UFC on FOX 5: B.J. Penn Aims to Recover from Brutal Loss
December 12, 2012
The UFC on FOX: Henderson vs. Diaz has a solid fight card that not only solidified lightweight title holder Benson Henderson as the elite 155 pound fighter in the world, but also represented a changing of the guard for two legendary fighters that helped shape the MMA landscape.
Rory MacDonald dominated B.J. Penn for three rounds and landed punches and kicks at will. At no point did Penn ever make the fight competitive. MacDonald looked quicker on his feet as he defended takedowns and battered the body of Penn with leg kicks that seemed to come from every angle and direction. MacDonald spoke prior to the fight about being a huge B.J. Penn fan, then went out and easily beat up a legend of the sport and one of his idols in front of a nationally televised audience.
Was it the best B.J. Penn in the octagon on Saturday night? Of course not, But when was the last time that fight fans have seen Penn at his best? The last several years in the UFC have not been kind to the former UFC lightweight and welterweight title holder. Since his loss to Georges St. Pierre at UFC 94 in 2009, Penn has compiled a 3-4-1 record with his last three bouts fought to a draw with Jon Fitch and lost two in a row to Nick Diaz and Rory MacDonald, respectively.
The B.J. Penn loss to Rory McDonald was painful to watch and left no question as to the future of “The Prodigy.” If he decides to keep fighting in the UFC he must consider dropping back down to lightweight where he will have a better opportunity for success. His decision to fight at the welterweight level will only lead to losses and further physical and mental punishment. Penn simply cannot keep fighting the larger welterweights who cut weight from 200 pounds. The older Penn gets the slower he becomes and the less effective his takedowns become, as was proven in the match against MacDonald. There is still plenty of punch left in the hands of B.J. Penn, but they would be more effective against the smaller fighters. Today’s welterweights are just too quick and too strong for Penn and they easily beat him to the punch.
If UFC President Dana White decides to retain the services of B.J. Penn, he could do so by requiring Penn to fight at lightweight. Who would be a possible matchup for Penn in the lightweight division? Jon Fitch who fought Penn to a draw at UFC 127. That fight could be Penn’s last at welterweight or a possible catch weight because there would be no title on the line. Or, a B.J. Penn vs. Nate Diaz matchup. Both fighters are coming off losses and stylistically would make for a crowd pleasing fight.
If B.J. Penn decides to keep fighting it will be against the wishes of UFC President Dana White, but ultimately it will be a decision that only Penn can make. No one would fault Penn for hanging up his gloves and moving on to a new stage of his life. The future for Penn is uncertain, but the mark that he left on the sport is undeniable.
Andy Dalton and Bengals Pounce Early, Win Easily over Lifeless Oakland Raiders
December 9, 2012
The downward spiral for the Oakland Raiders continued as they visited Paul Brown Stadium and the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Raiders entered Sunday’s game on a three-game losing streak. After the dust settled, that streak was extended to four games with little evidence that it will be snapped any time soon.
This Raider squad just cannot seem to get out of their own way when it comes to mental mistakes and lackluster play. To say that the team played uninspired would be putting it lightly.
In fact, the only time the Raiders showed any heart was during an on-field brawl late in the fourth quarter that led to the ejection of defensive starters Tommy Kelly and Lamarr Houston.
The Bengals offense imposed their will on an over-matched Raider defense and dictated the flow of the game early and often. The Cincinnati offense, led by Andy Dalton, should be given all the credit for sticking to their game plan on offense, which consisted of a perfect combination of running the ball to set up the pass.
Andy Dalton made it look easy as he ended the game 16-of-30 with 210 yards and three touchdowns.
The main reason for the success of the passing game was the outstanding performance of running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who ran for 129 yards and one touchdown.
His two longest runs were for 48 and 39 yards, respectively. It was the first time since 2010 that Green-Ellis had a run of over 20 yards, and he did it twice against the Raiders pitiful defense.
If there was any silver lining to this dark cloud, it would be that the Raider secondary did not give up a touchdown reception to phenom wide receiver A.J. Green. He ended the day with a stat line of three receptions for 111 yards.
Once again, the Raiders were forced to abandon their nonexistent running game and play catch up by chucking the football all over the field. This would have been a great scheme had the Oakland receivers decided to actually catch any of the passes that were intended for them.
The “high powered” passing game took a huge hit today, and quarterback Carson Palmer had one of his worst statistical days of the season going 19-of-34 for 146 yards, one touchdown and one interception, while being sacked four times.
The lone highlight was a beautiful 20-yard pass to Denarius Moore for a TD late in the third quarter.
Much was made of the return of Carson Palmer to the franchise where he started his career, but that return quickly turned in to a nightmare for Palmer and the Raiders.
