMMA) is an undervalued potential goldmine that the UFC should leverage. How to save the TUF franchise? Throw Cyborg and Rousey in as opposing coaches. But, let’s not stop there, because I want to add another wrinkle to this TUF evolution.
Comprise the fight teams of both male and female combatants. The idea behind this is two-fold: first, having the male/female dynamic adds a whole new complexion to the show. Gone is the constant male angst and same drunken tomfoolery. In its place is a sexually charged, Real World-type atmosphere that makes for a compelling reality show (i.e. NOT just a fight show). I know I would love to see two women argue over a guy and then settle their differences in the octagon. Secondly, aggregating 16 135-pound women strengthens and establishes a legitimate women’s division. Depth is a major concern for WMMA and by cultivating new female talent on the show the UFC begins to solve that problem.
While my comrade Andy is probably content with the current TUF format of belligerence, repetition and fart jokes, I believe most MMA fanatics will jump at the opportunity to shake things up. Just remember, when the new and improved TUF adds a whole new demographic, generates better ratings and Dana White claims he “told you idiots the show wasn’t dead,” that you heard it here first.
First, let me set the record straight. I’ve watched about as much TUF in the last five years as I’ve watched gay porn my entire life, only once or twice out of curiosity and only the Brazilian version. Oddly enough, there are a lot of similarities between the modern incarnation of TUF and gay porn, unfortunately, gay porn is ultimately much more engaging and entertaining.
But my solution to the problem of TUF is not to turn it into some gay porn/fighting hybrid (although I would probably watch an episode or two of that), and it is not to turn it into some kind of Real World sex drama, so horny bandits likes Jordan can jerk their little cocks off fantasizing about living with some women fighter who would armbar them after sex. No, if I want to sexually fantasize about women in various states of nudity, I can just use the internet. And if I want to watch some Real World like drama about two dudes beefing over trying to get with some girl, I can just go to the pawn shop, get a gun, and blow my brains out. No, my solution for TUF is a bit more creative.
We can take this one of two different paths. One is logical (and thus boring) and the other is ridiculous (thus better). First, you could turn The Ultimate Fighter into a show that actually profiles UFC fighters that we care about as they train for a major UFC event. You could say they already do this and yes they do to a slight degree, with the Countdown show. But imagine not just learning about the fighter but the cast of characters in his gym, his home life, his trainers, they all take up the role of filling time in a long season of the show. Plus with that much more time on air, we would get some much more of their personality. Good idea right? This next one is better. The show is called The Ultimate Fighter, so let’s take that to an extreme. Let’s have the fighter’s suit up in medieval armor and battle with swords. Let’s have them wrestle grizzly bears (who said it was the ultimate human fighter, that discrimination). I have wanted to see a man wrestle a bear for my entire life. The fact that this has not been on TV yet, but Honey Boo-Boo has, makes me feel like the world is screwing me over. Let’s have contestants get hammered drunk and them fight a bar full of amateurs. Isn’t that what Jean Claude Van Dam would have had to do in some movie about him becoming the world’s greatest fighter? People can say that would be exploitation, or would tarnish the sport, but I think another season of fighter’s pulling bad pranks (that are seriously only funny to 3rd graders) and getting drunk and throwing each other in the pool does way more to tarnish the greatest sport in the world. Moreover, I think I speak for the entire nation when I say we demand man vs. bear wrestling.
Question Two: If you were Joe Silva, which dream fight would you make?
I think there are some real super fights that I had considered dream fights that we actually have the potential of seeing, namely Anderson Silva vs. George St. Pierre. While it is tempting to go with a simple answer like that fight or perhaps Jon Jones vs. Anderson Silva, I want to really look at this question, analyze it, and answer the true spirit of the question. First, we have to assume I am Joe Silva. Kudos to me, I just became a much richer and more successful man. On the negative tip, I also became infinitely less attractive and I have to wear leather jackets way more than I am comfortable with.
Now that I am existing in the Joe Silva head space, I realize that the UFC is mine to control. Dana White is too busy arguing with journalists from the Toronto Sun who I’ve never heard of and trying to spring Jeremy Stephens out of jail to notice what I am doing with the fights. I have full power to do whatever I wish with the full power of the UFC behind me.
Second, I have noticed the question limits me to picking one dream fight, which sucks. I want a dream fight card and I want it held in a cage set up in my parent’s large back yard in New Hampshire for my own private viewing. The rest of you assholes can watch on PPV.
