Please send contributions to the different sections to TuesdayMorningSweep@gmail.com . The column will happen following major Zuffa/Forza Fight weekends but will not only be limited to that fight card.
UFC 143 crowned a new Welterweight Champion while Georges St-Pierre recovers. While it is uncertain at this point if this particular crown will be defended, there is a host of challenges in front of both of the main eventers, should they decide to fight in the immediate future. Carlos Condit could fight the winner of Jake Ellenberger-Diego Sanchez (if that is Sanchez then it brings all sorts of Jackson-Winklejohn’s issues) or Johny Hendricks in a close future. Both of those fights could be very interesting. The loser of the Ellenberger-Sanchez could fight Diaz in what would be a barn burner, regardless of who it is.
TMS thinks that welterweight is in good shape and should bring exciting fights in the next year, regardless of the status of the reigning Champion.
Much, much, much more after the jump
Defense or Lack Thereof #1: Ground Defense
Clifford Starks showed very little ability to withstand any kind of ground attack against Ed Herman. Admittedly, Herman is a good grappler with excellent submissions but in both occasions that Herman took him down Starks never attempted to regain guard or even lock a half guard up. Starks ended up paying for it in second round where he showed little technical ability to get out of a back mount and defending the choke.
Clifford Starks: "Uh ho, maybe this guy might be a better wrestler than I thought..." via l.yimg.com
Defense or Lack Thereof #2 : Missile Defense
The North American Treaty Organization (NATO) finally divulged that Europe’s territory would finally be protected by a missile shield in May of this year. The idea of the missile shield has been in negotiation, been through the grinder of the various national agencies, through public debates and the source international conflicts and acrimony for years. Russia was one country who did not see well the establishment of a USA-based missile-defense system (who are we kidding, NATO is a glorified ‘international’ extension of the United States’ department of defense. As one who has been in low-level meeting of Allied countries for unimportant defense matters, believe TMS in that the US runs the show in NATO.) President Obama’s cabinet was adamant in having Russia on board with the system and was criticized by the DoD and the opposition.
USS Monterey via upload.wikimedia.org
The only immediate problem is that the vaunted system will initially be consisted of an early warning radar system on the ground in Turkey and a bunch of SM-3 interceptor missiles onboard USS Monterey that would be posted in the Mediterranean. Granted, USS Monterey (CG-61) is an Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser that is designed for surface-to-air combat, this shield is a little on the weak side. Given the politics backing and issues already in the cards, who knows if subsequent phases of deployment for the system will happen anytime soon. The current schedule proposed is that the first ground station would be operational, in Romania, in 2015.
This is one of the perfect examples to explain why Defense costs so much money. How many meeting from politicians and aides have been necessary to convince all the parties that this would be a good idea? How many trips oversees the Generals and Admirals have had to have to get everybody on board of these projects? How many NATO meetings have been made, from the high rankers to the low-rung technical people to figure out the how and the when? How many foreign/allied technical people will flown to Romania to build this thing because of security issues? Not to mention that the base will probably require to be able to withstand a certain level of artillery fire (at the very least, could be even more ambitious) in order to preserve the integrity of the systems in place for the duration of an attack. Enormous amounts of top shelf materials. Enormous amounts of money. All that for very little results we can foresee at this very moment.
Sour Moments of the Week
Sour: Nick Diaz not recognizing fast enough that Condit was outlanding him and that he should have taken the fight to the ground or at least create scrambles that would have benefited him. When he finally did, he almost tapped Condit and dominated the exchange.
Sour: Both Raphael Natal and Michael Kuiper gassing in the middle of the second round and starting some of the sloppiest fighting in a long time. Vaunted by the commentary team of having sharp Jiu Jitsu, Natal botched an easy arm triangle on an exhausted opponent. Kuiper, despite being fairly athletic, managed to ward off a number of takedowns on good balance and good reactions despite very poor technique. Kuiper never digged for underhooks or push on the head or gave himself an angle to hit a whizzer. Kuiper needs a lot of wrestling work.
Sour: Henry Martinez attempting to neutralize Matthew Riddle from his back with Mission Control and as Rogan noted, let Riddle pass to side control. The concept of keeping control over the bigger man's body with the rubber guard was a good idea to force a standup, mis-using the technique is counter productive.