The Raider running game struggled to find any rhythm; Marcel Reece would finish the day with 15 rushes for 74 yards and no touchdowns.
Until the Raiders can find a rushing attack to add balance to the passing game, this offense will continue to fail.
The biggest disappointment of the day, as it has been every weekend, was the play of the Oakland Raiders defense, which is one the worst in the NFL and still shows no signs of getting better.
This unit has given up 169 points over the course of the team’s four-game losing streak.
Now, with the suspensions of key starters Tommy Kelly and Lamarr Houston, this dreadful defense could actually get worse.
With the season spiraling out of control and another losing campaign looming, this Oakland Raider squad needs a major gut check.
Someone from either side of the ball needs to step up and say enough is enough. The excuses need to stop and there needs to be accountability from this team and organization as a whole, and it needs to happen quickly.
Until that happens, the Raider Nation can expect more of the same results.
NFL- Oakland Raiders Sink to New Level with Embarrassing 55-20 Loss to Baltimore Ravens
November 15, 2012
It was not supposed to be easy, but on the other hand it was not supposed to be this bad. The Oakland Raiders have found a new level to sink to with their embarrassing 55-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. In fact, it would be safe to say that the Raiders never really showed up to the game at all. Excuses will be made and fingers will be pointed, but the bottom line is that this Oakland Raider team is just not that good. Now this statement will come as a shock to many die hard silver and black fans, but there comes a time when you must look yourself in the mirror and face the facts. It is going to get much worse before it gets any better. With their loss today the Raiders slip to 3-6 and with upcoming games to Cincinnati and New Orleans the slide doesn’t look to end in the near future.
The biggest culprit and main reason for this downward spiral is the uninspired play and overmatched defense. This squad matched the franchise record for most points given up in a game and have surrendered 97 points in the past two games. What does that mean? That means with every snap of the ball this defensive unit is poised to give up a touchdown, big play or an embarrassing run that will be seen on any of the major sports networks.
The Baltimore Ravens led by Joe Flacco put on a clinic against a punch less Raiders defense and ended the day with 341 yards passing, three touchdown passes and one touchdown run. Where the Raiders made an attempt to shut down the explosive Ray Rice they did little to stop the Baltimore passing game. If that were not enough the Oakland special teams were embarrassed twice as kicker Justin Tucker took the fake FG and ran it 34 yards for a touchdown and Jacoby Jones returned a 105 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. In a game where everything could go wrong the Raiders ensured that it all would. To date the Raiders defensive unit is giving up on average 245 yards passing and 124 yards rushing to its opponents. These numbers are not that of a playoff team let alone a tea looking to finish the season with a winning record. At some point a leader must emerge from this unit and inspire his teammates to take pride in their play and raise their game to the next level.
Despite the offensive numbers, Carson Palmer has done nothing to help the case of offensive coordinator Greg Knapp and a struggling Raiders offense that ranks sixth in the league passing with 281 ypg and thirty-first in the league with 77 ypg rushing. It is no secret that numbers do not win games in the NFL, a balanced offensive scheme led by a consistent ground game and a top flight defense wins in this league. The Raiders have none of those components and with both Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson injured there seems to be no relief in sight. Even when both running backs were health and playing the offense lacked big play ability and McFadden has looked lost out on the field. Carson Palmer cannot continue to attempt forty-five pass attempts a game and survive and entire season.
The Greg Knapp experiment has failed and at some point head Coach Dennis Allen is going to have to make a decision to either save the season and take the offense in a different direction or keep things the way they are and finish the season playing for a top five draft pick. Either way Raider fans need to brace themselves for a season of struggles and setbacks. GM Reggie McKenzie warned the Raider Nation that this would be a work in progress and success would not come easy. One would have to think that McKenzie never imagined things would be this bad so quickly.
Oakland Raiders Offense Looks To Capitalize on Last Season’s Success
July 21, 2011
The Oakland Raiders, along with 31 other teams, are anxiously awaiting the end of the NFL lockout.
The Raiders are looking to pick up where they left off last season, when they fought their way back to mediocrity and in turn doubled their previous seasons win total. The Raiders seem to have momentum in their favor and would like to build off of last season’s resurgence. Oakland went 8-8 and for the first time since 1991 went undefeated in the AFC West and narrowly missed the playoffs.
A lot has to happen for the Raiders to continue their journey back in to contention and atop of the AFC West mountain.
First of all, and most importantly, quarterback Jason Campbell must assert himself as the leader of the team once and for all. It is crucial that he distance himself from fan favorite, but oft-injured Bruce Gradkowski. Campbell must take control of the offense and silence all doubters by raising his level of play and cutting down on mental mistakes, inconsistencies and hesitations.
