Matt Hughes: A gateway to today’s MMA

nullWhen I think of Matt Hughes, I am reminded of quote from the classic movie Old School.

“I hate your guts, but damn do I respect you.”

I have never been a fan of the UFC Hall of Famer and former welterweight champion.

He has always been overly critical of other fighters while failing to evolve with the sport himself, in my opinion.

However, as he took to the octagon for perhaps the final time at UFC 135, I have to admit, I felt a little conflicted.

Though Hughes is not even a top 10 welterweight in my eyes, but his accomplishments are undeniable.

Read the rest of this entry »

UFC Matchmaking update – UFC 140 gets main event

nullLost in a weekend that saw the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix semifinals take place were some big fight announcements from the UFC.

Here is a look at three different UFC events that have added to their cards.

- UFC 140 in Toronto go its main event as heavyweights Frank Mir and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira will have their rematch. The two met back at UFC 92 with Mir handing Nogueira his first stoppage loss. Mir KO’d Big Nog in the second round. Nogueira claimed a staph infection hindered his abilities and has been seeking a rematch since. Mir has won his last two fights and looking to get back into the title hunt with a win while Nogueira is coming off his KO win over Brendan Schaub at UFC Rio. UFC 140 also added Tito Ortiz vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Brian Ebersole vs. Rory MacDonald to the lineup.

- UFC 139 picked up a big fight as middleweight Vitor Belfort will return to action when he takes on former Strikeforce champion, Cung Le. This will be a battle of perhaps the two fastest strikers in all of MMA. Le hasn’t fought since June of 2010, when he KO’d Scott Smith to avenge his only loss. Belfort is coming off a KO win over Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 133. This fight should come down to which fighter strikes first.

- Jon Fitch will make his long-awaited return to the octagon at UFC 141 when he faces off with Johny Hendricks. Fitch hasn’t competed since February when he had a draw against B.J. Penn. Fitch had shoulder surgery that put him on the shelf for a while. Fitch hasn’t lost since his 2008 title fight with Georges St. Pierre. Hendricks has one loss in his career, to Rick Story back in December of 2010. He has won his last two fights, but is facing the toughest opponent of his career when he squares off with Fitch.

Diego Sanchez out of UFC 135 with broken hand, Koscheck says he is in

nullWell a summer of injuries that plagued the UFC is starting to force its way into a stacked fall lineup.

According to UFC President Dana White’s Twitter account, Diego Sanchez is out of his co-main event bout with Matt Hughes at UFC 135 due to a broken hand.

White indicated that the UFC is searching for a replacement for Hughes, but just moments later, Josh Koscheck posted this on his Twitter account:

Oh ya 19 days then or something like that!!!! Either way it looks like I am in to fight matt Hugh if he takes it????

The blow is tough for Sanchez, who had won his last two bouts to improve to 23-4 in his career. A fight with Hughes gave Sanchez a chance to pick up a win over a Hall of Fame fighter and really put a stamp on his career. Sanchez was coming into the fight as the favorite to win.

Hughes (45-8) hasn’t fought since last November when he was KO’d by BJ Penn in 21 seconds. There don’t seem to be a lot of options left for Hughes in the octagon, but a fight with Koscheck wouldn’t seem too favorable for him.

Koscheck hasn’t competed since UFC 124 last December when he lost to Georges St. Pierre and suffered a broken orbital bone. Koscheck indicated he would be returning to action in November as a middleweight. Apparently plans have changed. Koscheck has the skill set to beat Hughes as his wrestling is on par with Hughes and his striking is far superior.

UFC 135 takes place Saturday, Sept. 24 from Denver.

Jon Fitch is mad as hell and doesn’t want to take it anymore

Jon Fitch has been a No. 1 contender for a long time, but a title fight doesn’t appear to be in his future.

A lengthy recovery from an injury has caused the UFC veteran to be lost in the mix in the UFC welterweight division.

As you can see in the video, Fitch is not happy about being passed up for many of the big fights in the division and he is ready to do something about it.

Fitch has some good points. The guy has one loss in 15 UFC fights, and that was to current champ, Georges St. Pierre.

He is coming off a draw against B.J. Penn, but had that been a five-round fight, it appeared that Fitch was well on his way to another win.

Despite his lack of finishes, Fitch is still one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world and he deserves more respect than he is getting.