Okay but to finally get to the question, I know what fight I actually want to see and it really isn’t all that crazy. I would have Nick Diaz fight George St. Pierre. This is actually the fight I look forward to and hope to see the most. Fuck Carlos Conduit. I don’t like you that much, dude. Nothing personal, but I would just prefer a shit talking, bad attitude having, weed smoking, triathlete finally throw down against the straight laced, mild mannered, gymnast.
This kind of fight appeals to me in my favorite way. This fight is not just a conflict of style but also a conflict of philosophy. These two men aren’t just different in the way they train and fight, but in how they live their lives. Their upbringing and backgrounds are so divergent and the environments they built around themselves clash so much that it makes the fight itself that much more compelling. A clash between the two seems like it would answer questions not just about who is a better fighter, but what is a better way to approach the art of fighting, and that is what makes the fight so fascinating for me. So fuck you, Carlos Conduit for ruining everything.
Andy, Andy, Andy…so little imagination. You most not be afraid to dream a little bigger. Yes, Nick Diaz versus GSP is an epic tilt that would be sure to entertain. Though truth be told, that clash is likely to happen sooner rather than later.
I’ve always been a dreamer. As a kid, I would fantasize about dating Nancy Kerrigan, Tiffani Amber Thiessen, and the chick from Casper. Weird taste? Absolutely. Cut me some slack though, I was 12 and at least it wasn’t the Icebox from Little Giants! The point is that I dream big. If we’re talking fantasy matchups, then I want to think outside the box.
Brock Lesnar was one of the most physically imposing fighters to ever grace the octagon. His muscles had muscles and it was clear even steroids were intimidated by his girth. Though he wasn’t the best technician, his brute force and agility were weapons to be feared.
The 125-pound Flyweight division is new to the UFC. It has yet to truly captivate the everyday UFC fan. So what better way to drum up interest in the division than to have a super fight?
I’d like to see Brock Lesnar grace us with his presence one last time. His opponent(s)? The two best flyweights in the world, Mighty Mouse Johnson and John Dodson. Mouse and Dodson collectively weigh 250-pounds, right around Lesnar’s size. This would be the ultimate freak show fight where one behemoth of a man tests his wills against to pint-sized powder puffs.
It would be speed versus power. David(s) versus Goliath. Good versus evil. No one, including this writer, would have any idea what to expect. The intrigue would be palpable. The outrage would be raucous. The concept would be pure lunacy. The fight would be ridiculed. But, aside from the endless debate and conversation the fight would produce, I think we would see a highly competitive, strategic bout that would prove this writers dreams do come true.
The canceling of UFC 151 resulted in an irregularly long stretch of UFC inactivity. Thankfully, we are amidst a murder’s row of Zuffa events in the coming months, which included this Friday’s UFC on FX 5.
This fifth event on FX featured a solid card. There were some vicious lawn chair knockouts and several slick submissions, along with a few lackluster bouts. Nonetheless, as a whole, UFC on FX delivered and we’re here to sort out the aftermath. So pull up a chair, have yourself a smoke and let’s get into the thick of it.
Biggest Winner – Antonio Silva
Antonio Silva has lost his last two bouts in brutal fashion. Daniel Cormier dotted Silva’s eyes and Cain Velasquez busted him open. It is safe to say that Silva was fighting for his UFC career and a win against Travis Browne was imperative. Given his dire circumstances, Silva comes away from the FX card as its biggest winner with his TKO win in the first round.
With such a great talent disparity between the top tier fighters and everyone else, the heavyweight division is wide-open. Meaning a big win between two known heavyweights immediately moves the victor into the upper echelon of the division. With this win over Browne, ‘Bigfoot’ Silva does just that and goes from barely keeping his job to emphatically inserting himself back into the mix.
We feel like this is a good time to note that fighter’s nickname can sometime be so dumb, that it’s painful. Bigfoot is one such name. But what is even more ridiculous is the literal “big foot” tattoo Silva has on his back. If one of us were to even think of getting such a stupid tattoo, our buddies would gladly smack us in the mouth. Silva, seriously, you need some friends.
Even though Browne was slowed by a knee injury sustained early in the first round, Silva displayed his power and precision. He managed to turn Browne’s face into a ‘claymation’ character and, in doing so, sets himself up for another top tier opponent. With the division murky beyond contenders like Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem, it is hard to see a clear opponent for Bigfoot. At the end of the day, Silva is the big winner, but what exactly he has won is unclear.