The offensive line will be an early indicator as to the direction of this Oakland team, and can easily spell success or failure for the Raiders. Rookie offensive lineman Stefen Wisniewski must establish himself early and be mentally and physically ready to be thrown into the fire. Gone will be guard Robert Gallery, along with him will be his gritty run blocking and usually suspect pass protection.
The Langston Walker and Mario Henderson experiments were complete failures and both should considerable playing time behind rookie LSU tackle Joseph Barksdale. Both Walker and Henderson were never “prototypical tackles” and struggled in both the run game and pass protection.
The bright spots on an otherwise dismal and underachieving unit were rookie Jared Valdheer and Samson Satele, who battled injuries throughout the season. The Raiders coaching staff must find permanent positions for Valdheer and guard/tackle Bruce Campbell. Campbell wowed scouts at the combine, but seemed lost at times and unable to physically dominate the opposition like he did in college.
For the Raiders to have any success, the offensive line must mesh quickly and provide a physical presence not only in the much improved running game, but on passing plays also. Last season Oakland ranked second in the league in rushing and 23rd overall in passing.
Running back Darren McFadden proved last season what he was capable of leading the team in rushing yards and trialing only Michael Bush in touchdowns. Now McFadden must build on last year’s performance and stay healthy for the entire season.
If he can do so, and Oakland re-signs backfield mate Michael Bush, the Raiders could potentially have one of best backfields in the NFL. But the key will be if McFadden can stay healthy for an entire season and use the dynamic skills that have the Raider Nation salivating.
Many questions surround the tight end and receiving corps coming in to the season. The biggest concern will be whether or not the Raiders re-sign tight end Zach Miller. If Oakland plans on making a run at the playoffs, that will hinge on the contract situation and play of one of the underrated and talented players in the game.
Oakland’s offense struggled when Miller was injured and unable to play. The Raiders offense, nor QB Jason Campbell, cannot afford to lose the playmaking ability of Miller. If anything, the Raiders must figure out a way to isolate Miller more and use him in as a go to receiver in as many offensive packages as possible.
The most glaring need for the Silver and Black offense is a reliable and playmaking wide receiver. Rookie Jacoby Ford turned heads and surprised many around the league with his play making ability. Unfortunately, this will not happen again, as many defensive coordinators will be keying on the second year receiver/return man.
The outlook is bleak for this group of Oakland receivers. Much can be said about this unit when fullback Marcell Reece is considered to have the best hands on the team. Both Louis Murphy and Chaz Schilens have battled injuries, but so does everyone at this level. Murphy has shown flashes, but has never been consistent. Schilens has the body that coaches drool over, but keep himself on the field long enough to make plays.
If anyone has seen seventh overall pick Darius Heyward-Bey, please notify the Oakland front office. The Raiders have filed a missing persons report on the disappointing receiver, known for disappearing on Sundays. Until DHB can put together a complete game and actually catch balls that are thrown to him, he will carry that very heavy and weighing label of “Bust.”
This Oakland team can be defined with one word: potential. The problem with that is so can every other team in the NFL. It is what is done with the talented players that set the great teams apart from the average. The Raiders have proven that they can win games with talented players, but not bona fide stars.
If new head coach Hue Jackson can energize this team and challenge them to shed any and all negative labels, this team has the “potential” to be not only exciting, but a force to be reckoned with in the NFL Playoffs.
Oakland A’s: Lack of Offense Has Disappointing 2011 Season at a Crossroads
July 16, 2011
The 2011 Oakland A’s are at a very pivotal crossroads halfway through the season. The deficiencies are obvious, and the problems are many.
At the half-way point of the 2011 season, the A’s own a disappointing 39-53 record, 12.5 games behind AL West leader Texas. And to add insult to injury, they are currently riding a four-game losing streak and are quickly sinking—not only in the rankings, but also farther and farther from the playoff picture.
The first and most basic question is, Why?
The simple and most obvious answer would be the lack of star power and offensive weapons. Prior to the All-Star break, the A’s were swept by the Texas Rangers and were shutout 11 times through 81 games. This is not how you challenge for a pennant and try to pack the seats of a deserted O.Co Coliseum.
The first half of the season has been frustrating for fans and players alike. Many sports “talking heads” picked Oakland to not only win the AL West, but also to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006, when they were swept in the ALCS.
But due to defensive lapses at critical times, the glaring lack of production up and down the batting order and the inability to put teams away, this seems to be the “same old A’s.”
Yes, the “same old A’s” are seemingly regressing and their season streaks of winning four, losing 10 and winning six are easily proof that this team is merely put on the field to “show up,” not to contend.
