Welcome back to another edition of The DUEL. Sorry we’re a bit late this week, I apparently forgot to send a set of questions to one of the contestants. I’m a pro! You’d think after having done this for like three years I’d be used to it by now. Anyway, our contestants this week are 5oz all-stars in the form or Ram Maramba vs Sam Cupitt. Let’s get to it:
1. BJ Penn will stop Sean Sherk on his way to retaining the lightweight title.
Cupitt: TRUE. I was watching UFC 59 the other week and I found Sean Sherk vs. Nick Diaz to be a very interesting fight. Style-wise, Diaz is similar to Penn. He has good crisp hands and very good BJJ. However that is where I thought the similarities ended, as I thought a stiff breeze could knock over Diaz but Sherk continuously strained over three rounds to get a takedown and I think he managed only one the whole fight. It did cross my mind that maybe Diaz gets taken down so easily because he is extremely confident in his jiu jitsu and he just lets it happen but in this fight he didn’t want to be on his back. It still has to be said though that even if Diaz does have underrated takedown defense it isn’t close to the freakish ability Penn has to avoid them. My point being in all of that is that if Sherk’s wrestling is negated in this fight how is he going to survive let alone win? On the feet, Penn will pick Sherk apart and land much harder shots and Sherk is definitley not going to out jiu jitsu B.J.. I see Penn knocking Sherk down and choking him out in either round 2 or 3.
Maramba: TRUE. Reducing matchups down to their base, the tea leaves of size and conditioning are tried-and-true predictors of any bout in combat sports. The theory goes that if two opponents skill levels are fairly even, which they almost always are at this level, it comes down to who is the bigger or fitter fighter. Penn is physically larger than Sherk but Sherk is undeniably in better condition. That split makes predicting this fight difficult when at first glance it looks like a no-brainer. The tie-breaker is their respective skills, not the other way around. There’s a lot of talk weighing each fighter’s strength as they stand on their own, not the cumulative impact of their entire skillsets. The question then becomes are Sherk’s wrestling and conditioning level combined better than Penn’s striking and submission game? No. Penn’s weapons of choice are more versatile and less predictable, not to mention executed at a higher level. Penn is going to suck…Sherk’s blood. After a submission victory.
My Five Cents: My initial first thought was “Penn, sub, Rd3″ and then I saw every single other person across the internet say the exact same thing. That can’t be good. And Ram is Penn really “physically larger than Sherk?” I don’t have my tape measurer out but that doesn’t seem right. Though if I could measure them, yum. HELLO.
2. A Wanderlei Silva loss to Keith Jardine on Saturday would be his last fight in the UFC.
Cupitt: FALSE. The idea for this question came about because of Dana White’s recent comments about how Wanderlei needs to “win one”. Too much has been made of this comment in my opinion and people seem to have forgotten that ever since Wandy put pen to UFC contract paper Dana White has had, for lack of a better phrase, a raging hard-on over Silva and I doubt very much that a loss to the poster-boy party pooper, Keith Jardine will send the UFC president to Lake Flaccid. All things Bill Pullman aside, the only way I see Silva getting shown the door after this fight is either a) he borrows Kalib Starnes’ back-the-front bicycle for b) I am underestimating how much the UFC wants Jardine to be gone as a title threat. I think Jardine’s match-up with Liddell was as much about giving Liddell a win as it was sending Jardine to the back of the pack but things didn’t go Zuffa’s way and now they have created a monster out of the weird looking, uncharismatic dude. If Jardine beats Silva convincingly I doubt White will punish Silva for giving even more attention to the TUF 2 contestant but I guess weirder things have happened. In summary if Wanderlei loses I think he’ll be given the chance to drop weight and prove himself in middleweight.
Maramba: FALSE. I was going to pick true just to be contrary, but I can’t. Talk all you want about a 3-fight losing streak, but those first two losses may as well have happened on Mars. Other than the 1% of fight geeks who have watched that spinning backfist and ensuing referee hilarity, no one can relate to his to PRIDE losses. As far as his marketability is concerned, the UFC proletariat sees the Axe Murderer as an imported ass-kicking goon who lost an exciting fight to its most lauded hometown hero, Chuck Liddell. Not a bad scene at all. Unlike my unknown adversary, I don’t think the UFC brass is trying to scuttle Jardine. They can’t afford to pair up a high-dollar investment like Silva with Canny McWarmBody; Jardine is the most sensible upper echelon matchup with the LHW injury and scheduling picture the mess that it is. This fight will decide something, but both fighters have leeway up or down. Remember, Jardine was supposed to be getting a present in Houston Alexander on the way up the ladder just a couple fights ago; they have high hopes for both these guys. Come ask me if Silva loses two more fights and I’ll ask you when DREAM’s LHW Grand Prix is starting. That said, let’s hear it for my dueling partner on not just using “hard-on”, but applying the label of “raging” to it as well. And boom goes the dynamite!
