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Fightmania Mailbag: UFC Live 6, Bellator, Dream

By on October 1, 2011

With the idle hours before UFC Live 6 takes place on Versus, it seems like a good idea to fix a few oversights in one fell swoop. I didn’t discuss last weekend’s Bellator or Dream events, and I figure while I’m at it I can throw my UFC Live 6 quick picks, too. Let’s get right to it.

Matt M. from the University of Miami writes:

I’m digging the UFC picks and talk, but what about a little love for Bellator? Also, I want to know what your thoughts were on Dream, too. Are you among those that thinks Kazushi Sakuraba should be retired, because I definitely am.

Ask and ye shall receive, my friend!

First, my thoughts on Dream. I thought Shinya Aoki was about as good as expected, and he even appraised his own performance that way, saying that “everything that happened was within the realm of expectation”. “Razor” Rob McCullough lost this one as soon as he allowed Aoki to bring him to the mat. It’s not as if anyone thought McCullough would have a lot for Aoki on the ground, right? So there’s not a lot to take from that one. It’s another good win for Aoki, who I’m not convinced can get a meaningful matchup in his native Japan anymore.

I was a bit more impressed with Tatsuya Kawajiri, who looked very good at featherweight against Joachim Hansen, who himself had turned things around as of late, too. What was a competitive fight initially swayed into Kawajiri’s favor because of the pressure and control Kawajiri put on Hansen. Hansen just can’t seem to get on an extended roll at this point, while Kawajiri will be intriguing at featherweight.

Not only do I hope that Sakuraba will finally hang ’em up, but Caol Uno may want to reassess things, too. Uno has just one win in his last seven fights after being knocked out by Takeshi Inoue. With Uno, I’m not as concerned medically as I am with Sakuraba, who gets finished a lot these days, but I would still prefer to see someone with a solid career like Uno not hanging loss upon loss to his record at age 36 and beyond. Still, “should” retire is a tough thing to say, and it’s hard as a person who has respect for these and other fighters to start saying what they “need” to do. Honestly, though: does anyone enjoy watching Saku fight anymore? Or do they just nervously hope that something awful doesn’t happen?

I’ve been really impressed with Bellator’s last couple of events, and another season is off to a strong start for them. I appreciate that their emphasis is on putting on a good in-cage product, and everything else (the tournaments, the production) simply follows that.

In particular, who could help but have their jaw drop at the result of the Alexis Vila-Joe Warren bout? Warren had not lost in the Bellator cage previous to Vila absolutely starching him with a perfectly-placed left hand, and though Warren hasn’t appeared invincible, his resume paired with his ridiculous level of confidence is hard to deny, and made the knockout a pretty jarring sight.

Warren clearly still struggles with some of the fundamentals of striking; he turns away when things get a bit heavy and also tends to overextend himself when he closes the distance a bit and then simply reaches for his opponent instead of keeping his hands up, as he was doing when the left hand clocked him on Saturday night.

I wasn’t a fan of the completely unnecessary follow-up shot by Vila, as Warren was obviously out, but I suppose that’s how things are done in the sport. Vila indicated that he felt bad afterward, but also indicated that the follow-up punch was not an instinctive thing, but a choice that he made because he has previously lost a fight where he didn’t finish an opponent properly and it came back to haunt him. I wonder whether the bad blood between them and Vila’s dislike of Warren had a bit more to do with it than that, but okay. Vila is nonetheless an extremely dangerous fighter and a good choice to take the tournament. I just wish we had gotten the chance to see the two grapple a bit, with the wrestling credentials boasted by each of them.

UFC Live 6 Quick Picks

We’re just hours away from the main card of the UFC event tonight on Versus, but since I’m writing anyway, I’ll give you my picks so that you may ridicule me later if I am completely incorrect.

Matt Wiman over Mac Danzig (decision)

I think that Wiman is a little better in every area than Danzig is. Danzig’s best play here is to keep the fight standing and out-land Wiman with volume, but I’m not even sure if he would win a three-round standup fight with Wiman. Wiman has an underrated ground game, and I can see him getting takedowns throughout and pounding on Danzig a little bit.

Charlie Brenneman over Anthony Johnson (decision)

A few years ago, before Phil Davis and Jon Jones were the prospects everyone drooled over, Anthony Johnson was the poster boy for limitless potential in the UFC. After blasting through Tom Speer, he spent most of 2008 fighting Kevin Burns, who poked him in the eye and got an undeserved victory in the process due to some awful refereeing. It seemed to stall the Johnson hype train, which picked up some steam again before being derailed in another loss that had some controversy to it, this time against Josh Koscheck.

Brenneman has also gotten a little hype after defeating Rick Story out of nowhere, but a lot of folks are favoring Johnson, here. I can see why, as Johnson is the better striker and a strong wrestler, but I’m going to go with Brenneman via that classic mix of aggression, pressure and control that judges go crazy over.

Pat Barry over Stefan Struve (KO/TKO)

Well, not literally “over” him. Ahem.

Simply put, I’ve never been extremely impressed with Struve, who is a little too comfortable when someone’s putting a whooping on him. It makes for exciting fights, but also leads to an inevitable downfall. I think Barry will work Struve over with leg kicks before finally getting to his chin and putting him away. I’m interested to see how Barry goes at this one after his massively disappointing loss against Cheick Kongo, however. Will he be aggressive? Cautious? Will he be wary of going for the finish if he hurts Struve?

Dominick Cruz over Demetrious Johnson (decision)

Could “Mighty Mouse” win this fight? Of course he could. I wouldn’t bet on it, though, as Cruz has entered the “someone will have to prove it” territory where I am not going to buy into someone beating him until they give me a reason to think otherwise. Cruz has fought challengers of different styles and dispatched them all while making them fight his type of fight at his tempo and on his terms. Johnson may take a round or two, but I see this unfolding the way that a lot of Cruz’s fights do as Cruz locks down another masterful, if not exactly explosive, performance.

E-Mail Jon Hartley

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