Greetings to you all, you miserable bunch of disgruntled rappers, failed venture capitalists, "writers", basement-dwelling trolls, Zuffa zombies, miscreants, churls, and miserable scumbags. Welcome to this week's edition of the Haters' Guide, where Mookie Alexander and I (Patrick Wyman) shoot the breeze about a variety of topics related to the upcoming card.
UFC 171, featuring a highly-anticipated matchup between bruisers Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler, is a pretty fantastic card top to bottom. What is there to hate, you ask? Plenty, say the haters. Let's get things started on the right foot with this delightful tweet from Chris Nelson:
UFC 171 ad may as well have a voiceover, "look this French Canadian pussy vacated the belt so we're gonna have 2 fuckin cavemen bang for it"— Chris Nelson (@3amMMA) March 1, 2014
Jake Shields' Powderpuff Kickboxing
Patrick: Jake Shields seems like a pretty nice guy, and he plays the essential straight man to the Diaz brothers' wacky hijinks in the Skrap Pack ecosystem. Though I don't particularly enjoy his game, I guess I could see the appeal if I squinted hard enough through the Hubble telescope. Regardless of whether you prefer to see him as a fantastic grappler or as boring as a FarmersOnly-sponsored grass-growing competition in a drought year, however, you have to admit that Jake Shields is absolutely fucking terrible at hitting other people.
Shields is willing enough to engage, and he has a cast-iron sink of a chin. He even throws his strikes with fairly decent technique and works at a good pace. The problem, however, is that there are light summer breezes - you know, the kind that carry that subtle aroma of overcooked barbeque and lukewarm, off-brand light beer - more capable of inflicting serious damage than even the hardest punch or kick thrown by Jake Shields. I've watched every one of Shields' fights since 2006, and he's never succeeded in really hurting an opponent on the feet, much less knocking one down. For those of you scoring at home, that's zero knockdowns in his last 20 fights. He should've gotten one by accident just through the pure dumb luck of putting his fist or shin on somebody's chin as they were diving forward.
He might not be the worst striker in MMA, but Shields is the platonic ideal of pillow-fistedness. He embodies it, embraces it, wears it like a pair of those comically oversized boxing gloves beloved of drunken frat boys and cake-addled six year-olds at birthday parties. If we accept as a basic proposition that the point of striking is to hurt the opponent, then we have no choice but to admit that Shields might well be the worst of all time. He's got eight points of contact with which to damage his opponent, and he can't use a single one to so much as put a mark on the other guy. Leaving aside a propensity for eye-gouging that wouldn't shame a gangbanging teenaged girl, I've seen playground slap-fights between toddlers that resulted in more serious injuries than going five rounds with Jake Shields. It's almost like his opponents can't believe that he's hitting them, as if they can't take seriously the idea that Jake Shields - Jake Shields - is really trying to throw down with them.
Mookie: Jake Shields is fascinating to watch in a really twisted way. The last time I actually enjoyed watching him fight was when he choked out Robbie Lawler 5 years ago. And aside from Jake Ellenberger smashing him, the bulk of his recent bouts have ended with boos. He is the black hole of entertainment and he's *this* close to a title shot.
His striking is painful. The only person he hurts with his punches and kicks is me because I actually sit through this mess because I'm an MMA writer and it's my obligation to be a miserable git. And the scariest thing? It works. Akiyama couldn't solve the high-volume of body kicks and was frozen in time for more than half the fight. Shields' power is akin to the light brushstrokes that Bob Ross used on those art programs on PBS. I can only assume that Joe Rogan's claim that Leonard Garcia's power is a "curse" is because the MMA god(s) took all of it out of Shields and transferred it to him.
Patrick: Bob Ross is a wonderful human being and an American icon, Mookie, and I won't stand here and let you smear his reputation by mentioning him in the same sentence as Jake Fucking Shields. I challenge you to a battle of Andy Hug (HOOG?) axe kicks inspired by the inimitable Bloodstain Lane.
Mookie: Bloodstain Lane would destroy Jake Shields in a pure kickboxing contest. I mean, how the hell can Greg Jackson gameplan for this guy's moves? Oh MMA fans, you create and worship the worst cult figures in sports.
The Texas Department of Licensing
Mookie: A card this good is soiled by the fact that it's in Texas. This state does not deserve good things because of their propensity to turn it into a Houston Astros level of disaster. There is a significant chance that by the end of Saturday night you'll be infuriated by something related to their awful DoL. Remember how awesome UFC 166 was? One of the best cards I've ever seen. That didn't stop Texas from swooping in and mangling the CB Dollaway/Tim Boetsch decision, a referee letting Adlan Amagov come within seconds of a manslaughter charge against T.J. Waldburger, or revealing Jessica Eye's failed drug test 4 months after her fight against Sarah Kaufman. And that's just for THAT show, I haven't even included the gross incompetence of licensed ref and judge Jon Schorle or their boxing travesties (see: any scorecard turned in by Gale Van Hoy). There's no such thing as a well-run Texas event, which is why you see the Dallas Cowboys gag every December.
