We have an all 5oz battle this week between writers jockeying for position in the hierarchy of getting Sam Caplan’s affection. This week we have a battle between site writers Adam Morgan and Ram Maramba. Do remember to vote in the poll on the left side of your browser for the winner; this is the reason they play so hard.
1. Given the circumstances you kind of feel bad for Chris Leben.
Maramba: FALSE. If you put a gun to my head and asked me to tell you how I feel about Chris Leben, first I’d judo chop the pistol out of your hands, take your brand new British Knights, then I’d tell you I still can’t decide how I feel about the outspoken middleweight. For the sake of full disclosure I’ll admit that I never watched “TUF1″, so I’m not exactly going into battle with a topped-off magazine. What I have seen is a polarizing, loudmouth brawler who puts on a fun fight whether he’s the pounder or poundee. I’ll even venture to say that his winning KO of Terry Martin, in the unofficial battle for the title of King Horse’s Ass, was one of my guilty pleasure moments of 2007. That said, confessing my slight liking for the pig-eyed carouser, there are no “circumstances” I would ever feel bad for someone when the controversy includes a DUI, one of my personal pet peeves. He was busted in Oregon, then decided to move out of state to Hawaii without finishing his probation under the guise of a “new start” or a “fresh feeling”, or whatever crystal-rubbing, douche commercial tagline his representative released in his statement. The fact remains, Leben didn’t complete his well-deserved obligation to the state and decided to move to friggin’ paradise for personal reasons. Any argument that claims Leben’s motives stem from some newfound desire for personal growth and maturation is a steaming pile. Leben went back to settle his debt for a fight purse in London, plain and simple. I was hyped when I heard of Bisping vs. Leben and I hope it still comes to fruition. As far as Leben himself, I am happy he’s tying up loose ends and serving his time even if it’s not for the most noble of reasons. It’s been widely reported that he in fact has matured, is a different person from his drinking days and has always been an outstanding instructor who takes his craft seriously. That’s the Leben I’ll support and sympathize with, not the indulgent frat boy who was caught endangering the lives of others. In conclusion, Libya is a land of many contrasts. To be fair, I doubt Leben wants your pity. He knew exactly what he was doing, the reason why he turned himself in and what the possible consequences were. So settle down, Beavis: he’s a better-than-average middleweight who sports ill-advised haircuts from time to time, not Joan of Arc.
Morgan: TRUE. Given the circumstances, yes, I feel bad for the guy. Sure, he’s a moron who didn’t do what he was supposed to do in the first place in regards to his DUI but every indication was given to T. Jay Thompson and Leben that he would be able to do what was needed to make the fight with Bisping happen in London. Now he’s stuck using his mattress as a punching bag for the next month or so. That’s rough for a guy who makes his living by fighting and training and was given the opportunity to be the co main event in a card that absolutely needed his presence. Now we get Jason Day vs. Michael Bisping? Bleh. FREE CHRIS LEBEN!
My Five Cents: I was all about Morgan’s argument but I have to say Maramba made strong arguments. Not just because he wrote a novel but because he did have a DUI and did all of the things listed. Strong arguments from both players.
2. Josh Barnett will be able to submit Jeff Monson at next weekend’s Sengoku card.
Maramba: FALSE. Not for any singular reason, but for several compelling ones. The two grappling heavies should put on a clinic of contrasting grappling styles, but the end will come with a good ol’ fashioned unanimous decision. Both guys are wizards in their weapons of choice, in fact too high a level to be finished by a fellow ground fighter. Barnett is huge, insanely strong, and his catch wrestling style has proven effective against all styles of fighters not named Cro Cop. More than serviceable on his feet, his bread and butter is close in and on the ground and he’s no stranger to BJJ black belts like Monson. He’s split two fights with arguably the greatest heavyweight grappler of all time, Minotauro Nogueira, so The Snowman doesn’t present anything Barnett hasn’t seen before. It’s safe to say Monson is a huge underdog here, but this is the kind of fight he can win. On their feet, Monson’s improved standup should keep him safe until the fight inevitably hits the ground. 2-0 pro boxing record aside, Monson was more than holding his own against Pedro Rizzo before finally getting his house blown down. There are compact cars that are taller than Monson, but not many people/things are stronger or possess his BJJ credentials. The ADCC champ has made a career out of fighting and usually beating larger fighters, so again no surprises there. He won’t be outmuscled, outgrappled or outstruck, at least by a wrestler like Barnett. If you’re sensing a theme here, it’s ‘surprise’ or the lack of it. Not only have the two fought similar fighters to each other in their careers, they’ve actually fought each other, unofficially. Off and on training partners in their careers, I’m sure ego got the better of these alpha males on more than one occasion and “training” tussles ensued. It doesn’t take many rolls to know to figure out tendencies and going into a fight little nuggets of information like that proves huge. They’ve seen each other roll, teach and practice. Unless one of them is Gob Bluth, there won’t be many turns the other guy can’t handle. In the end, Barnett will take this home with relative ease and move on to a fight with Fedor. Monson on the other hand, if I get my wish, will retire and re-enter the public service realm and be the scariest fucking CPS investigator known to mankind, single-handedly curing the blight of poor parenting in the Pacific Northwest.
