Emotional weekend of sports

Being a fan is an emotional experience. We really go through it all while watching our favorites. And yes, sometimes, we get pleasure in watching heels lose in dramatic fashion.

Let’s start with the dramatics. The main card of UFC 264 featured 2 heels and a nice guy, who just might be a bit too nice.

I won’t mention anything about Sean O’Malley or Yana Kunitskaya. Wake me up when they book Yana vs Amanda or O’Malley vs The Funkmaster.

Stephen Thompson losing to Gilbert Burns should be the end of Mr. Thompson’s title shot hopes for now. Strange things happen in MMA though – a short notice step in might change his life. So Wonderboy, stay ready, so you don’t have to get ready. For now, however, he’s 38 and much too nice for this game.

Tai Tuivasa vs Greg Hardy was what we paid our money to see! The heavyweights really know how to shut the lights off and that’s exactly what Mr. Tuivasa did. He did what needed to be done and left Mr. Hardy sleeping in the Octagon. Then he climbed on top of the cage wall and did a shooey! Good times.

The main event featuring Conor McGregor vs Dustin Poirier was such a disappointing fight – I am still feeling some kind of way about the outcome.

I admit, I am not a big fan of either guy, but I tune in to McG fights for the spectacle. Everyone turns out for his fights and this one was no exception. The UFC hype machine was working overtime on this one and it showed. But after one round, it was over. The fight was stopped due to a doctor stoppage, as Mr. McGregor suffered a broken leg.

Then — Conor pretty much had a meltdown, Poirier’s wife was throwing up the birds, there were death threats, somebody slidin’ in the DMs, etc.

A mess.

I’m going to be honest: The promise of a $500,000 donation put the rematch under a cloud. It should have never happened. You want to donate to a charity, fine. Do it later. Talk about it later. Don’t promote a fight based on a charitable donation to your opponent’s foundation.

And let’s just leave it at that.

Saturday night left me in a state of sadness and embarrassment for Conor. Sitting on the floor of the cage, shouting, “We don’t give a bollocks!” isn’t a good look.

Sunday took the biscuit.

There I was minding my business, watching the European Championship finals and the match went into extra time. Nobody scored so on to the shootout.

You all know by now what happened: England missed the last 3 penalty kicks and it was all over. There were tears.

Everyone’s blaming someone for the debacle, but for me it’s a few things:

  1. The Premier League has the best talent in the world. You gotta make those shots.
  2. Poor Saka. Yes, he’s young, but he’s made it to the big leagues now. He was shook, for sure, but you gotta make those shots.
  3. Rashford & Sancho – SMH. Do I have to say it again? You gotta make those shots.

I’m not from England, but I am a big fan of the League. The Three Lions had a great tournament, but sadly, this was a choke.

M

263 Debrief

What happened Saturday night?

I really thought there would be something interesting to write about after UFC 263, but it wasn’t.

The excitement comes from the unexpected. Not watching an Amanda or Valentina KO in yet another mismatch.

Who cares if Izzy beats Vittori? I’m sure he and his family/team are thrilled, but it doesn’t excite me as a fight fan.

Let’s take a look at my picks before the main card started – all picked for the excitement factor: Paul Craig, Demian Maia, Nate Diaz and Marvin Vittori.

Of course Paul Craig was going to win his fight. He came through with that nasty ground game and dislocated his opponent’s arm while the referee was just watching the action.

Demian Maia lost, but he is at that advanced age as well as at the end of his UFC contract. I don’t rate Belal as that great of a fighter, but give him credit, he was able to defend against the takedowns and get off a bit of offense. Is this Demian’s last fight? Dana White says yes.

Nate Diaz won that fight. He lost the battle but the war was won years ago. It was a great fight. Leon sliced Nate up for 4 whole rounds – then he got lazy in the 5th. That Leon was doing the stanky leg at the end told us something: Nate wasn’t in there to take away Leon’s 3, he was there to test himself against the best. And I think Dana wanted to give Leon a bit of shine, as he’s been very unlucky lately.

I hope he gets his title shot before he goes out like Tony.

Adesanya beats Vittori in what was probably the worse fight on the card. Belal followed the blueprint to beating Maia, while Vittori was unable to implement the wrestling heavy game plan to beat Izzy. It turned out to be another mismatch.

Fights to make –

Adesanya vs Whittaker

Brandon Moreno vs Fig 3 (or does Joey B or Triple C slide in here?)

Usman vs Edwards (please!)

M

UFC 263

I have some good news and some bad news. The good news: This card is stacked. Even the prelims are entertaining.

Bad news: I have some unpopular picks.

