And welcome back to another edition of The Duel. We’re moving earlier in the week with the article as most of you have probably already been drinking by Friday afternoon. Bums. I’d also like to announce a big shift in The Duel history…. if you go to Google and type “fiveou” what do you know “fiveouncesofpain The Duel” comes up as a choice. It’s a big day. You enjoy your “promotion” and “engagement” while I enjoy my slice of small, sad success.
Anyway, joining me this week is friend of the Duel (FotD) nokaut.com‘s own Randy Harrison. Battling him will be the always dangerous Me. Let us Duel:
1. Frank Mir will again beat Brock Lesnar when they fight to unify the titles.
Harrison: FALSE. I doubted Lesnar when he fought Heath Herring. I doubted him again when he fought Randy Couture even though I eventually picked him to win. I’m not going to doubt him again despite the former loss to Mir. Mir looked better in the fight against Nogueira than he has even before the motorcycle accident, but he hasn’t grown by leaps and bounds since the first fight, which Lesnar almost won. When you add to Lesnar’s near-victory the fact that he now has wins over Herring and Couture in dominating fashion and that he’s still getting better and better with every fight, it could be a very difficult fight for Mir to be able to win the second time around. I will give Mir all the credit in the world for stopping Nogueira, but I just think that Lesnar is going to be too strong for him and too well-prepared to defend submissions. It won’t look like the Donkey Kong-style beating that Lesnar gave Mir the first time around, but Lesnar will take Mir down and pound him out, either to a finish or a decision win.
Huckaby: TRUE. Allow me to give you some full disclosure first. I pride myself on predicting fights, as I’m rather good at it, and these were my predictions for Lesnar’s first three UFC fights. Lesnar > Mir. Herring > Lesnar. Couture > Lesnar. As you can see I’m slightly off on those picks but I will not hide them. I have no idea what Brock Lesnar is doing and frankly with each fight of his I feel I know less about the sport. First I feel he can bang out the motorcycle accident victim who doesn’t keep in shape. Then I figure he’ll lose to the savvy vet eventually. Then the old man will overcome the odds and get the underdog win. I know nothing. With that said you have my poor pick that Frank Mir will again pick Lesnar off because he doesn’t want to be another guy that loses to him due to his arrogance.
2. Rashad Evans will hold the LHW Title through the 2009 calendar year.
Harrison: FALSE. I say false again because of how turbulent the light-heavyweight division has been for the UFC this year. The light-heavyweight division is the deepest division in the UFC outside of the welterweight division and if some of the top fighters can put together strings of quality performances there will be no shortage of challengers for Evans to have to deal with. We’ve already seen four champions in the past eighteen months and the belt has been dropped by the champion in nearly every defense since UFC 71. Now I’m not one that follows along with trends in MMA as we’ve seen that they can change on a moments notice, but in this case I think that the trend is very likely to continue, especially if Rampage gets the first title shot against Evans as has been rumored. Rampage can do everything that Evans does only better, and if the two were to meet in 2009 I’d expect Rampage to come out on top and regain his championship.
Huckaby: FALSE. Damn, I wanted to say true but Harrison’s amazing arguing skills have changed my mind. This statement basically is saying Rashad Evans will go 2-0 in 2009, considering he fought on the last show of 2008 and won’t go again until late spring or summer. What is killing me is the simple fact he did handily take out Liddell and Griffin. Though I can explain this away by saying their chins have been suspect in previous bouts while future matches with the likes of Lyoto Machida and Rampage would not give Evans the same luxury. So there you go, I agree. I wish Rashad the best but it’s simply the challengers currently in front of him that make it difficult for him to go 2-0 in 2009.
3. Dana White is correct when saying the beatings Nogueira and Wanderlei took in Japan have shortened their careers.
Harrison: TRUE. I don’t think that it’s the only reason that both men have fallen on hard times in their careers, but I do firmly believe that it has played a big factor in their recent struggles. PRIDE was famous for scheduling fighters on short notice and making their fighters compete numerous times in a year, no matter how violent the loss in their previous fight was. That’s not even counting when fighters like Silva and Nogueira would have to fight twice a night in Grand Prix final shows. When you also consider that these two were fighting dangerous men like Fedor, Cro Cop and Dan Henderson amongst others, Nogueira and Silva have both likely seen their careers mortgaged slightly by their time in Japan.
Huckaby: FALSE. Maybe to a small point but Dana is only explaining away losses and his signings. He won’t explain away any future Fedor loss by blaming it on Japan. He’s a hype man, much like Flavor Flav, but without the stench and with the lack of moral integrity. Nogueira has lost one match and that is even with White’s excuse that Nog was overcoming a Staph infection. He said it, not me. Shogun lost to a world champ in Forrest. Nog, along with Rampage, would have to be the poster boy of how PRIDE guys have done well in the UFC. Oh, you mean Gono and Chonan aren’t world champs? I’m shocked. Let’s throw Ed Herman in DREAM and see how he does. Dana is just explaining away as he always does and fanboys will defend him and haters will discredit his nonsense. Nog getting pounded in the face did not destroy his career. He lost one fight…. should he lose to Dan Evensen in his next fight I will listen.
