Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Whitlock’s logic on “NBA prison culture” doesn’t apply to Shaq’s rap?

Jason Whitlock appeared this week on Best Damn Sports Show…Period and attempted to make the case that Shaquille O’Neal’s recent freestyle rap blasting Kobe Bryant was “funny,” a “joke” and shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

Whitlock on Shaq, Imus
Whitlock on Shaq, Imus

I agree, the rap was funny. But it was also entirely inappropriate, if we apply Whitlock’s own logic for how an NBA player ought to be conducting himself.

In his April 2, 2008 column “Am I supposed to be mad about LeBron?”, Whitlock was more concerned about LeBron James “prison” ink than how Vogue magazine supposedly captured him looking like “King Kong clutching Fay Wray” on its cover. Whitlock has repeatedly taken LeBron to task for not meeting all of his potential, not as an athlete, but as a role model.

"You know, when he covered his body in tatts years ago, mimicking a death-row inmate, LeBron invited people to jump to the conclusion that he’s dangerous. Yeah, that’s the way the image-is-everything game is played. Ink is a prison and gang thing. Don’t act like you don’t know the origin of the current fad … Showing up to work in a white T and iced-out (heavy jewelry) was their way of showing loyalty to their boys in the ‘hood, a shout-out to the corner boys and girls."

His point was further elaborated in his May 29, 2008 column “In NBA playoffs, less ink means more viewers.” Here, Whitlock speculates that one very important (yet not discussed) reason for the resurgence in TV ratings for the NBA playoffs is because of the lack of ink displayed by the majority of players left in the conference playoffs:

"Part of the reason more people are watching these playoffs is because the average fan isn’t constantly repulsed by the appearance of most of the players on the court. Most of the key players left in the playoffs don’t look like recent prison parolees …

"No one wants to watch Delonte West or Larry Hughes play basketball. It’s uncomfortable and disconcerting. You don’t want your kids to see it. You don’t want your kids to think they should decorate their neck, arms, hands, chest and legs in paint. You don’t want to waste time explaining to your kids that some millionaire athletes have so little genuine self-confidence that they find it necessary to cover themselves in tattoos as a way to mask their insecurities."

Personally, when I think of tattoos, I don’t think of prison. At least, that’s not the first thing I think of. I think of S&M calendar pin-up girls in a dirty mechanic’s body shop. I think of grease monkeys in general. I also think of biker gangs like the Hell’s Angels (not too far away from prison inmates, I suppose). I think of dirty rock-n-rollers like Guns N’ Roses, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and all the countless emo bands clogging up the airwaves. I think of frat boys with generic barbed wire wrap-around tattoos on their biceps. Sometimes I even think of aboriginal tribes.

But yes, eventually, I do admit that I think of prison inmates. I absolutely do. However, given their depth on my list, I wouldn’t necessarily say that they have sparked “the current fad”—at least not in the white community, which is not nearly as affected as the black community by the disproportional targeting of its youth by the criminal justice system.

White people, generally, do not get tattoos so they can look tough like prison inmates. They get tattoos so they can look tough like rockstars … or tough like athletes … who may or may not, in turn, be mimicking prison inmates, I don’t know.

But my point is this: If Whitlock were David Stern, he would (in his own words) “commission Nike and/or Under Armor to create a basketball jersey with long sleeves, all the way down to the wrists. I’d make Iverson wear a turtleneck jersey with sleeves. I’d cover the tats.”

This so that the league does not continue to perpetuate the “prison inmate” ideal.

So what about Shaq’s rap?

In his freestyle, Shaq says two things that he should be held accountable for—even by Whitlock’s own standards—1. “That’s like a white boy trying to be more ni**a than me”; and 2. “Kobe, ni**a, tell me how my ass tastes.”

At best, such language is thuggish. No one wants their kids watching a bunch of grown men walk around calling each other the N-word. Parents in both the white and the black community do not want this for their children.

But at worst, Shaq’s language is reminiscent of the same prison inmate culture that Whitlock derides.

“Hey Kobe, tell me how my ass tastes” is about power—power derived from emasculating a man in a public forum and leaving him open to ridicule. Consequently, it’s the same sort of power that’s leveraged by prison inmates when they rape other prison inmates.

Shaq is not saying, “Hey everyone, Kobe just licked my ass because he wanted to.” Shaq is saying, “Hey everyone, I just made Kobe like my ass.”

There’s not a lot of settings in today’s culture where one can get away with saying something like that without either a physical or a legal confrontation. In fact, I can only think of one setting—and here only if you have the numbers stacked heavily in your favor: prison.

I liked Shaq’s rap. I also like tattoos, despite the fact that they are trashy. And I also wouldn’t blame the NBA for asking players to cover theirs up.

If Whitlock is going to encourage the NBA to cover players’ tats, he should at least recognize how his same logic should be applied to Shaq’s recent emasculation of his former teammate as a perpetuation of the prison inmate culture. Whitlock should call for the NBA to fine Shaq … or else stop complaining about the tats.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Chris Cooley is Better, Drunker than You

Wherein I breakdown this this "blog post" by Chris Cooley:

Chris Cooley is a big drunk:

Past fashionably late, she had given me way too much time to sit and drink, and I knew it would be hard not to make an ass out of myself...

...Maybe her dad brainwashed me one of the nights I passed out at her house, because no matter what happened, I was crazy about her. More likely it was her mom, since I was usually trying to impress the old man by drinking him under the table.

Chris Cooley's fiancee is a gold digger.
It was a Saturday night in the summertime and Christy was thinking about me. I would have never known what she had on her mind, but I couldn't keep my eyes off her. She confessed that it wasn't coincidence that brought her to the house and she was prepared. If looks were bait then I was hooked. She dressed to make men panic, but beyond that she was beautiful...Christy was fired from cheerleading two weeks after we started dating. Since her big paycheck ($75 a game) had come to an end, at least the sneaking around was over.

Chris Cooley's fiancee is also a tight end.





















Some people are hating on Chris Cooley for having a hot NFL cheerleader fiancee, and he can't understand why, but in case things go wrong, he has a backup plan: Christy's mom.
While I can't wait to put the ring on I've had some resoundingly bad conversations over the last couple of months. Golf may have an uncountable list of ethics, though bothering a complete stranger about getting married is not one of them. First of all, I'm excited for the big day, so please don't feel sorry for me because marriage sucks for you. No, I'm not nervous, I don't want any marriage advice, and yes Christy's mom is still hot.


Based on the above evidence, and if Christy's mom won't have him, Chris Cooley can always pimp out his wife, as if he isn't already:

P.S. I think she's barely 21.

Dan Snyder may not be invited to the wedding.
It should at least be an interesting night. I've had calls from numerous wedding guests, most recently Dan Snyder's assistant asking what table they could find their seats. Obviously my easiest seating solution, anywhere you can find a chair.

(Translation: we'll send you the wedding DVD, Dan, that you can masturbate to in your barcalounger at home.)

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Bar Fighting 101 with Bas Rutten

Mixed martial arts legend and commentator Bas Rutten is hysterical. He's also a bar fight expert.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Draft Stealers

The Steelers, with huge draft needs at offensive guard and tackle, as well as defensive line, and picking at 1.23, a slot where you are just as likely to pick a bust as a boom player, let the draft come to them and found 2 first round talents in the first and second round: Rashard Mendenhall, widely considered to be the 2nd best running back in the draft behind Darren McFadden, and Limas Sweed, a big, tall receiver who can run and is a hard worker. However, he has suffered from a nagging wrist injury that wiped out half his senior year.

Day 2, with the Steelers having 4 picks (no 7th round pick), was a day that we fans hboped would address the OL and more importantly, the DL. The Steelers have a fine starting 3some at DL, but when Aaron Smith went down, lack of depth became a huge concern. The Steelers D went from allowing 3.4 yards per carry to 4.8.

In Round 3, two excellent 3-4 DL prospects were available, Dre Moore of Maryland and Red Bryand of Texas A&M. However, the Steelers went for a DE/OLB tweener, Bruce Davis of UCLA. Those two DL prospects were taken before the Steelers picked in the 4th round, so the Steelers traded down, added another 6th round pick, and selected a talented offensive tackle, Tony Hills, who also has a significant injury history.

The Steelers last 3 picks were an injured QB (Dennis Dixon of Oregon), a thumper ILB (Mike Humpal of Iowa) and a cerebral FS (Ryan Mundy of WVU). NOne of these picks resides in the trenches, which is unfortunate.

The Steelers are still very thin on the DL (Will Ryan McBean step up and be injury free? Can Keisel hold up the point and not wear down? Will Aaron Smith be the old Aaron Smith, and will Hampton be less fat and lazy?), and lack proven starters at the interior offensive line (will Kemoatu step up? Will Colon be moved to right guard? Will Hartwig be less of a turnstile than Mahan? Will Starks and his $7 million salary start? )

The Steelers added talent and depth at major positions, and look to be better on special teams. However, they still have the same holes they did pre-draft, which is a major concern, given that they don't do much in free agency. Here's hoping some players come through for us this year--Kemo, McBean, it's time to shine.