Let’s be honest, the powers that be and A’s ownership would rather be playing in packed stadiums in Fremont or San Jose. But the rub is that unless owner Lew Wolff loosens the financial restraints and allows GM Billy Beane to pay for players that can produce and help this team win, the glass and the stadium will always be “half full.”
Make no mistake, a large portion of the blame can be placed on Wolff and Beane, but at the end of the day it is the player that must go out and make contact with the ball and make those routine catches and throws.
This Oakland lineup is anemic at best, and that is being kind. The current Oakland squad ranks 28th overall in runs scored, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage—only the Padres and Mariners trail them.
Offseason acquisitions like Josh Willingham, Hideki Matsui and David DeJesus have offered very little bang for their buck, with Willingham ranking 63rd overall in RBI with 44. The scariest part is that he is far and away the team leader with 11 home runs to go along with those RBI.
Both Matsui and DeJesus have offered up their best Houdini impersonations, collecting crucial hits at times and then disappearing for the majority of others.
As the second half of the season begins, so do the speculations of exactly when and how this Oakland team will turn it around. There are no players from this squad that stand out offensively that could be used in a trade to acquire a big-name player and bat that could help energize this team.
The only thing left would be to dip into the bullpen and start dismantling the only bright spot on this team, ruining any chance to save an already disappointing season. It is the pitching staff that has kept Oakland in games night in and night out.
With several starters hurt and unable to audition for other teams, the A’s are left dangling with names like Balfour, Fuentes and Bailey. Of the three, only Bailey would stir any interest. Balfour has been solid, but Fuentes has done little to win over the Oakland fans—or any games for that matter.
The bright side is that the A’s cannot fall any farther than they already have. Being in last place of your division and 12.5 games behind can only motivate the players and executives to dig down—really deep down—and surge forward in an attempt to resurrect a season on the brink of disaster.
The clock is ticking on this Oakland A’s squad and something desperately needs to be done before time and the season run out.
UFC 132: Dominick Cruz Dominates Urijah Faber and Retains Title
July 4, 2011
The fight that many labeled as Bad Blood took place on Saturday, July 2nd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Fought between former WEC Bantamweight, and current UFC Bantamweight Champion, Dominick Cruz, and former WEC Featherweight Champion Urijah Faber, this fight was a rematch of their first from back in March of 2004 for the WEC Featherweight Championship—a fight that Faber, a Sacramento native, won by Guillotine choke a mere 1:38 into the first round.
In what was a complete reversal of fortune, it was Cruz who found himself on the winning end of the Unanimous Decision victory, and UFC President Dana White placing the UFC Bantamweight belt back around his more-than-deserving waist.
All the talk from both fighters leading up to the fight only promised fans a battle of epic proportions and with both fighters leaving it all in the octagon, as if to assure everyone who the dominant fighter was.
For five rounds, Dominick Cruz proved to be the better fighter as he confused Faber with his unorthodox fighting style, allowing him to land punches from every angle. Cruz kept a frenetic pace as he engaged Faber relentlessly.
Faber looked sharp, and while on two occasions was able to drop the Bantamweight Champion Cruz, Faber was never able to capitalize.
The most interesting aspect of the fight was that Faber was unable to land his signature takedowns to take the fight with Cruz to the ground. Faber was a perennial section wrestling champion from Lincoln High School and eventually earned a wrestling scholarship to U.C. Davis.
No, curiously enough it was Cruz who landed more takedowns and easily escaped several of Faber’s takedown attempts.
Both fighters would go home with Fight of the Night honors and bonuses to go along with it. Unfortunately, Faber will go home without the championship belt that he so covets and thinks that he deserves.
Cruz, on the other hand, will go home to San Diego with the belt still around his waist. But more than that, Cruz will walk away with the satisfaction of beating the last man to defeat him some four years ago.
The lasting questions from this epic fight will be: when will they fight again and who should challenge Cruz next? Cruz has looked completely dominant in each of his three title defenses.
With the ever growing stable of UFC Bantamweights, there is no shortage of fighters to step up and challenge the “Dominator.”
But the biggest question is, are any of them worthy?
Cruz owns two wins over highly ranked Joseph Benavidez, and now dominant wins over Faber, Scott Jorgenson and Brian Bowles. If Benavidez is able to beat Eddie Wineland in their upcoming fight, will he get his third shot at Cruz, or will Wineland be next in line if he beats Joey B?
What next for Cruz?
