Alistair Overeem: Another quick fall in MMA

The MMA gods can be very cruel.

One minute you can be on top, the next you are at the very bottom.

Such is the case for heavyweight Alistair Overeem. His fight last night at UFC Fight Night 26 was almost a perfect example of how quickly a career can change.

Needing a win over respectable contender Travis Browne, Overeem seemed like the “Demoltion Man” early on, hammering Browne with big fists. He looked like a heavyweight contender once again.

However, just moments later Overeem ate a picture-perfect front kick that led to a surprising KO loss.

Now Overeem finds himself having lost two straight fights and, when you mix in a suspension that cancelled a title fight in 2012, he could be on the chopping block. It’s been a meteoric fall for Overeem, but he’s not the only one that has been in similar position. Here’s a few other notable quick collapses.

Chuck Liddell – The Iceman seemed unbeatable when he was the UFC Light Heavyweight champion in the mid-2000s, but that all changed with a Quinton “Rampage Jackson” hook. One big punch from Jackson ended Liddell’s title reign and set the course for his surprising demise in the UFC. Liddell went on to go 1-5 over the next three years, losing four times by KO. He was forced to retire in 2010 after being blasted by Rich Franklin.

Brock Lesnar – Lesnar seemed too good to be true, and he was. The physically imposing heavyweight broke onto the UFC scene in 2008 and was champion within a year. However, once Lesnar started to meet up with heavyweights that could match his strength and wrestling ability, he quickly turned into a softy. Though he beat Shane Carwin by submission, he was pummeled in the first round and that seemed to destroy his mystique. From there Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem ran right through him and Lesnar decided to retire from the sport.

B.J. Penn – Though Penn is still considered by many to be the greatest lightweight in MMA history, he didn’t go out on a high point in the UFC. He seemed to be a human wrecking ball at 155 pounds after dominating the likes of Kenny Florian, Sean Sherk and Diego Sanchez, but a pair of decision losses to Frankie Edgar seemed to put his career on the wrong track. While he did pick up a quick KO of Matt Hughes after, he looked sluggish in a draw against Jon Fitch and was thoroughly picked apart by Nick Diaz and Rory MacDonald before taking time away. The fear Penn used to put into his opponents is long gone.

Ranking Fedor Emelianenko among the MMA greats

nullLast week, “The Last Emporer” Fedor Emelianenko decided to call it a career following his first round KO win over Pedro Rizzo at a M-1 Global event.

It wasn’t the way many envisioned Fedor stepping away from MMA.

For a man that went undefeated for a 10-year span, Fedor should have been someone that ended his career in a blaze of glory.

Instead, he ended his career on a three-fight win streak over fighters that had passed their prime long before he did.

The lasting images of Fedor seem to be a tapout to Fabricio Werdum, a bloody face at the hands of Antonio Silva, and face-down body thanks to a big hand from Dan Henderson.

There is no shame in Fedor’s losses, as time makes cowards of us all, but we all hoped for greater things from Fedor. Perhaps greater than he could really achieve.

Fedor is following in the footsteps of many MMA legends before him.

There was a time that Tito Ortiz seemed unbeatable in the UFC. Now, he is not even top 10 in the light heavyweight division.

Chuck Liddell was untouchable when he finally won the UFC title, but he soon developed a glass jaw and simply couldn’t beat anyone.

Matt Hughes is still referenced as the greatest welterweight champion in UFC history, but he has not been a title contender for five years.

All of these men should have no shame. Nobody can sustain a level of performance that they achieved for very long.

Even today, the likes of Jon Jones and Anderson Silva appear to be flawless. But, there will be a day when they too must accept the fate of time.

Looking back, it is hard to imagine anyone will have the kind of run Fedor did during the first 10 years of the new millennium. He won 28 fights in that time without a single loss and fought the majority of the top fighters in the heavyweight division at that time. He also did so as an undersized heavyweight.

Anderson Silva has been unbeaten since 2006 and has done so very impressively, but in today’s age of MMA, with fighters evolving so quickly, you have to imagine someone will have his number sooner rather than later.