Monday, March 31, 2008

MMAmania Interview with Kurt Pellegrino


MMAmania.com just published my recent interview with UFC Lightweight contender Kurt "Batman" Pellegrino. You can find it here.

Kurt was mighty cool to talk with. He shed some light on his upcoming fight with Nate Diaz, his "Batman" nickname and his skillz in Brazilian Jui-Jitsu.

Pellegrino/Diaz takes place this Wednesday at UFC Fight Night 13 and is free on Spike TV. It is also the lead in for the debut of The Ultimate Fighter 7 with coaches Rampage Jackson and Forrest Griffin.

Should be a great match-up for fans of BJJ. Both guys are incredible in the submission game.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

SteelSkins UFC Power Rankings - 10th Edition

Wow, I’ve been gone for a while, spending more and more of my time over at MMAmania.com, but wouldn’t you know it’s time to update those SteelSkins UFC Power Rankings! While it seems like forever ago since we last updated the Top 15, there has actually only been one UFC event in that time—UFC 82, which I was fortunate enough to attend live in Columbus, OH.

SteelSkins picks for UFC 82 were a good 6 – 3, but it was an easy card to score. This moves our overall record to 24 – 10. Not too shabby.

Now let’s see those Power Rankings.

Heavyweights

Heath Herring upset Cheick Kongo to win via split decision. Herring looked great and has significantly improved his conditioning, losing a few extra pounds along the way. While we didn’t pick it, we’re happy with the upset and felt Kongo was a bit overrated due to his win over a fading Cro Cop.

In the night’s only other HW bout, Andrei Arlovski fulfilled the last fight on his contract, earning a 2nd round victory (TKO due to strikes) over the young Jake O’Brien. This was the most disappointing fight of the night. Without a contract, Arlovski had every incentive to pummel O’Brien, thereby making the case he was worth every dollar to keep. But Arlovski looked conservative in the first round and earned the occasional boo from the Columbus crowd.

I saw Jake O’Brien the night before the fight at the bar in the lobby of the hotel he was staying in. At first I thought he was drinking the night before a fight with the former HW Champion. I was shocked as he kept coming up and ordering more and more drinks for him and his entourage. Then I realized it was Jake’s twin brother ordering the drinks, and while Jake was present, he wasn’t drinking. Still, I was amazed at how young this kid is. His wrestling is very good, but his critics are right: he’s a one-trick pony who lays and prays. He’ll need to develop better striking and submissions if he ever wants to contend in the UFC.

Unfortunately, there’s really no one who deserves the #1 Contender spot in this division, and the occasionally boring Arlovski will have to do.

Only Frank Mir, Eddie Sanchez and Christian Wellisch have back-to-back wins inside the Octagon; while Arlovski has bettered that by one and is on a 3-fight win streak. He’s beaten Werdum and, more importantly, he hasn’t lost to a fighter who wasn’t named Tim Sylvia since March 2002.

Here’s to hoping the UFC resigns Arlovski, especially since Cro Cop has moved on to greener pastures in Japan, leaving the HW division thin to say the least.

In the meantime, the return of newly inducted Hall of Famer Mark “The Hammer” Coleman will have to do. We’ll see how the 43 year old does against the beast, Brock Lesnar, at UFC 87 in Minneapolis this August.

SteelSkins’ picks for Heavyweights this last month were 1-1, brining our HW total to 2-4:

  • Heath Herring def. Cheick Kongo (split decision) at UFC 82 – Our pick: Kongo (TKO – strikes, Rnd3)
  • Andrei Arlovski def. Jake O’Brien (TKO – strikes, Rnd 2) at UFC 82 – Our pick: Arlovski (TKO – strikes, Rnd1)

Upcoming Heavyweight fights currently scheduled and/or rumored include:

  • The double Octagon debut of #17 Brad Morris vs. #18 Cain Velasquez at UFC 83 (April 19) – Although he’s just 2-0, Velasquez has been lauded by his teammates as a future contender. That’s good enough for us. We’ll take Velasquez via TKO (strikes) in Rnd2
  • Christian Wellisch vs. Shane Carwin at UFC 84 (May 24) – Carwin’s debut is going to be a good one, as the 3-time NCAA Division II All-American and national wrestling champ is going to cruise to a 1st Round TKO (strikes).
  • Fabricio Werdum vs. Brandon Vera at UFC 85 (June 7) – I’d love to see Vera take this, but Werdum is for real. Werdum by decision.
  • Brock Lesnar vs. Mark Coleman at UFC 87 (August 9) – I like both these guys, and if Coleman can weather the initial storm, this could prove to be a battle. That said, we have to pick Lesnar (TKO – strikes) Rnd1

Your Top 15 Contenders are:

Light Heavyweights

There were no LHW fights since our last update, but there’s a shit ton coming up in the months ahead. We’re still 2-0 in picking fights in the division, for now.

The biggest news is Shogun Rua pulled out of his UFC 85 headliner with Chuck Liddell due to injury, and has been replaced by Rashad Evans (which temporarily left Thiago Silva without an opponent). Similarly, Stephan Bonner withdrew from his fight with Matt Hamill, and the explosive newcomer Tim Boetsch has stepped in. Oh yeah, and Wanderlei Silva is set to fight Keith Jardine. Holy shit, this is a great division!

Upcoming Light Heavyweight fights currently scheduled and/or rumored include:

  • Houston Alexander vs. #17 James Irvin at Fight Night 13 (April 2) – We’ll take Alexander (TKO – strikes) Rnd1
  • Matt Hamill vs. #18 Tim Boetsch at Fight Night 13 – We’ll take Hamill (submission) Rnd2
  • Keith Jardine vs. Wanderlei Silva at UFC 84 (May 24) – We’ll take Silva (TKO – strikes) Rnd3
  • Tito Ortiz vs. Lyoto Machida at UFC 84 – We’ll take Machida (decision)
  • Thiago Silva vs. #19 Antonio Mendes at UFC 84 – We’ll take Silva (submission) Rnd1
  • Wilson Gouveia vs. #25 Goran Reljic at UFC 84 – We’ll take Reljic (submission) Rnd2
  • Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou vs. #16 Kazuhiro Nakamura at UFC 84 – We’ll take Sokoudjou (TKO – strikes) Rnd1
  • Chuck Liddell vs. Rashad Evans at UFC 85 (June 7) – We’ll take Liddell (decision)
  • Jason Lambert vs. #20 Luis Arthur Cane at UFC 85 – We’ll take Lambert (KO) Rnd2
  • Champion Rampage Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin at UFC 86 (July 5) – We’ll take Griffin (decision)

Your Top 15 Contenders are:

Middleweights

Middleweight Champion (and pound-for-pound greatest fighter in the world) Anderson Silva defeated a game Dan Henderson in the UFC 82 main event. While we expected this to happen, we didn’t expect it to end in the second round. Hendo seemed to have won the first round with a solid game plan, but either stamina or Silva’s aggressive stand-up was too much for Hendo to take in the second, leading to his eventual submission via rear naked choke.

UFC 82 also saw the return of former MW Champ Evan Tanner to action against the always tough Yushin Okami. While we picked Tanner to win this fight, we admit it was just wishful thinking. Okami is too strong an opponent to try to shake two years worth of cage rush off against, but we’re glad to see Tanner back in the cage regardless.

Rounding out UFC 82’s MW card, Chris “The Crippler” Leben slugged it out with Alessio Sakara and came out the victory. Hate to say we told ya so, but…

Martin Kampmann was rescued from being dropped from the SteelSkins Top 15 (is there a worse fate?) and is slated to return at UFC 85 vs. Jorge Rivera. His prolonged knee injury is apparently on the up-and-up, which is a good thing because he hasn’t fought since March 2007. He now gets to shake the cage rust off against Rivera, who’s coming off an explosive 1st Round TKO victory over TUF3 Champion Kendall Grove.

