Random MMA Thoughts

As you may know, I'm a huge mixed-martial arts fan. I started watching UFC after finding a bunch of old shows online, the stumbled upon Pride Fighting Championships - the only real parallel to UFC in the fighting world today.

Pride, based in Japan, is different in that they use a ring, not a cage; and have different rules for different weight classes. They also feature some of the best fighters in the world most UFC fans have never heard of - Takadori Gomi - the best 155 pound fighter in the world, and Fedor Emelianenko, the best heavyweight MMA fighter on the planet.

On December 30th, both Pride and the UFC had year-ending events, Pride Shockwave 2006 and UFC 66.

I've now watched both and have to say PrideFC's Shockwave show was significantly better than UFC 66 - although Keith Jardine's beatdown KO of Forrest Griffin was rather unexpected.

But like always, the hype factor nearly killed my enjoyment of both.

UFC is a three hour show featuring 2 hours of hype. PrideFC is a three hour show featuring 20 minutes of hype. Granted, PrideFC has the ability to edit out the ring entrances, and ring exits, as the North American broadcasts are tape-delayed due to a time difference, but there's a whole lot more fighting in every PrideFC show than any UFC show, live, DVD or tape delay.

But PrideFC is, unfortunately, learning the hype game, too.

In Canada, put two teams on the ice for a hockey match and people will watch. In Japan, put two fighters in a ring, and people will watch. In America, we need our entertainment spoon-fed to us, in digestible doses, mixed with multiple reminders to watch what's next because we all have ADD.

Because of that, PrideFC is really, really, really pushing the return to Las Vegas on February 24th ... and apparently Vanderlia "The Axe Murderer" Silva is fighting. I say apparently because they mentioned that fact BETWEEN EVERY SINGLE FIGHT ... and sometimes during the fights as well. And I love me some Vanderlia, but really, we get it.


Then again, the way PrideFC is bleeding talent right now, who else can they advertise that they know they'll have come the end of February?

But bleeding talent isn't always a bad thing.

Mirco "Cro-Cop" Flipovic and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson signed UFC deals. But are those really big losses? I don't think so. Cro-Cop has shown he can't beat Fedor; Jackson has shown he can't beat Silva. So essentially, stay in Japan as the second-best guy in your weight class or give the UFC a try? This will not only create more opportunity for the two of them, but for give the UFC new matches to try, and free up the second spot in Pride for new shoes to fill.

Perhap's Pride's biggest loss could be Fedor Emelianenko - the current heavyweight champ - who has signed to fight with Bodog. Should he lose the Pride belt, and fight only for the up and coming Bodog, on the surface, that's a huge hole to fill.

But is it really? No. First, he's beaten everyone but Josh Barnett. Everyone.

Second, Emelianenko looked lackluster in his defense against Mark Hunt at Shockwave 2006. Granted, Hunt - a K1 veteran who has perhaps the hardest head since Cabbage "My head is filled with cement and junk" Carerra - had just seven MMA fights coming into the bout, but Hunt looked significantly better on the ground since his loss to Josh "The Baby Faced Assassin" Barnett in the semi-finals of the Pride Open Weight Grand Prix and nearly submitted the champ. In fact, it wasn't until about halfway through the opening 10-minute round that Emelianenko came to life - after he was bleeding from the nose; after Hunt took him down, twice, and after Hunt nearly submitted him. It was not the same Fedor who demolished the field in years past.

Now for the UFC show - I'll admit to fast-forwarding through the hype and just watching the fights ... and the fights were good, for the most part. Nothing as mind-numbing as the Tim Sylvia / Jeff Monson five-round snoozefest; but nothing as spectacular as Rich Franklin being demolished by Anderson Silvia or the (well-deserved) beatdown Matt Hughes received from Georges St. Pierre, either.

As I said, Griffin getting KTFO'ed was quite unexpected. Tito losing (again) to Chuck Liddell was in the cards.

But the UFC hype of Cro-Cop was legendary. But they're giving him a total bag of pucks to fight in his first UFC battle. Granted, he'll need that to get used to fighting in the cage, but Eddie Friggin Sanchez? Cro-Cop gets Cake-Walk.

The most disappointing factor? Someone as good as Quinton "Rampage" Jackson is on the mic - and he can cut some killer promos - he was nowhere near one.

That'll leave a mark. Especially with GSP out for his fight against Matt Serra.

Until next month's MMA update .... peace, love and elbows.

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