Brain Clutter

September 10, 2007

UFC 75 (Champion vs. Champion) comments

Filed under: MMA, personal, UFC — brainclutter @ 12:00 pm

So, this isn’t a full review of the entire fight card because I just don’t have the energy and I’ve missed the boat in terms of being one of the first people to write one due to a busy weekend. However, I do want to comment on two things that stuck out in my mind about this event, namely Mirko Cro Cop’s loss to Cheick Kongo and Michael Bisping’s dodgy win over Matt Hamill.

Mirko Cro Cop Cheick KongoMirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic vs. Cheick Kongo: Cheick Kongo Wins by Unanimous Decision at 5:00 in the 3rd round.

Dang it all, Mirko just can’t catch a break in the UFC versus quality opponents. This is his second loss in a row and his official UFC record is now a disappointing 1-2. Is his heart in it any more? Is he getting old and washed up? Is he just catching some unlucky breaks? Is he simply an overrated in the first place?

Personally, I think it’s a little bit of all those things. Let’s examine (from my perspective anyway).

The guy has a life and career outside of fighting. He’s a politician, part of an anti-terrorist police squad, and was even signed by a football (soccer) club. He has a wife and son, runs his own gym, and has also starred in a motion picture. All these activities would keep anyone pretty busy, especially when you factor in all the training he must do to keep in shape for his fights. This leads me into point number two…

You have to wonder if his heart is in it anymore. On numerous occasions within the past couple years he has mentioned retirement from mixed martial arts. Sure, most of these comments come after defeats, so you could argue that he’s just feeling sorry for himself, but he may have peaked with his 2006 Pride Open Weight Grand Prix tournament. After the victory, he mentioned that if he had lost, he would have quit fighting. That doesn’t sound a very tenacious competitor to me.

Is he getting old and washed up? That’s hard to judge but he turns 33 today (Happy Birthday Mirko!) and his recent losses have been due to physical injuries. If you look at Randy Couture, you might not think age is a determining factor for fighters, but Randy is just a freak of nature… he’s a true athlete, through and through. The older you get, the harder it is to keep up your cardio and the longer it takes for you to get over injuries.

One could argue that Mirko’s recent losses have been due to unlucky breaks. In his fight against Gabriel Gonzaga he claims that he didn’t properly train against elbows (illegal in Pride), which Gabe used to devastating effectiveness. After delivering a nasty body kick, Mirko was taken down by the young challenger and received several elbows to the face which resulted in some impaired vision after they stood back up. I think we all know what happened next, even though Mirko didn’t see it coming. In his fight against Kongo in UFC 75, a rib was broken in the first round and he was kneed in the junk twice in round two. Not only will those injuries affect you physically, but they’re going to mess with your mind. All of a sudden you’re thinking self-preservation… Every time you try mounting an offensive, your injuries are sending pain through every nerve in your body (believe me, I know how nasty rib injuries can be… it’s painful to even breathe). It was no shock that Cro Cop lost that match having sustained such unlucky injuries in the fight.

Finally, is Cro Cop an overrated fighter? Yes and no. He was touted as being the second best heavyweight in the world (good ole’ Fedor is number one), and his 2006 Pride win was a pretty good measure of that title. Given certain circumstances, he’s probably the most dangerous striker out there, unfortunately, he’s not as well rounded as someone like Emelianenko. If given distance and left to impose his will, you’re going to get your head kicked into next month. If pressed upon, clinched, or taken to the ground, his weapons are neutralized. You never really have to fear a submission from this guy (he’s only had one true submission victory – a guillotine choke on Randleman), and while his takedown defense is fairly good, if you do manage to get him down, you have a good chance at doing some damage. Unfortunately for Cro Cop, today’s fighters are starting to exploit his weaknesses and that is resulting in some bad outings for the Croatian striker.

I recently downloaded a torrent with 50+ Cro Cop fight videos and became a fan of his personality and fighting style. Even though he has talked about retirement on a number of occasions lately, I hope he still has the heart to bounce back as he has done many times before. The only other time he’s ever had back to back losses was way back in his kickboxing days (late 2000 against Bernardo and Hoost). If he were to have quit back then, we’d never have seen some of the best KOs in martial arts history. Keep on truckin’ Mirko!

Michael Bisping vs. Matt Hamill: Michael Bisping Wins by Split Decision at 5:00 in the 3rd round.