Our record for picking Middleweight fights this past month was 2-1, moving our MW total to 4-3. Here are the recent fights, along with our picks:

  • Champ Anderson Silva def. Dan Henderson (submission, Rnd2) at UFC 82 to unify the UFC and PRIDE MW titles – Our pick: Silva (TKO – strikes) Rnd4
  • Yushin Okami def. Evan Tanner via KO in Rnd2 at UFC 82 – Our pick: Tanner (submission) Rnd3
  • Chris Leben def. #23 Alessio Sakara via TKO (strikes) in Rnd1 at UFC 82 – Our pick: Leben (TKO – strikes) Rnd2
Upcoming Middleweight fights currently scheduled and/or rumored include:
  • Former Champ Rich Franklin vs. Travis Lutter at UFC 83 (Apr. 19) – We’ll take Franklin (decision)
  • Jason MacDonald vs. #28 Joe Doerksen at UFC 83 – This is a rematch from 2005 when MacDonald won via rear naked choke. We’ll take MacDonald (submission) Rnd2
  • Michael Bisping vs. #31 Charles McCarthy at UFC 83 – We’ll take Bisping (KO) Rnd2
  • Nate Quarry vs. #30 Kalib Starnes at UFC 83 – We’ll take Quarry (TKO – strikes) Rnd3
  • Ed Herman vs. #18 Demian Maia at UFC 83 – We’ll take Herman (submission) Rnd1
  • #22 Alan Belcher vs. #35 Jason Day at UFC 83 – We’ll take Belcher (submission) Rnd2
  • #24 UFC newcomer Rousimar Palhares vs. #27 Ivan Salaverry at UFC 84 (May 24) – We’ll take Salaverry (submission) Rnd2
  • Nate Marquardt vs. #16 Thales Leites at UFC 85 (June 7) – We’ll take Marquardt (submission) Rnd2
  • Martin Kampmann vs. #23 Jorge Rivera at UFC 85 – We’ll take Kampmann (KO) Rnd2
  • TUF 7 Finale, featuring Middleweights (June 21)
  • Ricardo Almeida vs. Patrick Cote at UFC 86 (July 5) – We’ll take Cote (decision)

Your Top 15 Contenders are:

Welterweights

UFC 82 saw four Welterweight battles, including Jon Fitch welcoming Chris Wilson to the Octagon with a unanimous decision victory for the future title contender (big surprise); Diego Sanchez welcoming David Bielkheden to the Octagon with a first round submission (big surprise); Josh Koscheck bettering the young gun Dustin Hazelett is a fantastic slugfest; and Luigi Fioravanti out-pointing Luke Cummo (this last one surprised us).

For the second time in a row, our record for picking Welterweight fights was 3 – 1, pushing our record to 6 – 2. Here are the recent fights, along with our picks:

  • Jon Fitch def. #27 Chris Wilson (unanimous decision) at UFC 82 (March 1) – Our pick: Fitch (submission) Rnd2
  • Josh Koscheck def. Dustin Hazelett (TKO – strikes, Rnd2) at UFC 82 – Our pick: Kos (submission) Rnd3
  • Diego Sanchez def. #33 David Bielkheden (submission, Rnd1) at UFC 82 – Our pick: Sanchez (TKO – strikes) Rnd1
  • #17 Luigi Fioravanti def. Luke Cummo (unanimous decision) at UFC 82 – Our pick: Cummo (guillotine choke) Rnd2

Upcoming Welterweight fights currently scheduled and/or rumored include:

  • Karo Parisyan vs. Thiago Alves at Fight Night 13 (April 2) – We’ll take Alves (split decision)
  • #16 Tommy Spear vs. #40 Anthony Johnson at Fight Night 13 – We’ll take Spear (TKO – strikes) Rnd2
  • #17 George Sotiropoulos vs. #36 Roman Mitichyan at Fight Night 13 – We’ll take Sotiropoulos (submission) Rnd2
  • Champ Matt Serra vs. GSP at UFC 83 (April 19) – We’ll take GSP (TKO – strikes) Rnd3
  • #22 Jonathan Goulet vs. #34 Kuniyoshi Hironaka at UFC 83 – We’ll take Goulet (submission) Rnd2
  • #19 Jon Koppenhaver vs. #23 Yoshiyuki Yoshida at UFC 84 (May 24) – We’ll take Koppenhaver (TKO – strikes) Rnd3
  • #38 Dong Hyun Kim makes his UFC debut vs. #41 Jason Tan at UFC 84 – We’ll take Kim (KO) Rnd2
  • The extremely dangerous BJJ black belt (but low ranked because of his 5 – 3 record and history of backing out of fights due to training injuries) #43 Jeff Joslin vs. TBD at UFC 84.
  • Marcus Davis vs. Mike Swick at UFC 85 (June 7) – We’ll take Davis (submission) Rnd2
  • #28 Jess Liaudin vs. #29 Paul Taylor at UFC 85 – We’ll take Liaudin (TKO – strikes) Rnd2
  • Ryo Chonan vs. Roan Carneiro at UFC 85 – This is a rematch from a 2005 DEEP event, where Chonan won via 3rd Round TKO due to a cut. We’ll take Chonan (submission) Rnd3
  • Diego Sanchez vs. Luigi Fioravanti at TUF7 Finale (June 21) – We’ll take Sanchez (decision)
  • Josh Burkman vs. Dustin Hazelett at TUF7 Finale – We’ll take Hazelett (submission) Rnd3
  • Josh Koscheck vs. Chris Lytle at UFC 86 (July 5) – This one is still in the rumor stage, but we’d love to see it happen. Would Kos risk standing with the former boxer? We’ll take Lytle (KO) Rnd2
  • #30 Ben Saunders vs. TBD at UFC 86

Your Top 15 Contenders are:

Lightweights

There was one Lightweight fight at UFC 82, which we picked correctly, pushing our overall record for the division to a stellar 11 – 1. Here are the recent fights, along with our picks:

  • #23 Jorge Gurgel def. #35 John Halverson (unanimous decision) at UFC 82 (Mar. 1) – Our pick: Gurgel (submission) Rnd3

Upcoming Lightweight fights currently scheduled and/or rumored include:

  • Kenny Florian vs. Joe Lauzon at Fight Night 13 (April 2) – We’ll take Florian (submission) Rnd2
  • Frankie Edgar vs. #24 Gray Maynard at Fight Night 13 – We’ll take Edgar (TKO – strikes) Rnd2
  • Din Thomas vs. #21 Josh Neer at Fight Night 13 – We’ll take Thomas (TKO – strikes) Rnd2
  • Clay Guida vs. #38 Samy Schiavo at Fight Night 13 – We’ll take Guida (submission) Rnd3
  • Kurt Pellegrino vs. Nate Diaz at Fight Night 13 – We’ll take Diaz (submission) Rnd2
  • Marcus Aurelio vs. #35 Ryan Roberts at Fight Night 13 – We’ll take Aurelio (submission) Rnd1
  • #23 Manny Gamburyan vs. #50 Jeff Cox at Fight Night 13 – We’ll take Gamburyan (decision)
  • #16 Mac Danzig vs. #34 Mark Bocek at UFC 83 (April 19) – We’ll take Danzig (submission) Rnd2
  • #19 Sam Stout vs. #22 Rich Clementi at UFC 83 – We’ll take Clementi (TKO – strikes) Rnd3
  • Champion B.J. Penn vs. former Champ Sean Sherk at UFC 84 (May 24) – We’ll take Penn (submission) Rnd3
  • #18 Jeremy Stephens vs. #31 Terry Etim at UFC 84 – We’ll take Stephens (decision)
  • Thiago Tavares vs. #26 Matt Wiman at UFC 85 (June 7) – We’ll take Tavares (TKO –strikes) Rnd1
  • Joe Stevenson vs. #17 Gleison Tibau at UFC 86 (July 5) – We’ll take Stevenson (submission) Rnd2
  • #29 Cole Miller vs. TBD at UFC 86
  • #36 Corey Hill vs. #41 Justin Buchholz at UFC 86 – We’ll take Hill (decision)
  • #52 Steve Bruno vs. TBD at UFC 86

Your Top 15 Contenders are:

Friday, March 21, 2008

Interview with Karo "The Heat" Parisyan


Yo yo yo, so yesterday, I talked with Karo Parisyan on the phone. I got a chance to ask him how he's been preparing for his upcoming fight with slugger Thiago Alves (it takes place Wednesday, April 2 at UFC Fight Night 13).

I also asked him how he felt about the title picture, now that top contender Jon Fitch is cramping his style, moving in on that title shot that Karo feels should belong to him.

I also asked him about the Diaz brothers and if there's any bad blood between them and him. Because, let's face it, no Karo interview would be complete without that.

Anyway, check it out at MMAmania.com.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Lots of Good Stuff in the Works

While I've been pretty tied up at work and haven't posted as much stuff to SteelSkins or to MMAmania as I'd like, there is a lot of good stuff making its way in the near future.

Until then, you can check out my interview with UFC Lightweight Clay "The Carpenter" Guida here. Clay was super cool on the phone, and I wish him luck in his upcoming fight against French Top Team's Samy Schiavo at UFC Fight Night 13 on Wednesday, April 2.

Also, check out this post, where the man behind MMAmania himself has officially introduced yours truly to all the Maniacs. SteelSkins gets a plug, as does A Likely Story Film Productions. Speaking of which, check out ALSFP's newest short film, "Laugh Track".

In the next five days or so, I play to post an update to SteelSkins UFC Power Rankings right here. Looking forward to it.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Never Back Down Movie Review on MMAmania.com

My review of the MMA-film Never Back Down is up on MMAmania.com. Check it out here. Props to SteelSkins own Austin O'Connor for providing the press passes. Austin does reviews for a public radio station in northwestern Massachusetts and for MediaNewsGroup, which owns a bunch of papers in the northeast. You can also find some of his older reviews on Rottentomatoes.com.

In a nutshell, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out Never Back Down sucks monkey butt. One look at the trailer will send flashbacks of Top Gun, Karate Kid and the entire Fast and the Furious franchise shivering down your spine.

That said, with the right amount of booze, this film could have potential as the next big drinking game. Every time you see an obvious acting style stolen from either the Brad Pitt School of Acting or the Tom Cruise/Scientology School of Advanced AssMonkeyism, you know what to do...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Mark Coleman Interview at MMAmania


So I interviewed Mark Coleman for the second time in as many weeks. It went up on MMAmania.com on Friday afternoon. Here's a link.