There is the possible rematch with former WEC champ Brian Bowles, who has won two in a row and beat Takeya Mizugaki Saturday night. A matchup with Brad Pickett or Demetrious Johnson doesn’t scream “Must Watch” for the PPV audience. Although both have winning streaks, Pickett at one and Johnson at four, that only leaves Masakatsu Ueda, and Ueda does not fight under the UFC banner.
That only leaves a possible matchup with Miguel Torres. A Torres fight would have been monumental several years ago when Torres held the WEC strap and owned the division, but now with Torres struggling to compete and win fights, that fight is unlikely to happen.
Unfortunately for Dominick Cruz, he seems to be his own worst enemy. He is just too good and holds wins over too many relevant fighters in the Top 10 of his respected division. This is the same problem that plagues UFC champions Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva.
The only thing that could work the MMA faithful into a frenzy would be a possible fight between Cruz and 145-pound king, UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo. Both fighters are exciting strikers and the matchup is intriguing. UFC President Dana White may have no choice but to have these champions fight.
The future for Dominick Cruz may be murky, but one thing is clear: after all the trash talk and bad blood boiled over, he was able to come out of his feud with Urijah Faber with the UFC Bantamweight belt around his waist, and his hand raised in the air victoriously.
Oakland A’s vs Florida Marlins: Defensive Lapses Cost A’s
July 1, 2011
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Unfortunately, the Oakland A’s just can’t seem to get out of their own way. A night after Gio Gonzalez pitched a one-hit gem and the A’s held on to beat the visiting Florida Marlins, the squad returned to their old habits and lost to the Marlins 3-0.
Guillermo Moscoso pitched six solid innings, striking out eight and only giving up four hits. Unfortunately, two of those hits were for home runs. After Emilio Bonifacio reached base on an error by short stop Cliff Pennington, all-star short stop Hanley Ramirez took a Moscoso fastball deep to center field and the Marlins jumped out early to a 2-0 lead.
For most teams, a two-run deficit would be easy to overcome. But for the Athletics, it might as well been 20 runs. This team is consistently plagued by inconsistent hitting and an inability to drive in runners that are on base.
Add to the mix, superb pitching by Ricky Nolasco who pitched a five-hit complete game shutout and offered little to the Oakland batter all night.
Despite the defensive lapses and a throwing error in the third inning by catcher Kurt Suzuki, the A’s were still in the game.
In the top of the fourth inning, outfielder Logan Morrison slammed the door of optimism shut with a 409-foot home run that put the Marlins up 3-0. Nolasco and the Fish never looked back.
There is a larger concern with this Oakland squad despite its anemic offense. This team was touted as having one of the best pitching staffs in the majors and a stout defense to go along with it.
The starting rotation has performed almost to expectations despite the loss of several key starters like Dallas Braden, Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson, Tyson Ross and now Grant Balfour. The biggest problem has been the bullpen and a platoon of relievers that seem to give up runs at the most inopportune times.
The fact of the matter is that the Oakland defense ranks next to last in the American League and 28th out of 30 in team defense. Much is made of the lack of offensive firepower, and rightfully so. The Oakland A’s rank last or next to last in every major offensive category, but this team will only go as far as its bullpen and defense takes it.
Two games into a nine-game homestand and the Oakland Athletics are at yet another crucial point of the season. These next seven games will determine the fate of this underachieving team. The A’s have been an unimpressive at home, going 20-17, and must take advantage of the “home-field advantage” and gain some ground on a surprisingly weak and wide open American League West.
Manager Bob Melvin has his hands full with this squad and must continue to tinker with the lineup in order to find the one that will ultimately give his team the greatest chance at winning. Until he does, this team has nowhere to go but up. They have proven talented enough to turn it around and string together wins. The question is whether or not too many games have been squandered
MMA: Diaz, Melendez Dominate, Retain Titles as New Strikeforce/Zuffa Era Begins
April 10, 2011
The Strikeforce/Zuffa Era kicked off in San Diego, Calif., and as many questions were answered, many more were posed. The biggest being: When will MMA fans see UFC fighters cross over and matchup with fighters from the Strikeforce stable?
On a night where some fighters proved that they belong under the brightest of lights, others proved that the long road to redemption is always difficult. And several were left asking: What happened and where do I go from here?
Shinya Aoki vs. Lyle Beerbohm
Beerbohm has now suffered two loses in a row and along with those loses will come the criticism of his overall skills and MMA record. Beerbohm has a bright future in the sport, but he obviously has to go back to square one and reevaluate his bloated record.
Let’s be honest, it would do him good to go back and string together some wins against top up-and-coming talent on the Strikeforce Challengers circuit.
Beerbohm is a victim of having fought very weak opponents early in his career. If he can rebound from this loss mentally, he should have no problem climbing his way up the ladder and eventually earn the attention and praise that he will ultimately deserve.