Paul Craig vs Jamahal Hill – Craig. All day.

Demian Maia vs Belal Muhammad – Maia. I know he’s at the end of his career, I just love his dangerous ground game. Does he have one more? I hope so.

Leon Edwards vs Nate Diaz – Come on now. Nate subs Leon in a FOTY classic!

Deiveson Figueiredo vs Brandon Moreno – The racist photos posted by Moreno’s coach reflects badly on Brandon. Figs by KO.

Israel Adesanya vs Marvin Vettori – If Vettori goes HAM on the wrestling, he’ll leave with the belt. If he decides to freeze up (they all do somehow) he’ll go home with regrets. I got Vettori.

See you all after the main card!

M

Not much to report

I probably should have had something to say after UFC 261, but between Weidman’s leg, Zhang’s head and the fakery that is the welterweight division, there was just not much to say. I could mention Andrade’s mistake of talking recklessly about Valentina’s ground game, but is there any need?

No.

The next Fight Night was supposed to be The Return of the Snake, but there’s a whole lot of is he in or is he out drama at the moment, so nothing to report there.

Tonight in ONE, Eddie gets a do-over.

That’s something.

M

Disappointment

What a weekend in sports. Where to start? Wolves, Liverpool, Manchester City, UFC Main card? Let’s go in order.

Manchester City – I don’t like Man City. I guess I respect Pep; he’s a great coach with a lot of money at his disposal. And I love Kun Aguero, but he’s at the end of his time out there. And that’s about it. The rest of this current team is just unlikeable. I’m sorry, they just are. They have also been on a win streak and are at the top of the table. But that win streak was ended this weekend by Manchester United, of all teams. Why am I disappointed? Because this is the 2nd week I’ve put 3 City players in my FPL team and they blanked on me again.

It’s petty. I know.

Wolves – I find myself rooting for the Wolves ever since the injury to Raul Jimenez. They are a scrappy team, stuck in the middle of the table, with a tendency to pull off a win after I turn the game off at halftime. The disappointment comes from the fact that they had so many chances to score and failed to finish. I’m not sure what Nuno can do about this, but he better get to work. One or two more signings, get rid of that bodybuilder, and pray that Jimenez can be ready for next season.

Liverpool – My goodness. They need help. Now! It’s sad to watch them actually, they are falling apart right before our eyes. I think Klopp made so many changes because the fight for the Prem is over – is he resting guys for the Champions League match later this week?

I said earlier in the season that whatever the problem is, it has nothing to do with the absence of VVD. I still believe that. When he was injured, the team managed to win games with Fabinho and Matip at the back. They even rose to the top of the table at one point. But once Matip went out, then Fabinho, then Hendo . . . things just unraveled. And of course, the guys in front stopped scoring.

At the moment, things are a proper mess. Will Origi, Shaq, Ox, Matip, Milner and Keita be around next season? I hope not.

UFC Main Card – But first, let’s talk about Dom Cruz, who won his fight then went on a rant about some dude at Monster. It was a whole lot of inside baseball that I don’t care about. Apparently, he wants a fight for charity with the Monster guy who happens to be 100lbs heavier than he is.

This is ridiculous and one of the reasons I am sick of the fighter/commentator crew who are becoming the real stars of the show. Guys are happy to win fights, but the chance to talk to Joe Rogan and ask to be on his podcast is the real treat.

Dom doesn’t have title aspirations anymore and he must have a safe full of FU money to feel confident literally picking a fight with a major sponsor. But he’s one of Dana’s chosen ones, so this lack of professionalism is what we’re subject to on any given weekend.

Then there’s Joey B, the saddest guy I’ve ever seen. Good Lord, how many times does he have to lose and act like all 5 of his dogs died? On one hand, fighters act like they are savages and warriors and us fat fans on the couch better not say a word of criticism. Or, we have to actually experience cage fighting in order to have an opinion on it. Then on the other hand, we gotta see Joe crying into his wife’s arms like he’s just been released from a POW camp. It’s a professional fight and he’s been paid handsomely.*

Main Card – I’ll keep it short. It’s fun to watch Amanda win because she is more likeable as time goes by. I think I said previously that she was boring, and she is that, a little bit, but she seems to be a wonderfully nice person. But they have to get rid of the 145ers. It doesn’t make any sense.

Izzy vs Jan – Well, I was wrong. It remains my opinion that Mr. Adesanya has won fights where he should have lost (Kelvin, Yoel), but the UFC’s promotional apparatus was all in for him to win. They were hoping that a relatively small guy who fights at 185 could go up to 205 and beat the champ. A champ with Legendary Polish Power. With a ground game no one expected. Jan Blachowicz was completely overlooked because they wanted another champ-champ situation and a potential matchup with the GOAT, Mr. Jon Jones.