My Five Cents: I greatly enjoyed and agreed with Cupitt’s arguments. Outside of an outdated, poor money making “Lake Placid” reference. I was going to make a joke about another poor movie reference but no one would get it because it’s a poor movie reference. Maramba responded strong with the same argument and was also correct. With all of the talk about going to middleweight there is no way he’s gone after this. Though I’m still curious of a contract negotiation for an 0-2 fighter.
3. Tito Ortiz will give Lyoto Machida his first professional loss this weekend.
Cupitt: TRUE. I’ve been going back and forth on this one ever since the match-up was announced. For a while there the image of a very dejected Tito Ortiz walking around the Octagon yelling in frustration (ala the end of his fight with Couture) was how I though this fight would end but the recent focus on how this will be the end of the White/Ortiz feud has changed my mind. The motivation and drive for success in this fight for Ortiz will be far greater than any other fight in his career. For the simple fact that a victory here means he gets to point in Dana’s face and say, “ner aha aha aha aha ha”. I hear you say, “but Machida is still the more talented fighter, so what if he has motivation, if he doesn’t have the skill how is he going to beat Machida?”, to which I counter that a motivated Ortiz is still one of the better fighters in the 205 lb. division. I personally think that Ortiz has only been motivated for one fight in the past 2 years and that was his rematch with Chuck Liddell. He was very competitive in that fight and he was facing a bad stylistic match-up and the best light-heavyweight in the world at that time. If you look back to Ortiz’s title reign, he made a habit of overpowering smaller opponents to the ground and then beating them up on the ground. That is all Ortiz has to do for three rounds against Machida and get the victory. Provided Ortiz gets hit timing right he should be able to power Machida to the ground and pound on him while at the same time powering his way out of submission attempts. On a side note, can I make a request to any blogger or MMA journalist out there who has a possible interview with Dana White coming up? Can you please ask him the question I think we all want to know; if Ortiz wins, will he be granted a post-fight interview?
Maramba: FALSE. It would make for a great ending to Ortiz’s UFC career, but Machida isn’t at the library for story time. He’s not here for the drama, he doesn’t care who pulled who’s hair first and he wasn’t around to see the days of their lives. He’s finally here, brimming with ancient sumo and karate secrets and all he needs is an ass to kick before he goes on his merry way. That said, I do believe that when the bell rings, Ortiz will be knives out. Not only does he have the motivation, he’ll be in better health than he has been for his last few fights and shades of the old Tito will be on display. He’s said from the outset he’ll be coming after Machida in this fight. Problem is, that’s exactly what Machida wants. He’s made a name for himself as an octagon cavalier, suckering in aggro fighters and using impeccable timing to catch an angle before landing a knee or sinking in a submission. Tito’s also said he plans on overpowering “The Dragon” but he handled Sokoudjou, who is every bit as strong as he looks; if you don’t believe that, there are shredded knees at Team Quest that will tell you otherwise. Against Tito however, Machida will be the bigger, stronger fighter. Don’t let that circa-1960’s, undefined Sean Connery build fool you; the dude is huge. He won’t win this handily, but he’s going to be the younger, stronger man that night and will come away with yet another solid victory.
My Five Cents: Great arguments by both and I’m hard pressed. I am taking Ortiz here via motivation and I wasn’t taking him before all of the chatter. Cupitt was just pure truth and then Maramba was also pure truth but used a word I hadn’t even seen before in his argument. I Google’d it and it had no results and an alternate word. That also had no definition so I changed it entirely. I don’t know what “cavaleira” is, but if it’s a word he should win on general principle and if it’s not he should lose.
—-CHANGE IT UP—-
4. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Frank Mir are good choices for the next season of TUF.
