Welcome back to another edition of The Duel. This week we have 5 Oz. contributor and all around special man, Mr. Nick Travaglini. In the other corner we have 5 Oz. editor and contributor, Mr. Matt Cava.
I should also note that Matt Cava is traveling on business to New York City so I will be filling in for him on the second half. LET US DUEL:
1. Michael Bisping will finish Chris Leben on Saturday.
Cava: FALSE. Bisping is 16-1 with 11 (T)KO’s – he is a man that finishes fights. And finishes them in exciting fashion with big-time striking. However he’s facing hard-headed Chris Leben who: 1. doesn’t lose very often (18-4) and 2. doesn’t get knocked out often (only KO loss was that savage beating by Spider Silva). This fight will feature fireworks, with both dudes throwing furious leather, but I feel their chins will allow each to go the distance. When Bisping has faced above-average-UFC-level-strikers (Rashad Evans, Matt Hamill) he doesn’t fare very well (loss to Evans and a skin-of-your-teeth decision over Hamill). Leben is a more dangerous striker than both those guys, so I see Bisping circling, picking his spots, but not doing enough damage to knock Leben on his butt. I predict a Decision victory by Bisping, but not a true “finish”.
Travaglini: FALSE. I will go one step further than my cohort and predict Leben will win by 3rd round tko. Bisping is a talented fighter and very well rounded. But a quick glance at his 18 professional fights and the two best strikers he has faced were two converted wrestlers in Matt Hamill and Rashad Evans. He got picked apart on the feet and lost to Evans and he was picked apart on the feet and should have lost to Hamill. The fact that Leben will be the best striker he has faced is scary but also very telling. As impressive as Bisping has looked, he has been protected for most of his UFC career. This fight in his first dip in the deep end of the pool. Leben is no top ten middleweight, but he hits like one. One thing is for sure, no matter what the outcome Bisping will have his chin tested. I don’t think Bisping has the power nor the technical prowess to finish Leben, and if he lets him hang around long enough Leben will stop him.
My Five Cents: I will say your arguments are very telling but I don’t see it. The fact people are picking Leben to win this fight is strange to me.
2. As the fight looks closer to being finalized, Frank Shamrock will destroy Ken Shamrock.
Cava: TRUE. Sh*t man I hope so! Frank has every motivation in the world to smash Ken. He even has imaginary motivations that he will conjure up and make youtube videos about. In addition to his motivations, he has youth and superior skill on his side. What is Ken bringing to the table? He can’t even overwhelm his warm-up partner the morning of a huge payday, how the hell is he going to compete with a pissed off Frank Shamrock?! I sincerely wish Ken would stick to coaching and become a respectable coach/icon of MMA, like a Renzo Gracie or Pat Miletich. Sadly, my heart tells me we are NEVER going to see this fight. Likely another case of a lotta hype with no payoff.
Travaglini: TRUE. Certainties in life: The sky is blue, water is wet and Ken Shamrock will never win another professional fight. Sorry Ken, you’re an icon, be satisfied with that and ride on into the sunset. This fight has life insurance risk written all over it. Ken gets knocked over by a stiff breeze anymore and hasn’t submitted an opponent since 2001. Although Frank is no young buck himself, he is far superior at this stage of his career. I see a long hospital stay in Ken’s future before he gets the proverbial hint. Time to retire Ken.
My Five Cents: I will not argue with the hilarity on either side.
3. KJ Noons is scared to fight Nick Diaz.
Cava: FALSE. Scared is a strong term. Karl James Noons is both a boxer and an MMA fighter. One would think that fear isn’t part of his gameplan. Butterflies or nervousness maybe but straight up fear? I can’t believe fear is the reason he ducked Diaz. In my humble opinion, Noons declined to defend his championship belt against Nick Diaz on national television for a mixed bag of reasons: bad advice from his management, the bumbling way EliteXC handles its fighters, payscale differential between he and Diaz and quite possibly a lack of desire to be an elite MMA fighter. The sport of MMA is still very young, pure MMA fighters have fought for a couple hundred dollars per fight or less, just for the chance to step in the cage. Rarely, do you hear stories of a MMA fighter totally backing out of a big time fight for contract reasons. MMA fighters crave the opportunity to continue to blossom in the sport. Boxing is a different story. Contract disputes are commonplace. Grandstanding is a part of the management landscape in the “sweet science”. In MMA, only the biggest names in the business (Tito and Randy) have made a stink about contracts. The sport is simply too young for up-n-coming fighters to find reasons not to fight. My read on this situation is that Noons grew up in boxing, his people have boxing backgrounds, and his commitment to MMA is not as strong as a guy like Nick Diaz.