It was great talking to Coleman, the UFC Hall of Fame's most recent honoree. Rather than retiring any time soon, though, Coleman just inked a four-fight deal with the UFC and is set to face the dangerous Brock Lesnar in Lesnar's home state of Minnesota at UFC 85 this June. Should be a war between two national collegiate wrestling champions.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Vomiting Praise on Brett Favre

I love this site. However this post is just too much:

Best Favre memories? They are not always the best games -- they were often the humble moments in between.

Jeebus Christ!! And it gets worse...

It was in those moments that you could see the whimsy of him, usually tormenting a rookie teammate or PR director Lee Remmel.

There's a famous clip of him asking team staff members for "buckets of steam" and "left-handed footballs." Favre knew that his presence commanded attention, and ie he raised his voice just a hair when he asked these young kids, ballboys, etc., for these ridiculous requests, he knew they would stop and listen, intent on finding these un-findable items, because Brett Favre was asking for them. The quarterback, in essence, was mocking his own fame. That made him human.
Yes, a bad human. One who makes fun of the powerless, who he can get fired. Great guy, that Favre. Oh, and I would love to whimsically torment someone, just like back in my big bully days of yesterday, when I would make little Jimmy cry and cower under the porch (NOTE: usually it was me under that porch...)

You want flawed? The man's first completed pass as a Packer was to himself ... for minus-7 yards. As a rookie the season before with the Falcons, he threw five passes. Two were picked out.
Picked out? Has this guy ever watched football before?

Look, you only appreciate the humbling moments in between BECAUSE of the best games! Like if you are dating a hot chick, and her hair is mussed up...it's so cute! But if she wasn't hot, and her hair was mussed up, you wouldn't find it cute, because...SHE'S NOT HOT! So stop pretending you only liked Favre for his "Aw Shucks" demeanor...because if he wasn't a great football player you wouldn't care about his demeanor. There's plenty of "Aw Shucks" guys out there who couldn't throw a left-handed football to save their life...but who gives a crap?

Brett Favre was a great football player, and may perhaps still be. But like Dr. Z said, he could have been better.

Brett Fav-re Retires

Now that Brett Favre is retired, who will the media swoon over now? Dr. Z may be a crotchety old coot, but he nails it on Favre here:

His fourth quarter and overtime meltdown against the Giants last season, which put a sad end to a remarkably classy season? Never mind ... the redemption of the Giants' field-goal kicker was the angle. The goofy, looping interception that cost the Pack the Eagles' game in OT in the divisionals in 2004? Oh, let's put it on the defense for allowing McNabb his fourth-and-26 completion in regulation.

Always ready to make excuses, always braying about "what a good time he's having," that was the continual barrage from TV. Maybe a few frowns, a stern reprimand or two, might have toned down the wild maverick a little, but gosh, he sure is having fun out there. And that's what the game is all about, isn't it? Fun, boys acting like men and so forth...

...How will history evaluate him? Capable of almost anything on the field. Heroic. Indestructible. Maddening at times, but great to root for. With only this low key aftermath. Could have been greater.
So true. Brett and the Packers losing the Super Bowl in 1997 to the Broncos in my mind stains his career--even though it wasn't his fault, Holmgren's decision to let the Bronco's score the winning points was hard to take. Further, we forget that that year was the first time since the mid 80s that the AFC won a Super Bowl, and the air of inevitability that the Pack would win was palpable. Almost as big an upset as the Giants/Pats, especially because Elway was 0-3 in Super Bowls at the time.

Let's also not forget his deliberate turtling to give Michael Strahan the sack record, and his wasting the past few years before 2007, gunslinging just because he could.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Roethlisberger Extended!

Perhaps I was being unfair to Kevin Colbert in the last post. Today the Steelers signed Big Ben to an 8 year, $102 million contract, with about $36-38 million guaranteed. It's the richest contract the Steelers have ever given out, and puts Ben up there in earning power with the elite QBs in the NFL (and also Michael Vick).

The Steelers also signed Vikings RB Mewelde Moore, a versatile player who can run the ball, catch it, and return punts and kicks. He was always lost in the shuffle in Minnesota, and is clearly not going to advance his career playing behind Purple Jesus and Chester Taylor. Now he will probably play a 3rd down back/Special Teams role, filling the critical return role that the Steelers lacked all last year.

Word from Pitt journos is that Ben's rich contract doesn't have any impact on the salary cap...so perhaps the Steelers will be more active in free agency once the mediocre players are done being overpaid by bad teams (49ers, Raiders, Jets, I'm looking AT you!). I am eager for them to lock up Max Starks, hopefully at a much more reasonable price than his curretn $7 million transition tag.

Friday, February 29, 2008

The Steelers and Free Agency, or Naptime

Kevin Colbert, the Pittsburgh Steelers GM, catches up on some much needed rest during the NFL free agency period.
















Meanwhile, Daniel Snyder, Redskins owner, is calling a press conference at 3pm to announce his latest $30 million signing:

Thursday, February 28, 2008

And Now Back to Your Sporadic Steeler Football Posts

Congrats to Adam for his MMAmania gig! His UFC info is interesting and original enough to be published anywhere, and I'm glad he's linking to it here.

But...on to Steeler Football. With only 6 picks in this draft, the Steelers will have to be creative in dealing with major depth issues. Special Teams stinks because their young players stink, and their DL suffered greatly when Aaron Smith went down. And we all know their Oline is a mess, in part due to the signing of Sean Mahan to play center, when indeed he could do no such thing.

The proverbial "Steeler Way" is just not working anymore, especially with "developing" defensive linemen...hey, why don't we get one that can play right away?

On the offensive line, Faneca is gone and the Steelers transition tagged Max Starks, a curious decision because a Transition Tag can be "poison pilled" with a contract clause that makes it unacceptable for the Tagging team to match the offer. (For example, a few years ago the Vikings inserted a clause that Steve Hutchison from the Seattle Seahawks would get a certain amount of guaranteed money if he wasn't the highest paid offensive lineman on the team. Well, he was the highest paid Minnesota player, but Seattle had T Walter Jones, who was being paid more than Hutchison. So Seattle couldn't match the offer.

Another curiousity is that a franchise tag is only $500,000 more, and can't be poison pilled.

Will Starks be poison pilled? Well, he won't sign before free agency, that's for sure, so there's a chance. Last year he was jerked around by the coaching staff, who insisted on starting short-armed Willie Colon at tackle, when he could be better used at guard. Hopefully the front office will sign Starks and Colon will move to guard to replace Faneca.

And here's hoping they sign a FA lineman who's better than craptastic Sean Mahan.

The Tomlin era is still establishing itself, but the Steelers are built to win now, with a franchise QB, so it will be interesting to see how 2008 plays out.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The UFC's Middleweight Division


Just posted another article on MMAmania. My thanks go out to Tom, who's been a gracious host of some of SteelSkins thoughts about the UFC and the sport of MMA in general.

This week's article is the third one that has been featured on the site. It's about the UFC's Middleweight Division, its depth and some of the talented 185 pounders not being signed by Dana White and the UFC.

Check it out!

Friday, February 15, 2008

“Right Leg, Hospital. Left Leg, Running Scared”?


Mirko Cro Cop and the UFC’s Dwindling Heavyweight Division

By Adam Wagner

With my first post up on MMAmania, I am now an official contributing writer to one of the best MMA blogs on the Internet. To all of our loyal readers (okay, both of you), please check the site out, and look for more posts by yours truly.

This week's post focuses on the dwindling talent pool of the UFC's Heavyweight Division, now that Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic has officially announced that he is leaving for greener pastures in Japan. It also specifically calls for Dana White and the UFC to re-sign Andrei Arlovski, as well as Tim Sylvia, once their contracts expire (they both have one fight each remaining on their contracts).

Thursday, February 14, 2008

5 Good Minutes in the UFC


As we previously noted, the British tabloid newspaper The Sun recently published Dana White’s answers to 12 questions posed by Sun readers on everything from Michael Bisping’s future as a Middleweight to the flaws in the 10-point must system for scoring MMA fights.

But what really caught my eye was White's announcement that the UFC is in the process of establishing an official ranking system so that fans can see who is in line for a title shot. According to White, "I said we'd never do that because I figured people would say our rankings are biased. But, when you look around at some of these other rankings that are out there, I think we probably will do our own after all."

