Since 1967, the snack food, soda pop, and beer industries have poured millions of dollars into their advertising divisions, diligently swooning millions of Americans into buying their products as they prepare for the holiest day of the year. No, it’s not related to any sort of Judeo-Christian tradition, but a mass congregation resting in front of a viewing contraption, while sustaining themselves on food product that would kill most wildlife, and partake in a 41-year old American tradition, watch the Super Bowl.
Yet, what has been dubbed as the most epic weekend of American sports fans, in recent years, has been given an extra incentive for Americans to eat chemically enhanced food for one more day. Super Bowl Sunday is accompanied by a Saturday UFC PPV, becoming every sports-nut’s weekend wet dream. Hopefully, the weekend sport combination will become a new found tradition for the majority of American households while giving an added step for MMA to become an accepted and legitimized sport. Football and fight fans can join hands and watch a spectacular UFC 67 fight card and finish it with a Colts v. Bears extravaganza.
Main Event – Anderson Silva v. Travis Lutter – Middleweight Championship
When Murilo Bustamante gave up his Middleweight UFC title for the land of Pride FC, many felt Matt Lindland should be next in line to vie for the title. However, due to certain internal politics in the organization, no Middleweight title was made available until debuting David Terrell TKO’d Lindland out of title contention setting up a title bout against Tanner. Many felt Lindland was shortchanged in the matter, but that story is for another day. Since then, most MMA fans have felt the list of Middleweight champions have never been legitimized or fully contended for to be undisputed or genuine. Terrell was much to green to get a title shot against Tanner. Tanner couldn’t handle Franklin’s power and stand-up game. Franklin merely knocked off a reality show star and a gun shy Loiseau in his title defenses. However, when Anderson “Spider” Silva stepped into the octagon against Chris Leben, MMA critics, fans, and fighters alike knew it was only a matter of time before the “Spider” would be wearing gold around his waist. Silva’s talent is undisputed. His legitimacy is unquestioned. However, all we have seen is his stand-up game. How good is he on the ground?
Anderson “Spider” Silva has a habit. Though, not necessarily a bad one. His habit? Making legitimate fighters look bad and mediocre fighters look like school children. Anderson Silva is the epitome of a deadly stand-up game with droves of deadly combinations whether it comes from his hands, feet, elbows, or knees. His long, lanky, yet strong body makes it difficult for most fighters at Middleweight to surpass. However, this is not why “Spider” is so deadly. Silva has an ability that very few in the fight game internationally possess. Anderson Silva is laser pinpoint accurate. His shots simply do not miss regardless if he is setting up, scrambling, or exchanging his shots, he seems to bypass guards and connect with high percentage precision. This was apparent with Silva’s fight against Chris Leben with Leben trying to impose pressure and attempting to panic the Brazilian. However, this became more of Leben’s demise than an intelligent strategy where the hard-headed Leben simply ate shot after shot despite Silva back pedaling and moving side-to-side trying to avoid Leben’s pressure. Silva is too good for Lutter standing up. Lutter better think of a different strategy.
Travis Lutter is good on the ground. Period. His ability to take out young Patrick Cote with relative ease via armbar was something that raised eyebrows by many of the MMA press wondering why Lutter was ever put in the The Ultimate Fighter: Comeback reality series. He seemed a little out of place among his ultimate fighting peers especially with his superior ground technique. Lutter has had his fair share of cage fights and it is obvious that he likes to use his Brazilian Jiu-jitsu as his weapon of choice. Yet, despite how many people tout Lutter’s wrestling and take down ability, I have yet to be impressed by it. If Lutter truly wants tools to try and beat Silva, he should focus on his ability to slip punches and get the clean and convincing takedowns instead of muscling his opponents with very weak technique. If his training doesn’t take some unique tweaking, he could be looking at the ceiling lights early in the first.