Also sour on that fight: Despite his experience in the Octogonal cage, Riddle is an extremely limited fighter. Riddle was thought to be one of those guys without experience coming from the tv show, like Josh Koscheck and Amir Sadollah, that would develop into something special in time, but that didn't happen. Riddle can wrestle and control people on the ground but is still not able to strike in any other way than throwing single strikes or endless one-twos. Martinez, about half his size, countered him so badly that he probably should have won the fight, despite him being on his back for most of the third round.
Sour: A fighter withering on the ground after a low blow, never a good sight but that was two big shots to the cup of Figueroa.
Even more sour: Herb Dean trying to work himself into the conversation on multiple occasions through the night. First by by taking two points away for those low shots of Carceres and then asking for action when there was plenty of action during the Koscheck-Pierce. TMS agrees that a point deducted was warranted but two point was preposterous amount of intervention when it was clearly accidental. One point is one thing, two was basically handing the win to Figueroa, a fight he lost all three rounds in TMS’s view. Not to mention the eye poking of Josh Koscheck that went unpunished.
Sweet Moments of the Week
Sweet: Stephen Thompson faked a body kick and came up top with very nice dexterity to knock out Dan Stittgen. The kick did not look to have tons of power and landed with the foot, but it was perfectly placed and surprised Stittgen. TMS is not certain of the future of a guy like Thompson, at twenty-eight, with very little grappling experience, but his striking is very exciting.
Sweet measured finishing shots by Matt Brown that took his time and made sure he made Cope pay for his lack of defense after the two shots that put him down.
Sweet strategy and execution by Carlos Condit. Condit found a way to stay on his feet, making sure not to engage Nick Diaz on the floor too much and still win. The gameplan was excellent and yet the execution of that plan was even better, never falling into the brawl that Diaz wanted, and outlanding him throughout the fight. Condit circled perfectly around Diaz, landing body shots, elbows and kicks while spinning out of range. What was also impressive is the way he threw everything people expected him: flying knees, spinning backfist, high kicks and associated violence, without any regard to the possibility of Diaz taking him down. Condit threw the kitchen sink at Diaz.
Max Holloway: "I shoulda drilled a little ground attacks..." via www.mmagospel.com
Sweet: Dustin Poirier light years ahead of Max Holloway on the ground, as noted before, and showed it pretty quickly after he ate a few punches from Holloway. Poirier made quick work of him on the ground. Sweet, sweet submission and transitions on the ground.
Sweet & Sour Moments of the Week.
Sweet & Sour: In the first round, while Fabricio Werdum was controlling the striking as he did most of the fight, Roy Nelson attempts one of his hail Mary punches and whiffs badly, ending up on the floor. Sweetly and swiftly Werdum, despite his striking dominance, takes the back in very impressive fashion. Nelson showed his grappling chops by evading the position quickly by doing all the right technical things.
Sweet & Sour: Very nice combination to the body at 4:30 in the first by Renan ‘Barao’ Pegado. A nice example of the boxing dominance of Pegado throughout the fight. Sour: Scott Jorgensen has problems when his volume and pressure fail to break the opponent. The same issue happened against Dominick Cruz. Barao was so good at countering that Jorgensen was left with throwing single strikes and eating shots by Pegado. Jorgensen has one gameplan and has no plan B whatever happens in the fight.
Sweet & Sour: Excellent strategy by Mike Pierce to take this to the fence to wear down Josh Koscheck. Pierce is hittable but he shows better movement than before. His willingness to stay in the pocket is commendable. The whole strategy won him the first two rounds for TMS. Sour: Koscheck should have lost this fight but he managed to convince the judges otherwise. TMS’s position was that one of the Koscheck ways to win was to take Pierce down and control him, similarly to the Johnson fight. Koscheck willingness to engage on the feet is not beneficial to him and he was paying for it.
Nelson can take a lot of punishment. Not the first time it has been said, but this fight shows once again, that he can take A LOT of punishment. He Kept going forward despite the health concerns that Werdum was shoving, in great quantities to his face. Nelson might be the toughest UFC heavyweight since Cabbage (or Kazuyuki Fujita if you go outside the UFC, and forget the last few years.)
Sweet & Sour: As TMS was waiting for the main event, it appeared quite obvious that 1994 had come around once more and that we were treated to Rage Against the Machine by Carlos Condit. Then flashbacks came right in again as Diaz came to the cage to the Deftones. Sweet because of the memories, sour because TMS feels old.