Maramba: TRUE. True, if by “false” you mean they’ll blast another hole in the slowly sinking rust bucket TUF has become. They won’t, so casting them as the coaches is as good a move as any. I personally like the selection; hopefully they’ll take full advantage of the technical acumen both these guys have and show more training footage. In turn, maybe the quality of fights will be on the uptick with two guys who not only have walked the walk, but are accustomed to getting their thoughts across, Nogueira in class and Mir during his broadcasting duties. I am also glad Spike and the UFC are going out on a limb a bit and using the show to introduce fans to its unknown champion in probably the most prestigious and recognizable divisions in combat sports. TUF is a great vehicle for garnering new fans; 48 minutes of schlock followed by a sloppy fight is a waste of what’s arguably the UFC’s most valuable marketing tool. It’s pretty clear at this point the problem isn’t the coaches, it’s the musty carpet, outdated beanbag chair and harvest green appliances that fans have grown tired of. Until the show gets a format redesign the coaches won’t make a differences to the opiated masses; the ratings have continued to trend downward despite the casting of Rampage Jackson and Forrest Griffin, two of the UFC’s most charismatic personalities. Minotauro and Mir won’t keep the ship from taking on water, but hopefully we’ll get a decent look at some top-notch Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instruction, which is always a geeky good time.
Cupitt: TRUE. Let me start by saying I object to the wording of this statement. The fact it only says “good choices” makes it very hard for me to disagree with it. If the statement said, “best choices” or “worst choices” then I would have something to disagree with but I’m stuck having to give a definite answer to a very airy fairy statement. But seeing as I can’t let Ram get one over me ever since he cried foul over my Rickson Gracie pick in the mock draft I will attempt to nitpick at this statement. Nogueira is a good choice of coach in that he will most likely be champ for a very long time and so the public might as well get introduced to him. I, however, object to Mir as a coach on TUF on the grounds that he earns a title shot for doing so. How anyone can beat Antoni Hardonk and Brock Lesnar to earn a title shot is beyond me. Although I object to Mir getting a title shot for being on the show, I still think he is a good selection as a coach. Mir probably earned himself a number of new fans with his win over Lesnar and he is also able to articulate his thoughts well. With all that being said I still don’t think these are the best coaches for the next season of TUF. I personally would take a big break between TUF 7 and TUF 8. The Ultimate Fighter doesn’t need running repairs it needs to spend a couple of months in the shop getting a much needed exciting tune-up. And if they did wait a couple of months before they started filming the next season they could replace Mir with the much more bubbly and deserving Brandon Vera who will be fresh off cleaning Werdum’s clock. Big Nog and Mir are good TUF coaches but not the best.
My Five Cents: Again, quality from both. Ram, the problem with TUF is the fighter resumes. Can they not get better fighters? It’s like watching FOX’s Hells Kitchen compared to BRAVO’s Top Chef. It seems like it’s more about TV than skill. How can UFC not get the best prospects for $10,000 stoppage bonuses? Is that not more than they’re making elsewhere, let alone getting on cable television and an opportunity in the UFC? Unbelievable. And Cupitt, also a strong argument. Except you mentioned your Rickson Gracie fantasy mock MMA draft pick, which means you deserve to be hit in the face with a sock full of batteries.
5. Josh Barnett has the best chance of all heavyweights to defeat Fedor Emelianenko.
Maramba: FALSE, but just barely. In a close decision, Barnett is best classified as “Not Truest” while Randy Couture takes home the “None More True” honors. All in all, I’ve always believed Barnett to be the more skilled finisher and arguably a more skilled fighter, but Couture’s gameplanning pedigree, somewhat belied by his mediocre record, has to be taken into consideration. Barnett has the tools to beat Fedor but a case can be made that he hasn’t always risen to the occasion, evidenced by his split with Big Nog and crippling inability to get over the Cro Cop hump. Couture on the other hand, is the rare fighter who’s ceiling and floor has changed almost every time he stepped into the ring or cage. No fighter is the same fighter in his 20th fight compared to his 1st, but Couture isn’t the same fighter from fight to fight. Using snapshots from just his most recent bouts, he showed a boxing game against Sylvia he had never shown before. Against Gonzaga, he showed a chin he definitely didn’t have when Chuck Liddell cleaned his clock twice. In both, he was able to impose his gameplan on stronger fighters through technique and flawless execution. There’s no gameplan on beating a guy who’s only loss is by a cut, so unless your left arm has been replaced by a chainsaw (which would be AWESOME) the odds are against you. Barnett wins based on a well-rounded toolkit highlighted by an amazing submission game; Couture has transformed himself into a fighter who can parse an opponent and adapt himself to take advantage of any weaknesses he can pinpoint. Although Fedor’s weaknesses are so far charted on the map under “Here Be Dragons”, if anyone can find that chink in the armor it’s Randy Couture.