Morgan: FALSE. This is a joke question, right? Monson is an Abu Dhabi grappling champion and Barnett is a catch wrestler. Monson’s submission defense and submission acumen in general should allow him to avoid Barnett’s submissions, which are good, but not good enough to catch Monson. Barnett should win this fight going away just due to his size advantage (see Sylvia vs. Monson) but I see a TKO or a decision in the cards, not a submission.
My Five Cents: I’ll call you both right and while Maramba’s answer might have been too long he did include an Arrested Development reference. I’m not saying that wins the point but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
3. Former WWE star Bobby Lashley will have atleast one mixed martial arts fight.
Maramba: TRUE. True, sigh. The real question is, why does anyone care? Brock Lesnar finding success walking across the dank, dimly-lit corridor between MMA and pro wrestling should be treated as an aberration, not an endorsement of big, pretty muscles. Lashley has supposedly been training since January, has a contrived association with Matt Hughes’ F-buddy Marc Fiore from his Army days and his WWE non-compete is almost up, so the stars seem to be aligning. Maybe he’s serious, but so what? This isn’t Japan, American fans have proved to be a bit more discerning of their spectacles, so unless Lashley’s got something in his bag it won’t matter much. Lesnar’s top-flight amateur credentials weren’t enough for most detractors to going into his debut UFC fight against Frank Mir, but just a few seconds into the fight his talent and skill was obvious. Lashley likely won’t show the same potential, but it’s hard to ignore the new hotness that is MMA. I’m sure his competitive juices are flowing as well, something that goes into remission in the competition blueballs world of professional wresting. However, this has the same vibe that the NBA did when a similar taboo talent pool opened up, high school players. Problem is, for every Kobe and KG that panned out, there were a dozen Taj McDavid’s that flamed out or went completely unnoticed altogether. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. All that aside, there are enough promotions out there in need of a shot in the arm that would love to get their grubby paws on a large, intimidating black man with a recognizable name. His own camp has said he won’t fight in the UFC, but that’s like me issuing a press release that I won’t be the opening day left tackle for the Dallas Cowboys. He’ll fight somewhere for someone and likely take the Johnnie Morton route backstage. If anything, Lashley’s greatest adversary may be a small container with mL markings on it, not wearing five ounce gloves. If you can tell me how to pack on 100 lbs of muscle in less than ten years, I’d like to subscribe to your newsletter.
Morgan: TRUE. Absolutely true. If you think the other promotions didn’t pay attention to the debut of Brock Lesnar and the kind of hype it drew then you’re not paying attention to MMA. Although Lashley doesn’t have the amateur wrestling credentials that Lesnar does or the star power, he is a decorated amateur wrestler and an NAIA champion so he deserves a shot at mixed martial arts. The guy is a recognizable face from his time with the WWE and will draw a lot of eyeballs from the pro wrestling crowd to see how he does in MMA. Maybe not as many as Brock Lesnar, but enough to make a fight involving Lashley matter. He’s trained with AKA, he’s got name recognition, and he has the best base for MMA: amateur wrestling. To say that Lashley won’t be enticed to enter the realm of MMA is ridiculous.
My Five Cents: Maramba with the obvious, Morgan with the amateur info. Well played.
4. The Kimbo hatred among fighters is mainly based on their jealousy of his success.
Morgan: TRUE. Of course it is. These guys who have been in the game for a long time, like Chuck Liddell, see Kimbo and he makes them want to puke. Why? Because he’s fought three total fights and he’s getting the same hype behind him that the UFC is putting behind their top fighters yet he hasn’t completely proven himself inside the cage. Is that Kimbo’s fault, though? No, certainly not. It’s not up to him how EliteXC is going to market him or whether or not they’re going to put him in the main event. Every fighter has handlers and Kimbo is no different. If they offer him the main event then of course he’s going to take it. Should he say “No, I want to fight on the undercard and make undercard money”? Of course not.
