Posts Tagged ‘mixed martial arts’

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by @anarchyroll
10/3/2014

As a fan of the original ECW, there are few wrestlers I want to dislike more than Bobby Lashley. And for years, Lashley made it very easy to dislike him whether he was pushed as a face or a heel in WWE or TNA.

Bobby Lashley was what is known in pro wrestling as a “body guy”. Someone whose success in pro wrestling is entirely dependent on the fact that they are or look like a body builder. Lashley’s run in WWE from 2005-2007 was the textbook definition of the WWE using their marketing machine to try to force fans to like a body guy with no charisma, no mic skills, and a mediocre at best level of technical wrestling skill.

Why as an ECW fan did I intensely dislike Lashley? Because body guys are antithesis of what ECW is all about, and when ECW was revived in 2006, at their second and final pay per view event, Lashley was chosen over CM Punk to win the only ECW Elimination Chamber match to become ECW Champion. Lashley then co main evented WrestleMania with the ECW Title around his waste and to this day, a generation of wrestling fans associate a body guy as the face of ECW. Sigh, thanks Vince.

Flash forward seven years later, and Lashley can only be classified as strictly a body guy by fervent haters of him and TNA Wrestling where he is (as of this writing) their World Heavyweight Champion. Why can Lashley no longer be classified as just a body guy? After all he still looks like a walking commercial for anabolic steroids.

Because after his run in the WWE and after his first run in TNA, Bobby Lashley went out and became the second most legitimate pro wrestling to mixed martial arts crossover in history. Second to only Brock Lesnar.

Lashley has had 3 times as many fights as Lesnar had, though no one would argue Lashley has faced nearly the same level of competition Lesnar did. But unlike Lesnar, Lashley isn’t retired, he’s still actively fighting.

It is worth noting, and praising, that Lashley while actively competing for TNA as their World Champion, fought and won a fight in Bellator MMA. That is something that Brock Lesnar never did and never will do. It is a little caveat, but a legitimate one.

Lashley’s in ring pro wrestling skills, have also improved dramatically. He tells a story with his facial features and plays to his strengths. TNA to their credit, has booked him as well as someone like Lashley can be booked. In an era where TNA can’t seem to do anything right, they have done very little if anything wrong with Lashley since he returned to the company at Lockdown in March.

Since Lashley apparently doesn’t know how to talk arrogantly, TNA gave him a mouthpiece/hype man in MVP. That was a double win as MVP was nursing a broken ankle at the time and needed something to do on camera. TNA killed two birds with one stone and now, it is almost impossible to think of or book Lashley without MVP as his version of Paul Heyman.

TNA has booked Lashley against technically proficient opponents who are able to bump for Bobby as well as mask his deficiencies in the same model of The Undertaker’s last five WrestleMania opponents. Lashley’s matches against Samoa Joe (twice), Eric Young, Austin Aries, and Bobby Roode have all been American style, pro wrestling/sports entertainment heavyweight style matches. Fans of wrestling both pre PG and pre Attitude eras would have an appreciation of those matches. Storytelling, selling, submissions, hot crowds, manuever exchanges, a high spot or two, go home. TNA has also booked him as an unstoppable monster. When he inevitably loses the world title, it will be a big deal, at least by TNA standards.

Lashley has come along way since his unwatchable runs as United States and ECW Champions in WWE. He is becoming the type of talent that Vince McMahon likely envisioned him as when he tryed to ram Lashley down the fan’s throats for almost two full years before releasing him after main eventing a pay per view with John Cena. Yeah, you read that right.

Lashley has also become a face in the argument of the legitimacy of pro wrestlers as real athletes and genuine tough guys instead of phony actors. Actively holding the world title for the #2 pro wrestling company and actively winning fights for the #2 mixed martial arts promotion is a bigger deal in both sports than many seem to want to give it credit for. It’s understandable, Lashley’s work in WWE was just awful. But his work in his first run in TNA in 2009 was good. His matches against Rhino, Samoa Joe, and Scott Steiner are all worth looking up on You Tube. He then spent four years bouncing between independent pro wrestling and mixed martial arts. Now he’s a top guy in the #2 promotion for both sports. What’s next? Lashley isn’t that old. He may not just be getting started, but he certainly isn’t finished.

