Will Saturday night mark Fedor Emelianenko‘s last hurrah in Mixed Martial Arts? How do you see Marloes Coenen‘s title-defense going against Miesha Tate? Should Tyron Woodley be considered an “uncrowned” champ if he beats Paul Daley at “Strikeforce – Fedor vs. Henderson”? What “Summer Series” finalist impressed you the most at Bellator 47?
Keyboard warrrrriors….come out to plaaaay-yay!
Welcome to Grappling with Issues, our site’s regular weekly feature highlighting insight and opinion from myself and resident workhorse Jeremy Lambert whose “Walk Out” and “After Party” event-breakdowns can be regularly found on Five Ounces. As always, just because we staffers get the fancy set-up, please don’t hesitate to offer your own take on the topics in the “Comments” section below.
More-impressive performance at Bellator 47 – Pat Curran or Marlon Sandro?
Lambert: Both fighters were impressive but I’m going to go with Sandro. While I believe that Nazareno Malegarie did better on the feet than the announcers gave him credit for, Sandro’s speed and takedown defense was so good that I have to give him the nod. Curran just kind of did enough to win every round with his aggressiveness and Ronnie Mann‘s lack of bully mentality. Sandro’s striking was so quick and crisp that on top of stuffing every takedown he made Malegarie pay for shooting in. I thought Malegarie gave Sandro a tougher fight, and because Sandro was able to win every round in very convincing fashion, I was more impressed with his performance.
Conlan: I should have included Malegarie in the bunch because I was extremely impressed by his ability to hang with Sandro while standing. However, in the context of the remaining tournament players I’m picking Curran based on my belief that Mann was a tougher draw than Malegarie. Had Sandro outstruck someone more-rounded his feat would have been particularly impressive, but as good as he looked I couldn’t help but remember his Argentine adversary makes most of his money as the result of BJJ. Like Malegarie, Mann is also solid on the mat, but on the flipside his striking is far more polished. As such, I was impressed by Curran’s ability to handle him in every phase of the fight rather than take advantage of a weakness to net the same end result (Unanimous Decision), hence his selection in this topic.
Of the numerous 135/145-pound match-ups announced over the past seven days, what pairing in particular are you most excited about?
Lambert: I usually like going with more under the radar fights but I have to admit that I’m pumped for Urijah Faber vs. Brian Bowles. I’m a big fan of Faber, because the guy is never in a boring fight, and Bowles is no joke at 135. Granted, Bowles’ last performance was less than impressive but Takeya Mizugaki is a tough opponent and Bowles decided to fight smart instead of exciting, which is tough to hold against the guy. Despite his last fight, there’s no way that he can have a boring fight with Faber. Plus the fight is going to determine the next challenger to the title so it’s an important fight for the division.
Conlan: Bowles vs. Faber should be good, but I’m actually a little disappointed in the matchmaking since it may fast-track “The California Kid” back to yet another title-shot (potentially his fifth after only going 5-4 in the nine fights prior). I would have much preferred to see him finally get in the cage with Miguel Torres, then having to win at least one more time to get a crack at the championship.
Out of the options the one I’m especially stoked about is Tyson Griffin vs. Bart Palaszewski at UFC 137. Putting them in the Octagon together should not only result in a terrific tussle but is a taste of what fans can expect to see in the future as far as guys slimming down to compete at their ideal weights. Griffin’s success at lightweight is well-documented and he’s coming off a win in his debut at 145-pounds over former contender Manny Gamburyan. Comparably, “Bartimus” has also always been a rock-solid 155er, possessing wins over guys like Ivan Menjivar and Anthony Pettis, so his drop to featherweight in itself is interesting and should immediately make him a player in the still-growing division. They’re evenly matched on the ground, open to exchanging strikes, and tough as a two-dollar steak to finish as indicated by past performances. Truly, what’s not to love about the match-up?
Should the winner of Paul Daley vs. Tyron Woodley be considered Strikeforce’s uncrowned welterweight champion?
Lambert: Not at all. Daley just got beat by the linear champion, Nick Diaz, and Woodley hasn’t exactly lit my world on fire in two or his last three fights. I don’t think you can just overlook Bobby Voelker, who looked very impressive in stopping Roger Bowling this past Friday, and Jason High, who has a good record and some solid wins under his belt. I’d also throw Tarec Saffiedine‘s name in there, as he gave Woodley all he could handle and arguably beat him.
The logical thing to do would be to have the winner of Saffiedine/Smith to fight High and the winner of Daley/Woodley to fight Voelker and then the winners of those fights meet to crown a new champion.
Conlan: Agreed. You are a champ when you win a title. No strap is on the line this weekend, so therefore Daley and Woodley are ineligible to be considered a champion on any level regardless of who comes out with the win. I suppose you could argue there aren’t any other 170-pounders with the arsenal to beat either man, but at the end of the day a fight is a fight and there are absolutely individuals on the Strikeforce roster capable of coming away with a win against either welterweight contender.
I like Lambert’s idea, though I don’t think Voelker is necessarily the answer because it’s difficult to know exactly how good he is since three of his last four fights came against Bowling. However, I’m open to High and Saffiedine/Smith being involved on top of Daley/Woodley. Put a UFC cast-off in the fourth spot, or even K.J. Noons, and you’ve got a four-man tournament with a field fitting of determining a divisional king based on ability, accomplishments, and name-value.
Will Saturday night be the last time we see Fedor Emelianenko compete in MMA?
Conlan: No, just in Strikeforce (unless of course Showtime is contractually obligated to keep giving him work if he wins in which case the answer is in the potential for litigation).
