If you have read my previous postings since the ChicagoNow launch, you know that I am probably not too disappointed that the Brock Lesnar match against Shane Carwin was replaced this weekend with Tito Ortiz's re-match against Forrest Griffin. Lesnar was not able to fight due to medical reasons. I am not happy to hear about any medical condition striking a person, I am just happy that I won't have to watch him fight.
Saturday night's Mandalay Bay event in Las Vegas will be the UFC's 106th card. It will feature the following fights on the main event.
Forrest Griffin vs Tito Ortiz
Anthony Johnson vs Josh Koscheck
Luis Cane vs Antonio Rogerio Nogueira
Phil Baroni vs Amir Sadolia
Paulo Thiago vs Jacob Volkman
SPIKETV will feature the following fights on a preliminary card
Marcus Davis vs Ben Saunders
Kendall Grove vs Jake Rosholt
Unaired bouts on the undercard are:
Brian Foster vs Brock Larson
Fabricio Camoes vs Caol Uno
Jason Dent vs George Sotiropoulos
Fighters in Bold are my Hopeful winners.
Tito Oritz (15-6-1) vs Forrest Griffin (16-6-0)
Ortiz and Griffin will hopefully prove to be a more decisive
performance than their original meeting in April, 2006. Ortiz won the decision in their first
fight, but by most peoples standard on the whim of one successful takedown. Ortiz ended up having back
surgery after his controversial win leading to about a 2 year hiatus from the
sport. His recovery lead to other
opportunities, his appearance on The
Celebrity Apprentice, the birth of his twins and charity work like his most
recent Ultimate Blood Drive, which brought 285 donors.
Griffin who demonstrated clear anger and disappointment with
the decision on April 15, 2006, admits that "In the beginning, fighting was fun
- I wasn't concerned with the outcome...At some point, I started training out of
fear and anger. I wasn't really
happy. Right now, it's about
staying positive and enjoying the moment"
Griffin has approached his training for the Ortiz rematch by first enjoying
the process. His overall
performance and ability to keep it together under the pressure inside the cage
is contingent on his ability to enjoy his occupation.
I think that Ortiz is a fighter who despises rest and
handles it poorly. Additionally, Ortiz really only has one game plan - ground
and pound. Griffin I believe knows
how to answer this situation.
Ortiz who is considered to be one of the masters of this strategy does
not have great BJJ skills to enhance his signature tactic. Don't get me wrong, the ground and
pound is still a legitimate strategy for a fighter to take a win, I just can't
believe he has really had enough time during his rehabilitation period to
evolve his MMA skills, which in turn make his ground and pound a savvy approach
against a seasoned fighter like Griffin.
Antonio Rogerlo Nogueira (17-3-0) vs Luis Cane (11-1-1)
Rogerlo Nogueira who makes his UFC debut against Cane will
probably confuse the fans since his twin brother Rodrigo Nogueira was recently
hyped in the MMA world for his scheduled fight against Cain Velasquez. Unfortunately, Rodrigo Nogueira is not
able to make this match because of staph infection. However, he predicts that his brother will shock the world. Like his brother, Rogerlo Nogueira will
enter the cage against Cane with lofty boxing skills and a solid ground game
and wrestling defense. Nogueira is
a medaling boxer at the South American Games and the Pan-AM Games.
Cane will show up tonight with the momentum of 3 wins
on his last UFC cards. Despite only beginning his MMA fight training 4-5 years ago, he is hard hitting and certainly should not give his opponent
too much of a challenge if the game become a boxing match. However, Cane is riding high on a
positive wave that should carrying him through the cage with tremendous force. Although both fighters are experienced in MMA, Cane is not making his first debut. I am not going to say that Cane is a better fighter overall,
but I think tonight he will be.
Josh Koscheck (13-4-0) vs Anthony Johnson (8-2-0)
Josh Koscheck (13-4-0) vs Anthony Johnson (8-2-0)
Koscheck and Johnson are both coming off wins. Koscheck before beating Frank Trigg on
UFC's Belfort card, took a loss to Paulo Thiago, who also fights on tonight's
line-up. Many people feel that
this loss wasn't that big of a deal since Thaigo isn't well known yet in the
MMA community. I disagree and feel
that Thiago is a solid fighter and it was a revealing loss. Regardless, tonight Koscheck has a bit more
experience on his side and has had more access to top training and training
partners. Koscheck who entered on
the scene from The Ultimate Fighter
reality show is still an unbelievably athletic fighter despite the TKO loss
against Thiago. He is forceful is
his defense and has refined his striking game. Word is that his trainers have been schooling him on
integrating his wrestling attempts and defense with combinations. I expect to see Koscheck follow up with strikes when his takedown opportunities fail or when he answers one defensively.
Johnson's last match-up was against Yoshiyuki Yoshida in UFC 104. So it was only a month ago that he fought for the UFC. Most would think he is nuts to take a
fight with such little preparation, however, he won in 41 seconds of the first
round, walking out barely sweating.
Johnson, like Koscheck is hoping this fight will lead to a title shot
next year. However, Johnson fights
out of Cung Le's training camp and is a sanshou stylist. So like Cung Le (who I honestly love
watching), Johnson is explosive and has a lot of parlor tricks. However, despite being a fan of Le, his
style and his game, I am not sure that Johnson has really being exposed to as
much true MMA training as Koscheck.
Koscheck seems to understand that relying on his wrestling will
stunt his growth in the sport, has expanded his game by focusing on the weaknesses
that a wrestler has inside the cage.
Johnson is very focused on the Cung Le's training regiment. Although amazing in its entirety, the
fast kicks and awesome takedowns, I am not so sure this style has evolved enough to
offer a well-rounded strategy for those who train to answer it and bring a
little BJJ with them.