Cupitt: FALSE. There we go, a black and white statement that I can agree/disagree with as opposed to that fancy gray crap I had to fart arse around. For a very long time I didn’t like Josh Barnett. Mainly, I think, because I had a very big man-crush on Randy Couture, and the idea of someone beating him while on steroids really pissed me off. Recently, I’ve grown to like him a bit but I still think he’d stand absolutely no chance against Fedor. Maramba said that only Couture is above Barnett in terms of a threat to “the Last Emperor” but I would also go as far as to put both Andrei Arlovski and Tim Sylvia ahead of Barnett. I’ll give credit to Ram for the Evil Dead reference but I think good takedown defense and better stand-up can prove itself just as effective as a chainsaw for an arm in helping you to defeat the Pride heavyweight champion. Both Sylvia and Arlovski have the tools to beat Fedor provided it is their day and like Maramba said Couture has the mind and the tools to do it. Barnett on the other hand I think would only have a chance if he got Fedor down and didn’t move for the duration of the fight because on his feet he is cooked and if he’s on the bottom it would be very painful for him. I’m not sure how long Barnett would last on top before he is reversed and then pounded on.
My Five Cents: I happen to agree with my own statement that Barnett is the biggest threat. I know it’s unpopular but I still refuse to see how decisioning Tim Sylvia and beating the zero heart of Gabe Gonzaga makes you a top two heavyweight. Plus Barnett previously hammered Couture. I know it was years ago but until the point is proven against I won’t dismiss that. How is Sylvia more of a threat than Barnett? Because he’s fighting Fedor next? I mean seriously. The Monson fight made an argument for Sylvia’s ground game and Nog ripped that away in 10 seconds. This is true dammit.
6. #6 is traditionally a throwaway question, Kimbo Slice would destroy Mike Tyson in their poorly rumored MMA bout.
Maramba: TRUE. Kimbo is a mixed martial artist, Tyson is not. In an MMA bout, the mixed martial artist would win. In a boxing match, Tyson would win. In basketball, Tom Brady would get schooled by your average NBA pine rider. Albert Pujols would suck at cricket. José Ramón Areitio (thank you, Wikipedia) would lodge a jai alai ball so deeply in my chest you’d need to bury my lifeless body with it. Why? Because I don’t play jai alai. Just because MMA and boxing have common elements doesn’t mean they’re interchangeable. Yes, they’re both scary black men who can throw a punch. That’s it. STOP putting them in the same hypothetical ring. Tyson was a highly-skilled amateur and professional who dominated the sport for years. He is also a convicted rapist, half-assed cannibal and all-around failure of a human being. Slice is neither. By all accounts he’s a decent guy — decent, porno-loving, scary beard-wearing guy — who puts in tons of work into his entire MMA game, not just one facet. Slice and Tyson play different games and are limited in the other. Any bout, MMA or boxing, would leave no surprises.
Cupitt: TRUE. I was thinking about actually thinking hard about this question and trying to give a detailed response but the whole idea of it is just too stupid. If Kimbo takes the fight to the ground in MMA he wins, if Tyson uses footwork or throws punches in boxing he will win. There is a question over whether or not Kimbo would want to take the fight to the ground with Tyson but I refuse to get into such an argument because the whole idea is inherently stupid. But I guess I thought the idea of Kimbo presenting an award at the Country Music Awards was inherently stupid but that still came to fruition. Also, I have to agree with Ram on the stupidity of Tyson/Kimbo comparisons. Apart from the reasons he mentioned there is no other similarity. Where are all the comparisons between me and Andrei Arlovski? We both have brown hair and a liking for Polish supermodels, why haven’t we been turned into a fantasy match-up? I could disagree with Ram’s answer for the sake of disagreeing with it but I refuse to turn this question into more of a debate than it already is. If we all just agree on a certain line of thinking for this topic maybe it will just go away. Kimbo > Tyson in MMA… now leave it alone.
My Five Cents: I have to disagree that Tyson would beat Kimbo in “boxing.” I think in a standup MMA game Kimbo would destroy him. I like boxing and watch it weekly but boxing and standup MMA are different. I hate the “he’d beat him in that and he’d beat him in that” ESPN argument that they’re equal. They’re not the same thing. An Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon isn’t the same athlete as the world’s best bowler just because they’d win in their own sport against one another. A boxer isn’t the world’s best fighter, he’s not a “great fighter.” It’s the world’s best boxer, a great boxer. They’re not fighters and the sports aren’t the same.
As always please vote in the poll on the left side of your screen between our competitors, Mr. Maramba and Mr. Cupitt. The winner gets bragging rights and it means alot to them.
Join us next week when we’ll discuss the UFC PPV results as well as any new breaking news from the week.