Bad MMA Ink of the Week
In the awful pigment of the week, TMS proposes: the 'Immortal':
Matt Brown asking himself 'Why did I had this thing done again?' via www.themmadigest.com
One of the thing that has been quite obvious for a long time is that Matt Brown, despite having good cardiovascular endurance, is far from being an immortal. Immortals are meant to be worthy of remembrance for generations to come. Immortals are deities that will forever be remembered for their valor, influence and their heroic actions. Matt Brown is none of these things. Matt Brown is a mediocre mixed-martial artist with the right idea (an attacking offence) but none of the skills that would make this idea pay off (lack of defence being the chief amongst them.) Yet he has this word tattooed on his belly (great location) in awful shaded lettering. And the collection other awful tattoos he has don't make up for the awfulness of this specific one.
Obscure Statistic of Fightmetric
In one of the most entertaining fights in UFC history, this weekend’s main eventer Nick Diaz battled Diego Sanchez to a loss at The Ultimate Fighter 2 Finale. During the fight, Sanchez landed five of eleven takedowns in what was the determining phase of the fight. At that time, Diaz was more than willing to engage from his back and wait for an opportunity to submit people. However, Sanchez has always been a difficult foe to submit given his own grappling acumen.
One of the myths about Nick Diaz is that he is way too willing to lay on his back an grapple from there and that Sanchez showed how to beat the man with top control, just as Sean Sherk repeated soon after. If there is a significant difference in Diaz’s game then and now is that Diaz will engage a foe from his back if he sees openings or does not feel threatened. When he does feel threatened or there is no opening, he shrimps out and gets back to his feet as soon as possible.
While the idea that Diaz would get controlled on the floor forever against GSP is a sound one, GSP has one of the best top control attack in the business, it depends where it happens. If GSP knee taps him in the middle of the cage like he did against BJ Penn (who knows if he will be able to do that after that knee injury), and controls him in the middle of the cage, then everything is possible. If he double/single legs him against the cage, Diaz will get back up. The other danger is that Diaz would get him in some submission in a transition. When GSP fought Jake Shields, Shields was supposed to be the best grappler he had faced, which is true, but Shields is much more about controlling the position and and then finding an opening, which often does not come. Diaz goes for submissions if he sees and opening, and he has excellent technique to finish those attempts successfully. Overall a very interesting puzzle to analyse, unfortunately, it won't be for now.
Obscure Fight of the Fight Finder
Carlos Condit started his career in MMA against a certain Nick Roscorla at Aztech Challenge, on September 6 2002, in Mexico city. Condit won the fight by rear-naked-choke at 0:52 of the first round. Rorscola fought one more time in his career after the Condit loss, losing to the immortal Billy Starks. Rorscola was coming into the fight off a loss to the Asgard-worthy Roli Delgado.
Also on the card was fellow Jackson-Winklejohn fighter Diego Sanchez, who won against homonym Jesus Sanchez via KO, and Dan Severn winning against fellow UFC alum Dan Christison, the first of two wins for the former over the latter, by decision.
East-West Blast Test
In this article, Yahoo! Blog writer Doug Farrar goes into some detail some of the reasons Tom Brady has become one of the best Quarterback in the history of football. The main takeaway is that most NFL quarterback learn one offensive system early in their career and then play mostly the same system, with adjustments, for the rest of their careers. Most fail miserably when thrown in a completely different system. Brady on the other hand, has moved from a run-heavy, manage the game and do not mess up, at the beginning of his to the first, almost completely, modern spread offense in 2007 to a lot of different looks, formations and concepts of the spread without a truly scary vertical threat. In short, Brady is a coach’s dream, he can assimilate a lot of different concepts into the game in a short amount of time, letting the coach be able to scheme for the personnel that it has; something all coaches try to do but are not always able to do because old habits die hard.
This ability to adapt to different situations and to be coached into getting better and doing the things that will enable you to win is something you can see leading to success in all sports. There will always be strong headed athletes that will go: "This is me, that’s my game, that’s how I play, take it or leave it." The MMA equivalent would be: "I don’t care what my opponent does, I will come in and impose my will and beat him." That might have worked back in 2002 but it won’t cut it most of the time in modern day MMA.
Perhaps the most brilliant example of the coachable MMA Athlete is welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. Georges has taken his early game of potent standup fighting and willed himself, and by coaches, to a devastating ground control game and adapting his game depending on the opponent. How far apart were his fights against Thiago Alves and Dan Hardy to the ones against Josh Koscheck and Jake Shields? Light years. From grappling heavy to all standup. The technical brilliance of his fight game could be improved (especially in the Jiu Jitsu department as he locks in positions that he could finish fights easier in) but he is still a lot farther ahead in that department than anybody else in the division.