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Grappling with Issues – 10/26/11

Is B.J. Penn vs. Nick Diaz more likely to feature a finish or scorecards? Did Kenny Florian make the right decision? Should Bellator champion Ben Askren be considered a “Top 10″ fighter assuming he beats Jay Hieron this weekend? Do you think Bobby Lashley will defeat Tim Hague or vice versa?

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 general contributions and “Scorecard” 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.

True or False – Bobby Lashley will lose to Tim Hague.

Lambert: FALSE. Even though Lashley isn’t all that great and still doesn’t seem 100% committed to MMA, he’s still a power wrestler and Hague doesn’t have great takedown defense. Plus I’m still very sour on Hague after his most recent UFC performance against Matt Mitrione, where he looked like he would have rather been anywhere else in the world than inside the cage. Hague has some solid submissions, mainly chokes and Lashley doesn’t have much of a neck, and some power in his hands but it’s going to be tough knocking out a guy when you’re on your back.

Conlan: TRUE, and I’m almost willing to go one step further and say it will force Lashley into retirement. He’s fought a single time since losing to Chad Griggs in August 2010, a bout he almost lost to an undersized opponent with no hype, and hasn’t shown any significant improvement since turning to MMA after a fairly successful run in professional wrestling. At the end of the day Lashley is still a slow-moving, power-based wrestler with five minutes of cardio at best. He’s coming off a layoff where he pulled out of a fight for personal reasons and fighting a UFC veteran who has beaten a few well-known fighters like Travis Wiuff and Pat Barry. With eleven finishes in thirteen total victories, Hague can pull the trigger on a finish at any time, something Lashley hasn’t truly shown an ability to do, and he has also gone the distance against some apt adversaries showing he is at least conditioned enough to be competitive for three full rounds.

Nothing in that scenario gives me reason to believe Lashley will win, and to be quite honest I’m a little shocked Jeremy feels confident in his ability to pull out a victory based on wrestling. That ship has sailed, my friend.

Did Kenny Florian make the right decision in terms of returning to compete at 155 pounds?

Lambert: Absolutely. I thought it was kind of stupid for him to drop to 145 in the first place considering that he was having solid success at 155, losing only to Penn and Gray Maynard in recent years. I think it’s safe to say that Florian isn’t going to be a champion in his career, but at least at lightweight there are headlining fights for him. No offense to the competition at 145, but because it’s a relatively new division, at least in the UFC, guys don’t have that “name value” and there’s less money to be made.

Conlan: I completely agree, though I had no problem with testing himself at featherweight since he was able to safely hit the necessary mark (just not comfortably, hence his return to 155). Florian is an intelligent guy who understood his window of opportunity was closing and took a gamble in hopes of calling himself a UFC champion. No shame in that as far as I’m concerned.

Closer to a title-shot with a win at UFC 137 – Tyson Griffin or Hatsu Hioki?

Lambert: Hioki. I know you have to take into account what Griffin did at 155, but even with that, Hioki is still the more accomplished fighter since he’s actually been winning his most recent fights. I also think UFC sees Hioki’s opponent, George Roop, and being higher on the food chain than Griffin’s opponent, Bart Paleszewski, which goes a long way in deciding the next contender. Honestly though, with Chad Mendes all but guaranteed a title shot in early 2012, it wouldn’t shock me if Hioki and Griffin, pending they both win, fight each other for the right to challenge for the title.

Conlan: Also Hioki. Though Griffin is far better known to UFC fans than his Japanese counterpart in this topic, he’ll only be 2-0 at featherweight and had a trio of consecutive losses before dropping down to the division. Three of Hioki’s four losses were Split Decisions while the other was of the Unanimous variety and came eight years ago.

Also, +1 to Lambert for reading my mind as far as Hioki vs. Griffin with the winner taking on either Mendes or Aldo depending on how their bout plays out.

Which UFC 137 bout will earn Fight of the Night honors?

Conlan: The headliner between Penn/Diaz. The UFC has started leaning more towards awarding main card competitors with bonuses rather than preliminary fighters and even if that weren’t the case the welterweights’ war should be fantastic as is. Both men come to scrap every single time they step foot in a ring, not just as professional Mixed Martial Artists but guys who wouldn’t be afraid to throw down on the street without the fame or fortune.