Top 10 MMA Pound-for-Pound Rankings

nullIt has been two months since my last pound-for-pound rankings list, and only one fighter on the list has competed in that time.

Bantamweight Champion, Dominick Cruz made his UFC debut, and successfully beat Urijah Faber, but his win wasn’t strong enough to move him ahead of Frankie Edgar. So, my top 10 is the same, but there could be some serious shakeups in the next few months with the UFC putting together a number of big fights in the fall and early winter.

1. Anderson Silva (28-4): Silva is still the most feared opponent of anyone in MMA due to his devastating and unique striking ability. Chael Sonnen is the only man to make him look beatable, but Silva still found a way to beat him by submission despite a serious rib injury. Yushin Okami is next up for “The Spider” at UFC 134, which will be a good test for Silva, who has an obvious weakness in wrestling.

2. Georges St. Pierre (22-2): GSP will return to action in October to take on Nick Diaz. The welterweight kingpin hasn’t been challenged much in his recent fights, but he also hasn’t been that impressive either. St. Pierre is in need of a dominant win with a finish to really be considered for the top spot.

3. Jose Aldo (19-1): Aldo is set to face off with Kenny Florian in early October, defending his featherweight title for the second time in the UFC. Aldo is similar to Silva in the fact that his striking is so strong that many opponents have a hard time coming up with a game plan that they can stick to when they face off with him. Florian will provide a good test for Aldo, but it may not be enough to beat “Junior.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Top 10 Welterweight Rankings

nullThis week’s rankings turn to the welterweight division.

It has been a busy couple of months in this division as two of the top 10 suffered losses since my last 170-pound rankings came out.

So, without further ado, here are my top 10 in this division.

1. Georges St. Pierre (22-2) – St. Pierre successfully defeated Jake Shields, but did so by decision. His performance wasn’t great, but it was still enough to end a lengthy win streak by Shields. Instead of moving up to middleweight, St. Pierre will now take on Nick Diaz at UFC 137 in October.

2. Jon Fitch (23-3-1) – Fitch is coming off shoulder surgery and is targeting a return in late 2011. He was originally pushing for a title fight, but is now looking toward a rematch with B.J. Penn. With the UFC implementing five-round main events for non-title fights, Fitch would seem to have the edge there as he got stronger as the first fight with Penn went on.

3. Josh Koscheck (15-5) – Koscheck has been on the shelf for a few months now as he recovers from a broken orbital bone. Koscheck should return in late 2011, and hopefully he can continue to show some solid skills when he gets back. A powerful striker and wrestler, Koscheck has the skills to win it all if he can do the little things to put together the whole package.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jon Fitch wants to fight the best, nothing less

nullJon Fitch is tired of the days of facing lesser opponents.

After Rick Story called out Fitch following his win over Thiago Alves at UFC 130, Fitch has made it clear that he wants just one of two possible fights in an interview with MMAWeekly.com.

“I’m at a point in my career where I need to be fighting main events and main event fighters,” Fitch told MMAWeekly.com. “And if you don’t have a belt, currently, or you haven’t owned a belt in the UFC, I’m not really interested.”

“I’ve gone out of my way throughout my career to just fight everybody they put in front of me and it’s cost me dearly. When you fight somebody who no one knows and don’t recognize their name, it doesn’t matter how bad you beat them.

“I kind of had a talk with Rashad Evans during the expo up in Canada. (It) kind of opened up my eyes to it a little bit. He was telling me I (have to) stop screwing around, I have to think about my career, and I’m a main event fighter. I should only be fighting main event people.”

“I want BJ or GSP. Those are the only two guys I care (to fight) or have any interest in right now. If I (have to) sit out a year and wait for them, I’ll do it. That’s what I’m waiting to fight for.”

Fitch is currently out until late 2011 after shoulder surgery, but the 23-3-1 veteran of the UFC has a point. He has faced a number of unknown opponents during his UFC run and went through them all.

Fitch is a big enough name that he can demand top fights and not many people are going to argue. Still, the UFC doesn’t seem keen on giving him another bout with St. Pierre after GSP beat him up for five rounds in their first meeting.

MMA Top 10 Pound-For-Pound Rankings

nullWell, I have released all of my rankings for each weight class, so now I work my way back to my pound-for-pound list.

