by Ryan Bennett – MMAWeekly.com
BENNETT BREAKDOWN FROM LAS VEGAS- Alright I’ve written a few columns but it’s been a few months since I’ve hit the emails so today it’s your day to fire them away.
“Ryan, what do you take away from yesterday’s weigh-in?” Mark Flemming – Toronto, Ontario
I take away this. The Canadian fans are crazy and they really represented yesterday. I saw plenty of Canadian flags, GSP and Loiseau were embraced by this country and you could see how Canada is really enjoying this “rivalry”. U.S. fans, to me, see this as great fighters vs great fighters. That may change when you get a few drinks in people and see some nationalism come about tonight at the Mandalay Bay. What I do know is if they do this USA vs Canada again, it HAS to happen in Canada next time and that country will embrace it. The Canadians would eat it up and it would be fun to watch.
“We’ve heard from Frank Trigg but didn’t really hear what you thought….who do you take GSP or Penn” – Beverly Francis – Stillwater, Oklahoma
We are hours away and I still have no idea.. Georges St.Pierre is in amazing shape and when you watch him fight, he ALWAYS improves each time out. He looked great against Jay Hieron and looked even better against Mayhem. He then made Trigg look bad and I don’t care if Trigg had a bum ankle, he overwhelmed him period. I think his performance against Sherk was even more impressive. This is the only guy I know that gets better EACH time he fights. I don’t know of anyone you can say that about. I’m talking anyone on the planet including Fedor. No man I know has gotten better over five consecutive fights period. That’s what makes GSP so scary.
BJ Penn is a freak of nature as well and the thing you like about BJ Penn is the fact that he is a big game fighter. If you break down the fight this is how I break it down. GSP may be quicker as a striker/stand up fighter. He make be quicker in the exchanges and GSP is the bigger fighter. Look at the weigh-in photos in the photo gallery and you understand what I mean. I don’t think though that BJ Penn can be knocked out. If Lyoto Michada, the only man to KO Rick Franklin, couldn’t KO Penn, I’m convinced BJ can’t be knocked out by any man under 225, except for Chuck Liddell. St.Pierre can use his speed though to score points on his feet. I also think GSP has a shot to ground n pound Penn with his sure size and strength. That’s the best way in my opinion that Georges St. Pierre can win the fight.
On the flip side with BJ Penn, I see a similar game plan for GSP as we saw against Matt Hughes. Penn believes he can hurt St. Pierre with one of his big right hands, see exhibit A. Caol Uno or B. Matt Hughes… (it was the right hand that did Hughes in people, then the choke ensued). Penn has great power that can end your night quickly and while he doesn’t have the speed GSP has, he can make up for that as he can hurt him in this fight if he lands thee shot. Penn’s biggest strength is on the ground. He would love to get this fight on the ground and take his chances trying to tap GSP. I talked to BJ Penn last night and he told me quote “I expect this fight to be everywhere, standing on the ground, we will use every inch of the Octagon in this fight…” He is probably right and this has the potential to be one of the best fights we’ve seen in 2006. As of right now, (Saturday morning) I still have no idea who is going to fight as it’s so even it’s scary. As UFC President Dana White said “This has fight of the year written all over it.”
“I think David Loiseau can beat Rich Franklin, what do you think?” Jennifer Davis – Fullerton, CA
I think he definitely has the tools to win so I agree. Loiseau was the bigger fighter at the weigh-in’s last night which surprised me. Loiseau has a quiet confidence that I personally witnessed last night that makes me think he can pull this off. Franklin though is the champion and he has shown me and everyone that he can fight on this big of a stage. Remember Loiseau has never been in this big of a fight before in his career. Some guys don’t handle the pressure very well. The pressure Loiseau has in this fight is something he’s never had to experienced before. Franklin has been there and done that. This is a great fight and if Loiseau can settle down early he could pull it off. Franklin experience in big fights make him very difficult to beat.
“When will Chuck Liddell defend his title and will it be against Babalu or Quinton Jackson?” –
Mark Sumner – Los Angeles, CA
You probably won’t see Chuck Liddell until at least August because he may need surgery. The Iceman actually had a dislocated toe on his right foot before the Couture fight. The toe had been given him problems and it continued after the fight. Right now he is in a walking boot on his right foot and they are hoping that he won’t need surgery. If the boot doesn’t help his toe, then he will opt for surgery and probably won’t fight until later in the summer.