Patrick: Texans have been pretty clear that they want less government in their lives, and they fund their public institutions as such. Need to get a license for a fighter who's been popped for steroids three times? Go to Texas (Josh Barnett). Want to avoid questions about the superhuman, supposedly horsemeat-induced growth of a monstrous heavyweight? Go to Texas (Overeem).
Predictably, the Texas Department of Licensing is a total and complete clusterfuck, in large part because you get what you pay for, but also because they can't seem to pull off an event in any combat sport without making your average tribal casino commission (yes, I'm looking at you, Bellator) look like a model of perfect Scandinavian efficiency. We can only speculate about what gross malfeasance they'll commit this weekend in some obvious and easily avoidable way.
Nikita Krylov - Main Card fighter
Mookie: As you may or may not know, this weekend's televised prelims are on Fox Sports 2 because the UFC is not quite bigger than Big East College Basketball with Gus Johnson yelling his head off over Creighton going up 10-4 with 15:44 left in the 1st half. There are 4 ranked fighters on the prelims (Story, Pennington, Andrade, Bermudez), and approximately 150 people will see them. The UFC absolutely had to know this in advance because the Big East tournament date has been known for months. So on that note - Why the HELL is Nikita Krylov vs. Ovince St. Preux on the main card? Were we not just mocking Krylov for that abysmal showing against Soa Palelei, and now he's opening up a PPV? Maybe he's a new man at 205, which would be great since the average age of LHWs not named Jones or Gustafsson is Rigor Mortis. Two unranked light heavyweights with no name value managed to take precedent over those ranked within the top 15 PLUS a recent TUF winner in Kelvin Gastelum. This is a damn good show but the arranging of this on the main card over ... just about all of those fights on FS2 is mindboggling.
Patrick: There should be a memorial for those of us who sat through the eleven and a half minutes of pure, unadulterated hell that was Krylov-Palelei. Spare me your Jimmo-Sokoudjous, Evans-Nogueiras, Brimage-Blancos, and Overeem-Werdum IIs. Krylov-Palelei is and will likely forever remain the worst fight I've ever seen, the heavyweight gasfest par excellence. There are Abrams tanks, poorly maintained Hummers, and space shuttles that burn their fuel more efficiently than those two. If you watched that fight, you should've taken it as a sign from on high that your MMA fandom had gone too far.
Seriously, though, the strong possibility that this fight ends up being absolutely, horrifically, epically terrible is the sole reason it's on the main card instead of the prelims, and the UFC doesn't want to risk a few people deciding not to buy the PPV after viewing this probable gassed-out slopfest. Let's not let St. Preux off the hook, either: he's not exactly action-packed himself, and while he could suddenly blossom into a fighter to watch, he'll probably be content to flail straight lefts, grind against the cage, and work the occasional takedown while Rogan and Goldberg scream about athleticism and explosiveness as if we don't know that's their moronic code for black.
Mookie: Let's not take away from Tyron Woodley's marked improvement. He's risen from the ranks of the Strikeforce Challengers shows to top 15 in the world in just a few years, and has produced some wicked KOs in the UFC. Buuuuuuuuuuuuut let's not just re-write history on Woodley. You may coin him a KO threat now, but one of the biggest criticisms of Woodley's Strikeforce career is that he bored the piss out of people. His fight with Jordan Mein slowed down the rotation of the Earth, and the one memorable thing about his win over Paul Daley is that Paul Daley tried an omoplata. Other than that, it was bore after bore after agonizing bore. He was the C-Span of interesting fighters to watch, and the one time he was exciting from start to finish in Strikeforce was when Nate Marquardt knocked him out cold. Woodley is fighting "point fighter" Carlos Condit, which suggests Woodley doesn't actually know what point fighting is, and if he does win then he's pretty close to a title shot.
Patrick: I'm hopeful that Woodley's really turned over a new leaf with his brutal knockouts of Hieron and Koscheck, I really am. He's shown remarkable technical growth in his striking starting with the Marquardt fight, and there's every reason to believe that he can carry that over into the future.
But as Mookie reminded us, Woodley hasn't always been that way. His fight with Jordan Mein was so lackluster and devoid of action that one judge gave the fight to the Canadian simply because his "activity" from the bottom was less offensively awful and ennui-inducing than the whole gigantic bag of nothing that Woodley produced from the top. It was the ultimate protest vote, and I applaud it.
Let's all offer our most sincere prayers and copious blood sacrifices to the MMA gods that Woodley doesn't revert to form.
That's it for this week's installment. We'll be back to cover next week's matchup of over-the-hill light heavyweights, so if you have any related topics you want us to verbally destroy, let us know in the comments.