Aoki looked calm and smooth in what was his first return to the States since he last fought on U.S. soil and lost to Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez.
Aoki was looking to win convincingly, and that is exactly what he did in making quick work of Beerbohm. Aoki obviously took the Melendez beating seriously and will be looking to avenge that loss sometime in the near future.
Could a possible Aoki vs. Thomson match be looming on the horizon, with the winner getting the next crack at the champ Melendez?
Gegard Mousasi vs. Keith Jardine
The fight goes the distance and everyone in attendance is treated to an action-packed and all-out brawl. Jardine must be given credit for taking the fight on short notice, and unfortunately it showed, as his mouth was open and he was breathing from the first round until the end of the third.
Even with the point being taken from Mousasi for the illegal upkick, it was clear to all that Gegard Mousasi clearly won the by stalking and punishing Jardine for the majority of the fight.
Mousasi fed Jardine a steady diet of jabs and counter-strikes. Jardine did make it interesting by landing several takedowns, but if anything, they were merely for show. The fact that this fight was ruled a draw only proves that there is clearly a glaring problem with the judging system in mixed martial arts.
Up next for Mousasi? A possible rematch with “King” Mo Lawal, or a title fight with Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Dan Henderson?
Gilbert Melendez vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri
The one question going in to this fight was: How will lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez look after taking more than a year off?
Melendez wasted no time in shaking off the year-long, ring rust by punishing Tatsuya Kawajiri from the opening bell.
The only negative, if you can call it that, was the fact that Melendez let Kawajiri recover from the early onslaught of punches, only to unleash a ferocious barrage of punches and elbows not long after that.
Melendez proved to the fans in attendance and the MMA fans watching all around the world that he is the best lightweight fighter in the world. Kawajiri had a chance as he walked to the cage, unfortunately for him; once that door closed, it was all El Nino.
Melendez successfully defended his Strikeforce lightweight title in a lopsided annihilation of Tatsuya Kawajiri.
Melendez voiced his opinion about unifying the Strikeforce and UFC lightweight titles, and MMA fans can only hope and pray that his words were heard high atop the Zuffa mountain.
Other than the obvious matchups with the UFC lightweights, there really are no fighters under the Strikeforce banner that are worthy of challenging the champ.
Possibly a Thomson vs. Aoki fight with the winner getting a rematch, or maybe a K.J. Noons vs. Josh Thomsom fight will get fans excited.
Nick Diaz vs. Paul Daley
As expected, both fighters came out with every intention of putting the hurt on each other—and that is exactly what they did for the almost the entire first round.
The action was non-stop as both champion and challenger traded punches with neither fighter looking to give an inch. The biggest difference was the ability of Diaz to land the ground strikes and make them count.
Diaz is clearly the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, and there is no one in sight that can take that title from him.
Much has been made of a Nick Diaz vs. Tyron Woodley fight, but right now they are in completely different stratospheres.
In the end, the champion Diaz was able to finish off Daley, win his 10th consecutive fight and retain his Strikeforce welterweight championship title.
Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez easily walked over Kawajiri, and gave Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu a clean sweep on the night.
Both Diaz and Melendez are just too good to be fighting in such talent-lacking divisions. The only logical step would be for them to cross over and challenge the champions of the UFC in their respective weight classes.
The question fight fans are dying to know is: When, if ever, will this happen?
NBA: East Coast, West Coast Power Shift Is a Good Thing
March 21, 2011
Gordon Geko said it perfectly when he said “Greed is good!”
Maybe it is about time NBA fans embrace that motto and praise the players for teaming up. After all, the rivalries that may develop may be enough to send us into the next great era of NBA basketball.
The Los Angeles Lakers have Kobe, Gasol and Odom. The Mavericks have Kidd, Nowitzki, Marion and Terry. The Spurs, well the Spurs are the Spurs. And let’s not forget where we were when King James decided to take his talents to South Beach and team up with Wade and Bosh.
The point that I am getting at is that parody may be great for the NFL, but it stinks in the NBA. Think about the golden years of the league. The Knicks squads of the seventies were a complete “team,” The decade of the 80s had the stacked squads that seemed to dominate the nightly standings.
It was the “Showtime” Lakers and the “Bad Boys” of Detroit that left the longest lasting impressions. Their teams were stocked with super stars and role players from top to bottom. And that believe it or not, that was a good thing.
Nowadays, the watered down product that the NBA forces down our throats is not even comparable to those great teams. Expansion has forced the league to spread their stars too thin, and when they look around in the huddle, they usually do not see any other stars looking back at them.
The Cleveland Cavaliers proved that having the best player in the league means zilch, if the supporting cast around him is littered with players of minimal talent.
