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.


“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:


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:


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:


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


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.


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 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 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.