Welp. It turned out to be a rerun of Poirier vs McG.

The UFC has got to stop doing this and let the fights play out. There’s always room for these money fights between folks who don’t want to or can’t fight for the belt. Let them run their mouths on Twitter, perform comedy skits on social media, stage fake confrontations with each other at hotels or on the street (it’s on sight!). Whatever. This is what they do for attention. Let the real fighters fight for the belts.

And speaking of the belt: I was upset, even a bit sad over the way Aljo’s fight played out. I was rooting for him and it sucks that he won the belt that way.

Yes, it was illegal. No, he could not continue.

But you shouldn’t be able to win the championship like that. There’s a lot to say on this topic, but I’ll just say this: An intentional foul should be enough to strip the champ and call the fight a no-contest. This would eliminate a lot of shenanigans.

*I remember when he was an absolute jerk on TUF to Henry Cejudo because Cejudo was proud to be Latino and wanted to be seen as a role model. I don’t like Cejudo’s fighting persona (the Triple C), but he is a role model and a champion.

Wolves vs Liverpool next week.

M

Freeze

Yes, I’m in Texas. Yes, I have power, for now. We’re having rolling blackouts and you never really know when it’s going to roll back around.

And yes, it’s freezing. But enough about my misery; that’s not the freeze I’m thinking about today.

Last weekend, we saw the title fight between Gilbert Burns and Kamaru Usman. Gilbert had Usman rocked in the first round and froze. He could be holding that belt right now, but he froze at the worst time.

The patterns of behavior fascinate me. Why do these guys freeze when they’re about to win the fight? Gilbert knows Kamaru very well, so he’s not starstruck. Maybe the moment is a bit overwhelming? I don’t know.

It’s like they forget the basics of the very thing they’ve been training for their whole lives. And you don’t get title shots in the UFC for kicks. Well, sometimes you do*, but for the most part, title shots are earned and a guy has been through fire to finally get there. So when they get there and freeze – that is interesting.

Remember when Kelvin fought Adesanya? He had Izzy rocked and froze. Let him recover. I was screaming over here, “finish him!” Nope. Izzy went on to win the fight and is now preparing for Champ Champ stuff.

Yoel Romero is a prime example. He literally froze inside the cage across from the man. Hit Izzy hard once then stood there frozen for most of the “fight.” Yoel was on a tear before that title shot, then decided to waste it.

I’m not sure whether to include DC in this. His second fight with Stipe was odd: The man who lives and breathes wrestling, decided to keep the fight on the feet and got TKO’d via body shots.

MMA is puzzling at times.

Gilbert had Usman rocked and didn’t go for the finish. Why? The KO was right there. But no, he let him recover, just like Kelvin did, then spent a few minutes on the mat. He was doing that stupid thing like Werdum used to do. It was dumb then and it looks even worse now. Is your opponent supposed to look at you and say hey, sure I’ll lay inside your guard for a bit. Sure!

We’ll see Gilbert again, like Yoel, talking about he’s coming back stronger. And he’ll probably win a few more too, but I don’t trust him in another title shot. If you got the champ doing the beginning of the chicken dance you gotta finish that fight.

I’ll be shocked, beyond shocked if Mr. Polish Power all of a sudden forgets how to fight and freezes in the cage during his fight with Adesanya. Who am I kidding? He will. It happens too many times to be shocked anymore.

*I’m almost at a place where I can mentally relive the events after UFC 199.

M

Skills

A few nights ago, I got lost in a hockey match. The TV was just on and somehow I got obsessed with the game. I think it’s the ice: I live in a warm climate and I miss the snow and ice. When I watch the winter Olympics I get the same feeling. All of a sudden I want to ski. Or ice skate.

Something strikes me about this game though – You need a very diverse set of skills to excel at hockey.

  • At the very minimum you have to know how to ice skate. I have never put on a pair of ice skates. Ever. This rules me out of this sport immediately.
  • Knowing how to skate is not enough. You have to be a strong skater, not just someone who knows how to stroll back and forth. No. You must be able to skate with speed.
  • And just so you know, this ain’t speed skating. You have to know how to skate with speed, and with aggression. You have to be comfortable pursuing and being pursued without losing composure. If you’re scared easily, homie, stay home.
  • Know the rules and regs of the game, natch.
  • This sport is played with a large stick and a hard puck, so please consider the risks of the stick going upside your head and the puck landing near or on your mouth at a high rate of speed. Players in the past understood these risks and played with gusto, sacrificing their teeth to the game. Hardcore. I thought maybe present day players had more protection, but their face masks still have the nose and mouth exposed. Still hardcore.
  • And last, rudimentary stand up fighting skills are strongly recommended, applied as needed.

