September 24, 2009

by Hector Ramirez (Team Rampage), Special to MMAWeekly.com
Another week passes and surprises seem to be around every corner. First Roy Nelson, the most experienced fighter of the group is labeled uncoachable, and then we walk into the training facility to see Rashad and his team loitering around.

What many viewers may not understand is that the training facility isn’t like your neighborhood gym. It’s not open all hours of the day. Instead, we are allotted only two hours per training session. That means when we come into the training facility, if the other team is still there, it is taking away from our time to train.

We’ve seen it happen before, but Rampage smartly decided it would be better to talk about it to Rashad with a cool head sooner rather than later. Crisis averted, and on to the next order of business.

We chose Wes Shivers to fight James McSweeney. Since we already lost the first fight, we knew that we would lose control of choosing fights, so this match-up was motivated by our interest to rattle things up with Rashad’s team. McSweeney was Rashad’s first pick and his teammate. Eliminating him would have been key to loosening Rashad’s team cohesiveness while adding to our own.

Because it is only the second week, we had limited time to evaluate the fighters further as well as limited time to train them. Based on what we saw, Shivers was a huge, athletic fighter who had tremendous power and an unbeaten record. Juxtapose that to McSweeney, who is a small heavyweight with an even record, albeit a longer one. We knew that based on size and power, Shivers would be able to take McSweeney down and have a good chance at controlling the distance of the fight based on his six-inch reach advantage.

We saw most of that the first round, but McSweeney did a great job of using leg kicks to compensate for his shorter reach. The fight was competitive, with McSweeney doing the better job of landing strikes, particularly the leg kicks, while Shivers was able to get McSweeney on the ground and nearly submit him with a rear naked choke.

But like I said, surprises lurk at every corner, and to the shock of both teams, the judges rendered a decision after two rounds favoring McSweeney. They both did a great job and I’m very proud of Shivers.

It was clear to everyone that Shivers’ glaring weakness in the fight was his conditioning. I regret that we didn’t have more time to get him in better shape. I think that if we had, we would have seen a different fight.

At least we have another week to train for the next fight. It came as no surprise that Rashad immediately picked Kimbo. We went for Rashad’s first pick, so we somewhat expected him to do the same. Now we were in a mad rush to get Kimbo ready for his fight with Roy Nelson… See you next week!

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