And we’re back! After a two week hiatus we have with us 5 Oz. contributors Dustin James and Bryan Levick. They will battle it out…. okay, not so much battle as we were short on time and I gave them six questions each without responses. Still, pretend it’s a battle. With knives. This new work schedule has me whacked out of my mind….
1. The Anderson Silva/Thales Leites fight won’t even be close.
Levick: FALSE. While I don’t truly believe Silva will ever be in any serious danger I also don’t believe Leites will be a pushover. I expect him to try and pressure Silva and not wait around for Silva to get loose and comfortable. Leites has decent striking but he is not in Silva’s league but he needs to try and get Silva’s timing down so that he can attempt a takedown. The only shot that Leites has in on the ground and even there he doesn’t have an advantage. Silva’s jiu-jitsu is not under rated it is just overlooked because his striking is so masterful that he rarely has a need to use his ground skills. While I expect Silva to eventually catch Leites and put him down I also expect Leites to be well prepared and show that he has nothing to lose. I also see Silva looking to put on a better performance than the one he did against Cote but I still see Leites showing that he got earned this title shot and that he belongs in there with the best.
James: TRUE. I have a feeling that Leites is in for a long evening on Saturday night. We all know that Silva will have the advantage standing so Thales may look to keep it on the ground. Leites is fantastic at submissions, but is he better than Silva? I highly doubt it. For some reason I see Thales coming out and wanting to stand with Silva and getting rocked early. It will be the same old song and dance that it’s been for the last 2-3 years in the UFC’s middleweight division…Anderson Silva domination.
2. Nick Diaz has earned his way into a top ten ranking…. in some weight class.
Levick: FALSE: I came away thoroughly impressed with not only Diaz’ performance but his attitude as well in the Shamrock fight. He showed a lot of class at the end and he also showed that he belongs in big money matches and that he can hang with just about anyone. The only reason I said false was simply because he needs to establish where he is going to fight first. Is he going to fight as a lightweight where he would need to drop down to 155lbs as opposed to the 160lb lightweight division that EliteXC designed specifically for him. Will he fight as a welterweight as he did during his run with the UFC where he fought Sean Sherk, Diego Sanchez, Robbie Lawler, Joe Riggs, Josh Neer, Drew Fickett and Karo Parisyan to name a few fighters. I was surprised to see that he was actually bigger than Shamrock where they fought at a weight of 179lbs. That got me to thinking that he could fight as a middleweight and hold his own. His body has really filled out over these past few years and when I remember that he is only 25 years old I am reminded that he can fluctuate and add mass if he so chooses being that he is so young. Once he decides on what weight he wants to fight at and concentrates on one division then I think we will see him move up the rankings until then we just have to sit back and see what he does next.
James: TRUE. He is currently sitting somewhere on the bottom of my personal welterweight rankings. The welterweight division is really stacked right now with guys like Karo Parisyan, Jay Hieron, Marcus Davis & Brock Larson all looking to crack the top 10. I personally give an edge to Diaz over all the guys I just named due to the fact that the guy is 8-1-1 in his last 10 fights. His lone loss was a controversial one to KJ Noons, which the official called due to a cut so I’m not holding that one against Diaz too much. Also, you can’t forget that Diaz submitted former #1 lightweight Takanori Gomi with an awesome gogoplata at PRIDE 33. The fight was later ruled a “No Contest” due to Diaz testing positive for marijuana, which is a bummer deal for him considering it was one of the biggest wins of his career. Come to think of it, if you wanted to rank Diaz in your top 10 lightweight list…I wouldn’t shoot you for it.