Lambert: There are plenty of candidates who could take home Fight of the Night honors but I’m going with Donald Cerrone vs. Dennis Siver. Both guys always bring it, especially Cerrone, who is never in a boring fight. As long as Siver shows up and this fight makes it out of the first round, I can’t see it not being an exciting fight. Both guys are aggressive and should have a great striking battle on the feet and should it hit the ground, we know that Cerrone will keep busy there as well.

How long will B.J. Penn vs. Nick Diaz last?

Conlan: The distance. Both are historically difficult to finish and, with their skill sets cancelling out to an extent, I see a highly-entertaining, three-round throwdown taking place with both putting the other in bad positions on the ground and getting marked up while standing. If one was a dominant wrestler or had even a clay jaw I might feel different, but I see them as being similar in a lot of ways with one of those characteristics being the ability to take punishment and keep on trucking.

Lambert: I actually think Penn will finish Diaz in the first round. Yes Diaz is tough to finish, but he’s also a pretty flawed fighter and hasn’t fought a guy with the killer instinct of Penn. Because he throws so many punches, stands rather flat, and doesn’t move his head, Diaz is always open for counter punches and Penn is one of the best counter punches in the sport. Penn has very heavy hands and even though Diaz has a great chin/ability to recover, Penn won’t let him off the hook if he drops him like previous opponents. Plus, if he wants to, Penn can put Diaz on his back and work his second to none top game.

Where would you rank Ben Askren in the welterweight division should he defeat Jay Hieron?

Conlan: Somewhere in the 8-10 range. Hieron is no slouch, a veteran with great boxing and solid wrestling, but to be real he shouldn’t even be in the final after being wrongfully gifted a Split Decision win over Rick Hawn in last season’s tournament. Askren has beaten a number of apt adversaries, as would also be the case if he defeats Hieron, but he hasn’t faced any “Top 10” foes yet so it’s hard to know exactly know where he stacks up with the UFC’s hierarchy of 170 pounders.

Lambert: His lack of competition level hurts him but if he’s able to dominate Hieron like he’s dominated pretty much every opponent thus far with his wrestling, I’d definitely put him in the top 10. I hate rankings, which makes me wonder why I asked this question, but I think he matches up well against any welterweight in the world, including GSP. Unfortunately we won’t know how good he truly is until he faces UFC competition, which hopefully happens sometime next year.


  • hindsightufuk says:

    Kenny has no need to retire, he is doing just fine and will still beat most of the 155 top ten. its not like he takes a lot of damage. until he gets ko’d flat or stops being competitve he’ll be grand.
    Ben Askern should be considered among the top 10 but like Lombard, Mpumu, Konrad etc will remain argumentative until he fights consistent top level challengers.

    Should 5oz get rid of all the pro wrestling shit plastered all over this website and maybe ask for the readers (many of whom have been here longer than the writers) insight on what they do/dont want on 5oz (ie, no viruses, continuous videso etc)?

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  • Rece Rock says:

    Viacom just bought a majority stake in Bellator…. Trying to figure out if that’s a good thing or bad… still not on spike tv ’til 2013.

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  • True….hagues losses are usually by TKO to decent strikers and Bobby isnt.

    Eh I dont care…Kenny’s one of those longtime UFC guys who will never hold a title but will always be in decent fights. I could care less what weight class he’s in because in the end it doesnt matter.

    Hioki….Tyson has shown that he can be outgrappled and KO’d…and Jose is likely to do either to him, however before we start crowning uncrowned champs lets see how HIoki does…let’s not forget Cro Cop was supposed to get his shot at Randy and big gabe took him out…Shields was supposed to smash Kampmann and he instead made for a boring decision and an unconvincing win…..before we start thinkin Hioki will do great in the UFC lets see him at least beat Roop.

    Just to add something new, Kongo vs. Meathead….Both have great striking and Im sure meathead has prepared for Chieck to take him down to avoid getting Ko’d…..both guys are comin to win and both seem to genuinely enjoy throwing down.

    Eh Askren is great but you cant be on the top without fighting the top….maybe 10-8 but he needs to come to the UFC otherwise he’s just not getting the top challenges to call himself a top welterweight.
    Diaz tko second round….does that sound crazy? Yes, but Penn has only looked great against Matt Hughes in the last two years and he lost that Fitch fight, the judges and ref just didnt stop it because of Penns legendary toughness. 150+ unanswered strikes in a round means a fight should end and Diaz will put more strikes on Penn than anyone not named GSP.
    But then again Im biased bein raised in the 209.

