Welcome back to another edition of The Duel. This week we have 5 Oz. contributor Mr. Caleb Newby going one-on-one with 5 Oz. contributor Bren Conlan. “But there is no star this week!” True, faithful reader, but they’re okay and you should give them a chance. And by “chance,” I mean boo them.
Off we Duel:
1. Rashad Evans should be a Vegas favorite to defeat Quinton Jackson.
Newby: FALSE. I was going to write my answers all in haiku, but Huckaby said it wouldn’t be entertaining. Now he’s threatening to write a column that way himself. Anyway, I’d suspect the line would be close with the general public split fairly evenly but I can’t help but think that Rampage will be the slightly more popular pick, and hence the favorite. But that’s a technicality to your question the more interesting question is who is really more likely to win? I may be crazy, but I’m not entirely sold on Rashad as a world beater quite yet. Rashad was a slow starter against Forrest, losing the first two rounds before catching the not quite iron chinned TUF 1 winner who isn’t known as a fast starter himself. Rampage easily has the most sound boxing in the division and of the opponents Rashad has faced. Rampage has great power. Rampage can take a punch. And perhaps most easily forgotten, Rampage has very good wrestling defense, just ask Dan Henderson. I’m by no means calling this a cakewalk as Rashad’s speed and more importantly, camp, will make things extremely interesting. Still, as of right now, I’m taking Rampage to regain the title.
Conlan: FALSE. Similar to what my fellow dueler stated, I think Jackson’s skill-set neutralizes the two areas in which Rashad Evans has shown himself to be most dangerous – wrestling and boxing. I can’t envision Evans taking “Rampage” down with any sort of consistency and he would likely eat a few nasty knees in the process if he attempts to do so. In terms of stand-up, while Evans has an advantage where speed is concerned, there’s no doubt in my mind that Jackson has the edge when it comes to power. I also think experience should play a role when determining the odds in a potential Evans vs. Jackson fight. “Rampage” has shown an ability to go five rounds. Evans has not. “Rampage” has successfully defended a UFC Championship before. Evans has not. Jackson has also proven he has a granite chin, while I can’t recall any situations where “Sugar” ‘Shad has taken a clean shot to the jaw and kept pressing forward. I’m not saying Evans can’t take a punch. I’m only saying he hasn’t shown that he can. When you take into account the afore-mentioned factors, as well as the notion Vegas usually incorporates a fighter’s popularity into the mix when determining odds, I don’t see any way “Rampage” wouldn’t enter a bout against Evans as the favorite (though I think the line would be very close and not worth betting on in terms of potential for profit).
My Five Cents: “To be the man you have to beat the man.” Does this mean nothing you former wrestling nerds? With a gun to my head maybe Rampage wins but how can you count out Evans after all he has done in the last couple of years?
2. Though if Jackson won’t be ready in time so you’d give the edge to Machida over Evans.
Newby: TRUE. Oh yeah. Seriously, that statistic on Machida’s elusiveness, courtesy of Fight Metric, speaks volumes. Opponents land less strikes on Machida than any other fighter in the UFC and opponents have a success rate of below 20% on takedown attempts on him. And now we have Machida KOing people and not just riding decisions. Again, Rashad’s best shot is Greg Jackson’s gameplanning. Gameplanning and tactics have taken a front seat lately to the point that I’ll consider Kenny Florian a live dog now due to his work with Dellegrate and Penn’s apparent lack of in depth game planning. Still, like with Penn, it’s not enough to make me go against Machida.
Conlan: TRUE. As we now know, Jackson won’t be ready by UFC 98 and Machida will be stepping into his place as the top contender to Rashad Evans’ strap. I’m favoring Machida to win the title because I’ve yet to see any holes in his game. Seriously, has the Ryu clone ever even lost a round?!? Evans, on the other hand, would have likely fallen in defeat to Tito Ortiz had “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” not lost a point for grabbing the cage in their bout, while Machida destroyed Ortiz for 95% of their fight en route to a unanimous decision and nearly finished him on more than one occasion. Lyoto’s striking is more diverse than Rashad’s and I’d argue he has better jiujitsu as well. He is methodical in the ring, intelligent in his attack, and a dangerous grappler to boot. In some ways Machida actually reminds me a bit of Fedor Emelianenko (though he’s obviously not as accomplished as the stoic Russian). Evans is good, but he isn’t on Machida’s level in terms of his overall abilities, and in fact I’d probably take him to beat any light heavyweight at this point in his career until he does something inside the cage to make me feel differently.
My Five Cents: I really can’t argue with Bren, especially considering his Dueling opponent might be mentally retarded. MMAth never works, unless you need it to prove a point you’re trying to make. Right Bren?
3. The UFC cast lesser American fighters than available to make the next Ultimate Fighter more competitive.
Newby: The fighters get worse,
Man juice swallowed and Junie.
I am done with TUF..
Conlan: FALSE. It won’t be easy to counter an argument using the term “man juice” but I’ll try and do my best anyways. After looking over the group of fighters competing on Season Nine I don’t see any significant difference in talent/experience between the US and UK rosters. If anything, the UFC/Spike are forced to cast lesser fighters in general due to the number of alternatives that currently exist as opposed to when the groundbreaking reality show first fired up and introduced millions of fans to MMA. I don’t think the UFC/Spike actually care about how competitive the Ultimate Fighter is (see: Mac Danzig) as long as it brings in ratings and builds up a few individuals who are suitable card-fillers when the show wraps.
