The one and only Fight Professor, Stephen Quadros breaks down UFC 59 on BudoVideos.com and shares his thoughts with MMAWeekly as well.
By Stephen Quadros, “The Fight Professor”
It feels good typing the word “California” at the top of this preview, real good. Yes, the main “reality” in this is that MMA is HERE…in the golden state; the UFC will finally make it’s debut in Cali. The ‘other reality’ is that this UFC is headlined by…
UFC Heavyweight Championship
Andrei Arlovski (Belarus)
Tim Sylvia (USA)
UFC heavyweight champion Andrei “Pitbull” Arlovski may have to get a restraining order to prevent Tim Sylvia from getting any more title shots during the Belarusian’s reign “if” he beats the “Maine-iac” again. This is really getting like the Halloween film series where Michael Myers will always come back for one more go (tonight’s main event is Sylvia’s FOURTH title shot in 3 years, including when he took the championship from Ricco Rodriguez in 2003). And big Tim is not to blame here. What’s he supposed to say when the UFC comes calling? “Oh no, I don’t want another try at being UFC heavyweight champion?” I don’t think so. The “reality” question remains, if it’s not Sylvia to challenge Arlovski, then who else is worthy in the UFC’s current heavyweight fish bowl? Or better yet, just how does one ‘qualify’ for a title shot? Food for thought…
Anyway…this match will most likely unfold like a déjà vu of their last dance in February 2005 (UFC 51), where Andrei dropped Tim with a cobra-quick punch and made him tap with an Achilles lock. So what has changed since then that lead us to think differently? Not much. There is no doubt that Andrei Arlovski is still the FASTEST heavyweight in the UFC and seems unstoppable…in that universe.
Sylvia is a threat if you get caught with one of those humungous punches, although his head kick KO of Tra Telligman suggests his overall striking arsenal might be growing. But he does not have the quickness to beat Andrei to the punch. Therefore I foresee an outcome that will be almost identical to their last fight: Arlovski will hit him in the head, the fight will go to the ground, where Andrei will end it, maybe by ground and pound, but a submission is more likely.
I have had countless conversations about TUF (The Ultimate Fighter TV show) and whether the fighters who come from that show can ‘hang’ with UFC champions. TUF contestant Nate Quarry was definitely thrown to the lions when he was given a “title shot” against UFC middleweight king Rich Franklin (Quarry was KO’d quickly in the first round).
Technically Tito Ortiz in not the champion anymore. But now that Randy Couture has retired, Ortiz could be ranked, if the UFC ever did such a thing (as fighter rankings), as high as #2, right behind champ Chuck Liddell. This is based solely on his accomplishments inside the Octagon TM.
Forrest Griffin was the winner of the first TUF season finals, by the narrowest of margins, with a gutsy effort against Stephan Bonnar (some people felt Bonnar had done enough to win). Since then he went through Canadian journeyman Bill Mahood (rear naked choke) and had a war with Australia’s Elvis Sinosic before stopping him in the first round. Throughout his career (Sherdog lists him as being 12-2) Forrest has always exhibited loads of heart and has been known on occasion to come from behind to pull a win out of the fire.
As likable and charismatic as Griffin is, he will be over his head experience-wise with Tito. Ortiz also has one of the best wrestling-based games in the sport. And although ground and pound is not the premiere style for delivering multi-textured, fan friendly action, it is effective, especially when it’s Tito Ortiz is on top of you and ungloved elbows are legal.
I think there is a very good chance that Griffin, like Patrick Cote, will survive and lose a decision against “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” as opposed to succumbing inside the distance. Yes, I pick Ortiz to win. But one thing is for sure; Tito will not stand and trade. THAT would definitely jeopardize his chances.
Nick Diaz, to me, is a fighter to the core. We all know he takes his craft very seriously, maybe too seriously at times. But I do not remember him ever given less than his all, even when he lost. And boy, he sure doesn’t get many easy fights. His itinerary over the past 2 years has included scraps with Diego Sanchez (decision loss), Drew Fickett (TKO win), Joe Riggs (decision loss), Karo Parisyan (split decision loss) and Robbie Lawler (KO win). Now he faces Sean Sherk, a wrestling power plug with a fairly educated left hook.
Sherk was left out in the cold from the UFC for almost 3 years after his decision loss to Matt Hughes. In his re-entry on November 19, 2005 (UFC 56) he represented himself well in losing to Georges St. Pierre. He gave the Canadian a hard time standing before Georges decided to take matters to the mat for the finish.
Diaz/Sherk is a difficult one to call because they both have strengths standing. Diaz is a southpaw with a very tricky, albeit wide, right hook. Sherk is the shorter fighter but has a compact, bursting punching style. There ground games are different on paper in that Sherk is great at takedowns but Nick has a very effective guard. I’ll have to toss a coin on this one.
This will be a grappling match as both are well anointed in that world. I predict “The Snowman”, Monson will get a decision over “Pe De Pano” in a slow paced contest.
A jiu-jitsu guy with a punch against a wrestler with a punch; hmm, I see this one being a ground battle, with a lot of punching (thank you, thank, hold your applause). If Smith, who is WEC (World Extreme Cagefighting) light-heavyweight champion, can keep it upright he could make his UFC debut a memorable one (they don’t call him “Hands Of Steel” for nothing). If not, “The Soul Assassin” (Terrell) stands a very good chance of catching him with a choke or an armbar.
Karo cannot afford to lose this one. He’s always one step away from a title shot or one step away from being out of the UFC (it seems). Nick Thompson is a tough cookie who has racked up 8 straight wins since July 2005! But Parisyan has moved into the top ten with wins over Nick Diaz, Chris Lytle and Matt Serra. Karo should prevail here but Thompson may stretch him to a decision.
Jason Lambert will exploit Terry Martin’s strike oriented game by getting the fight on the ground and wailing away..
There’s nothing like an undercard rematch to settle an old score. Derrick Noble submitted Thiago Alves in December 2003 with a rear naked choke. But Alves looked awful good last November when he TKO’d Ansar Chalangov. So the American Top Team slugger from Brazil has a shot here. Still I feel Noble may duplicate his past win.
Justin Levens, like Scott Smith, Nick Diaz and Jason Lambert (and many more), is another promising fighter from WEC. But I doubt that will be mentioned on TV. He may make a huge impression if former UFC middleweight champion Evan Tanner takes him lightly. I feel Tanner knows he needs this fight to remain relevant in the UFC. If Levens is smart he will use a lot of kicks and lateral movement.