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  • Oh and Hindsight….its not about what we as readers want in ads its about payin the bills….as far as the viruses go, im not even sure what everyone is talkin about but I havent gotten any on this site. If you want to complain about the ads Im sure Mr’s Lambert and Conlan would happily give you their addresses to mail them your contributions.

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  • fanoftna33 says:

    I am happy to see Kenny move back to 155, he has so many more big matches there and it is a much better fit for him I think, but the fact that he thinks it also is what is important here.
    Apperently Lashly isnt fighting Hague he is fighting Dave Huckaba for the HW strap. I dont understand why they fight for the belt but it seems Schoonover will be giving it up for some strange reason. Until Bobby fights some good competition I dont care to watch him anymore.
    Penn gets finished in the third, no way he can handle the pressure that Diaz puts on for three rounds if he cant handle Fitch. Penn has great hands but Diaz has a GREAT chin and he can outlast Penn.

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  • Brendhan Conlan says:

    So much for Hague vs. Lashley. Looks like a tomato can will be taking his place instead.

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  • Guthookd says:

    Hey Bren, I actually saw that guy Dave Huckaba fight at a casino last year.

    He won via TKO in the third.

    He’s old as fuck, but well known in this area because he fights and has an academy. He’ll probably lose, but if he wins I’ll be stoked. He’s got five in a row right now, so aside from the fact that he’s unknown, he actually looks to be a legit opponent to me and a win over Lashley will have people streaming into his gym.

    Good luck Dave.

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  • MCM says:

    True – Lashley will lose to Dave Huckaba by KO. And Hague would have killed him.

    I think he could have got another shot at the belt if he stayed at 145 but the bigger fights are definitely in LW.

    Griffin. Bigger name equals more PPV dollars.

    Cerrone/Siver hands down.

    Agree with Lambert but it will be in the 2nd.
    superdave – maybe the fight should have been stopped but Penn controlled Fitch with WRESTLING for two rounds. Wrestling and elbows are notoriously weak spots for Diaz. TKO stoppage round 2.

    Top 15. Like superdave said, “you cant be on the top without fighting the top”. That’s why Diaz isn’t top 10 either. I’d put Askren at the #13 spot with a win over Heiron (also top 15), one spot below Diaz.

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  • THEGUNNER says:

    I predict diaz will throw his double right jab then left str8 where penn will counter with a rifht drop him and finsh him in the 1st. people should stop complaining about this site before they charge us all. How u gonna complain about something u get free?

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  • edub says:

    - Probably. As Brendan pointed out above Lashley has terrible cardio, and really no striking. He’ll probably take him down early, unleash some powerful GNP that doesn’t really land clean and tires him out in the process, start walking around like a zombie in the second, and get stopped late second early third.

    -Yes. One of the top 6 or 7 LWs in the world right now (Clay Guida) got absolutely obliterated by Kenny. He still can compete with 95% of the division, and obviously doesn’t feel comfortable continually cutting to 145. I look forward to seeing who his first fight back is. I’m hoping it’s somebody like the winner of Cerrone-Siver.

    -I think this answer is simple: whoever looks better in their upcoming fight. Hioki is definitely higher in the standings, but if he barely gets by Roop he’s going to be looked at like every other high profile fighter that rose in Japan over the last couple of years coming to the UFC (not very highly). Griffin has had less wins recently (although the Lentz decision was deplorable IMO), but he does hold a recent win over the top 5 ranked Manny Gamburyan and were he to blast Bart he’d have a lot of momentum. Plus he’s simply the more popular fighter in the US, not many casual fans know about Hioki dominating Hominick twice.

    -I gotta take Lambert to task a little bit here: “hasn’t fought a guy with the killer instinct of Penn.” This statement is completely off, Paul Daley, Cyborg, Mariusz Zaromskis, and KJ Noons all have finishing rates on par or better than BJ Penn. Now are any of these guys on Penn’s level skill wise? Hell no, but their “killer instinct” is definitely as good as BJ Penn’s, and when finishing rate is taken into account all are better.