The self-imposed player contraction is helping to improve the NBA product. Instead of suffering and struggling every season to make the playoffs, star players can now join forces and enhance their chances of reaching the Finals and hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
The players of today are doing what David Stern and the team owners refuse to do. They are taking matters into their own hands and no longer look for the big pay day. No, they are looking for championship gold instead.
Take the new look New York Knicks for example. The Knicks had long been the laughing stock of the league, but that would not detour big man Amar’e Stoudemire from forcing his way out of Phoenix to join them. Stoudemire would be quickly be joined by and Chauncey Billups. And this is a great thing.
The NBA is better when basketball matters in the Big Apple. Of course the Knicks are probably at least a year from contending for the title, but Anthony and Billups have added a spark to a team that is looking to turn heads.
Gone are the days of watching stars in small markets and manning a rudderless ship with little to no help at all from their teammates. Take Kevin Garnett for example, he toiled in Minnesota for over a decade and for seven straight years he watched his season end as it always did; with a first round exit out of the playoffs.
As soon as KG joined forces with Lonely Boston Celtics superstar Paul Pierce and perennial all-star Ray Allen, the “Big Three” earned the ultimate prize and won the NBA Finals their first season together.
Has the player exodus from mid-market teams affected the overall NBA product? No, basketball is king in the larger markets like Los Angeles on the West Coast, and Boston and New York on the East Coast. Of course you can’t forget about San Antonio, Dallas and Miami. The Spurs have proven what veteran players, great coaching and selfless play can do. The jury is still out on Miami, and only time will tell.
This is exactly what the NBA and its fans need. Commissioner David Stern will never admit that his league expansion and globalization experiment has failed.
Dwindling attendance and the looming Collective Bargaining Agreement has proven to be a hurdle that may not be cleared. Let the players force themselves out of lousy markets, and sign with large market teams that will offer them a chance to win a ring. If players are where they want to be, they will play inspired basketball and that can only entertain the fans.
Yes, greed is a good thing. And right about now lets hope that the powers that be in the NBA decide to continue being greedy.
Gazzy Parman Is the Beauty and the Beast of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
March 10, 2011
How did you get involved in Jiu-Jitsu and grappling?
I was inspired by Bruce Lee and Ninja movies. My brother and I would watch movies and he started taking Kung-Fu classes in So-Cal. He got the bug and had our mom take us to a martial arts surplus store—and we bought ninja gear. We were really inspired by Bruce Lee and the Last Dragon.
How did you go from being a childhood female ninja to one of the top female grapplers in the world?
I was in Community College and working at a coffee cart. I bumped into a guy I grew up with and he told me his Dad opened a gym around the corner. It was a huge gym with tons of classes. He told me to come by because he knew I was into martial arts. I told him I would love to, but whatever tips I make go to my gas tank. We made a deal and I started folding towels for classes.
One of my instructors invited me to watch an in house BJJ tournament. I went to support my instructor and I saw all the people in GI’s and rolling around. I started taking BJJ classes and my first class, I had socks on. Apparently I did a good job, because Joe Marera, my BJJ instructor, asked me (after the free intro) when I was coming back. I told him I was a broke student and couldn’t afford to come back.
He said “I’ll make you a deal: You train every day for one year straight without missing a day and you can train for fee. If you break our deal and miss a day, then our deal is off.”
I was like “heck yeah!”
I went from training once a day to twice a day. I found myself sitting in anthropology class thinking about training and not listening to my teacher. I just became absorbed with BJJ and started teaching it one and a half years into it. I had taught Kempo after years of training, so I had teaching experience.
What has been the hardest martial arts discipline for you to learn?
That’s a great question. I would say Jiu-Jitsu because of how tough it is and the closeness of combat. That and I am a smaller-framed female and finding the right-sized training partners has always been a challenge. I am now feeling all the injuries from years of rolling with guys that are heavier than me.
How many years have you been involved with BJJ?
I have been involved with BJJ since January 1998. I started competing three months after I started training. My first tournament of competition, there were maybe three women competing—total—and that was a lot. Nowadays you go to a tournament and there are women all over. It’s very rewarding to see all the time and hard work that you have put in has helped the girls today and they don’t have to take the hard road. They can train with each other and compete with each other.
What type of barriers did you face and overcome to get to this point of where you are now?
I was broke the entire time I was training. I slept on mats in warehouses and on concrete floors and in gym locker rooms. I lived in Las Vegas and trained with John Lewis and Mark Layman for three years. I lived in John Lewis’ academy for a year and three months. I lived there and brought food in to eat. The food attracted mice and several times, I woke up with mice running across my chest. I have woken up with bloody noses. For a long time, I had fear of sleeping in the dark. I had to have a noise going. I slept in an attic with no door during a tropical rain storm in Brazil.