In conclusion, hockey is exciting and wildly underrated.

M

Another fight night tonight. Be safe.

End of year

We are living through some very strange times: Everton’s in 3rd place, Arsenal is 15th. People are calling for Lampard’s firing – and should we light a candle for Rhian Brewster? One day he was riding high with the champs, the next he’s missing a penalty kick and being sent out of town to Sheffield. Life is like that. I’ve been thinking about him during this not-so-festive season.

I never wrote my post-mortem on the last fight night. So how did it go? It was a good night for Anthony Pettis, who fought out his UFC contract. He will be taking his talents elsewhere in the future as Showtime has signed a new contract with the PFL. Good luck to him.

It was also a good night for Marcin Tybura. Seems he also has Polish Power in his hands, because the ground and pound TKO of our friend Greg Hardy was brutal. But Greg Hardy though –

The MMA community hates him with a passion, and to be honest, he is a bit problematic. Kinda sad to lose your NFL career over some nonsense and end up fighting in a cage without your inhaler. But what else can he do? Fortunately for us, the novelty of a fighting ex-NFLer has long worn off. Hopefully he’s one of the soon-to-be departed. And the roster won’t suffer without him – the Contender Series supplies enough to fill out an entire prelim card.

Jose Aldo won his fight against Chito Vera. He looked decent. A lot of people were saying how great he looked, but I disagree. He’s nowhere near as dangerous as he used to be: He won a decision against Chito, who has been fighting lower level fighters for quite some time. This one was a big step up for him and he extended Aldo to 3 rounds. As I said before, Aldo is not washed, and he still has dreams of being champ again. Bantamweight is an exciting division and Aldo in the mix is good for everyone.

The main event had Wonderboy looking pretty good. He wanted this one. Bad. He knows the deal just like we do. Will he get another title shot though? Does a win over the #11 ranked guy do anything for him? I don’t think so, but his aggression and passion should keep him in Dana’s good graces. For now. Going forward, he needs a sense of urgency. Drop the nice guy routine and call some mofos out. Now. He ain’t getting any younger.

Last – I saw today that Scott Coker wants to wait before scheduling the rematch between Ilima-Lei and Juliana Velasquez. He wants the time to build it up again. But Ilima-Lei was relieved to lose the belt. Relieved. Rose Namajunas said the same thing. That’s puzzling to me. Look at Valentina, she lives to fight. I don’t think JJ was relieved to lose, she still claims to be The Strawweight Queen. Male fighters don’t lose their belt and act happy about it, they just sabotage themselves before the fact, like Yoel and Rumble. And Kelvin.

It’s late.

M

Fight Night at the Apex

First, I would like to thank Dana White for all this speculative material. All I can think about is who is leaving the organization next.

So who’s next? We might get a bit of clarity this weekend at The Apex.

Let’s make some picks:

Pettis vs Morono – Pettis is on his last fight with the UFC, fighting an unranked fighter. I’m picking him to win. I love Anthony Pettis. I tune in for his fights and I love seeing him point to “Showtime” on his back. I hope he has one more in him.

Tybura vs Hardy – Tybura. I hope. Hardy has dreams of being a boxer now, threatening to knock out Fury, Wilder, etc. Tybura needs to win this and usher Mr. Hardy on to the boxing world.

Pereira vs Khaos Williams – Williams. I really hope this is fight of the night wild madness, with enough flipping and spinning to drive Nick Diaz crazy.

Jose Aldo vs Chito Vera – OMG. If you’ve been reading my posts you would know I consider Aldo the featherweight GOAT and that I have a soft spot for TUF LATAM fighters. I don’t root against them. So who wins? Gotta go with Chito.

Is Aldo on the bubble? I think so, but he’s not completely washed. But he does need a good win to stay alive. If he’s dominated like Jacare, Ferguson and JDS – the clock will start ticking.

Wonderboy vs Geoff Neal – Let me just say that I don’t know where Wonderboy is going. Does he want to be champ or is he just fighting for a paycheck like Cub? He’s already had 2 title shots against Woodley and wasn’t able to win. Is he working his way to another title fight, this time against Usman? He seems to be stuck in place and confused about the way UFC does business. And he’s 37, soon to be 38.

In order for him to remain in the mix at 170 and with the organization, he needs a headkick KO. A KTFO that we will talk about for an entire week. If he insists on a boring point fight or a counterpunch clinic he’s done.

Aldo, Pettis, Wonderboy. Who’s next?

M