I am a big fan of the sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).
What is MMA: I think of MMA as the decathlon of combat sports. It envolves techniques from Boxing, Kickboxing, Greco Roman Wrestling, Judo, Freestyle Wrestling, Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, Russian Sambo and a variety of other martial art including my beloved Karate.
The fighters: These are not just local tough guys who fell off a bar stool. To be successfull in MMA a fighter needs to be skilled at both stand up fighting(boxing/kickboxing) as well as submission grappling. They also have to be tremendous athlete with unbelievable toughness and amazing conditioning.
Why is Steve a fan: What fascinates me about the sport is the variety of techniques that can be used and how one person uses his or her skill set to counteract his opponents
let's say fighter A has a strong background in boxing and frestyle wrestling, fighter B has a strong background in kickboxing and judo.
At the begining of the bout their is usually some stand up action. How will fighter A use his boxing skill to offset fighter B's kickboxing and vice versa. What will happen when they invariably end up in a clinch will the judoka be able to throw or sweep the wrestler to the ground or will the wrestler use his balance to stop the judokas techniques and the employ some sort of wrestling take down. Once the fight hits the ground will the wrestler be able to use his skills to get on top and control the judoka or will the judoka be able to counteract the wrestlers strenghts with judo grappling techniques such as joint locks and chokes.
The main organization in the USA
The Ultimate Fighting Championship(UFC)
owners: Zuffa LLC
Based in: Las Vegas NV
Where do you see the UFC:
The UfC has six Pay Per View shows year on indemand ppv
The UFC also currently has three shows on Spike TV
1. TUF: The Ultimate Fighter reality show (they are currently showing season 2)
2. UFC unleashed: A weekly show that shows classic fights from the UFC archives
3. Ultimate Fight Night: Six live fight specials a year.
Mike Goldberg(no relation to my cousins) is the play by play man. He does a solid job. The WWE recently offered him big money to jump ship and commentate Pro wrestling matches. After some thought Goldberg turned them down.
Joe Rogan is the color comentator. Yes this is the same Joe Rogan of News Radio and Fear Factor fame. Alot of people online don't like Rogan because he gets overly excited at times. I think genuine enthusiasm from a comentator is good. Rogan also does a good job of explaining the intricacies of grappling to the uninitiated.
The champions and top contenders:
Andrei Arvloski:The current heaveyweight champion. Mr. Arvloski is an imposing figure at 6'4 240 lb. He has strong backgrounds in both kickboxing and Sambo(a russian grappling art). He won the title from Tim Sylvia with a big right hand followed by a beautiful ankle lock that forced sylvia to tap out(say uncle). Recently Andrei defended his title with a fifteen second K.O. of top contender Paul Buentello. The key to Andrei's recent success is in his tremendous quickness (along with ample punching power) I don't think Sylvia or Buentello has any concept of how quick Andrei is for his size. He has all the tools to have a very long reign as champion.
Tim Sylvia: The former heavyweight champion. Tim is 6'8 265. He is a big powerfull man who has good technique (he has had excellent coaches). Tim has gotten himself in trouble when he has underestimated his opponents. He got sloppy on the ground with a slick sub fighter in Frank Mir and got caught in a arm bar. Then he fought Andrei (see above). If Tim learns from his mistakes and continues to improve he may be able to regain the title.
Chuck "The Ice Man" Liddel: Liddel is the current 205lb champion and likely the most well known of the UFC fighters. Liddel has a back ground in collegeiate wrestling and pro kickboxing.
Chuck is not the geatest wrestler around but he does have tremendous take down defense .
He is not the greatest technical kickboxer either but he does posses one strike KO power in all four limbs. Liddel uses his strengths very well. Although MMA fighters are becoming incresingly more well rounded, few want to go toe to toe with liddel. Fighters often waste alot of energy trying to take liddel down to the ground and keep him their. By the time guys realize that their take down attempts on liddel are futtile they are usually completely exhusted. At this point liddel's opponents usually wilt under his potent striking power. This leads to a lot of spectacular knockouts.