It looks as though Quinton Jackson will sign with Pride. Pride just made a huge offer to Rampage and from what I’ve heard Jackson will sign the new deal to stay in Japan. Babalu seems like the likely choice for the Iceman’s first title defense, however it looks as though Babalu will fight on the May 27th card. I’ve heard a few names including Marvin Eastman, which I don’t know how accurate that rumor is, but I do hear we will see Babalu at the end of May back in the UFC.
“Can we finally predict Frank Shamrock vs Cesar Gracie is going to happen? Is it on pay per view and how are ticket sales for the event?” – Garrett Mills – Clearwater, Florida
Thanks Garrett, you’ve just jinxed the entire card! Actually as long as no one gets injured the fight is coming off as part of the first show in California featuring the main event as well as the debut of Cung Le and Josh Thomson back in MMA. The ticket sales in San Jose have been incredible. They are closing in on 10,000 seats pre-sold from what one person told me which is pretty amazing. California is a hot bed of action as this show is selling plenty of tickets, then we saw the UFC selling out in three days for the Anaheim show, the California fans want MMA and they are coming out to support the sport in Northern and Southern California. The show will be on pay per view, I will be doing the show with Lon McCearin of K1/World Series of Poker on ESPN fame.
“What will the UFC do with their heavyweight mess? Seriously who even deserves a title shot?” Christopher Baker – Toronto, CA
I think the UFC will continue to search the world for heavyweight talent. They brought in Pay De Pano Cruz in from Brazil and he has had recent success. I think Jerome LeBanner is an interesting possibility and he should at least get a shot at the UFC with everything he has accomplished in K1. Right now it looks as though a Pay De Pano vs Jeff Monson fight is on the table which would most likely take place on the May show. What I’ve been hearing is that the winner of that match could get a title shot against the winner of Andrei Arlovski and Tim Sylvia.
“Will Phil Baroni face Wanderlei Silva in Pride now that they had their confrontation at Pride?”
That’s a fun match up for the fans if it does happen. Right now Baroni will need to focus on the upcoming Pride Bushido show on April 15th. Baroni will most likely face Dennis Kang coming up next month. Silva would love a shot at either Mark Coleman or Phil Baroni. One of those two will definitely face Baroni if Phil can get by Kang.
“Can anybody beat Takanori Gomi?” – Marvin Blocker – Philadelphia, PA
Maybe if Gomi moves up to 170 which is what I heard he may do. For now he will focus on his next fight, then later the open Grand Prix Tournament. It looks the next guy on the hit list will be Marcus Aurelio from the American Top Team. He is a jiu-jitsu wizard that could make it interesting if the fight goes to the ground. Problem is I don’t think it will get to the ground. Josh Thomson was rumored to get the fight, but since he is fighting in San Jose on the undercard of Shamrock vs Gracie,I don’t believe he has enough time to turn around and fight Gomi. I still think Yves Edwards or Joaquim Hansen both have styles to give Gomi problems. I think Kid Yamamoto is just too small for Gomi. Other than that if Gomi goes up in weight, he will have trouble against the bigger 170 pound fighters. Takanori Gomi vs Diego Sanchez anyone?
“Did K1 forget about the MMA division?” – Mark Hermansen – Columbia, MO
No, they actually have a card coming up in March in Japan as Heath Herring returns to action. Also one other interesting bit of news, K1 just signed Shaolin Ribero away from Pride so look for Shaolin to give a shot in the arm to that 155 division. This means another new face for Kid Yamamoto or Genki Sudo to battle and give a shot in the arm to the HERO’S promotion.
“Will the IFL still have their first show in April or will they not have it because of the legal situation? Javier Vasqureli – Cincinnati, Ohio
The IFL will have their first show April 29th in Atlantic City, New Jersey at the Taj Mahal. I heard tickets actually go on sale Monday for the event. I was told the legal situations will not change anything the IFL is doing. I also heard the coaches for the show will be Renzo Gracie, Pat Miletich, and Bas Rutten. The fourth coach they are still trying to pin down, but those three will definitely be coaching. Alright guys off to the buffet before tonight’s fights. Enjoy the action and watch the post game stuff tonight on The Fight Network