My Five Cents: Where to start…. first of all, Newby fails miserably at trying to be funny. And by miserably I mean like a homeless person eating dog crap for nutrition. Actually that’s not even true because I’d feel for that person and give him money. Conlan is just wrong, they have to dumb down the US fight team to make this season semi-interesting, they’re trying to branch out into the UK. If they took the best TUF fighters from the US they’d destroyed the UK team, not based on “our country is awesome OMG” but we have more people and a longer tradition of MMA fighting. They have to dumb down the team to make it interesting. Wake up you two, it was just a terribly unfunny haiku and a wrong answer.
—-SWITCH IT UP—-
4. It would be a terrible, terrible mistake for Matt Hughes to fight Anderson Silva.
Conlan: TRUE. From the standpoints that Hughes already appears to be on the downside of his career, can’t seem to beat a contender at welterweight, would be the second shortest 185-pounder on the UFC’s roster (Palhares is #1), and would undoubtedly find himself curled up in a fetal position on the Octagon’s flooring were he to compete against Anderson Silva…yeah, I’d have to say everyone’s favorite farmboy would be wise to avoid a run at the middleweight division. The former UFC Welterweight Champion is still overly reliant on his wrestling background to get the job done in the eight-sided cage, while “The Spider” has a diverse arsenal at his disposal and has not only beaten better grapplers than Hughes (Dan Henderson) but also superior strikers (Nate Marquardt). Of course, I would personally love to see Matt Hughes humbled at the hands, elbows, knees, and feet of the likable Brazilian. In that regard, I’m somewhat tempted to change my answer to “FALSE”. I mean really…how can a thought as beautiful as Hughes getting the “Rich Franklin” treatment ever be considered “terrible” or a “mistake”?
Newby: FALSE. Of course he’d lose, but this question didn’t ask if Hughes could win. What else does he have to do at welterweight? Assuming he beats Serra, there is about zero reason to build him up for an attempted GSP challenge again. Sure we figure he’d lose to a top contender, but what if he wins? There’s pretty much no upside to having him knock off a welterweight contender. Hughes needs super fights and grudge matches at this stage of his career. Silva is a super fight. Fans know him and he’d be the most “name” opponent Silva has defended his title against since Rich Franklin. Hughes would get a good payday out of it too. It wouldn’t be a mistake for him or for the UFC. It’s just a theoretical waste of a title defense. As for that fight itself, at least Hughes has the same thing going for him that Maia does…
My Five Cents: And Conlan destroys Newby. I’m fine with the fact we’d all love to see Hughes’ face get destroyed but Conlan had much better reasoning. I’d let Matt Hughes decide this debate but the 8 strippers he took home to cheat on his wife with are split 4-4.
5. Demian Maia currently poses the biggest threat to Silva’s title.
Conlan: FALSE. Maia may have jiujitsu slicker than Dana White’s dome after being dipped in a vat of Vaseline, but he remains a one-dimensional fighter who has yet to face upper-tier competition in his career. Until the mullet-rocking Brazilian submits an opponent like Nate Marquardt, Yushin Okami, or Dan Henderson I cannot view him as much more of a threat to Anderson Silva’s throne atop the UFC’s middleweight division than Thales Leites (who “The Spider” will be competing against next month).
Newby: TRUE. Of fighters on the UFC roster competing in the middleweight division, yes. Sure he’s one dimensional. Good. Much like Hughes, Maia would have no delusions to stand and trade with Silva. Henderson figured he could beat Silva standing and in the clinch. So did Franklin. They were comfortable and confident in their striking ability and we know how that turned out. If someone is going to beat Silva, other than catching him on an off night or bored, the most likely place to do that is on the ground and Maia can win there. Can he get it there? Doubtful. But at least he doesn’t want to test his Muay Thai.
My Five Cents: Easy win for Newby. First of all it’s true, second of all he laid out the reasons. Conlan should be as ashamed of himself as Newby was after his freakish blackout last Saturday. Poor goat.
6. Bigger UFC heavyweight prospect: Shane Carwin or Cain Velasquez.
Conlan: Velasquez. Carwin’s performance against Gabriel Gonzaga legitimized him as a force to be reckoned with on the heavyweight scene, but the fact remains he’s 34 years old and splits time between training MMA and his job as an engineer. His power is impressive, as was his resiliency after being put in some difficult positions by Gonzaga, but it’s likely his age and lack of dedication to Mixed Martial Arts will catch up with him at some point. On the other hand, Velasquez is still in his mid-20s and trains full time with one of the premier camps in the sport (American Kickboxing Academy). He has already shown a tremendous amount of potential in his five professional appearances and won’t be entering the prime years of his career for another half-decade. While I can see Carwin earning a title-shot before Velasquez and possibly even winning the UFC heavyweight strap in the process, I see Cain as a fighter who might not only one day be champion but possibly be considered one of the best big-boys to ever step foot inside the cage once he eventually hangs up his gloves.
Newby: Velasquez. Huckaby, may I say that I am enjoying this new wrinkle of occasionally adding in a non true/false question. Kudos. Prospect has to go in Cain’s favor for the reasons Conlan said, age and camp. Prospect is long term. I’d say Carwin is higher on the pecking order at this moment and the most likely to win the heavyweight strap as of today. Still, Velasquez is also quite impressive, has the camp and time on his side. His shelf life is longer.
My Five Cents: Butt-kissing will get you nowhere, Caleb. Velasquez is still an unknown commodity, awesomeness (totally a word) or not. Carwin has proven himself against a top 10 world heavyweight. I don’t care if he’s older, he’s done more. I’m the king of the Velasquez fan club but that fact remains the same. This of course has nothing to do with the fact I picked Carwin a year ago in our MMA Mock Draft while Adam Morgan picked Velasquez over me.
Judge for yourselves. Join us next week when two more MMA writers will battle it out in the greatest man-on-man battle since Hulk Hogan and King Kong Bundy at Wrestlemania II.