Who should Jose Aldo face if Mark Hominick loses to George Roop? What do you think about Kimbo Slice ditching his gloves for a pair of professional wrestling boots? Is Jay Hieron a lock to win Bellator‘s Season 4 Welterweight Tournament? Does Melvin Guillard pose more of a threat to Evan Dunham‘s success in the ring than would have been the case against originally scheduled opponent Kenny Florian?
Keyboard warrrrriors….come out to plaaaay-yay!
Welcome to Grappling with Issues, our site’s regular weekly feature highlight insight and opinion from myself and Adam Tool. As always, just because we staffers get the fancy set-up, please don’t feel precluded from dishing out your own thoughts on each matter in the comments section at the bottom of the column.
Do you like/dislike Strikeforce matching Lyle Beerbohm up against Pat Healy at a Challengers event in February?
u>Tool: I’m mostly in favor of this match-up, as Healy represents the type of tough veteran fighter that could give Beerbohm some trouble. I don’t think this is the fight where “Fancy Pants” picks up his first loss but a strong submission fighter like Healy is always going to be dangerous. There’s a part of me that wishes Beerbohm was already moving on to bigger named opponents and away from the Challengers series, especially since Strikeforce‘s lightweight division is extremely barren at the moment. In any case I think Beerbohm scores another stoppage victory here on the way to bigger things in 2011.
Conlan: I think it was an extremely poor decision on the part of Strikeforce to pair Beerbohm with Healy. They are risking a 15-0 lightweight’s record on a small show against not only an extremely difficult draw but one who is only 25-17 in his career. Meanwhile, “Fancy Pants” is 3-0 in the promotion with two wins over notable opposition in the form of Duane Ludwig and Vitor Ribeiro. In my eyes he’s easily earned the opportunity to face one of Strikeforce’s top 155-pounders like Josh Thomson, J.Z. Cavalcante, or K.J. Noons. It’s not as if he doesn’t have a promotable backstory to use in terms of having overcome drug addiction to open his career up with fifteen straight wins. He also earned thirteen of those victories with a finishing performance so he can’t even be faulted for a lack of entertainment value in the ring. The only positive I see in the entire situation, besides of course the fact the show will be twenty minutes from my residence, is Beerbohm being used as a headliner indicating he’s in store for bigger and better things if he can get by “Bam Bam” (with the same rub ringing true for tough-as-nails Healy too if he wins).
Now that all eight participants have been revealed, who do you see winning the Bellator Season 4 Welterweight Tournament?
Tool: It’s hard not to consider Hieron the favorite, especially given the lack of big-name fighters in the rest of the field. Heiron’s seven-fight win streak includes some decent names, and given the fact that most people had him pegged for a UFC run it should be no surprise that he’s the favorite here. The dark horse candidate has to be season two’s welterweight runner-up Dan Hornbuckle, but if I was a betting man I’d throw everything I had on Hieron winning the tournament and securing a shot at Bellator Welterweight Champion Ben Askren.
Conlan: I think Hieron is probably the favorite as well, as he’s beaten some legitimate foes and is currently on a nice run in his career as mentioned by Adam. However, I don’t think ring-rust can be discounted when considering the Long Islander will have been out of action for a little more than a year when he debuts in March for Bellator. He will go from having fought three times in two years to three times in three months, and I can’t help but wonder how that process will affect Hieron’s performance in the tournament.
As for my pick, I’m going with Olympic Judoka Rick Hawn. He is 9-0 thus far since transitioning into MMA with seven of his wins resulting from rendering his opponents defenseless via strikes. His grappling is clearly world-class and he’s shown powerful, precise striking even though he’s only been fighting for two years. If he can avoid being taken down and controlled, which I honestly think is only a risk in terms of an eventual showdown with Askren, I think Hawn has a good shot at putting his stamp on the sport with three straight wins en route to a title-shot.
With Josh Grispi out of the picture, what should the UFC do regarding an opponent for featherweight champ Jose Aldo if George Roop is able to defeat Mark Hominick this weekend at Fight Night 23?
Tool: I know I’m not alone in hoping that Hominick is able to secure the next shot at Aldo. While I don’t see him winning the belt if he does get the shot, at the very least Hominick’s measured striking approach should provide an interesting opponent for the new UFC Featherweight Champion. He showed some excellent movement and a disciplined offensive attack in his bout with Leonard Garcia so he’s certainly one of the most enticing possible opponents for Aldo.
If Roop scores the upset then that leaves the UFC scrambling once again. They want to get a featherweight title fight on their big UFC 129 card, but they’ll be hard-pressed to find a worthy fighter that is ready to go then. The most logical choice would be the winner of the upcoming Chad Mendes/Michihiro Omigawa fight at UFC 126, but even if the winner of that fight comes out without a scratch it’s still not a perfect solution. Mendes wasn’t exactly a fan favorite when he was in the WEC and if he pulls out another grinding victory in his UFC debut he’s not likely to have too many people clamoring for him to face Aldo. Omigawa would be a great contender if the UFC was planning to hold the next featherweight title fight in Japan, but obviously he doesn’t have anywhere near the same amount of name value here in the States. Of course, all of the former WEC featherweights are lacking name value amongst UFC fans so I guess that’s not as big of an issue as it seems.
