Featuring Ivan Trembow's Self-Important, Random Rants on Mixed Martial Arts, Video Games, Pro Wrestling, Television, Politics, Sports, and High-Quality Wool Socks
Friday, November 22, 2002
Mixed Martial Arts--- There's some kind of event on pay-per-view tonight, but I can't remember what it is. Oh yeah, it's only the biggest and most important card in the history of mixed martial arts. With a huge amount of mainstream media and the entire MMA community descending on Las Vegas, all eyes will be on tonight's fight between MMA legend Ken Shamrock and current Light Heavyweight Champion Tito Ortiz. Shamrock vs. Ortiz alone would be worth the $30 pay-per-view price tag in my opinion, but the rest of the card looks pretty damn good too.
First off, the question on everyone's mind: Who's going to win the main event? A good case can be made for Shamrock. He's been in more high-pressure situations than Ortiz, he has far more experience than Ortiz, and he is probably the most physically strong fighter that Ortiz has ever faced. If Tito is going to overpower and manhandle Shamrock like he does to everyone else, he's going to have a hard time doing it. Also, Tito hasn't fought since September 2001 due to a torn ACL, and his knee may or may not be 100 percent. Meanwhile, Shamrock just happens to be a master of leg submissions and should be able to go after Tito's knee effectively.
While that's a pretty good case for the 38-year-old Shamrock, there's a reason that Ortiz is the Vegas favorite to win the fight. He is a young fighter in his prime who has gone through everyone put in his path over the past couple years. He's probably not going to score a submission victory over Shamrock, but he should be able to counter his fair share of submissions and hold his own in the submission game as a whole. At the same time, Ortiz is far more dangerous than Shamrock in stand-up fighting and in ground-and-pound. In my opinion, that is going to be the difference in the fight.
I don't believe that Tito is going to knock out Ken while standing, but I do believe that he will ground and pound his way to a victory. Ken has never been particularly good from the bottom position, and he has never been taken down and pummeled with the kind of vicious elbow shots that Ortiz has made his signature. Those elbow shots are unlikely to knock Shamrock out on the ground, but as seen in the Ricco Rodriguez vs. Randy Couture fight, they do a hell of a lot of cumulative damage and are much more effective than punches or forearms. If Shamrock wins, it's going to be via submission, but the most likely scenario in my mind is that Ortiz wears down Shamrock with elbow shot after elbow shot en route to a TKO or decision victory.
In a championship fight that has been overshadowed by the Ortiz-Shamrock megafight, Matt Hughes defends his Welterweight Title against Gil Castillo. Castillo is a tough fighter with a lot of wins under his belt, but he was knocked around the ring for 25 minutes in his last UFC fight, which was against Dave Menne. I guess that displays Castillo's ability to take a lot of punishment without getting knocked out or TKO'ed, but he doesn't pose much of an offensive threat to Matt Hughes. In his two previous fights this year, Hughes completely dominated two top-notch fighters, Hayato Sakurai and Carlos Newton, and it would be hard for anyone to argue that Castillo is even in the same league as Sakurai and Newton. There's always a chance of a freakish, out of nowhere submission, but there's no doubt in my mind that Hughes will ground and pound his way to a TKO victory just like he did against Sakurai and Newton. If that happens, Hughes is definitely in the running for 2002's Fighter of the Year award.
With a shot at the winner of the Shamrock-Ortiz fight on the line, Chuck Liddell is set to face Renato "Babalu" Sobral. Liddell is not the most aggressive fighter in the world in terms of moving forward constantly, and most of Babalu's fights end up being anti-climactic stalemates. That combination could add up to a boring fight, but it doesn't change the fact that these are two world-class light heavyweight fighters. Realistically, I don't see how Babalu could win this match. Liddell can out-strike just about anybody in MMA, so he's not going to have a problem with Babalu in that regard. And honestly, if Liddell can overpower Vitor Belfort and just stand back up at will, anytime he feels like it, what would stop him from doing the same to Babalu? If Babalu couldn't pull off a submission in a loss to Kevin Randleman, why would he be able to do it against Liddell, especially considering the fact that Liddell knocked Randleman out? It might be a drawn-out decision victory, but I firmly believe that Chuck Liddell will win this fight and finally get his long-overdue Light Heavyweight Title shot against the winner of Shamrock-Ortiz.