While I wouldn’t expect a deeper ranking than Top 5 for each weight class, the announcement does add to the debate that any self-respecting UFC fan loves to engage in. Who’s next in line for a title shot? Who deserves one, even if they aren’t getting one? There are a ton of things to consider for each weight class, so let’s get right to it:

  1. Despite the rumor that Werdum is next in line for a title shot in the HW division, there remains serious doubt on how deserved that title shot is, given that he’s just 1-1 in the Octagon. Interestingly enough, the timing of Arlovski’s prolonged contract dispute couldn’t have come at a worse time. When you consider that Couture’s likely out; Cro Cops out, Sylvia’s out; a ton of top talent who are coming off losses are out (Vera, Gonzaga, etc.); of the top contenders, only three have consecutive wins (Arlovski, Mir and Kongo). Where does Mir’s win over Lesnar put him in the rankings? Or Kongo’s somewhat lackluster win over Cro Cop? Had he re-signed months ago, Arlovski could have found himself as the #1 Contender in line for a title shot. Despite the lackluster fight against Werdum, he still won—moreover, the last time Arlovski lost to a fighter who wasn’t named Tim Sylvia was March 2002. There might not be a better example as to the ramifications of a prolonged contract dispute than the Arlovski situation.
  2. On to the Light Heavyweights: with Jackson/Griffin tied up in the filming of TUF7 until their title fight sometime in July, the rest of the division is left jockeying for position. Of the upcoming fights, the winner of Liddell/Rua seems most likely to get a title shot. It seems unlikely that the winner of Thiago Silva/Rashad Evans would position either fighter to be the #1 Contender without at least one more victory. But what of Wanderlei Silva and Keith Jardine? And why not pit them against one another, given that everyone else is tied up in another fight. With Jardine being no slouch, would the UFC risk a fourth consecutive loss to Silva, or would they instead give him an easier opponent, if not a complete can?
  3. The Middleweight picture is interesting in that, should Anderson Silva continue his dominant reign by beating Dan Henderson in March, we’ll likely have to wait until May to see any clarity on who the next #1 Contender is going to be. A win over Hendo would mean Silva’s beaten everybody who currently deserves a title shot (Franklin, Marquardt and Lutter). So the results from the April/May events will be key, with the importance of Okami/Tanner growing by the day. However, if Hendo beats Silva, the field is wide open. Suddenly the winner of Franklin/Lutter, as well as Marquardt, is once again a possibility, as is the winner of Okami/Tanner. Furthermore, could a strong performance from Michael Bisping vs. Charles McCarthy in April have an impact on the title picture?
  4. In the Welterweight division, GSP and Serra fight to unify the titles in April. No matter who wins, most think Jon Fitch deserves a title shot, assuming he gets past Chris Wilson in March. This is contrary to Karo Parisyan’s claim that he believes he’s been offered a shot, assuming he gets past Thiago Alves in April. If GSP beats Serra, we can expect a Serra/Hughes fight, while GSP will likely take on either Fitch or Karo. But what if Serra retains his title? Who’s next in line for GSP? Don’t be surprised to see GSP/Karo or even GSP/Marcus Davis. And is it time that we finally start talking about Marcus Davis as a Top 5 contender? An 11-fight win streak is tough to argue with.
  5. For the Lightweights, Penn/Sherk happens in May. If Penn wins, all he really wants is GSP at WW, but is that really fair to the lot of LW talent climbing the ranks? Kenny Florian has gone 3-0 since losing the vacant title shot to Sherk, and a win over a game Joe Lauzon could, conceivably, secure a title shot. Roger Huerta is 6-0 in the UFC and hasn’t lost since June 2004. A win over Gray Maynard at Fight Night 13 could put Frankie Edgar into title contention. If Sherk beats Penn, it becomes even murkier, since a Florian/Sherk rematch might be too soon. And I hate to say it, but July isn’t that far away, and then comes the return of Hermes Franca, the former #1 Contender, who’s been sitting out on a steroids suspension.

Regardless of White’s announcement, don’t expect to see official UFC rankings for several months, at best. As White said, “…(I) have no idea when we will get to that, though. I wouldn’t look for any rankings anytime real soon.”

Thursday, February 07, 2008

12 Questions with Dana White


The British tabloid newspaper The Sun recently published Dana White’s answers to 12 questions posed by Sun readers on everything from Michael Bisping’s future as a Middleweight to the flaws in the 10-point must system for scoring MMA fights.

Dana’s always-interesting perspective was on display once again. A few tidbits:

Dana doesn’t seem crazy about “building a fighter’s brand” (ala Tito Ortiz) and instead respects fighters who are willing to fight whoever is thrown in front of them (he lists Anderson Silva, Matt Hughes, BJ Penn, Chuck Liddell, Sean Sherk and Brock Lesnar as such).

He thinks Bisping’s potential as a Middleweight is “huge” and says he told Bisping to drop to 185 “when I first met him.”

He says when Wanderlei Silva arrived in the UFC, Silva told White that the UFC’s Light Heavyweights were a lot bigger than PRIDE’s best Heavyweights.

He says Sherk has done his time and deserves a return to UFC action. “He was stripped of his title, he was suspended, he was fined…He has lost the ability to earn a living for six months already…What else am I supposed to do, drag him into the street and stone him?”

He hates open weight grand prix tournaments because, among other things, “the best fighter never wins these dumb things anyway.”

He thinks Anderson Silva has the best odds of any current title holder to still be holding his title a year from now.

He denounces the notion of cross-promotions. “Why would I cross-promote with these organisations? They suck.”

His all-time favorite fight? Matt Hughes vs. Frank Trigg II (April 2005)—the one where Hughes comes back from a crotch shot to slam Trigg and win—hands down.

His opinion on Fedor? “Fedor isn’t a real fighter, he’s a complete joke. He’s fighting middleweights and guys who have absolutely no business fighting—and he’s looking like s*** doing it…He can’t live with anyone in the top five in the UFC and that’s why he’s not here.”

His opinion on Randy leaving? “...We give Randy Couture that huge opportunity (a return from retirement to fight Tim Sylvia for the title) and now Randy Couture is refusing to give a fighter like Antonio Nogueira that exact same opportunity he was given. ‘Captain America’ needs to honour his contract and honour fighters like Nogueira. You would expect him to do the honourable thing.”

He talks about a fight card that was discussed by UFC executives but ultimately didn’t happen where “fans play matchmaker and choose the fights on the card.” He said that, in the end, the fans already decide the fights. “If I can’t figure out what fights the fans want then, hey, I am pretty f*****.”

He agrees that the 10-point must scoring system that was developed for boxing is flawed when applied to MMA. The problem with changing it, White says, is that “unlike in the UK, the people who regulate sports over here—guys like the Nevada State Athletic Commission—are the government. These guys are part of the actual government of the state, so doing something as huge as changing the whole system for scoring won’t happen just like that.”

And finally, he announces that the UFC is in the process of establishing an official ranking system so that fans can see who is in line for a title shot. “…I said we’d never do that because I figured people would say our rankings are biased. But, when you look around at some of these other rankings that are out there, I think we probably will do our own after all…(I) have no idea when we will get to that, though. I wouldn’t look for any rankings anytime real soon.”

SteelSkins UFC Power Rankings

Since our last SteelSkins UFC Power Rankings, we’ve seen three UFC events: UFC 80 (Jan. 19), UFC Fight Night 12 (Jan. 23) and UFC 81 (Feb. 2). SteelSkins picks for these fights were a very decent 18-7 with 2 “no shows” (i.e., one of the fighters was replaced at the last minute, thus cancelling our prediction). Our best prognosticating came in the Lightweight division, where we scored a 10-1 record.

We were also surprised to hear that the UFC has announced its intention to release official rankings. While we welcome this development—the absence of official rankings was the motivating factor in creating the SteelSkins Power Rankings in the first place—we’ll be surprised if the UFC lists anything more than the Top 5 in each division, like most sites with rankings do (such as Vegas Insider). Even MMA Weekly, which ranks all MMA fighters, regardless of promotion, only ranks the Top 10. In many ways, it’s all speculative after a certain point, but we still prefer the Top 15 so that we can more easily keep our eyes on up-and-comers.

With that, let’s see how all this movement has shaped our Power Rankings.

Heavyweights

“Minotauro” Nogueira outlasted a game Tim Sylvia to win the Interim Heavyweight Title at UFC 81 last Saturday. The win propels Nogueira to the top of the heap and pushes Sylvia, who’s lost two of his last three fights (albeit, both title shots) down a few pegs.

Interestingly enough, this puts Arlovski—in our eyes—right back on top. All of the marketable fighters from Brandon Vera and Heath Herring, to Brock Lesnar (and obviously Tim Sylvia) are coming off losses. Gonzaga’s had back-to-back loses, as has Cro Cop. That leaves these guys:

  • Mir has gone 3-2 since his return, with his biggest win being Lesnar, which was about as exciting a debut as we’ve seen since Houston Alexander stomped Keith Jardine. Even though he was submitted, Lesnar is a gorilla, and we’re bumping him up three spots simply because we doubt many fighters have the chin that Mir has and would be able to withstand Lesnar’s punishment. Had Sylvia beaten Nogueira for the title, you might be able to get enough distance on a Mir/Sylvia rematch storyline to grant him a title shot, but that’s stretching it. He’s said himself that he thinks he needs another fight before a title shot should be considered.
  • Kongo’s 4-1 in the UFC and on a two-fight win streak including lackluster performances over Cro Cop and Assuerio Silva. He’s one dimensional and at least one fight away. His first opportunity comes next month against Heath Herring at UFC 82 (Mar. 1).
  • Werdum—the only one of the three without back-to-back wins—is coming off a win of Gonzaga, after debuting in a lackluster loss to Arlovski. Nogueira already holds a win over Werdum from their PRIDE days. Still, he’s rumored to be getting the title shot. We’ll stick with out gut, which says Werdum is in the 3 spot.
  • We know that Arlovski and the UFC have been duking it out in the negotiating room for nearly a year now, and if their decision to put next month’s Arlovski/O’Brien fight on the untelevised undercard is any indication, the UFC isn’t going to budge. The fight is the last on Arlovski’s contract, making him a free agent who, reason would have it, could get a shot at Fedor Emelianenko. Without a contract agreement, the UFC doesn’t want to promote a fighter on his way out of the organization, and their insurance card is that undercard. An Arlovski win would never get airtime no matter how exciting the KO; an Arlovski loss, however, could see airtime. His bad relationship with his employers notwithstanding, with two wins over Werdum and Cruz in his last two fights, A.A. deserves a title shot next, if only because none of the others do.