Emelianenko is undoubtedly a great fighter but no man in today’s MMA market is worth a flat rate of $1.5 million without PPV to support the cost. Even then it’s a stretch with only a small number of UFC athletes entering that range depending on how well the event sells. He no longer has an aura of invincibility and in fact came off as a little sad in his outing against Antonio Silva. The beatdown he endured brought out an emotion in me I never thought I’d experience – I actually felt a little bad for Fedor. It seems as though isolation in Russia, or perhaps simply in M-1’s inner-circle, has left him doughier than usual and with his peers seemingly passing him by.
If Emelianenko loses to Henderson, even in devastating knockout fashion as I might argue is a possibility based on it feeling right given the Russian’s two losses (submission/TKO), I think he’ll at least fight one more time in Japan on New Year’s Eve. The payday is there, as is the possibility of an easily beatable opponent.
If he wins and Showtime is forced to keep him on board then Zuffa should bite the bullet and have a Strikeforce PPV on October 22 (UFC Live 6 is 10/1, UFC 136 is 10/8, M-1 Challenge is 10/16, and UFC 137 is 10/29). Make the main event Emelianenko vs. Alistair Overeem since the Dutchman has already said he wants to fight in October plus it is a pairing people have wanted to see for quite some time. Throw in Gilbert Melendez vs. Jorge Masvidal for the lightweight championship and a crossover from a notable 170er like Jon Fitch to tie-in the following weekend’s main event between Diaz/GSP, maybe round things out with Daley vs. Noons or Gegard Mousasi vs. Henderson, then call it a wrap and see how your buy-rate turns out. If Fedor wins he’s back, if he loses he’s out, and no matter what there’s additional income to make his salary less cringe-worthy.
Lambert: If he loses, I think he’s done in MMA. After his loss to “Bigfoot” he really seemed down and many questioned just how much he had left. Obviously fighters say a lot of things in the heat of moment so I don’t really hold those comments against Fedor but lets not forget who we’re talking about here. He’s not a guy who needs the money and he’s not a guy who needs to, or even wants to, prove just how good he is. I think Fedor fights because he likes to compete and it’s just something he’s done for the majority of his life, not because he actually likes to fight. A guy like Chuck Liddell had a hard time retiring because he was someone who loved to fight and that’s the same problem Wanderlei Silva is going to run into. Fighting and competing are two different things. Fedor can still compete in sambo tournaments, jiu-jitsu tournaments if he wants, he can even do exhibition fights if he wants. Fighting is, well, fighting.
Obviously if Fedor wins then I’m sure he’ll fight again unless he told his M-1 handlers that he really doesn’t want to fight anymore after the Silva fight and this fight against Hendo is his swan song. I like Bren’s idea of a PPV fight with Overeem because Zuffa really needs to justify the money Fedor is getting and they can’t justify that on Showtime. Plus, as good as a win over Henderson would be for his career, you still don’t know how much Fedor has left as a competitive heavyweight. So they might as well make the most of it.
How many rounds will the Women’s title-fight between Marloes Coenen and Miesha Tate go?
Conlan: I don’t see it going the full five, that’s for sure. Coenen and Tate are both tough individuals but also have the ability to finish things. I don’t think Tate will be able to pound out the champ since we’ve already seen what Coenen can endure when being pounded on from above, nor do I see her submitting the slick Golden Glory representative. However, I definitely see Tate attempting to do both and getting caught in either an Armbar or Triangle Choke. Coenen is tremendous off her back and should get the finish given the way the two match-up stylistically. As far as a round, if forced to pick, I’ll go early third since I think “Takedown” will pace herself in the beginning in hopes of scoring points in the stand-up department.
Lambert: I can’t be angry at Bren for picking the third round, I’m just upset that I have to agree with him. I expected him to be the Brenda Song to my Debby Ryan and yet he’s proving to be more Ashley Tisdale.
I’ll have the complete breakdown of the fight in this week’s long awaited return of “The Walk Out” but Bren made plenty of good points. The point he didn’t make though is that Tate makes way too many striking mistakes, which is going to lead to Coenen tagging her up on the feet, eventually causing Tate making more mistakes on the ground and going into desperation mode. The 135-pound champ only needs to fully capitalize on one of those mistakes in order to secure the victory and I figure that capitalization will come sometime in the third.
With Alistair Overeem out, do you have more/less/or about the same interest in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix?
Conlan: Slightly more I suppose. I wasn’t particularly jazzed for Silva vs. Overeem, but I like the addition of Daniel Cormier because it gives the promotion potential to build a star rather than muddle one in a match-up everyone hoped would feature Emelianenko rather than “Bigfoot”. Cormier looked great against Monson who has been an extremely tough draw since parting ways with the UFC and has an undefeated record to play with as well. If he beats Silva it will do a lot of good for his profile, while if he loses it won’t necessarily hurt his reputation as much as it would in the case of Overeem.
Lambert: Less, much less. No knock against Cormier, who I think is an extremely talented fighter and someone who has the skills to actually win this tournament, but this whole tournament was built around the winner being either the best or second best heavyweight in the world. With Overeem out, that sort of goes out the window. If Silva and Josh Barnett happen to meet in the finals, then maybe the winner will be considered a top five heavyweight but Overeem was the guy with the mystique left in the grand prix and now he’s gone.
I really feel bad for Silva in this situation because he had a chance to knock off the top two fighters in the tournament in back to back fights and now he’s in a fight against a very legit opponent with little name value outside of the hardcore fans. I just think that with the current Strikeforce heavyweight champion out, there’s always going to be that asterisk next to the winners name, unless they eventually fight Overeem.
PHOTO CREDIT – STRIKEFORCE/UFC