Travaglini: TRUE. I need to clarify this answer. I don’t believe he is physically scared of Nick Diaz. You don’t become a professional MMA fighter and professional boxer and have a fear of any fighter. But I do believe he is scared of what Diaz can do to him and that is expose him. Noons is a talented fighter, I cannot deny him that. But it wasn’t that long ago that Noons was an up and coming prospect who was knocked out by Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett. He still has huge holes in his game and is no where near a complete fighter. Whether Noons wants to admit it to anyone, even himself, Nick Diaz is a complete MMA fighter and represents what Noons strives to be. If they fought 10 times, I believe Diaz would win at least eight of those. It’s a reality that Noons is all too aware of and will not risk the exposure of that reality without worth-while compensation. And who could blame him?
My Five Cents: I believe he is. It can be called a “contract dispute” all day but in the end he doesn’t want to fight Nick Diaz and that will look a certain way.
—-SWITCH IT UP—-
4. Brandon Vera will get back on track with a win over Keith Jardine.
Travaglini: TRUE. Only because maybe is not available. This is only true if Vera finishes Jardine in an exciting and decisive fashion. I think Vera has allowed a lot of doubt to creep into most fans’ heads with his two losses at heavyweight and uninspired decision win over Reese Andy. I feel like Brandon Vera hasn’t been the same fighter since his protracted hold out with the UFC about a year and a half ago. The dynamic, exciting fighter who finished opponents has not made a return appearance and if he doesn’t soon, the always fickle MMA fanbase will start to write off Vera. As much as we like to think otherwise, it is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately sport, and if Vera doesn’t stop Jardine before the 15 minutes are up it will take a toll on both his fans and his upcoming contract renegotiation with the UFC. They pay him a lot of money, but he earned that money on his previous fights. They will use any excuse to save themselves a few bucks if he isn’t performing. Not only does he need a win, but he needs an exciting finish.
Huckaby: TRUE. I can’t argue with Nick here, Jardine’s poison is anyone who can punch him in the face and Vera can certainly do that. I am in no way a fan of Vera but he should be superior to Jardine in this fight and knock him out. Also agreed on the fact Vera hasn’t “been back” yet…. people hate it when we agree and think we should make out but you’re absolutely right.
5. Give me a percentage that you believe Fedor will defeat Andrei Arlovski in January.
Travaglini: 100%. I will take these softball questions all day long. These make me look smart and that is hard to do. Fedor hasn’t fought a striker of this caliber since Mirko Filipovic and we all know how that turned out. This fight can be summed up with one word, pressure. Arlovski doesn’t respond well to pressure and Fedor may be the best in the weight class at applying pressure. Arlovski was pressured by Tim Sylvia and he was knocked out and bullied around the octagon in both losses. Fedor is the most explosive 230lb pudgy man I have ever seen and that combined with his power and ring experience I see no reason not to believe that Fedor won’t rush Arlovski and stomp a mudhole in him. The best Arlovski can hope for is his athleticism and foot work keep him away from danger, but backing away from Fedor is not a way to win the fight. You need to step in the pocket and trade with Fedor, and hope you catch him before he catches you if want to have any hope of beating him. Fujita did it and Mark Hunt did it, and although they hurt him neither could finish him. Fedor is the best heavyweight on the planet until proven otherwise.
Huckaby: 94%. You can’t go 100% in any fight, even if it seems obvious and stupid. While I think Fedor’s striking is sadly underrated and Arlovski isn’t really that good, you can’t really go 100% on anything. It’s the same problem the people at PtI seem to have on ESPN. Fedor will be fairly aggressive, assuming the fight happens, and push the action and beat on Arlovski. It’s fairly sad that Fedor will probably lose in my lifetime and not be considered the greatest fighter in the history of planet Earth. Quit while you’re ahead and be awesome.
6. I asked this last week but it’s rather slow and I enjoyed the outcome…. the third time will be the charm as Rampage Jackson will defeat Wanderlei Silva.
Travaglini: FALSE. As an unabashed fan boy of Wanderlei Silva, I do not approve of you even mentioning the idea of him losing to Rampage. That being said, I would be lying if I said Rampage didn’t have an excellent chance of finally pulling out the win against my favorite fighter. The memory of the three losses before he maimed Keith Jardine in 36 seconds is still fresh in my mind. Combine those with the fact that a properly motivated Rampage Jackson is still one of the best fighters in the world can place doubt in even the most diehard fans. The fact is Wanderlei performed manual rhinoplasty on Rampage the first two times, and if Wanderlei comes in healthy there is every possibility he could do it again. Style matchups are style matchups and unless Rampage changes his entire MMA game in the next 10 weeks, he is still the underdog in this fight. Wanderlei Silva will win a third time. The question is will the crowd throw their hats in the octagon to celebrate the hat trick?
Huckaby: TRUE. I would like to start by saying my spellcheck does no recognize “rhinoplasty” so while it is a word I will dismiss it. I believe Rampage has gotten nothing but better since joining the UFC and Wanderlei Silva has never found a real home there. Fight formats, rules and cage/rings mean more than people give them credit for. Rampage is more at home using his wrestling and striking in a cage than in a ring. Wandy, like Shogun, is at a loss without the tools he used to have. I love Wandy as well but Shogun has the advantage here.
That has been our Duel. Join us next week when two (or apparently three) more writers will fist fight for superiority.