Looking at the rest of the Top 15, just as we dropped Jake O’Brien from the list due to 12 months of inactivity, we have to put him right back on, with his upcoming fight against Arlovski being finalized. We are dropping Tom Murphy, who can’t seem to catch a break with a scheduled fight, and adding Shane Carwin (8-0), a three-time NCAA Division II All-American who has dominated the Art of War and WEC promotions. All eight of Carwin’s wins are first round stoppages (3 KOs, 5 submissions), with the average length of time at just 72 seconds.

SteelSkins’ record for picking Heavyweight fights this last month was less than stellar, as we went 1-3. Here were the fights, along with our dismal picks:

  • Fabricio Werdum def. Gabriel Gonzaga (TKO – strikes) Rnd2 (UFC 80) – Our pick: Gonzaga (decision)
  • Antoni Hardonk def. #22 Colin Robinson (TKO – strikes) Rnd1 (UFC 80) – Our pick: Robinson (TKO)
  • Minotauro Nogueira def. Tim Sylvia (submission – choke) Rnd3 (UFC 81) – Our pick: Sylvia (decision)
  • Frank Mir def. Brock Lesnar (submission – leg lock) Rnd1 (UFC 81) – Our pick: Mir (decision)

Upcoming Heavyweight fights currently scheduled and/or rumored include:

  • Cheick Kongo vs. Heath Herring at UFC 82 (Mar. 1) – We’ll take Kongo (TKO – strikes) Rnd3
  • Andrei Arlovski vs. Jake O’Brien at UFC 82 – We’ll take Arlovski (TKO – strikes) Rnd1
  • Minotauro Nogueira vs. Fabricio Werdum for the HW title at a future UFC event, TBD – We’ll take Nogueira (submission) Rnd3
Your Top 15 Contenders are:

Light Heavyweights

Tito Ortiz is fed up and leaving the UFC, according to his recent interview on the “Howard Stern Show.” He’ll first have to satisfy the last fight on his contract by taking on undefeated Lyoto Machida at UFC 84 in May. As we’ve previously noted, if Ortiz is unhappy with the amount of money he’s making, he should leave, and the UFC should let him go.

It’s been a bad 11 months for Jason Lambert. After TKOing Babalu Sobral (who himself was fresh off a title shot loss to Chuck Liddell), the future was wide open for “The Punisher.” But what followed was 10 months with nary a word from his camp. During those same 10 months, the UFC signed every LHW stud in the galaxy, including Wanderlei Silva, Shogun Rua, Thiago Silva, Houston Alexander, Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou and Chewbacca. Seriously. Not to mention, Rampage Jackson, who had just made his debut 11 months ago, was about to win and then defend the belt. Wow, what a year. All these acquisitions dropped Lambert’s stock considerably. Once at #4 in the SteelSkins Power Rankings, we doubt Lambert will ever break the Top 10 again, unless he drops to Middleweight. It doesn’t help that when he finally made his return at last month’s UFC 80, he might have gotten a little cocky while beating the tar out of Wilson Gouveia and dropped his hands. Gouveia, known for submissions rather than heavy hands, saw an opening and knocked “The Punisher” out silly. We said it before, and we’ll say it again, so much for missed opportunities.

Our record for picking Light Heavyweight fights would have been a perfect 3-0, so long as you allow us Tim Boetsch as a late replacement for Tomasz Drwal, who was forced out with a last-minute injury. We’ll take 2-0 with 1 no show. Kudos to Tim Boetsch for keeping it real.

As for David Heath, Boetsch’s unfortunate opponent, he failed to capitalize on the one thing he had over Boetsch: he’s a veteran of the big show. Instead Heath allowed Boetsch (who took the fight on 10 days notice) to get comfortable in the Octagon and never pressed the action in the, albeit brief, fight. With three losses in a row, Heath is likely done in the UFC.

Here are the recent fights, along with our picks:

  • Wilson Gouveia def. Jason Lambert (KO) Rnd2 (UFC 80) – Our pick: Gouveia (submission) Rnd3
  • Alessio Sakara def. James Lee (TKO) Rnd1 (UFC 80) – Our pick: Sakara (decision)
  • Tim Boetsch def. David Heath (TKO – strikes) Rnd1 (UFC81) – Our pick was Tomasz Drwal to beat Heath (KO Rnd2), but Boetsch was a last-minute replacement for the injured Drwal.

Upcoming Light Heavyweight fights currently scheduled and/or rumored include:

  • Houston Alexander vs. #17 James Irvin at UFC 83 (Mar. 8) – We’ll take Alexander (TKO – strikes) Rnd1
  • Matt Hamill vs. Stephen Bonnar at Fight Night 13 (April 2) – We’ll take Hamill (decision)
  • Tito Ortiz vs. Lyoto Machida at UFC 84 (May 3) – We’ll take Machida (decision)
  • Rashad Evans vs. Thiago Silva at UFC 84 – We’ll take Silva (submission) Rnd2
  • Wilson Gouveia vs. #24 Goran Reljic at UFC 84 – We’ll take Reljic (submission) Rnd2
  • Keith Jardine vs. TBD at UFC 84
  • Chuck Liddell vs. Shogun Rua at UFC 85 (June 14) – We’ll take Liddell (TKO – strikes) Rnd2
  • Champion Rampage Jackson vs. Forrest Griffin after TUF7 Finale (scheduled for June 21) – Call us crazy, but we’ll take Griffin (decision)

Your Top 15 Contenders are:

Middleweights

There were some decent Middleweight fights over the last two months, although the best is yet to come. The two largest upsets were Jorge Rivera over Kendall Grove and Marvin Eastman over Terry Martin. Grove isn’t the first TUF Champion to lose back-to-back fights (TUF1 Champ Diego Sanchez is coming off back-to-back losses to Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch), but the quality of Grove’s competition is no where close to that of Sanchez, which drops Grove out of the Top 15 to a lowly #21 spot.

While the Terry Martin bandwagon seemed to be in full motion, following his back-to-back TKOs of Jorge Rivera and Ivan Salaverry when he dropped to Middleweight, that bandwagon has been hijacked and sent careening over a cliff, thanks to a unanimous decision loss to Marvin Eastman, Martin’s second loss in a row. Martin is now a dismal 2-4 in the UFC (2-2 as a MW), and likely cannot drop anymore weight. He’ll have to climb back up the ranks the old fashioned way, by earning it, although his UFC days might be numbered.

Ricardo Almeida dodged a bullet by having his original opponent, Alan Belcher, pull out at the last minute due to injury. Almeida was making his return after a three-year layoff from the sport, and Belcher was going to be a tough opponent to try to shake off the cage rust. Almeida fought Rob Yundt instead, an Alaska Fighting Championship veteran, and won easily. This makes his claim to the Top 5 a little more plausible.

Finally, the once-promising rise of Martin Kampmann seems to be coming to a close. His prolonged knee injury with no mention of a return has already dropped him from #4. Rather than dropping him anymore, we’re going to wait for his 1-year-with-no-action anniversary to come next month, when he’ll be dropped from the Power Rankings entirely, unless we hear of an upcoming fight.