There hasn’t been an overwhelming amount of action in the UFC in the two months since I first released this list, but here is a look at the latest rankings.

1. Anderson Silva (28-4): Silva hasn’t competed since last February against Vitor Belfort, but he does have a fight that is getting closer and closer. Silva will face Yushin Okami at UFC 134 in August, looking to avenge a DQ loss to Okami back in 2006. Silva still has been the most impressive champion the UFC has ever had, despite a few lackluster performances. His knockout wins are legendary and his KO of Belfort was one of the greatest front kicks ever seen in MMA.

2. Georges St. Pierre (22-2): St. Pierre successfully defended his UFC Welterweight Championship against Jake Shields back at UFC 129 on April 30. It was another decision win for GSP, making it four straight, but a win nonetheless. St. Pierre suffered an eye injury during the bout, which hampered him in the final few rounds. Still, GSP is dealing with a lot of criticism following the bout and is now likely to face Strikeforce champion, Nick Diaz, as opposed to moving up to middleweight to face Silva.

3. Jose Aldo (19-1): Aldo also defended his UFC Featherweight Championship at UFC 129, beating Mark Hominick by decision. Aldo looked very beatable in the fifth and final round, as he was taken down and pounded on by a bloody Hominick in the final five minutes, but he still managed to do enough prior to that to earn a win. Aldo was originally expected to face Chad Mendes at UFC 133 in a title defense, but a medical suspension will keep Aldo from fighting until the fall of 2011.

Read the rest of this entry »

Best non-finishers in MMA

AP ImageGeorges St. Pierre is quickly losing favor with MMA fans.

Saturday’s UFC 129 bout with Jake Shields brought St. Pierre brought another decision victory for the welterweight champion, which was his fourth straight decision win.

St. Pierre has not won by stoppage since Jan. 31, 2009 when B.J. Penn failed to answer the bell for the fifth round.

Fans are growing tired of St. Pierre’s decision wins and his lack of “killer instinct,” and want to see him be more aggressive and finish his opponents like he did on his first run to the UFC title.

Now with 22 career wins, St. Pierre has had 9 decision victories and 13 wins by knockout or submission.

With that in mind, here are some of the other top fighters in MMA that have a few too many decisions to their credit.

Jon Fitch (23-3-1, 13 Decision victories) – Fitch has pretty much become the measuring stick of this category. He is one of the best in the world, but he just can’t seem to finish fights. Fitch is now on a run of 9-straight fights that have went to the judges. His last finish came back in June of 2007.

Randy Couture (19-11, 8 Decision victories) – Though a Hall of Famer and a legend, finishing opponents wasn’t necessarily Couture’s forte either. Actually, some of “The Natural’s” biggest wins were decisions including his victories over Tito Ortiz and Tim Sylvia.

Read the rest of this entry »

Is Nick Diaz the man that can beat GSP?

nullIt didn’t take fans long after Georges St. Pierre beat Jake Shields at UFC 129 to start clamoring for St. Pierre’s next opponent.

Despite talk of a super fight between GSP and Anderson Silva, the fans are requesting a champion vs. champion showdown between St. Pierre and Strikeforce Welterweight Champion, Nick Diaz.

Diaz’ hype man trainer, Cesar Gracie, had some very strong thoughts about the fight that he told MMAMainia.

“Nick is a superstar already. He is. Wherever we go with the guy, everybody, fan support, whether you love him or hate him, you have to respect his fighting style.”

“You got a guy like GSP and he’s fighting to just win and you’ve got a guy like Nick Diaz, who’s fighting to beat your ass. The fans, I think know the difference now and I think that’s why if you go to forums, if you wanted to talk about after this particular show, look at all the amazing things that happened: Randy Couture retiring, that’s huge. You had that great kick from Machida, you had so many things happen that were phenomenal but what most people were talking about is Nick Diaz and he didn’t even fight.”

“You want to talk about superstardom? Nick Diaz IS the superstar right now and he didn’t get there by playing any games. He’s not gonna play the game. He is who he is and I think people are finally getting sick and tired of the BS and the polished answers. These guys are great athletes but they’re not fighters and a guy like Nick captures the imagination of what MMA is truly about or was supposed to be about.”

Diaz has been impressive, but I think the level of competition for both fighters has been vastly different.

Read the rest of this entry »