—-SWITCH IT UP—-
4. Satoshi Ishii would be making the right move in beginning his career in the UFC.
Huckaby: FALSE. Your first MMA fight is not to be trifled with. Anyone that saw Ishii speak knows he’s not exactly the cockiest man you’ll ever meet. In Japan he could beat down a few guys, let us say a Nishijima, before going to the big dogs. In the UFC, Brock Lesnar (now a champion) gets thrown to Frank Mir. Even in Japan, guys get thrown to big boys. They would have taken care of Ishii in Japan and I guarantee you, should he sign, they’ll take care of Ishii in the states. Ishii is the UFC’s new leveraging tool to Japan. They’ll feed him opponents they think he can beat but will he beat them all? I doubt it. This is what happens when you let Seth Petruzelli fight Kimbo. This ain’t WWE.
Harrison: FALSE. Ishii is a judo gold medalist and we’ve seen from fighters like Karo Parisyan how well judo can transfer over into MMA, but we’ve also seen the flipside where fighters like Hidehiko Yoshida can flounder. If Ishii begins his career in Japan, it’s likely that he’d be able to fight a couple of cans to get himself adjusted to the differences between MMA and judo before making any huge leaps in competition. If he jumps right into the fire of fighting in the UFC in his first fight, he could be making a huge mistake as there are no easy wins to be had inside the Octagon. If he starts out in the UFC and drops his first fight or even his first two fights, it could be incredibly damaging to his career as he would be a flop in the United States and way less marketable in his home country. If he’s smart he’ll find a home in a place like Sengoku, rack up a couple of wins against some lower-level fighters and then consider making a jump to the big time.
5. Shinya Aoki’s jiu-jitsu is better than BJ Penn’s.
Huckaby: TRUE. Oh, I’m sure I’m catching crap for this. Let me state first and foremost that I would easily pick BJ Penn in an MMA fight over Shinya Aoki. Let that be clear and get through the heads of everyone. Aoki is much more aggressive with his jiu-jitsu and Penn seems to do it more for control and use his agility to stop the takedowns of great UFC wrestlers. Again, I’d take BJ Penn for the win but if you’re asking me who has the better BJJ I have to go with Aoki.
Harrison: TRUE. This one was an incredibly difficult question to answer, but I have to go with Aoki just because most of his jiu-jitsu is offensive and results in submissions, while most of BJ’s jiu-jitsu in recent years has been defensive to allow him to gain the advantage on the mat through a sweep or to get the fight back to it’s feet. I’m sure that if he wanted to, BJ would be able to tie 99% of the UFC roster in knots with his jiu-jitsu and rack up submission after submission in impressive and innovative fashion, but he instead uses it to help control fights and get them to where he wants them to be. I also went with Aoki because he’s a lot more reliant on the jiu-jitsu than Penn is. Penn has striking and has shown it on numerous occasions that it is as dangerous or maybe even more dangerous than his jiu-jitsu. Aoki has shown that if he’s unable to gain the advantage by getting the fight to the mat to use his submission skills, he’s a little out of his depth. If they were to fight in an MMA bout, I’d pick Penn to win 100 times out of 100, but in a jiu-jitsu match I’d give Aoki an incredibly slight edge.
6. Takanori Gomi will never again be a top three lightweight.
Huckaby: TRUE. I would ask Breen for his expertise but he isn’t available to me right now so I’ll go out on my sad little own. People in their prime (Gomi is 30) don’t lose two fights like this back-to-back. You’d be really hard pressed to find an example of a normal human being that did so and then came back with force. I won’t pretend to know Gomi’s problem but I do know he’s not BJ Penn and he’s no JZ Cavalcante and he’d be destroyed by both. The sick part is he’d probably match up well with Aoki as he did with Ishida. The sport is all matchups and at this stage in the sport, Gomi doesn’t match well with many of the top lightweights and I don’t see that changing.
Harrison: TRUE. I could be proven wrong by Gomi, and I’d like to think that he will prove me wrong as he’s one of my favorites, but I just can’t see it happening for two reasons. Firstly, Gomi has lost two fights in a row against fighters that he likely would have beaten handily two or three years ago. When you start losing fights that you’re essentially hand-picked to win, no matter how controversial the loss, you’re showing signs of decline. Secondly, even if he is able to put together an impressive winning streak again, fighting in Sengoku means that he will never take on the best fighters in his weight class. BJ Penn, Sean Sherk and the like are all locked up by the UFC, while Eddie Alvarez, Shinya Aoki, Gesias Cavalcante and others are tied to DREAM. Gomi will be left with the scraps, facing guys that are former IFL rejects or guys that are second-tier fighters in Japan. That’s not how you earn a top-three ranking. As much as I could be ripped to pieces over saying it, the legend of Gomi was killed when Nick Diaz choked him out in Las Vegas. Since that loss, he’s never looked the same and I fear may never look the same again.
I’d again like to thank Randy Harrison for joining me. Join us next week, again at our new earlier time, when two other MMA writers will discuss breaking news and the upcoming UFC 93 show of Rich Franklin vs. Dan Henderson.