Thursday, December 11, 2008


Contrary to some of the rumblings over the past few weeks about the marquee level of the participants at the FIGHT FOR THE TROOPS, this free card was one of the best of the year from the Zuffa boys. And that’s not even taking into account the beauty of the gesture to some unsung but deserving heroes. One could complain that with all the talent in the UFC stable, why not at least one more big name grudge match to really sweeten the pot for the cause and the card. However, sometimes in MMA the names don’t really matter as much as the atmosphere and we’ll have to assume that something in the air at Fort Bragg produces pumped fighters and brutal knockouts and stoppages. There were plenty in Fayetteville tonight!
If we didn’t know better, we’d have said that the main event match-up for KOSCHECK was a hand-picked gift, beautifully wrapped and presented as payment for stepping in with a monster like Alves on short notice back in October. But as we know, this fight was set prior to the circumstances which led to Koscheck fighting twice in a six week period. This shoots down the conspiracy theory, but it was fun while it lasted ! The additional paycheck sure doesn’t hurt KOS, but his true gift was a stylistically lopsided match-up tonight. We have to admit, we were fooled by the unanimously generous odds- they had Josh a mere 2.5 - 1 favorite on average across the board. In hindsight, the odds-makers (and analysts!) look a little foolish here. Koscheck went from fighting a lion (in Alves), to fighting a lamb, but I’m sure he is happy with the early holiday gift. The reason this was barely a fight: Yoshida hangs his hat on a seriously impressive Judo diploma. But within a minute of the first round, it became apparent that Yoshida had no plan for getting close enough to KOS in order to employ those Judo skills. A takedown against Josh was never in the cards, so all that remained was the stand up game. And on the feet the fight was no fight at all. Yoshida looked positively timid and almost terrified of Koscheck’s hands, which admittedly seem to improve with every outing. End result: Koscheck’s best highlight reel KO to date.
There were several other mercifully “quick” endings, pardon the pun. Mike Swick did a lot to help his own cause (i.e. getting a shot at GSP), by living up to his nickname and demolishing Jonathon Goulet in well under a minute. While we can’t help but think of Olympic swimming every time we see Swick in the Octagon, there’s no doubt his looks and build are deceiving. Maybe this is a blessing for Swick, as his opponents find it hard to conceive that a killer stands across the cage, one that looks like an accountant. Hey, it works for Florian ! But the truth about Swick is his nasty right hand. He throws some quick combos, that much is verified. But the automatic delivery of third and fourth punches (out of a five punch fight ending combo) are the truth. In particular, the second right to land, which essentially ended it, was a near perfect (and perfectly chosen) 6 inch short right. That was nasty. And it’s what makes him a fan favorite. One more impressive win at 170 lbs. and Swick is likely to get his shot. An exciting style that pleases fans doesn’t hurt his chances at all.
We have to acknowledge some other exciting finishes put in by Steve Cantwell, Ben Saunders and Steve Bruno. But we want to revisit a topic now that we’ve given previous sermons on: The UFC in NYC. Any east coast fan of MMA (especially New York / New Jersey) has over the past 15 years looked forward to the day that top notch MMA (i.e. the UFC) arrives at MSG. Some of you may be aware that the UFC is lobbying incredibly hard to make that happen, especially over the past 2 years. The opportunity for Dana White and Zuffa’s legal reps to make their case to New York State has been locked up for many months, according to government scheduling. But in January of 2009, the opportunity to make that case once again arises. believes strongly that at some point in ’09 the sport will be legalized in NY. But it could well be an unnecessarily long, drawn out, boring fight (boooo). There is too much money at stake (estimated at many mega-millions per event for NYC), and the sport has become too legit, for a handful of state officials to hold back the tide. But they sure could make it an ugly mess on the way to legalization and sanctioning. So may we dare just make this one suggestion: Ahem… Dear State officials, if the patriotic and obviously big-hearted people that run the tremendous charity associated with the USS Intrepid (which happens to be docked permanently on Manhattan’s West Side) are proud to associate themselves with the UFC and the sport of MMA, what are fans to make of the silliness of the taboo with which NY State continues to associate the sport? Does it make any sense for a state (and Manhattan in particular) to praise men and women of the service at virtually every pro ballgame (not to mention each year on the 9/11 anniversary), yet in the same breath to deride the organization which does more than any other for the military? Does any professional athletic organization have a better relationship with the US military than does the UFC? Clearly treating MMA as illegitimate is no longer sensible when the men and woman who fight to protect the nation are being taught MMA for their own protection as well as for the nations! The argument against has become absurd. Is there anything objectionable whatsoever regarding the event held in North Carolina tonight? Does that state have any regrets for their association with the UFC or MMA? Does North Carolina have any regrets about the distraction so obviously enjoyed by the thousands of troops in attendance? Just sayin’.

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