How were you received and treated in Brazil?
I was received politely. Myself and Leticia Reberio were going to be the first-ever female match in the history of Abu Dhabi. I went to Brazil to train for it with my team, because I could find high-level, lighter-weight training partners in Brazil.
One day, I heard some fighters talking about going on a run up Pena Agave and I asked to come along on the run and they told me to wait and I could go when they invited their girlfriends. I was devastated. Here I am, I spent all of this money to train in Brazil. The one thing that kept me going is that this is just who I am. I owe a lot to Dana and the UFC, because they sponsored me and gave me money to get down to Brazil and train.
I have an older brother that never let me play with him and his friends. So I grew up wanting to prove that I could do everything they could do.
Talk about what was going through your mind before your first tournament.
I was a white belt and there was a female blue belt from Brazil. Her instructor asked my instructor, Joe Marera, if we could compete and my instructor said no because she was heavier than me. I firmly voiced myself to him, letting him know that I wanted to do it.
I ended up winning the fight. I clearly won the fight, but they raised her hand instead of mine, because she was Brazilian and a higher rank.
The ref later came up and apologized and told me he was just doing what he thought was right.
What is the difference between training BJJ here in the states or in Brazil?
The level of No GI Jiu-Jitsu is much higher. Their GI Jiu Jitsu is much more advanced; keep in mind that I have not been there in several years. California has become a melting pot of top-level BJJ practitioners. The No GI in Brazil cannot even touch what California is doing; our level of wrestling has transferred over to our No GI situations a lot. We have a lot more access to extremely high-level wrestling, which can easily transfer to Jiu-Jitsu positions and can be tailored for BJJ.
What has helped women’s MMA in the US?
The support of men! There are some really good men out there that care and support and inspire their female counterparts. They care to see the women succeed and progress. They gave importance to the women and the females have done a fantastic job at pushing through and doing it anyways. Not to say that we couldn’t have done it on our own, but it took the men’s support to make it all manifest in to what it is today.
What were you like in High School?
I was a weightlifter. My electives were always weightlifting. I tried out and made the JV Basketball team, but I never left the bench; they never let me play.
Do you have any desire to compete in MMA? Is that an avenue that you thought about going down?
Here’s the thing. All these years I have been looking in the face of adversity and I have done fine and kept going. I am again faced with adversity, just in another form; I am getting older. I have injuries, I need to be a self-sufficient woman, my biological clock is ticking and I need to have a child soon. I also need to support myself and make money.
The amount of training required for an MMA fight with a person who has injuries that will need constant rehabilitation and treatment is very high. These things cost money; eating healthy and supplements cost money. I’d have to train, then when would I work, to make money to pay my bills?
I own a business called Level5 in San Diego, I own it, I run it, I manage it and I am the janitor. I take care of my mother. That’s what I am faced with.
I would love to fight MMA; I think I would do really well. I have a stand-up background people don’t really know about. My stand up is good and can only get better. I learn quickly and have a competitor’s mind.
It would take a lot of support, financial and physical. In a perfect world, I would get a reality show and be given all of the support to challenge myself and compete in MMA.
How important is the fighter’s diet?
Supplements and nutrition are vital to a fighter’s performance. It’s like a motorcycle without wheels.
Where do you come out on performance enhancing drugs? I am sure you have rolled with men who were on them?
I have rolled with men and women and competed against women who used that stuff.
Can you notice a difference? Can you tell by the way they grab GI? Can you tell instantly?
Yes, their strength levels, the way their eyes look. You can tell by their interaction that something is up with them. For the most part, it is easy to detect. I think it’s a joke. What’s going to happen is you are going to become addicted to those things and by the time you are in your late 30’s and early 40’s, you will have inner organs that are useless. PED’s might give you power and strength, but BJJ is about fluidity and flexibility.
How important is the mental aspect of your game?
Mental training is 100 percent of your game. Without mental training, you have nothing. I train my students at such a high level of stress that when they go compete, the matches are extremely easy.
Are you a lifer in this sport?
I have taken the cerebral route to Jiu-Jitsu, meaning I am the most experienced female referee in the world. I love the science of Jiu-Jitsu; because of my injuries I cannot be on the mat constantly, but I can sit back, analyze and game plan.
Do you feel like a pioneer that doesn’t get the recognition that you deserve?
Yes, but I am doing for the generations to come. I hope to be a women’s legend when I’m gone, but also appreciated while I’m here.
Any sponsors you want to thank?
Ringside, Zebra Mats, OnTheMat.com and of course Dana White.