Rising Stock – Justin Edwards
When it was announced that the Justin Edwards/Josh Neer scrap was headed to the main card, we at CageSide Commentary were scratching our heads. But, after Edwards stormed out, exchanged heavy leather and moments later locked in a fight ending, sleep-inducing guillotine, it was clear matchmaker Joe Silva knew something we didn’t.
Edwards’ slick submission pocketed him a cool $40K bonus. In addition to increasing his cash flow, Edwards also upped his fighting stock. By singing a grizzled vet like Neer a lullaby, Edwards showed he’s capable of beating a solid fighter. But beyond that, what did we really learn about him? At 2-2 in the UFC, Edwards is no world-beater, but he has piqued our interest.
Ultimately, Edwards’s fast finish leaves more questions than answers. We can’t pit him against the upper crest of the division just because he can slap a choke on an exposed neck. Still, with a quick, decisive finish, we can certainly move him up the rankings and see how he does when he gets there.
Gamer Changer Award – John Dodson
First off, let us just say that John Dodson is one of our favorite flyweight fighters. Why is it that these guys who are already said to be fighting in the “kid’s division” (quote by Vinny Magalhaes) all act like children as well? We watched an interview where Dodson wore a Batman t-shirt and then rattled off a Nightstalker reference with a tone that implied everyone had a subscription to the entire DC comic lineup. After every interview, this guy strikes a cartoon like pose and flashes a smile that would appear creepy if it didn’t seem so genuine. But goddamn it if we don’t love the guy for it. Some part of us wishes we were John Dodson. He just seems so fucking happy. And why shouldn’t he be? With dynamite in his hands and the rare ability among flyweights to turn an opponent’s lights out, Dodson has a lot to be smiling about.
Anyway, in his KO performance against Formiga, Dodson displayed his game changing ability to alter a fight with one punch. After a first round that should be used in how to score MMA training sessions as a definition of a 10-10 round, Dodson found his range and dropped Formiga. After the Brazilian regained his footing, Dodson dropped him again and finished it with a swarm of punches. This should quell some of the vitriol around claims that flyweights can’t finish fights, because Dodson does.
The fact is these flyweight guys are fucking awesome. They are technical, bring a nonstop pace, and can FINISH fights. And for the assholes in the crowd that booed the first round, please show some patience and keep your douche-baggery to a minimum.
Huge congratulations to John Dodson though. And did you see his sweet back flip off the cage post fight? Bigfoot Silva ain’t doing that shit, son. His victory sets up the first defense of the flyweight title in what will be marketed as the fastest fight in UFC history.
Clown of the Night – Jeremy Stephens
We at CageSide Commentary have a phrase we use to describe an asinine, ignorant, idiotic display. It’s called “clownishness” and the fighter who best exemplifies this trait will be bestowed the coveted “Clown of the Night” award. The fighter wearing the biggest clown shoes at the end of the FX fight card was Jeremy Stephens. I don’t know how much we should expect from of a guy nicknamed Little Heathen (just because it rhymes with your last name doesn’t make it cool), but getting arrested in Minnesota for a pending charge in Iowa seems about right.
Stephens is without question our inaugural clown of the night, because anyone who was supposed to make money fighting and instead ends up in jail clearly made some dummy-like decisions.
Jail just isn’t a place where really intelligent people who think before they act end up. Not that we’re claiming he is guilty (though the aforementioned nickname doesn’t bode well for his innocence), but as a UFC fighter, Stephens has the responsibility to avoid bad situations.
Our advice? Lawyer up, Stephens. Trust two recovering degenerates – the lawyer is worth it.
Least Impressive in Victory – Jake Ellenberger
It wasn’t long ago that Jake Ellenberger was knocking on the door of a title shot. He had finished some dangerous cats and improved each fight. A loss to Martin Kampmann had set him back, but a strong performance would have thrust him right back into the spotlight.
Alas, it seems like Jake Ellenberger missed the memo about everyone finishing fights this card. He just had to mess with a really nice theme. We understand that Jay Hieron is a savvy veteran who is certainly a tough out, but Ellenberger looked tentative and showed no killer instinct. Both fighters were content to look for a counter, leading to a frustrating fight for fans.