Conlan: I actually love the idea of Omigawa/Mendes potentially filling in if need be. Though I’d like to say 16-1 Diego Nunes, who beat Mike Brown at UFC 125, is an option he and Aldo both train at Nova Uniao so I don’t think that’s a realistic scenario. The only other person I can think of who might make sense is Dustin Poirier since he dominated former contender Grispi on New Year’s Day and has a solid record to back up to emergency booking (9-1 with eight finishes and his only loss involving the judges’ scorecards).
BUY/SELL – Stylistically speaking, Melvin Guillard is a more dangerous opponent for Evan Dunham than Kenny Florian would have been.
Conlan: SELL. Florian has the ability to finish opponents from any position whereas “The Young Assassin” is primarily a striker who relies more on power than precision. If/when Dunham takes Guillard down he’ll have far less to worry about from the bottom than would be the case with Florian, known for not only his BJJ background but an ability to open up opponents with his historically sharp elbows. Guillard is more explosive than “KenFlo” but he lacks the polished technique necessary for beating someone of Dunham’s caliber outside of landing a single knockout punch.
Tool: Just to stir the pot a bit I’ll go with BUY. Don’t get me wrong, Florian is a better fighter than Guillard any day of the week. Similarly I feel confident in picking Dunham to win tomorrow night. It’s that last line of Brendhan’s answer that I want to focus on though.
Guillard has made a career out of putting guys on Queer Street. He’s toned down on his aggressive style since joining up with Greg Jackson’s camp, but at the age of 27 it isn’t as though “The Young Assassin” has already lost his power. Dunham’s shown a tendency to engage in flat-out brawls with guys before and while I think his reach will keep him out of danger, all it takes is one punch to completely turn a fight around. Florian certainly has the skills to put Dunham in danger if the two should ever end up meeting, but it’s Guillard’s one-punch power that I believe is the greatest cause of concern for Dunham and his fans.
Other than the main event, which fight on Saturday’s card are you most excited for?
Conlan: It may not result in the prettiest bout of the evening but I’m definitely looking forward to Pat Barry and Joey Beltran throwing down in the Octagon. Both heavyweights love to exchange on their feet and owe fifteen of their seventeen combined wins to having rendered an opponent defenseless with strikes. It’s not often you get to see two stand-up savvy individuals from the “big boy” division go at it with a knockout nearly guaranteed for fans’ entertainment, and as such I’m pumped about the pairing.
Also, beyond their styles or physical attributes, Beltran and Barry are very likeable from a personality standpoint, and though their charisma may not necessarily make me want to see either of them get beat up I can definitely appreciate the added intensity it brings to the table.
Tool: No question for me, I’m all kinds of excited about the featherweight showdown between Hominick and Roop. Roop took a strange path back to the UFC but he’s done alright for himself since cutting back down to 145 pounds. Hominick has looked much better as of late, having not lost a fight in two years. He even managed to do something that seems to be impossible: winning a decision against “Bad Boy” Garcia. The title implications of this fight only make it that more important and it’ll be interesting to see if Hominick can not only win, but if he can also pull off the kind of impressive performance that might make people give him some sort of a chance against Aldo.
What’s your take on the news that Kimbo Slice will be participating in a professional wrestling match in Japan?
Conlan: Akin to my take on the latest Justin Bieber album which is overall indifference. Slice is by all accounts a nice guy and I wish him the best of luck but I stopped caring about professional wrestling, or his impact on Mixed Martial Arts, awhile ago. If anything, I suppose I’m surprised he’s not opting for a WWE paycheck and a one-and-done bout at Wrestlemania. The involvement of celebrities, especially with a fighting or “tough guy” background, isn’t uncommon and Slice definitely has the personality, as well as mainstream following, to do well on the stage the promotion would provide.
Tool: It’s funny because even though he’s a terrible fighter Slice is still in the record books as the most-watched MMA fighter of all time. I doubt there are many people reading this right now who wish Slice would have stuck around in mixed-martial arts, but if there are any Kimbo fans then by all means speak up in the comment box.
This move to the world of pro wrestling makes a fair amount of sense, but it’s his decision to perform in Japan that makes way more sense. They love a good freakshow fighter over there, so if Kimbo decided to move back into MMA he’d probably have a much easier time of it on the other side of the planet. Japanese promoters will have no problem putting Kimbo in there with a vastly outmatched opponent, and even if he does lose it’s not like they care much about a fighter’s record over there. With Bob Sapp reportedly moving towards retirement there’s a void in the “muscular black dudes who can move between combat sports” department. I think Kimbo is the man to fill that void and I wish him the best of luck with whatever he decides to do.