Prediction: Anderson Silva is going to win. I am quite convinced of it. Many of the MMA underground and internet forum rats have critiqued Silva on his ground game as not being enough to face against Lutter. I want to indulge a little piece of information to readers by dispelling the myth of Silva’s alleged ground game. The notion came from a Pride FC match with Anderson Silva matching against, then rising star and now struggling contender, Ryo Chonan. The fight was a hard fight for both fighters with judges for the most part scoring the fight neck-and-neck. Many felt that Silva was slightly over confident entering the fight and wasn’t enthused in facing an opponent with so much to prove. Therefore, when Silva lost in the final moments of the final round by what is dubbed the greatest submission in the history of MMA, many feel that Silva in combination with his lack of ability to finish his opponent on the ground constituted in a lack of ground ability. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Every fighter will have a bad day regardless level fighter he may be facing. Losing to such an amazing submission does not null the point that “Spider” is Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt and his ground game is quite extensive. With Silva’s obvious stand-up prowess, Lutter’s lack of takedown abilities, and relatively equal ground talent, the night will most likely end relatively early for Lutter unless something drastically changes Lutter’s game plan. Otherwise, Silva will decimate Lutter. I don’t see a puncher’s chance in this one. Silva via referee stoppage due to cut, strikes, or decimated face.
Co-Main Event – Mirko “CroCop” Filipovic v. Eddie Sanchez
When any organization attains a top five fighter in their respected division from another organization, it’s a huge accomplishment. Many hardcore fans put together droves of fantasy matches that had been dwelling in the back of minds to see how one organization compares to another in terms of talent pool. It’s a very exciting time. Yet, the UFC, being a business organization, must give the Filipovic a few guaranteed win fights to introduce their casual demographic with the internationally recognized creation missile launcher. As a writer and enthusiast of the fight game, I try not to write off anybody as being mere “cannon fodder” for other fighters, but sorry Eddie Sanchez, try to lose with dignity.
Mirko “CroCop” Filipovic hits hard. Very hard. For the average American with insurance, I am sure there are stipulations exempting coverage in case Mirko damage is to occur. Highlight reels attributed to Mirko’s KO power have infiltrated the most remote corners of the internet having the masses around the world in awe of how powerful the human species can become. As the race for the universal soldier is in hot pursuit, many geneticists are most likely using “CroCop” as their prototype. I may have gone slightly overboard with the hyping thus far, however, it is for legitimate reason. Mirko is simply that good. “CroCop” has evolved as a fighter since his early K-1 kickboxing days, and has many fighters staring across the cage from him second guessing where he might strike. With a solid punch and kick arsenal, his weapon of mass destruction derives from his left leg that is able to change its level of striking at the very last moment fooling the very best with stand-up defense. Seasoned veterans of the striking game have gone through arduous battle after another to create an index on how most fighters may telegraph their strikes. Even the slightest twitch or held breath can instantly feed a tantamount of information to individuals who have been training the incredible stand-up art. Yet, Mirko seems to fool the greatest stand-up readers in his respective bracket and beyond, punishing all those who feel they can bang with the Croatian warrior.
Eddie Sanchez has the right ingredients to be a force in the UFC. He possess’ a good wrestling and ground game, but more importantly, a shotgun for a right hand. Even in his UFC debut, Sanchez did not display any type of cage intimidation by performing in front of a big crowd and continued to win by way of his normal method, beat down. It seemed that Sanchez was on the right path to become a legitimate contender in the division if given the right matchmaking with equally talented opponents. Unfortunately for Sanchez, the promising Heavyweight was matched against a Croatian genetic experiment of human perfection. Not the way to go in your sophomore showing.
Prediction: The folly of man seems to reside in each mortal having some sort of Achilles’ heel. For Mirko “CroCop” despite having an impenetrable striking game, and incredible takedown defense and strength, his weakness still lies in his lack of knowledge on the ground. For Eddie Sanchez, that should be the one and only thing he must train in order to be that much better in order to defeat the Heavyweight “Goliath”. However, for Sanchez, this is a different approach than his usual weapon of choice which is his sleep-inducing right hand. Eddie Sanchez is not known for his ground game and if his takedowns lack the tactical ability that most wrestlers possess in their clinch and takedown game, Sanchez most likely will not have the tools to penetrate “CroCop”‘s smothering takedown defense. On the other hand, the variables of this fight does give Sanchez a slight chance of winning this fight. If “CroCop” comes into this fight with the same candor when he faced Kevin Randleman, Sanchez power right hand could put “CroCop” to sleep much like Randleman with “CroCop” fighting extremely passive and relaxed believing there is no way he could lose the fight. Therefore, Sanchez upset simply relies on the yet to be determined variable of whether Mirko takes the fight seriously or not. I wouldn’t bet for the underdog on this one. “CroCop” by highlight reel KO in round one.