After coming off a loss, Ellenberger showed no sense of urgency. With an older, less skilled opponent, Ellenberger failed to make a statement. Instead, nothing he did during the fight seemed incredibly impressive, with the exception of his super-human takedown defense in the first round (he looked like he was levitating a one point). But defending takedowns doesn’t go on the highlight reel. Nothing he did made his loss to Kampmann look like a fluke. If it is possible to regress with a win in the UFC, this is that fight. Certainly Ellenberger has the tools to contend, but when he chooses to holster his firepower, he wins battles but loses the war.
Look for the UFC to give Ellenberger another stern test and see if he can reclaim some of his former thunder.
Bartimus, stop making an asshole out of us. We want to root for you and every time we buy your hype, you go and lose. Eventually, people are going to figure out that our opinion on fighting is entirely based on how much we like a fighter’s ink. Please Bartimus use that $40K Fight of the Night bonus to get more nutty tattoos.
Michael Johnson is a kid to keep your eyes on. He has future contender written all over him. Despite a rocky first round, Johnson showed veteran poise, remained calm in the midst of a Danny Castillo ass-whooping, and stormed out in the second round to earn a vicious KO. This win makes it 3-in-a-row for Johnson who looks ready for a step up in competition. We’re hopping on the Michael Johnson bandwagon, so make room, bitches.
CageSide Commentary is a Mixed Martial Arts blog following the opinions of two very different, but equally ridiculous individuals: MMA analyst Jordan Katz and comedian Andrew Lawrence.
Like the classic grappler versus striker match up, Jordan and Andrew clash and compliment each other as they discuss the current MMA landscape with their unique blend of passion, humor, and indignity that will have you laughing and crying. Jordan and Andrew are modern renaissance men, who understand the beauty, superb craftsmanship, subtle intricacy, and incredible intellect involved in MMA. With their warrior-poet spirit, these journalists hope to inspire in you that same sense of wonder and amazement they feel while watching two souls battle in the ultimate test of wills.
Two guys, one cage, a thousand opinions.
My first experience with MMA started at a Blockbuster video store. Before the collapse of the primitive practice of renting VHS tapes, my brother was wise enough to selected a bizarre looking video entitled Ultimate Fighting Championship. At the ripe age of eight, I remember envisioning a real life version of Street Fighter, with men in karate gis lining up against sumo wrestlers (I didn’t know I’d have to wait for Pride Fighting to actually see that), and I was enthralled. After my father found us watching this glorious tape, he forbade us from ever watching anything like it again. Fast forward 15 years or so and you can find me at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Brooklyn, NY, slinging back Sam Adams seasonal and instigating arguments by claiming Jon Jones is overrated. Goes to show you that dreams do come true.
My name is Andrew Lawrence and I am a 26-year-old stand up comedian, forced to work a day job, in the cold heart of New York City. My interests include tracking happy hours at local bars and pubs, remaining clever, and desperately maintaining whatever facade that keeps my girlfriend from leaving me. Also, criticizing fighters for their deficiencies in a sport that I would never be able to achieve their level of success in.
My goal is to make you laugh, rethink your assumptions about fighting, shower praise and respect to the craft and art form of fighting, and to slowly take over the world. Step one complete.
As I sat within high-fiving distance of Renzo Gracie, still reveling in the fact that I had just “bro-hugged” Brandon Schaub and taken the quintessential fist pumping picture with Frankie Edgar, I couldn’t help but think that this was way cooler than when my college roommate banged reality-star home-wrecker Hailey Glassman and even more fun than when I worked a charity event with Tim Tebow.
For my first live UFC experience, I sat octagon-side at UFC 111 and I can tell you unequivocally that it surpassed my expectations. The experience was unforgettable and left a profound impact on me. My initial interest in MMA was sparked in high school thanks to Wanderlei Silva highlights, fanned in college (watching my buddy fight on the regional circuit) and crystallized into a passion after UFC 111.
My name is Jordan and I’m a 26-year-old California transplant by way of New York. I am a sports loving, Polo wearing, ESPN consuming, movie obsessing, former PR executive, current grad student, and MMA fanatic that lives and breathes the sport.
I’ve lost more fights than I’ve won.
A group of fraternity brothers once exited me from a party, headfirst.
I’ve taken several private MMA lessons and vomited after each one.
I made it through one week of Muay Thai classes before my shins asked to be retired.
I’ve watched every single UFC event since UFC 65.
My aim is to provide insightful analysis, deliver strong opinions, entertain with whacky stories, shame you with potty humor, regularly clown on my cohort Andy, and hopefully create a place where we can share some laughs.
Thanks for reading. Proceed with caution.