3. Cris Santos and Gina Carano will actually happen this summer.
Levick: TRUE. It has to happen, it has been talked about for so damn long that there is just no other way to go for either fighter at this point. Also with both fighters having issues with making weight they are each other’s only option. Most of the women fighting are at a weight between 135-145lbs and these two have no business fighting at that weight. 150lbs is the ideal weight for both women as it eliminates any problems for each at making weight and if either one of them has “women issues” at the time of the weigh-ins they have afforded themselves enough room to cover up in case that becomes a problem. The public is clamoring to see Gina back in action and the only fighter they want to see her fight is Cyborg. The only way I see this being pushed back further is if an injury occurs or Gina says she needs a warm-up fight which could be seen as a legitimate excuse because she hasn’t fought since last October. With the way Scott Coker has been talking regarding getting Gina signed, sealed and delivered I have to believe he is building a card around these two somewhere around August.
James: TRUE. I’m giving Strikeforce some credit here. I honestly think these guys know this fight is one that MMA fans are clamoring for. EliteXC kept trying to build this fight up but the company imploded before they ever got a chance to showcase it. You knew someone out there was going to pick this fight up and low and behold here comes Strikeforce to the rescue. The guys at Strikeforce have proven thus far that they know how to run a successful MMA promotion. Once they have Carano and Santos signed, ready and all healthy, this fight will happen either on PPV or Showtime. At the Strikeforce on Showtime event the company continued to build on the heat for this fight by cutting to Carano sitting at ringside during the Santos fight. The crowd was digging on Gina and you know the Strikeforce officials smelled the money in the air. I personally watched the show with a few non-hardcore MMA fans and even they wanted to see this fight. It may be the biggest fight that Strikeforce could put on right now and one would think it will sometime this summer. The bigger question is, will either fighter make weight?
SWITCH IT UP
4. Chuck Liddell will not only defeat Shogun Rua but be “impressive” in doing so.
James: TRUE. After losing three out of his last four fights, one would think that Liddell knows he has to come out with an impressive win over Rua to maintain a spot in the top of the UFC’s light heavyweight division. I have gone back and forth on this fight since it was announced. If Rua can come out looking like the Shogun of old, I would favor him without a problem. However, with what I’ve seen of Shogun in the UFC thus far, I have not been impressed in any way shape or form. I can see Liddell coming out, keeping the fight standing of course, and letting Shogun wear himself out and then perhaps going for a killer shot that puts Rua down. I think too many people are putting Liddell off as “old” and “past his prime” now. I just don’t see it. His losses in the UFC are not bad ones at all. It’s not like the man’s fighting guys like Jeremy Horn and Vernon White anymore. He’s actually fighting the cream of the crop of the UFC’s light heavyweight division. This upcoming fight with Shogun will really give us a feel on where Liddell stands in the MMA world right now. Is the “Iceman” actually past his prime or did he just run into a few bumps in the road known as “Rampage” Jackson and Keith Jardine? On Saturday, we will get our answer!
Levick: TRUE. I don’t know if my answer is more hopeful or if it is actually something that I think will really happen. Although I have never been a huge fan of Liddell it was never because I didn’t like him it was because I liked other fighters. I respect Liddell just as much as any other fighter that is out there. He has done more for this sport than 99% of the other fighters and has never backed down from a challenge. I think Shogun is tailor made for his style as he will be aggressive and allow Chuck to use his counter striking abilities but I also see Liddell mixing it up a bit as he did in the fight against Wanderlei Silva. I really respect Chuck for realizing that an old dog can learn new tricks and going down to Florida to train with ATT. He realized there were some chinks in his armor and that he needed to be able to throw people off their guard a little bit. By attempting a few takedowns and becoming less unpredictable he gives Shogun that much more to worry about and force him to do what he does best and that is get aggressive and fall right into Liddell’s trap. I also believe that if Shogun gasses as he has in his first two UFC fights Chuck will smell the blood and go in for the kill. Liddell still trains as hard as anyone and maybe he just got into a bad groove and this may be the fight that starts his one last run in the UFC.
