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Grappling with Issues – 2/3/12

Is Carlos Condit more likely to finish Nick Diaz tomorrow night at UFC 143 than the opposite occurring? Who were you most impressed by at UFC on FOX 2? Will Chael Sonnen beat Anderson Silva in their rematch? What can the UFC/FOX do to improve their broadcasts?

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.

Also, it is with great regret we announce this will be Jeremy’s final GWI barring the occasional “guest starring” stint as he will be leaving the site to explore other avenues. The column will have a brief hiatus before returning in two weeks with a new format (same ol’ style).

More impressive performance at UFC on FOX 2 – Rashad Evans or Michael Bisping?

Lambert: Evans. I realize he didn’t look great in victory, but at the end of the day, he won and Bisping didn’t. And it’s not like Evans showed any flaws in his fight against Phil Davis either. He scored takedowns on an accomplished wrestler, showed much improved top control, and out stuck him with an effective jab despite being the short of the two. Bisping was the most impressive in defeat, but he still lost and that should count against his performance.

Conlan: I’m not sure losing should always count against a fighter, especially in the case of Bisping who could have easily walked away with a decision win had someone else been sitting at the judges’ table. Evans definitely dominated Davis and that in itself says something without question but he couldn’t put him away despite having plenty of advantageous positions. Meanwhile, Bisping did away with the widespread notion Sonnen would take him down with ease or put on a show similar to that in Evans-Davis. As such, I think “The Count” deserves the nod on this one, not to mention he took on the #2 guy in the division with less than two weeks to prepare and beat him in the minds of a lot of folks.

What is one thing about the UFC on FOX broadcast you would change if given free reign over the production?

Lambert: Make it less NFL. Drop the NFL on FOX music, the stupid robots, and Curt Menefee. FOX has done a lot of great things with the graphics and set up, but it still feels too much like a NFL broadcast and not a UFC broadcast. I can’t be the only one annoyed by the music, especially when it’s played after every commercial break. The robots are stupid on the NFL games, what are they really adding to the show? And Menefee, while an excellent NFL host, doesn’t appear to know anything about MMA. It’s like FOX wants to give the show credibility and what’s more credible than the NFL? But it makes the UFC broadcast feel cheaper and like a rip off.

Conlan: I can’t disagree with a single thing Lambert said. Menefee was a slightly better, less lipstick-y version of Gus Johnson and the robots/music made the whole show feel like a NFL knockoff. To add to the list, I’d like to see future cards booked with the consumer in mind. While a hardcore fan undoubtedly appreciates grappling technique and closely contested match-ups, the average viewer wants to at least see one bout between strikers with a knockout all but guaranteed. They probably don’t even care about divisional ranking because they don’t have any perspective on what it actually means – they just want to see someone go to sleep. Having Bisping fight an adversary like Vitor Belfort instead of Demian Maia (his original opponent) to open up the card would have probably provided a highlight reel finish and gotten some buzz going. Instead viewers were treated to three fights with five of six competitors having a background in wrestling/BJJ, hence some fairly mediocre ratings.

If he beats Roy Nelson, how many more wins will Fabricio Werdum need to merit a title-shot?

Lambert: One. The heavyweight division is pretty wide open right now. There’s Junior dos Santos defending his title against Alistair Overeem, possible fight between Cain Velasquez and Frank Mir to decide the #1 contender, and then who? Brock Lesnar is gone, Shane Carwin is on the shelf and has lost two straight, Rodrigo Nogueira just lost, and everyone else still needs a couple of big victories. The only person who could jump Werdum is the Strikeforce HW GP winner, but who knows when the finals will be and the winner of that bout will still have to fight once more in Strikeforce before being brought over.

Conlan: Agreed 100%. Contendership is far from solidified for any heavyweight out there, incoming or otherwise. I think Mir vs. Werdum would make for a great fight as well, especially if Velasquez fights Antonio Silva as was rumored a few weeks ago. Of course, Nelson could throw yet another wrench in the divisional contendership plan by taking Werdum out tomorrow night. All I know is Samer Kadi is no doubt on edge with all the heavyweight excitement out there!

More likely to be finished on Saturday: Nick Diaz or Carlos Condit?

Conlan: My first inclination would be to say Diaz based on Condit’s power and arsenal of strikes but upon further review I’ll actually go with Diaz. The sovereign son of Stockton has only been finished a single time in his career and that came in 2002 after he’d already fought twice earlier in the evening. Comparably, Condit has been submitted three times and Diaz’s BJJ is no joke. He also has potential for picking Condit apart with strikes while maintaining cardio, another possibility where scoring a stoppage is concerned.

Lambert: I’ve got to go with Diaz as the more likely of the two to be finished. Condit has the power advantage and Diaz, while having a great chin and ability to recover, is hittable. If Condit can get to Diaz early with his power, there’s a chance that he can put him down and be crafty enough to finish him. There’s also the leg kicks, which Diaz doesn’t check. If Condit can take away Diaz’s legs, he could finish him late since Diaz won’t be able to throw with as much volume on just one leg.

Will Chael Sonnen beat Anderson Silva in the rematch?

Conlan: No. Sonnen looked sloppy against Bisping and is unlikely to repeat the performance he put on against Silva the first time around. He’ll also be dealing with the pressure of performing in Brazil after eighteen months of talking smack about “The Spider”. I’m unsure of how mentally strong Sonnen actually is and could see him wilting under the Sao Paolo spotlight.

Lambert: I don’t think Sonnen’s performance on Saturday means anything when it comes to the rematch against Silva. Bisping is an underrated wrestler, at least defensively, while Silva is more content to play the guard game off his back. That said, even though I think Sonnen poses the biggest threat to Silva in the division, right now the champ is just on another level and he’ll be fired up about this fight. As long as Silva is healthy (and that’s actually a big question mark) then he should have an easier time with Sonnen in the rematch.

What fight should headline UFC on FOX 3?

Conlan: Since the card is in May it gives the UFC some time to play with the main event. There are a ton of stars fighting in February and plenty of options to choose from. As such, it’s hard for me to pluck one out of the bunch but, assuming he’s successful at UFC 145, I think Quinton Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin would be a great choice for the lineup. Both have mainstream success and will appeal to the common fan, plus each likes to strike and “Rampage” could easily score a highlight reel knockout on Griffin (or get picked apart again). Beyond that, their original fight was extremely close, Jackson wants a rematch, and Griffin has nothing on his plate.

Frankie Edgar, who defends his belt in a few weeks, would also be a solid choice too if he gets by Ben Henderson given his Jersey roots, though I’m not sure who he’d fight unless Zuffa bites the bullet and brings over Gilbert Melendez.

Lambert: Fellow writer Kadi brought up the possibility of Velasquez vs. Mir, which is a fight I like, but not as a main event. I think the main event has to be a fight between two guys coming off victories. Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller is reportedly the main event, which, while it should be a good fight, is a pretty underwhelming main event bout in terms of name value.

Condit mentioned that he would fight again if Georges St. Pierre can’t return until the end of the year. So if Condit and Josh Koscheck win on Saturday, why not have them headline the third FOX card? It’d be an interim title fight, they wouldn’t be sacrificing that many PPV buys, and they’d be highlighting guys who are around for the long haul.

PHOTO CREDIT – UFC