There are a lot of potential big upsets on this card, and the one that I think is most likely to happen is up-and-coming welterweight Pete Spratt beating Carlos Newton. At the pre-event weigh-ins yesterday, Newton was not his normal self and was, in fact, very quiet and dejected. That probably means one of two things: Either he was demoralized by his one-sided loss to Matt Hughes over the summer and is not mentally prepared going into this fight, or he's just extremely focused on the fight at hand and doesn't want to be bothered with anything else. If Newton comes into the fight without his head in the game or if he's not in good shape physically, Pete Spratt could very well pull off the upset of the night. While that could happen, I personally don't believe that it will. Carlos Newton is the consummate professional and is still one of the best welterweight fighters in mixed martial arts, and there should be no shame in losing to the best 170-pound fighter in the world. I think a lot of people have forgotten just how good Newton is. Just look at his amazing fight in Japan against Pele earlier this year if you want proof of how much punishment Newton can absorb standing up, and his record as a submission artist speaks for itself. I'm picking Newton by submission.
In a fight that the UFC has chosen to open the live pay-per-view broadcast in the hopes of starting the event off with a bang, welterweight sensation Robbie Lawler faces Tiki Ghosen. Lawler's previous UFC victories over Aaron Riley and Steve Berger proved that he has a huge amount of heart and is a phenomenal kickboxer, but he has shown little-to-no skill when he's forced to the ground. I believe that someday soon, someone is going to take Lawler to the ground and expose his lack of ground-fighting experience, but I don't believe that person is going to be Tiki Ghosen. Tiki's a decent stand-up fighter, but I'm picking him to get knocked out by Lawler. The real question is: If Lawler does win, where does he go from here? With his training partner and friend Matt Hughes as the Welterweight Champion, Lawler is not going to be fighting for the title anytime soon. He's going to have to change weight class or just keep fighting other welterweights until the day comes that Hughes eventually loses the title to someone else.
The three undercard fights also have the potential to be exciting and will hopefully be shown on the PPV broadcast. Vladimir Matyushenko was set to face Frank Mir, but Mir injured a rib in training and was replaced by Travis Wiuff. Vladdy can take an insane amount of punishment, as he proved when he lasted 25 minutes in a decision loss to Tito Ortiz. I'm picking Vladdy to win despite the fact that Wiuff is 250 pounds of solid muscle. With Matyushenko just coming off a unanimous decision victory in Japan against Minotauro Nogueira's brother Rogerio, all of the momentum is on his side. I don't think he's going to lose to a young kid making his UFC debut who has never been in there with a big-name fighter. Wiuff could be a star down the road, I just don't think it's going to happen tonight.
In a fight that could last 15 seconds or 15 minutes, two undefeated middleweights face off as Mark Weir goes up against Phillip Miller. Weir's skinny frame makes him very susceptible to ground-and-pound, in much the same way that Anderson Silva would be susceptible to ground-and-pound if he ever fought Matt Hughes. Fortunately for Weir, Phillip Miller is no Matt Hughes. I can only base my prediction on the one UFC match that both of these guys have had. Weir knocked out UFC veteran Eugene Jackson in ten seconds, while Phillip Miller looked more than a little bit unimpressive in a decision victory over Frank Zikic. I'm picking Mark Weir to win this fight and continue to move up in the extremely deep UFC middleweight ranks.
Finally, Ian Freeman faces Andrei Arlovski in a fight that I think Freeman will win handily. A lot of MMA fans and writers are making the mistake of discounting Freeman and forgetting the fact that he just got done beating the previously undefeated Frank Mir into a stupor and winning by TKO in impressive fashion. Arlovski has never looked particularly impressive and may still be reeling from his recent knockout loss to Pedro Rizzo. Also, what happens nine times out of ten when a good grappler or ground-and-pound specialist like Freeman meets a good stand-up fighter like Arlovski? The stand-up fighter gets taken down and pummeled. That's exactly what I think will happen in this fight: Ian Freeman wins by TKO.