5. You would classify the first Strikeforce on Showtime event a solid success.
James: TRUE. Before I get started, I must note that I was out of town on Saturday night and had to watch this show on DVR on Sunday. With that said, I skipped most of the show and went straight to the fights. From what I saw of the presentation, it was fantastic. The fights were great as well with Scott Smith and Benji Radach putting on a possible “FOTY” candidate and Diaz and Shamrock battling in a fantastic main event. Not to mention the show was viewed by more than 364,000 viewers and was the third largest MMA audience in Showtime history. As of this writing the gate and attendance figures have yet to be released, but from what I’m seen thus far, Strikeforce has a good thing going right now and us as MMA fans need it. After the debacle that was EliteXC and Kimbo Slice last year, MMA needs to attract more mainstream fans who want to see Smith and Radach engage in a war rather than a YouTube fighter with no MMA skills. Strikeforce has the best chance to become a top competitor to the UFC and their first special on Showtime was a huge step toward achieving that goal.
Levick: TRUE. Over 15,000 fans a live gate totaling over $750k that to me spells success. I came away very happy with the way the card came off. The fights were exciting, the crowd was electric and the fighters fought their hearts out. The only issue I have is with the announcers. I have never liked Ranallo he is over dramatic and I can’t stand his catch phrases. I respect Gus Johnson’s overall abilities but he needs to do some MMA homework and not make outrageous statements like calling Scott Smith and Benji Radach elite middleweights. Pat Miletich is very smart, informed and when he speaks you listen because the man knows his mixed martial arts but he was a little bland for me and I would have liked to see him a bit more excited. Other than the announcing the production values were very good, there was some stars in attendance and it is always nice to show them as it adds a sense of legitimacy to the card. Almost like this is the place where everyone needs to be. I believe this was a great first stepping stone and as Showtime and Strikeforce get more acquainted with each other it will lead to even more success.
6. Miguel Torres would find success in the UFC Lightweight division.
James: FALSE. This is a great question and a tough one to answer. After much deliberating though, I have come to the conclusion that Torres would be better off staying in the WEC as either a featherweight or a bantamweight. I personally can’t see Torres having much success against naturally bigger guys like Gray Maynard, Sean Sherk, Joe Stevenson, and Diego Sanchez. He may be able to secure a few victories in the UFC’s lightweight division, but when it comes to the cream of the crop…I’m just not giving the guy much of a chance. Torres should be satisfied with being one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world, no matter what promotion he is fighting for. Perhaps he should be thinking about a possible “dream” fight with either Urijah Faber or “Kid” Yamamoto at featherweight before he starts thinking about moving up to the UFC’s lightweight division.
Levick: TRUE. I think that Torres can do whatever he sets his mind to and if he goes about this the right way he can be a legitimate contender as a lightweight on the UFC roster. With that being said he has to slowly build himself up through two other phases of his career first. He first move would be to fight at 145lbs in the WEC. He doesn’t need to jump into the shark tank right away though. Let him build himself up as a contender as a featherweight before he gets a crack at Faber or Brown. There are plenty of fighters at 145lbs that will give him a strong enough test and tell him whether or not he has what it takes to keep moving up in weight. Pulver, Garcia and Grispi are a few names that come to mind that would test Torres enough in the beginning. If he is able to get by any of these guys then he moves on to the champ whether it be Brown or Faber. He needs to fight a few times at 145lbs first to get his body acclimated to the extra weight. Once he has found success at 145lbs he can begin to experiment with adding more weight, maybe he can find a few guys who fight at 155lbs in the WEC who may be willing to meet him in the middle. I am sure there are plenty of guys how would relish the opportunity to be the guy who stops Torres dead in his tracks. Fighting at 150lbs at first is necessary because now he is fighting 15lbs over his optimum fighting weight. Maybe he takes on Marcus Hicks or razor Rob once he is done with Celebrity Rehab and over his sex addiction. If he is able to adjust to 150lbs then he needs to fight a few fights at 155lbs in the WEC before he moves onto the UFC. Donald Cerrone or Jamie Varner would offer him enough of a test to show Torres whether or not he needs to think about taking this any further. I have no doubt in his ability and he is tall enough to carry the weight but he has to do it wisely.
And that will do it for this weeks Duel. As always feel free to comment and call our contributors names. They love that.