Our record for picking Middleweight fights these last two months was 2-2, although it would have been 3-2, had we known Yundt was going to be a late replacement for an injured Alan Belcher. We’ll call it a no show. Here are the recent fights, along with our picks:

  • #25 Jorge Rivera def. Kendall Grove (TKO – strikes) Rnd1 at UFC 80 – Our pick: Grove (submission) Rnd2
  • Nate Marquardt def. Jeremy Horn (submission – choke) Rnd2 at UFC 81 – Our pick: Marquardt (decision)
  • Richardo Almeida def. #33 Rob Yundt (a late replacement for Alan Belcher) via submission (choke) Rnd1 at UFC 81 – Our pick: Belcher (submission) Rnd2
  • Patrick Cote def. #28 Drew McFedries (TKO – strikes) Rnd1 at UFC 81 – Our pick: Cote (TKO – strikes) Rnd3
  • Marvin Eastman def. Terry Martin (unanimous decision) at UFC 81 – Our pick: Martin (decision)

Upcoming Middleweight fights currently scheduled and/or rumored include:

  • Champ Anderson Silva vs. Dan Henderson at UFC 82 to unify the UFC and PRIDE MW titles (Mar. 1) – We’ll take Silva (TKO – strikes) Rnd4
  • Yushin Okami vs. Evan Tanner at UFC 82 – We’ll take Tanner (submission) Rnd3
  • Chris Leben vs. #23 Alessio Sakara at UFC 82 – We’ll take Leben (TKO – strikes) Rnd2
  • Former Champ Rich Franklin vs. Travis Lutter at UFC 83 (Mar. 8) – We’ll take Franklin (decision)
  • Michael Bisping vs. #32 Charles McCarthy at UFC 83 – We’ll take Bisping (KO) Rnd2
  • Nate Quarry vs. #31 Kalib Starnes at UFC 83 – We’ll take Quarry (TKO – strikes) Rnd3
  • Ed Herman vs. #18 Demian Maia at UFC 83 – We’ll take Herman (submission) Rnd1
  • Patrick Cote vs. #22 Alan Belcher at UFC 83 – We’ll take Herman (submission) Rnd2
  • Jason MacDonald vs. #29 Joe Doerksen at UFC 84 (May 3) – This is a rematch from 2005 when MacDonald won via rear naked choke. We’ll take MacDonald (submission) Rnd2
  • #25 UFC newcomer Rousimar Palhares vs. #28 Ivan Salaverry at UFC 84 – We’ll take Salaverry (submission) Rnd2

Your Top 15 Contenders are:

Welterweights

There’s not much to say about the Welterweights, other than a there’s a lot of action coming up in March and April. And that Swick/Burkman failed to live up to its headliner status. But you can say this: Let’s start talking about Marcus Davis as a Top 5 Contender. An 11-fight win streak doesn’t like to argue.

We know that if GSP beats Serra at UFC 83 (Apr. 19), there’s an extremely strong likelihood that Hughes/Serra and GSP/Fitch will soon follow. But what happens if Serra beats GSP? Fitch still gets a title shot, but what else? Don’t be surprised to see GSP/Karo or GSP/Davis.

Our record for picking Welterweight fights was 3 – 1. Here are the recent fights, along with our picks:

  • Marcus Davis def. #25 Jess Liaudin (TKO – strikes) Rnd 1 at UFC 80 – Our pick: Davis (submission) Rnd1
  • #34 Paul Kelly def. #24 Paul Taylor (unanimous decision) at UFC 80 – Our pick: Taylor (TKO – strikes) Rnd2
  • Mike Swick def. Josh Burkman (split decision) at Fight Night 12 – Our pick: Swick (decision)
  • Chris Lytle def. #26 Kyle Bradley (TKO – strikes) Rnd1 at UFC 81 – Our pick: Lytle (KO)

Upcoming Welterweight fights currently scheduled and/or rumored include:

  • Jon Fitch vs. Akihiro Gono at UFC 82 (March 1) – We’ll take Fitch (submission) Rnd2
  • Josh Koscheck vs. Dustin Hazelett at UFC 82 – We’ll take Kos (submission) Rnd3
  • Luke Cummo vs. #17 Luigi Fioravanti at UFC 82 – We’ll take Cummo (guillotine choke) Rnd2
  • #16 Tommy Spear vs. #40 Anthony Johnson at Fight Night 13 (April 2) – We’ll take Spear (TKO – strikes) Rnd2
  • Champ Matt Serra vs. GSP at UFC 84 (April 19) – We’ll take GSP (TKO – strikes) Rnd3
  • Karo Parisyan vs. Thiago Alves at UFC 84 – We’ll take Alves (split decision)
  • The extremely dangerous BJJ black belt (but low ranked because of his 5-3 record and history of backing out of fights due to training injuries) #46 Jeff Joslin vs. TBD at UFC 84.

Your Top 15 Contenders are:

Lightweights

We saw a ton of Lightweight action since our last Power Rankings update. B.J. Penn defeated Joe “Daddy” Stevenson for the vacant LW title on January 19 and now faces Sherk probably at UFC 85 in May. There’s no love lost between these two champions, and it should be an exciting fight, no matter where the action goes.

Most of the Lightweight fights happened the way they were expected. Our record for picking the Lightweights was a stellar 10 – 1, with our only loss being a close split decision (Emerson/Nakamura). Here are the recent fights, along with our picks:

  • B.J. Penn def. Joe Stevenson (submission – rear naked choke) Rnd2 at UFC 80 (Jan. 19) – Our pick: Penn (submission) Rnd3
  • #20 Sam Stout def. #32 Per Eklund (unanimous decision) at UFC 80 – Our pick: Stout (KO) Rnd3
  • #44 Corey Hill def. #55 Joe Veres (TKO – strikes) Rnd2 at Fight Night 12 – Our pick: Hill (submission) Rnd2
  • Thiago Tavares def. #53 Michihiro Omigawa (unanimous decision) at Fight Night 12 – Our pick: Tavares (submission) Rnd1
  • Kurt Pellegrino def. #31 Alberto Crane (TKO – strikes) Rnd2 at Fight Night 12 – Our pick: Pellegrino (submission) Rnd2
  • Nate Diaz def. #21 Alvin Robinson (submission – triangle choke) Rnd1 at Fight Night 12 – Our pick: Diaz (submission) Rnd2
  • #22 Jeremy Stephens def. #30 Cole Miller (TKO – strikes) Rnd2 at Fight Night 12 – Our pick: Stephens (TKO – strikes) Rnd3
  • #29 Gray Maynard def. #26 Dennis Siver (unanimous decision) at Fight Night 12 – Our pick: Maynard (decision)
  • #33 Matt Wiman def #40 Justin Buchholz (submission – read naked choke) Rnd1 at Fight Night 12 – Our pick: Wiman (decision)
  • Tyson Griffin def. #16 Gleison Tibau (unanimous decision) at UFC 81 (Feb. 2) – Our pick: Griffin (decision)
  • #38 Rob Emerson def. #42 Keita Nakamura (split decision) at UFC 81 – Our pick: Nakamura

Upcoming Welterweight fights currently scheduled and/or rumored include:

  • #23 Jorge Gurgel vs. #35 John Halverson at UFC 82 (Mar. 1) – We’ll take Gurgel (submission) Rnd3
  • Kenny Florian vs. Joe Lauzon at Fight Night 13 (April 2) – We’ll take Florian (submission) Rnd2
  • Spencer Fisher vs. Marcus Aurelio at Fight Night 13 – We’ll take Fisher (decision)
  • Champion Penn vs. former Champ Sean Sherk at UFC 85 – We’ll take Penn (submission) Rnd3

Your Top 15 Contenders are:

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

D'OH!!!

Via Deadspin are these articles about a high school kid who got scammed into committing to a school to play football that never recruited him. Sad, but also kind of hilarious:

It was quite a scene in the Fernley (Nev.) High gym on Friday. A 6-foot-5, 290-pound football player, seated at a table with his coach beside him, was making his college selection before a cheering crowd. On the table before him were a pair of baseball caps -- one from the University of California and one from the University of Oregon.

The player reached for the blue Cal hat, bent the visor, and placed it on his head, signifying that he was accepting a scholarship to play at the school and would officially sign his letter-of-intent today, the first day senior high school football players can do so. Television crews and a newspaper reporter were present for what was believed to be the first Division I college athlete from the town of Fernley (pop. 19,700).

Hours later, the feel-good story began to fall apart.

Neither California, Oregon -- nor any of the handful of other college football programs mentioned by Kevin Hart -- had offered him a scholarship. In fact, some of the schools he mentioned had never put his name into their databases to send players recruiting literature.

And:

Hart said he had attended a football camp where a person claiming to be a recruiter had loaned Hart money. Hart said he paid the man back between $500 to $700 more than the initial loan but did not find out the man was not affiliated with any schools until after committing to California, Lange said.
This is the curious part. Usually the recruiter bribes the player, and I'm guessing the player never really repays the guy, right?

Or is there an underworld of 3rd party guys who take money from borderline players and try to get them into major colleges? Seems hard to do, and when you have not just coaches, but the whole sports training industry designed to take money from marginal players while marginally improving their athleticism, it seems odd that you would just have an unaffiliated guy serve as a broker and then trusting him so completely you never visit the college or a coach (whose pictures you can find on the web) in person. Maybe Kevin Hart is just really dumb.

Even weirder, as scams go, it seems like alot of effort to get $700 bucks. Unless Hart is lying about the amounts.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Dick Vermeil Says: Videotaping Didn't Lose the Rams the Super Bowl, Mike Martz Did

Oh wait, maybe that's me saying it. With the allegations that the Patriots videotaped the Rams Saturday pre-game walkthrough before the Super Bowl back in Ought Two, many feel that gave the Patriots the advantage they needed to win this close game. If they did videotape it, I recommend banning Belichick for life. He got his already. However, let's also remember that the Coach on the other side of the field cared more about proving a point than actually winning:

The Super Bowl loss at the end of the 2001 season seems to be the turning point for Martz's offensive insanity. Remember, that game was "The Greatest Show on Turf" against a young, 6th round QB and a team that was supposed to lose by two scores. Belichick's Patriots dared Martz to run - they lined up in the nickel defense all game and said, "bring it." Martz, of course, never ran the ball and the rest is history. Thereafter, seemingly proving my case, Martz said that he should have passed the ball MORE during the game. If insanity is doing the same thing over and over all the while expecting a different result then this game produced the emergence of Mad Mike Martz.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Act Like You've Been There Before


For the Giants anyway, they have been...at least against 3 out of their 4 playoff opponents.