Undercard Fight – Quinton Jackson v. Marvin Eastman
I have become quite surprised how fans have reacted and bought into the blatant “hyping” in regards to the rematch between Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Marvin “Beastman” Eastman. The two first exchanged blows in the smaller King of the Cage organization which happened to be Jackson’s third MMA career fight. Jackson displayed a lot of heart and promise at the time but was simply out-conditioned when he lost via decision to the more veteran Eastman. That was 7 years ago. Since then, Jackson has evolved into one of the best Light Heavyweight fighters the world has ever seen. “Rampage” slammed his way to the top of the respected 205-pounders in the Pride organization with a notable win over current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Chuck Liddell. As for Marvin Eastman, he has not been so fortunate in his career.
When Quinton Jackson was geared to face Igor Vovchanchyn, Igor got a note. It was from Jackson’s mother. It wrote, “Dear Igor, Please do not hurt my son.” Quinton really didn’t need it, in fact, Vovchanchyn came out of the fight injured. When most people talk about their attributes and abilities in the fight game, the most common response is being a good striker, wrestler, or grappling specialist. Quinton Jackson on the other hand takes a different approach. He likes to slam people.
In case you still can’t picture it, he picks people up over his head and slams them to the ground. Something you would expect to see out of Hollywood, but being pulled off in the MMA ring or cage. What makes it scary is Rampage utilizes slamming effectively However, this is not to suggest that he doesn’t have other weapons to fortify his fight game. Rampage has come full circle in being a developed striker. He may not be at the level of a Chuck Liddell, but his striking defense and offense pose enough of a threat making it difficult for guys like Liddell or Wanderlei Silva to impose their regular striking game. Add some junior college wrestling, slamming, and ground and pound, you have a hard Memphis boy beating up his entire bracket. Now that he has entered the UFC, many hardcore fans are salivating at the mouth to see a rematch against Liddell and Jackson. In case you didn’t know, Jackson beat Liddell the last time. Can Jackson’s slamming prowess translate to the UFC cage? Definitely so.
Marvin “Beastman” Eastman is a kickboxer and a wrestler who has been able to beat all that stood before him in the smaller shows, but when it mattered during the bigger shows such as UFC or Pride, Marvin simply fell short. The short, yet absolutely stacked Eastman is a physical specimen that rivals most fighters above and below his normal weight class. His physical attributes are something that should be taken with the utmost seriousness for his any one of his strikes can call it an early night. However, I just do not see the thrill. I have seen videos on Marvin Eastman’s training ethic, and although he’s a very dedicated man to his training, he does not have anyone that actually can coach and pinpoint his flaws in his game, for there are many. His pad work looks at the level of a low intermediate, due to this fact, it has translated in his lack of performance on the bigger shows. Most likely, the smaller shows that I have not been able to see is probably the indication that Eastman is able to win merely on physical proficiency over his rivals. In this fight, he will fall way short.
Prediction: In case you couldn’t guess it, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson will slam Eastman into oblivion. It will hurt Eastman a lot. It can safely be said that Jackson has surpassed Eastman at every level since their last outing, and for Eastman, he will be fighting a very different Quinton Jackson. This fight has even less of a chance of ending up as an upset than the “CroCop” and Sanchez fight despite the latter having a wider chasm in talent between its respective fighters. This fight simply has no room for lucky shots of any sort. Jackson via ground’n’pound end of first or second.
Make sure you stay tuned in for part II of the UFC 67 fight card analysis. You can also discuss who you think is going to win in the forums.
– Bardia Mehrabian, BuddyTV Staff Columnist