The same can be said for Jon Jones. A better, younger, and stronger Jon Jones is being built right now in gyms around the world.

Fedor did what few have. He managed to stay ahead of the game for 10 years. It is a feat that may never be repeated. For that reason, it is fair to call him the greatest heavyweight in MMA history and maybe even the greatest fighter in all of MMA history.

UFC 147 Main Event: Worst Ever?

nullIf you weren’t paying attention, you may not realize that UFC 147 is taking place this Saturday.

Part of the reason you may not realize this is because the UFC isn’t really going overboard trying to promote it.

The injury bug played a role in this card as the original main event was set to be Vitor Belfort vs. Wanderlei Silva. The event is taking place in Brazil and these two coached the inaugural season of “The Ultimate Fighter Brazil.”

While that fight lacks star power in the U.S., it was still a major fight in Brazil and had some meaning as Belfort was working his way back to a title shot.

However, Belfort broke his hand, and now the main event is Rich Franklin vs. Wanderlei Silva 2, a rematch of their UFC 99 main event back in June of 2009.

While the fight itself could be very entertaining, it could be one of the worst main events in UFC history in regards to what the fight actually means.

Neither fighter is anywhere near a title shot and both are on the tail end of their careers. Their UFC 99 main event was somewhat of a stretch as it was, and it has even less meaning now.

Again, I want to state that when I say “worst main event” I am not referring to the actual entertainment value of the fight. To me, main events should be left for title fights or elite top contender matchups. This main event at UFC 147 is neither.

Sure, there have been some shaky main events before like Chris Leben vs. Mark Munoz or Yushin Okami vs. Nate Marquardt, but those took place in events that aired on live television. This is actually a PPV that costs $45 to watch ($55 if you want HD).

You could even compare it to the likes of UFC 119, which had Frank Mir vs. Mirko Cro Cop as the main event, but Frank Mir was much closer to a title fight then than Franklin or Silva are now.

Really the closest fight by comparison is the main event at UFC 115 when Franklin faced Chuck Liddell. But, even that featured Liddell in a “retirement fight” that garnered some extra interest.

Hopefully the fight is explosive and gives people a reason to watch that pay their money. But, given the talented roster the UFC has these days, these types of main events should be closer and closer to extinction.

Fedor Emelianenko: The Fall of the Last Emperor

nullWith every great moment in sports history, there is typically one that is just as sad a little further down the road.

No matter how invincible we think people like Anderson Silva or Georges St. Pierre are, time will make a coward of them all.

Such is the case with Fedor Emelianenko.

From 2000-2010 Fedor was considered a god in MMA. He went 10 years without losing a fight. It seemed impossible, but he kept finding ways to win. Through PRIDE to Affliction to Strikeforce, he kept finding himself on top.

But, as time moved on, fighters kept improving, while Fedor has hit a standstill with his evolving in the sport.

Now, a loser of three straight after being stopped by Fabricio Werdum, Antonio Silva, and now Dan Henderson, “The Last Emperor” looks like someone that has been dethroned.

Is Fedor still a top-level fighter? Yes.

He is still someone that can compete with the best.

But, he is far from the legend that he created over the last 10 years.

Read the rest of this entry »

MMA Game Changers: Rashad Evans

nullIt’s easy to bring up the word game changer and think of one man in the light heavyweight division.

The obvious answer is current champion, Jon Jones.

But, while Jones still has a few questions to answer, one man that truly changed the landscape of the division is Rashad Evans.

The winner of Season 2 of the Ultimate Fighter, Evans is a fighter that puts together a unique combination of elite-level wrestling and devastating striking.

Evans more represents today’s growing crop of MMA stars than any other in the UFC, especially in the light heavyweight division.

Evans started as a wrestler, coming off a successful collegiate career at Michigan State University, but as he evolved in the UFC, he became one of the top knockout artists in the organization.

His head kick KO of Sean Salmon put Evans on the map, but his brutal right hand KO of Chuck Liddell back at UFC 88 is what truly signified a new time in the UFC.

Read the rest of this entry »