Randy "The Natural" Couture: Randy Couture is considered an icon in the sport. He is former 2 time UFC heavyweight champion and a 2 time light heavyweight champion(205 division). Couture is a world class Greco Roman Wrestler who has developed solid boxing technique. Three years ago many people had given up on Couture. He had suffered back to back ko loses in the heavyweight division and he was 39 years old. Then he got the chance to fight lidell. At the time liddel had an aura of invinciblity (using the skills I discussed above). No one gave Randy much of a chance. Randy fought a beautiful fight, not wasting any energy trying to take Chuck down instead he used solid boxing technique and repeatedly beat Liddle to the punch. Through much of the fight Liddel stood flat footed waiting for take down attempts that never came, mean while he was loading up trying to land that one big punch or kick(it never landed). As the fight wore on liddle got increasingly frustrated. When liddel was sufficiently hurt and tired Couture closed the distance executed a nifty greco roman throw and finished Chuck Liddel on the ground with strikes.
The rematch almost 2 years later was a completely different story. Lidddel didn't stand flat footed wating for take down attempts and he didn't load up for a one strike ko. Liddel moved latteraly and used a good jab. Liddlel improved technique in the rematch led to Couture charging in off ballanced and being caught with a chopping right hand the ended his evening. Couture and liddle will have their rubber match in february on super bowl sunday weekend.
Rich "Ace" Franklin: (Nicknamed Ace because he looks like a very buff version of Jim Carey) Franklin is the champion in the 185 lb division. He has an undergraduate degree in mathmatics and a masters degree in education. He is a former Cincinnati high school teacher. Rich is a coach on the current season of the ultimate fighter reality show. Franklin represents the new new breed of fighters, these guys are tremendous athletes that are equally comfortable in a stand up fight or a grappling match. Franklin has spent most of his career fighting at the 205 weight limit, but dropped down to 185 this year and won the championship from Evan Tanner. While Franklin seems equally comfortable standing or on the ground he seems to prefer the stand up (much to the promoters delight). Franklin defends his title November 19th against Nate Quarry.
Nate "The Rock" Quarry: Nate Quarry was the most popular fighter on the first season of the ultimate fighter reality show. Nate (who trains in Gresham Oregon) comes across as a genuinely
classy down to earth guy. Quarry like Frankling Is a jack of all trades. He is listed as a Brazilian Ju-jitsu expert(submission grappler) , trains with two world class Greco Roman wrestlers ( Randy Couture and olympic silver medalist Mat Lindland) and has one his last three bouts with his boxing skills. Nate gets his opportunity to fight for the title at 185 lbs on the 19th of November. It should be a very exciting fight.
Matt Hughes: Hughes is the champion in the 170 division. He was an all american wrestler at the university of Iowa. He is also a two time UFC welterweight champion. At the start of his career he was a one dimensional wrestler. This has changed over the last few year. He has improved his striking and has developed an impressive submission grappling repetoir. Hughes can still be dull if he is in with a slick sumission grappler(charuto verrisimo). But if you put Hughes in with some one who takes the fight to him you are almost guaranteed an instant classic. Hughes almost always seem to rise to the challenge often times in spectacular fasion as he showed earlier this year in his match with frank trigg (which has to be seen to be believed).
Joe "The Deisel" Riggs: Riggs started his career as a 280 lb heavyweight and has morphed into a 17o lb welterweight. Riggs is a great athlete a very good wrestler and has tremendous power in his strikes. I have seen Riggs fight twice both times in the 185 division. In one fight he defeated the very talented Joe Doerkeson when he overwelmed him with strikes on the ground in the second round. In the other fight he was manhandeling Ivan Salaverry until he got over exuberant and dove in to throw a punch and caught an up kick in the face then fell into a triangle choke hold that he could not escape from. Riggs surpised many recently when he was able to make the 170 wgt and defeat the very talented Chris Lytle.
The holiday season came early for Riggs as he has been called in as a replacement( judo prodigy Karo Parysian the #1 contender has a severe quadricep injury) to fight for the title on Nov 19th against Matt Hughes. Riggs may not be a better all around fighter then Parysian, but his incredible power and striking prowess are far more dangerous to Hughes then anything Parysian could have thrown at the champ.
The UfC's Ultimate fighter season 2 finale will air Saturday Nov 5th at 9:00 live on Spike TV