Let me start by saying I am a fan of Michael “The Count” Bisping. There, now that that’s out of the way, there’s no way he should have won the decision against Matt Hamill who completely dominated all three rounds of their fight on Saturday.

Matt had heavier hands, pushed the fight forwards almost indefinitely, and easily did the most damage. By my count, he even scored more points, though not by a large margin. One judge saw it my way scoring the bout 30-27 in favour of Matt but the other two scored it 29-28 for Mikey. How does one account for such a disparity of opinion amongst the judges? Hmmm… let me speculate and theorize (conspiratorially).

Michael won the Ultimate Fighter 3 and never got a chance to meet Hamill in their scheduled fight because the doctor’s wouldn’t clear Matt due to injury. Michael went on to face a much easier opponent in Josh Haines (you can’t discount the guy’s heart but his skills are nowhere near Hamill’s or Bisping’s) and destroyed him with strikes. That was the impetus for this fight. In Bisping’s opinion, he never would have truly won the Ultimate Fighter 3 if he couldn’t beat Hamill.

Here’s where the plot thickens. The stage for Saturday’s fight was London, England, Mike’s mother country. There’s no doubt in my mind that Bisping is Dana White’s ticket into the cash cow that is the European mixed martial arts market. I don’t have a problem with that at all because it’s a great strategy but take three factors into consideration:

  1. Bisping’s MMA record was a perfect 14-0
  2. This is a grudge match to determine the true Ultimate Fighter (3)
  3. Michael is fighting in his own country and the UFC is relying on him to expand their market

From a business perspective, would Dana White want Bisping to lose his first match to a guy he should have fought earlier but didn’t, which eventually made his career in the UFC? Would he want to taint an unbeaten record for a guy he’s “counting” on to bust open UFC’s market in Europe? I’m thinking NO on all “counts.” Okay, enough with the puns…

How does one explain a judge scoring the bout as most of the audience saw it (30-27), while the other two split the decision only slightly in Bisping’s favour? Winning this fight (as he should have) would have catapulted Matt Hamill into much greater things, but really… do they need another light heavyweight wrestler in the class (probably not…).

One could argue that Matt relied a bit too heavily on strikes rather than sticking to his bread and butter of takedowns. Had he continued taking Bisping to the ground, a decision win would have certainly been guaranteed simply due to points (look at the Koscheck/Sanchez fight). Even so, just look at the damage that was done to Bisping all over his face and you can see that he took the brunt of the punishment. To me, he even seemed a bit surprised as they announced his win, which says something considering how cocky he normally is.

In conclusion, although I’m still a Bisping fan, I think there was much more considered with the fight scores than points scored in the match. To me, it was an upset for Matt, and a business steal for Bisping.

Wow… surprisingly, this is probably more than I would have written had I simply reviewed the entire fight night, but these are the only two fights that I had passionate feelings for…

UPDATE #1: According to UFC Mania, Dana White has announced a Bisping / Hamill rematch, dubbing it a “no brainer.”

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3 Comments »

  1. Mirko’s having a tough time in the UFC… I can’t believe how the fight went.

    Comment by ufcgirls — September 10, 2007 @ 2:48 pm

  2. Indeed, I was hoping for a lot more when he signed his contract with the UFC but he just can’t seem to pull it together. Getting KO’d by Gonzaga must have put some fear into the guy but there were justifiable reasons for not seeing the kick coming. Catching a tough “break” of the ribs against Kongo is just bad luck (though he could have been defending better).

    Here’s hoping he bounces back in his next match, but who knows how long that will take. If he truly broke his ribs, I’d expect to see him out of training and competition for a number of months. Rib injuries just suck ass…

    You’ve got a great site btw! Filled with provocative eye candy! I highly recommend it. 😉

    Comment by brainclutter — September 11, 2007 @ 1:18 pm

  3. After seeing the Hamill vs. Bisping fight and the decision. I will be ripping of the UFC sticker on my car and replacing it with Tapout. The quality and integrity of the UFC is slowly diminishing…Is the UFC becomming like WWF. Hamill clearly won the fight and after the match Hamill showed much class and Bisping acted like an Idiot…Hamill you are the true Ultimate Fighter…you are a roll model for other fighters and people to look up to. Despite adversity…you overcame with class!!!

    Comment by Sherwin — September 15, 2007 @ 8:32 am


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