    With that being said this fight makes in to the third round. BJ will probably catch him a few times on the feet, but if he continues to take on Diaz there the punishment he takes will accrue and he will be in danger of a stoppage because of his historically poor cardio. This fights ends with a decision win (most likely for BJ), or a 3rd round stoppage by Diaz.

    -Penn-Diaz wins FOTN. Maybe even FOTY. Hopefully.

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  • Dufresne says:

    1st. people should stop complaining about this site before they charge us all. How u gonna complain about something u get free? – THEGUNNER

    100% correct. I’m not anymore a fan of ads than anyone else, but bills are bills and they’ve gotta get paid somehow. I’m just glad there aren’t any of those obnoxious ads that flash, play video automatically, or chant some bs like “Congratulations! You just won an iPad!”
    And I’d like the thumbs-up, thumbs-down feature back, but Brendhan has already said a couple of times that they’re working on it.
    One random question though: is the mobile site going to return? It’s not a big deal since the regular site works fine on phones, but it did load a bit faster which was nice.

    On to answering GWI!!!

    – False. But just because he’s not fighting Hague anymore. I do think he’ll win against his new opponent in Huckaba though. I had never heard of him and I was a bit surprised when I looked him up and saw a record of 16-4, but then I looked at his competition and I realized why he’s not a bigger name. He’s gone 5-0 in his last 5, but it’s been against guys with a combined record of 42-62, only one of them has a winning record, and even that guy is only 11-9. Unless he dominates Lashley, I’m gonna have to agree with Brendhan and call him a can.

    – Yes. He looked too drawn out at 145, and honestly it didn’t look like he had quite enough speed to keep up with the smaller guys. When you throw in his age I can’t blame him at all for going back to a more natural weight class where he’s still one of the faster guys. And if he does ever manage to get a shot at Edgar (assuming someone doesn’t take the strap first), I don’t hate his chances. Edgar seems to like to eat punches in the beginning of a fight, and Kenny has better striking than Maynard.
    But then I remember his fight with Sherk and I change my mind. He’d probably get ground and pounded until he got stopped or the judges gave it to Edgar.

    – Hioki for all the reasons Jeremy state plus the additional ones that Brendhan pointed out. But just because I think he’s more deserving doesn’t mean it’ll outweigh the name factor. Griffin may have gone 0-3 in his last 3 at LW, but fans have heard of him and that counts. Unless Hioki dominates Roop I don’t think it’s a lock quite yet.

    – 15 minutes. Diaz and Penn have some of the best boxing in MMA and their styles really make this an interesting fight. Diaz throws punches in bunches and really uses his reach well, but Penn has good power and is one of the best counter punchers around. Penn has nasty hooks and an underrated uppercut that I think we’ll be seeing. I honestly don’t know how to call this fight. Diaz fights at about the same pace at the beginning of a fight as he does at the end while Penn has shown spotty cardio in the past. I give the advantage in power and traditional boxing technique to Penn, but I really think the standup game is a push. If Penn gets Diaz down he’s not in a safe position either. Penn has great top control, but Diaz is also one of the few fighters to ever get a win by gogoplata (even if it was overturned) so he’s still very dangerous off his back. Penn on the other hand has 0 submissions off his back, but that’s mostly because anyone not named Edgar, GSP, Fitch, or Hughes has ever managed to get him to his back. And Fitch and Hughes couldn’t get it done until he started to gas. If you’re still reading and can’t tell yet, this is one of my favorite matchups of the year so far.

    – No idea. Askren has some of the best wrestling in all of MMA, which is something that gets said about a lot of fighters these days, but in his case it’s absolutely deserved. He got 2nd place in the NCAA Division I national championships in both 2004 and 2005, and he managed to win the title in 2006 and 2007. How many wrestlers make it to the championship round more than once, much less 4 times. But the only thing that’s keeping me from readily putting him in the top 10 isn’t his lack of big-name experience, it’s the fact that I haven’t seen anything from his striking that lets me know how he might fare if he fought a guy like Kos of GSP. If he beats Hieron and does it on the feet and in impressive fashion I’ll have no problem putting him possibly as high as 6th.

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  • Dufresne says:

    And yes, literally all I’ve had today was caffeine. I couldn’t help it…

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  • Rece Rock says:

    “ne random question though: is the mobile site going to return? It’s not a big deal since the regular site works fine on phones, but it did load a bit faster which was nice.”

    Yeah thats all I want 2.

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