So, UFC 124. Man, you twitterers were brutal. You had a big bucket of salt ready for my wounds. It’s like that, huh? Well, let me state for the record that I’m not Tomas Rios. I don’t sit here and smugly tell you exactly how I think the fight is going to down like it’s law and then turn out to be wrong. I’m asked by MMA Gospel to make my picks with the rest of the staff and I do so. Sometimes I’m confident in my picks, sometimes not. For UFC 124, I thought the picks were exceptionally hard. Especially since… look, anyone can pick all the favorites and the odds will likely play out in their favor. That doesn’t make you a genius. I decided to pick all underdogs but with valid reason. Like I said, if I was betting my life savings I wouldn’t have made the same picks but where’s the fun in that?
So let me break down UFC 124 but with my reasoning for making the picks I made included.
“Pitbull” Thiago Alves (17-7) vs. “Doomsday” John Howard (14-6): “Doomsday” has the better haircut and the better nickname and both guys have KO power but Alves is the technically better striker with the more rounded game. Alves enlisted the help of the Dolce Diet to make weight without it taking too big a toll on his strength and endurance. Alves brought his “A-Game” and it outmatched Howard. However, my reasoning for picking “Doomsday” was evident – the dude never gives up and at the end of the last round when he was down two-and-a-half rounds, he fought like it. A loss is a loss but everyone respects a guy who goes down swinging –especially if that guy is, y’know… a professional fighter.
“Daddy” Joe Stevenson (31-11) vs. Mac Danzig (20-8-1): First of all, NO ONE and I mean NO ONE that I saw anywhere picked Mac Danzig to win against the much better (on paper) fighter in Joe Stevenson. Yet he did. MMA Gospel’s CEO Dan Griffin (no doubt drunk off sour grapes) said it was a lucky shot but I don’t think that’s fair. Danzig is a veteran and sometimes a veteran, even when the odds are against him, can use that experience to find the opening he needs to win and when you have a potential “loser gets shitcanned” fight like that, anything can happen, and in this case “anything” was a perfectly timed counter left. Bully for the vegan.
“The Mongoose” Jim Miller (19-2) vs. Charles Oliveira (14-1): Jim Miller came into this fight with an 18-2 record with his only two losses coming from current lightweight champ “The Answer” Frankie Edgar (13-1) and number one contender “The Bully” Gray Maynard (10-0). He took on the undefeated and much-hyped Charles Oliveira. Both are well-rounded guys with top level Jiu-Jitsu. In the first round, there was a scramble on the ground and Miller looked like he was going for a very basic Heel Hook that he didn’t really have the leverage to pull off. Oliveira not only didn’t look worried, he looked almost amused. And then… Miller changed it to a Kneebar and before Chuck could think what a crafty bastard Miller was, he was grimacing in pain and tapping. Well played from the fighter who looks most like the King from the Burger King commercials.
“Big Sexy” Sean McCorkle (10-1) vs. “Skyscraper” Stefan Struve (18-4): Sean should have won this fight. Not to take anything away from Struve, who used his experience to stay focused and composed and get out of early trouble. McCorkle picked up Struve, flipped him horizontally and slammed him down to the ground. I’ve always wondered what it would look like to see a nearly seven foot tall Dutchman get tossed like a midget. Now I know. McCorkle went for a Kimura but Struve scooted towards the fence to prevent “Big Sexy” from getting the leverage. McCorkle didn’t do anything to stop him and when the Kimura failed, Sean was still on top but he looked lost. “Big Sexy” admitted on Twitter that the pressure got to him and he choked and was having a tough time breathing. I was wondering why he was postured up in Struve’s guard looking exhausted and confused. It was a clear illustration of how important composure is in a fight. It completely made the difference in that fight. Not only did Struve use it to avoid getting submitted but lacking it caused Sean to lose a fight he could’ve easily won.
Don’t forget that “choking” is not only a matter of not keeping a clear, focused mind but it floods your body with adrenaline which then exhausts you. Even if Sean hadn’t gotten the Kimura, he was in a position to TKO Struve but by that time the adrenaline dump had left him unable to capitalize on his position and too exhausted to prevent Struve from sweeping to mount so effortlessly. Now, obviously, I like Sean. He’s been a part of the “Low Blows” article here on the site and I think he’s a good dude and if he’s going to choke in the Big Show, then he’s not ready yet. It’s a huge part of the game, as I said. My problem is that we’re going to have to be subjected to morons that are going to go on about how McCorkle is garbage and how badly he failed and how easily Struve beat him and completely ignoring the fact that Sean would’ve won in the first round if he didn’t choke. I’m just sayin’ – take the exhaustion of the adrenaline dump out of the equation and Sean wins easily. So now he has to work his way back up and I think that’s fair but it’s not fair to deny the potential he’s shown.
“Rush” Georges St. Pierre (21-2) vs. “Kos” Josh Koscheck (15-5): I didn’t think Kos would win but I did think Kos could win. Back when the fight was announced and before Kos had played the heel role so expertly on The Ultimate Fighter and got everyone hyped, the general consensus was that this would be a boring wrestling match. However, I had said that if Kos can stuff GSP’s takedowns, the fight might be forced into a stand-up battle and we’d see the old kickboxing GSP that we all missed since “The Terror” Matt Serra (10-7) killed him. Of course, I thought that might just be wishful thinking on my part. Well, well, well. It turns out that GSP thought that his best chance of winning was to out-box Kos from the outside. A cross between “Diablo” Nick Diaz’s (22-8) “death by a million jabs” style and “The Dragon” Lyoto Machida’s (16-2) elusive in-and-out of range style.
It wasn’t an exciting fight in the sense that it was entirely one-sided but the shock of seeing a GSP fight where 99% of the fight took place standing in 2010 was a pleasant surprise. It wasn’t quite the old GSP because the old GSP would’ve turned up the heat in the later rounds and tried to finish. I understand why he didn’t want to throw many kicks in the beginning as it would open him up to getting taken down by Kos, but once Kos’ right eye was swollen shut and Kos looked tentative and defeated that was pretty much an invite to the VIP room of “Club Kicks”.
Saturday night I did an impromptu UFC 124 wrap-up show on Blog Talk Radio and “New York Bad Ass” Phil Baroni (13-12) called in. Well, he actually was planning on KOS-ing me by saying he was going to call in and then not calling – but I guilted him into actually calling. Baroni is training at American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) with Kos. He thought Kos should have mixed it up and went for more takedowns and clinched up and worked GSP against the cage with dirty boxing and foot stomps –“make it ugly” as Baroni said. When I asked Phil if he thought Kos was thrown off by the fact that GSP didn’t make it into a wresting match, Phil said: “He had 25 fucking minutes to figure out he wasn’t going to make it into a wrestling match.” That’s why Phil is a legend and I’m just a smart ass. Anyway, not sure what’s left for GSP now. Jake Shields (26-4-1), I suppose, but I have no interest in watching that fight. GSP is going to have to move up to middleweight or retire. You can only clean out a division so many times. GSP vs. Chael Sonnen (24-11-1), anyone?
Anyway, if you want to listen to the aforementioned UFC 124 recap with special guest Phil Baroni, here it is.
There was at least one slightly drunk host and at least one drunk caller. So, keep that in mind.
Okay, I will see you guys next week. I’m already late getting this bad boy in…