It’s hard for me to believe that a body guy could be such an inspirational figure. But in the year 2014 in the worlds of pro wrestling and mixed martial arts, there is no better story than the renaissance of Bobby Lashley.

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by @anarchyroll
9/30/2014

One of the greatest and most exciting fighters with the undisputed most intimidating nickname in the history of mixed martial arts retired recently.

Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva called it a career with 35-12 record in the middle of September 2014.

Silva retires with a wimper rather than in a blaze of glory, the opposite of how he fought and will be remembered by mixed martial arts fans worldwide. Silva retired by posting a video online, which was picked up by the mma and sports press. Shorty after the video announcement, Silva received a $70,000 fine and lifetime ban from the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Silva blasted the UFC for underpaying him and all fighters in the video, also saying they killed his love of the sport by making him fight too much. Dana White responded by saying Silva was paid $9.7 million for six fights in five years.

It is unfortunate the way Silva’s career has ended. Regardless of specter of PED use and fight ducking that will hang over his retirement, Wanderlei Silva’s legacy and place in mixed martial arts history is forever intact thanks to his historically entertaining run through the Pride Fighting Championships of Japan from 2000-2007.

I originally became a fan of the UFC during their first few shows in the mid 90s but then like the majority of people, stopped watching. There are three fighters that made me a fan of the sport again; Wanderlei Silva, Frank Mir, and Tito Ortiz.  Ortiz for his ability to hype fights, Mir for his submission skills, and Silva for his insanely entertaining knockout ability.

During his prime Silva was a textbook knockout artist. Truly an artist. He KO’d top flight competition with his fists, elbows, knees, and kicks. He fought in the wild wild far east of Japan. Silva routinely fought people above his weight class in a promotion that was about the big fight atmosphere and freak match ups. In that environment and era, Silva was the king of the freaks and the big fights.

His middleweight title run (Pride’s equivalent to the UFC light heavyweight title) alone is worth looking into PrideFC. Silva was everything that fight fans want a fighter to be whether they admit it or not. Throwing caution and safety to the wind for the sake of either knocking out his opponent or getting knocked out in the process in the name of entertaining the people who paid to see him fight.

Silva is one of the last of a dying breed in mixed martial arts. A fighter first, martial artist second. He fought in bare knuckle fights years before he entered sanctioned competition. He wanted spectacular KO finishes rather than grinding out a decision victory to get a payday and a padded record. He fought heavyweights and super heavyweights rather than only fighting people he had a distinct size advantage over. He competed in tournaments regularly both before and during his championship reign.

2004 was the peak of Wanderlei Silva‘s career. He was the undisputed best fighter in the sport that year. Taking multiple awards/honors for fighter of the year and fight of the year from publications such as Sherdog, MMA Fighting, Wrestling Observer Newsletter, and Sports Illustrated.

No one who saw Wand’s prime will care about the checkered ending to his career. Our memory of him is too full of images of knockouts and Silva screaming into the camera after administering said knockout or as I like to think, the way a person who gets paid to be a fighter should be remembered.

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by @anarchyroll
8/4/2014

Nothing says illegitimate boxing or mixed martial arts prize fight like a fight at a press conference.

UFC 178 was supposed to be headlined by a rematch between Jon Jones vs Alexander Gustafsson for the Light Heavyweight Championship. Their first fight at UFC 165 was a legit contender for greatest fight of all time. Jones won by decision, people like me (Jones haters) consider the decision to be controversial. But it was a unanimous decision, not a split, so it isn’t as controversial as people like me wish it was.

Both men looked not just impressive, but genuinely great in their five round slug fest for the ages. Because Jones defended his belt, there was no guarantee of a rematch no matter how much the UFC fan base salivated for one. Gustafsson removed all obstacles by winning his next two fights, clearing his way for another shot at the light heavyweight crown. Unfortunately, Gustafsson suffered a knee injury during training and had to withdraw from the fight.

Daniel Cormier has been announced as the new opponent from Jones in September. Cormier is a very worthy contender, as he is undefeated in both UFC and Strikeforce. Cormier is so undefeated, he hasn’t even lost a round in fifteen professional fights.

The but in this case is a very big but.

Daniel Cormier needs knee surgery.

Now that he has a world title shot and a huge payday waiting for him in less than 60 days, of course Cormier doesn’t need surgery anymore.

UFC just canceled a pay per view due to an injury, they don’t want the egg on their face of having to do it again. More than the egg on the face, they certainly don’t want to lose all the revenue that would be lost from canceling two world title fights in three months.

Jon Jones is not a paper or fluke champion. There is a case to be made that he is the most dominant champion in UFC or mixed martial arts history. Therefore, putting anything short of an equal parts worthy and healthy contender against him is a full-fledged sham. It is not easy to say that a 15-0 contender getting his earned title shot is a sham, but if he needs knee surgery, then he will be a shell of himself.

Not to mention, how do you replace a fighter with a knee injury with another fighter with a knee injury?!

When substance is lacking, style and ballyhoo take over (see Michael Bay movies). Daniel Cormier has probably uttered two sentences of smack talk during his entire career, now he’s fighting people at press conferences? Give me a break. This fight is a joke, the UFC knows it, the fighters know it, and they are ratcheting up the hype machine to fool casual fans and themselves that the UFC 178 main event is legitimate. Jones vs Cormier is a money grab, pure and simple. It might as well take place at this year’s WWE Summerslam.

Jones has been eating up and spitting out worthy, healthy challengers for years. What is he going to do to someone who just a month and a half ago needed surgery in two different parts of his knee?

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by @anarchyroll
3/22/2014

If you have been a mixed martial arts and/or UFC fan for more than three years, then UFC Fight Night 39 on Sunday has been circled on your calendar for a while. Two of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport will meet in the octagon in a rematch of what can be argued as the greatest fight of all time from UFC 139 in 2011.

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua will be looking for revenge against Dan “Hendo” Henderson in the most professional, polite, and brutal way possible. Both of these icons have immense respect for each other dating back a decade when both ran rough shot over the PRIDE Fighting Championships in Japan. Both are in my personal top five fighter list of all time. Their first fight is my personal favorite fight of all time. The list for now is as follow:

  1. Shogun vs. Hendo I
  2. Wanderlei Silva vs. Chuck Liddell
  3. Frank Mir vs. Big Nog I
  4. Hendo vs. Big Nog II
  5. Cro Cop vs. Wanderlei Silva

Just my personal list, nothing I’ll get into a shouting match argument about. I could literally make a list of 25 fights off the top of my head that are so good that would make me rethink that top five list a few times over. But not the top one. Hendo vs. Shogun could have been a shitty fight and I still would have really liked it. The fact that it was five rounds of some of the most intense fighting in the history of the sport is just icing on the cake.

Just writing this article I have gotten goose bumps four times and counting thinking about their first fight and what may happen in their second fight. Why? It’s not just that I personally like both fighters, it’s the fact that their places in history as all time greats can’t be denied.

Both men will be hall of famers who will be remembered as pioneers and kings. Both dominated the 205 lb division at a time in the history of the sport where the 205 lb division was the deepest in all of mma regardless of promotion. Both did so in spectacular fashion. Both have fought in multiple open weight fights against opponents with distinct size advantages. Both men have held championships in Japan and America. Both men have won mma tournaments. They just don’t make ’em like these two anymore.

Both are the last of a dying breed, PRIDE alumni. If you have never seen PRIDE, do yourself a favor and look up some fights on YouTube and/or on the UFC website. It was the wild wild west of mixed martial arts and professional sports. Along with Fedor, Cro Cop, and Wanderlei Silva; Hendo and Shogun are on the PRIDE FC Mt. Rushmore.

I could write ten pages about these two guys, I hope my enthusiasm comes across in this writing. If you are a newer fan of the UFC look these two up. It’s not just that they are legends, they almost always have exciting fights. They are both two of the greatest closers, finishers, and knockout artists of all time. They both finish fights and didn’t just make good careers out of finishing fights, they became bonafide legends.

It is rare to have genuine living legends face off in a sporting event. UFC Fight Night 39 in Brazil will see just that. Knowing that both men are closer to the end of their careers than the beginning I encourage all of you to watch because fights and fighters of this caliber only come along a few times in each generation. I’m picking Shogun to win, only because that will ensure a trilogy, which gives me restless leg syndrome just thinking about.