Maramba: FALSE. Jealousy implies other fighters covet something he possesses, which most don’t. Most fighters understand the attention Slice is receiving is manufactured by the fat cats around him. Chuck Liddell isn’t jealous of Kimbo Slice, he feels the hoopla is unwarranted for an unproven freakshow spectacle in a sport that claims to celebrate true warriors who are ready to do warrior battle whenever warrioring is necessary (thanks, supercrap). That’s not jealousy, that’s perceiving the situation as unfair to the fighters before him who clawed their way up the ladder by actually performing. I would raise high holy hell if the company I’ve been at for 10 years hired some greenhorn with less experience/education and proceeded to promote him above me. That’s the bulk of the complaints about Slice in the industry and I don’t blame ‘em. I’m sure there are a lot of struggling young fighters out there who’d swap places — and paychecks — with Slice, but I’ll bet you a dollar there are even more fighters who are in this game simply because they like to fight. I strongly doubt anyone with dollar signs in their eyes would put in the literal blood, sweat and tears would last long in the fight game; there are easier ways to make money.They choose their paths because of the journey, not the promise of fleeting stardom.
My Five Cents: My immediate thought was that Morgan dominated as he had the correct answer. People are jealous of his fame. However Maramba did a fine job pointing out a guy like Liddell is making more money and has more fame and it’s not jealousy motivating him. Well played to the both of you.
5. Affliction will put on atleast three cards.
Morgan: FALSE. With the way that things are going in this industry right now, I would be hard pressed to say that any new promotion, even one backed by Affliction, will put on three shows. We just saw Hardcore Championship Fighting in Canada fold just last week and they truly believed they could be a contender with the UFC and they had a solid roster of talent as well as a television deal. I would be a little more swayed to say that Affliction will put on three shows if the original plan with Golden Boy Promotions and Oscar De La Hoya didn’t fall through, but that’s gone by the wayside. On top of that, the card that they’re putting on in July is supposedly going to have a fighter salary near $6 million dollars. Paying out so much money for the first show, one has to wonder if they will have the finances to even hold a second show, let alone a third show. This fight card is a card for hardcore fans, not casual fans and I don’t expect it to do a lot of PPV buys which should be another concern for Affliction. Three shows? Let’s see if they can put on one show before we start making predictions.
Maramba: FALSE. They haven’t even put on their first card, who’d guess they’d last three? They very well may, but Promoter’s Remorse runs rampant in MMA. Better men have experienced shrinkage and suffered from sticker shock at the hemorrhaging of money when trying to launch a new promotion, why should Affliction be any different? They talk the talk, let’s see them walk before we make any prognostications. The WFA had an outstanding concept to mix in with fights and top-notch fighters and barely lasted three years cumulatively; Bodog had gobs of cash and couldn’t make it work; the IFL got off to a blazing start with big-name coaches and a TV deal and are on the verge of death. My dueling opponent brings up a great example in HCF. By all accounts they received high marks on how to run a promotion and a show and they couldn’t survive the tide. Affliction has no track record, but the magic 8-Ball says they’ll suffer the same fate as the majority of the promoters who can’t quite find the magic formula the UFC stumbled upon.
My Five Cents: I can’t argue with either of you as you make solid points. My one point would be they have a different business model than literally EVERYONE else. Instead of starting slow and building they’re starting huge and promoting. Will it work? I agree, no. But atleast it’s different and they’re giving it a go, I can admire that.
6. The size and shape of the IFL ring is the last thing they should be worried about.
Morgan: TRUE. The IFL at this point is just changing gimmicks on a quarterly basis. They’ve gone from ridiculous “team” names like Anacondas and Razorclaws to “camp” names like Team Tompkins and Team Quest with fighters who don’t even fight for those camps. Now a six sided ring? This is going to change people’s perception of your product and somehow make the fights more important in the fans minds? Hardly. The IFL is grasping at straws here and the six sided ring should be the least of their concerns. Their number one concern should be whether or not they have the finances to last the rest of 2008. In the most recent conference call, Jay Larkin said that the IFL is actively looking for investors or someone to sell the company to. And somehow the six sided ring is going to solve all their problems and make their product look less like boxing? The problem I have with the IFL is not that it looks like boxing, but that it looks like the minor leagues. Why? Because it is the minor leagues.
Maramba: TRUE. My god, is it true. The league is dying, rotting from the inside out. Big names have jumped ship and the ones who stayed are no more recognizable now than they were a year ago, the financial wreck they’re in is well documented and their big announcement is a hokey ring, complete with a rendering that looks like a shoe-box panorama glued together by some paste-eating 7th grader? Please. Your problem isn’t a product that bears a passing resemblance to boxing, it’s a product that resembles FAIL. Not to pin it on the fighters, but every promotion has a seminal event or fight and the IFL has failed at several attempts to build one. Manufacturing one is almost impossible with the terrible production values that are evident top to bottom, from live shows to the fan-accessible highlight packages that do more harm than good. The actual product needs a huge boost and changing the litter box doesn’t change the fact it’s still a shitbox.
My Five Cents: I have to say you’re both right but I did slightly favor Morgan’s argument here. I enjoy follow up arguments.
Great job by both men. And I use “men” loosely. DO REMEMBER to vote for who you think won on the left side of the screen on the poll between two guys that would do nearly anything for your votes.