In considering what the Giants accomplished this year (a #5 seed winning the Super Bowl...who happened to be a modest 10-6 team...who happened to be playing one of the greatest teams in NFL history...an opponent that was 18-0 going into it...yada yada yada), I discovered an interesting tidbit: Of the 4 teams that the Giants faced in the post-season, they had already faced 3 of them...and LOST to all 3 (twice to Dallas).

That's right. Of the 6 losses the Giants posted during the 2007 season, 4 of them came from their last 3 opponents faced...just earlier in the season.

  • In the Wildcard game, the Giants faced Tampa Bay, who they hadn't previously faced during the regular season game, and won 24-14.
  • The Division Championship game was against a Cowboys team that had previously beaten them twice during the regular season (35-45 in Week 1, and 20-31 in Week 10), but yet the Giants won 21-17.
  • The NFC Conference Championship game was against a Packers team that had previously beaten them 13-35 in Week 2, yet the Giants won 23-20 in OT.
  • Finally, in the Super Bowl, the Giants faced a Pats team that had previously beaten them 35-38 in Week 17, yet the Giants won 17-14.

Apparently seeing these guys a second (or even third) time paid off.

I do have to say that the 5th seed Giants beating the 2007 18-1 Patriots is probably a greater accomplishment than the 6th seed 2005 Steelers winning the Super Bowl. Well done.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Super Bowl prediction


Brokeback Brady.


I hate to say it, but... Patriots 45, Giants 17.

I hope the ads are good, since the game won't be. What do I care? I'm mostly rooting for Arlen Spector at this point.

Redskins hire new coach!


Oh, wait. That's the owner. My bad.

As you were.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What's wrong with HGH?

While I do think that the all of the aging Patriots' linebackers are on HGH and I wish they'd get busted for it, just because I hate the Patriots, you really have to wonder if there's anything wrong with Human Growth Hormone, besides making your head really big, like Barry Bonds or David Boston.

Come to think of it, you don't hear the horror stories about steroids that much either anymore, like a Shane Courson or Lyle Alzado whose heart collapses, or the story in this book about the guy who got so hyped on 'roids he ran out into the middle of an intersection and tried to stop a car.

Meanwhile, there ARE horror stories with football that don't involve performance enhancing drugs, like this one:

Invited in by his wife Autumn, she finds the man she came to see sprawled on a couch, unable to stand. Although the house is cool, he is sweating profusely and can't find a position, seated or prone, that doesn't cause him grotesque pain. Every so often his huge body jerks in spasms of head-to-toe agony. The fits, when they come, turn him as white as the walls and send unself-conscious tears down his cheeks. It's DeMarco at 35: dirt-poor, broken, and in a headfirst spiral, taking his wife and children down with him.

The visitor, Jennifer Smith, takes a look around and can scarcely believe her eyes. "There was no food in the house, and I mean none -- not a box of mac and cheese or a can of tuna," she says. "Brian and Autumn hadn't eaten in a couple of days and between them had 75 cents. Total."

Finally, someone in the major media asks the obvious question: Why NOT HGH or testosterone? Money quote:

And the public has been deeply conditioned to think of these drugs in sinister terms, at least when it comes to sports: Any athlete using them is a cheater. Meanwhile, short-statured kids are prescribed HGH injections, AIDS patients get testosterone to combat their wasting away, and baby boomers take related compounds to stay young. A simplistic, good-and-evil judgment of these substances won't continue to hold.

The NFL already lets some players use them (and no, we're not referring to the gaps in its testing program you could drive a stretch Hummer through). Behind closed doors, the league's drug adviser, John Lombardo, has granted waivers to players who have failed drug tests but then explained their medical need for testosterone. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello won't disclose names or reveal how many players have been allowed to pump synthetic hormones into their bodies except to say it's "a very small number."

In each case, he says, testicular disease was the medical rationale. It's a little-used exemption to the league's drug policy, but it's a precedent-setting one: Any player who can show that replacing hormones is critical to his continued health should be allowed to take them.

Later, he notes that it's not just concussions that may be causing the serious injuries to football players:

But in the late 1990s, UCLA neurosurgeon Daniel Kelly noticed that many of his head-injury patients suffered from symptoms associated with pituitary failure: depression, fatigue, anxiety, poor concentration. His findings, which he published in 2000, have led to at least eight studies on three continents, which together involved more than 600 subjects. Each study confirmed the link between traumatic brain injury (TBI) and a loss of hormonal function. The most common deficiencies in men were those of growth hormone, which occurred in 15% to 20% of cases, and of testosterone, in 10% to 15%.

But researchers in Turkey, in a 2004 study, found growth hormone deficiency to be "very common" among boxers. The sample was small, just 11 top male amateurs, but the results were striking because the number of boxers who may have had deficiencies -- 45.4% -- was so much higher than that of the general population, which is usually less than 5%. More recently, those same researchers published findings from a larger sample, this time 22 kickboxers; 23% showed growth hormone deficits.

You may have noticed that football players get knocked around too.

I'm not saying there's an easy solution to this whole situation, but it seems like acknowledging reality might be a start.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Judo Chop!


Karo Parisyan: I think I already have a title shot if I want to wait
SteelSkins: We don't think you do

After going 4-1 in the UFC from September 2003 thru June 2005, Karo Parisyan was given a title shot. Unfortunately, the Judo expert injured himself during training, and that title shot then went to Joe Riggs, who lost to Matt Hughes on November 19, 2005, the same night that rising talent Georges St. Pierre beat Sean Sherk. After recovering from his injury, Karo was expecting that title shot to still be valid. Only it wasn’t.

It’s a little confusing as to why—perhaps it was the increasing depth in the Welterweight Division—but when Karo eventually did make his return in April 2006, he submitted Nick Thompson, only to lose to Diego Sanchez four months later. Suddenly, Karo found himself even further removed from the title picture.

Karo has since bounced back, only not necessarily in as dominant a fashion as he would like. He’s eeked out decision wins over Drew Fickett, Josh Burkman and Ryo Chonan. His overall UFC record is 8-2 (2 TKOs/Submissions, 6 Decisions; his losses were both unanimous decisions). Now he believes he has earned a title shot—in fact, he believes the UFC has already promised him one, assuming he wants to wait until George St. Pierre fights Matt Serra to unify the titles.

We at SteelSkins admit that we do not know what conversations have gone on between Karo and the UFC, but regardless, we think his title shot is still a ways away. This is because of two factors, really: 1. Karo can’t seem to finish an opponent; and 2. The Welterweight Division of today resembles nothing of what it did in 2005. Consider this:

Before his injury, Karo’s fights included wins over Dave Strasser (via submission), Nick Diaz, Chris Lytle and Matt Serra (all via decision). His only loss during that time was a unanimous decision loss to GSP in Karo’s second UFC fight. These fights, coupled with his record since returning from injury in 2006, paint a picture that’s not exactly dominant. He can’t finish a sub-Top 15 fighter like Ryo Chonan, and he couldn’t get past a game Diego Sanchez, who at the time was ranked by SteelSkins at #4, but has since slid to #7 with back-to-back losses to Josh Koscheck and Jon Fitch.

Back in 2005, the Welterweight contenders list wasn’t nearly as long as it is today. Fighters like Diego Sanchez, Josh Koscheck, Jon Fitch and Marcus Davis—all of whom have since flirted with the Top 3 Contender spots or are currently there—were ranked significantly lower than they are today. Fitch, who was 1-0 in the UFC in 2005 and is today 7-0, hasn’t lost since 2002; Davis is on an 11-fight tear; and GSP has posted wins over some of the very best in MMA, including Jason Miller, Frank Trigg, Sean Sherk, B.J. Penn, Josh Koscheck and Matt Hughes twice.

Many of the UFC’s Welterweight contenders back in 2005 aren’t even around anymore, including Nick Diaz, Brock Larson, Joe Riggs, Frank Trigg, Drew Fickett and Jason Miller. They’ve been replaced by—in some cases—even better talent, namely, Fitch, Kos, Davis, Sanchez, Thiago Alves, Josh Burkman, Mike Swick, and of course a rejuvenated Matt Serra, who might have been on his way out back in 2005, but today holds the belt that all these men seem to want.

Karo faces rising talent Thiago Alves next at UFC 84. With a decisive win, he could find himself next in line for a title shot…that is, after GSP and probably Jon Fitch get their chances, as well as after the loser of the GSP/Serra fight in a rubber match (assuming a GSP victory in April). Wow, that’s a long time to wait. But Karo knows what that’s like.

Learn more about Karo’s title shot hopes, his upcoming fight with Thiago Alves, his claim that he is not ducking Jon Fitch, and his opinion of women competing in MMA here: