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Saturday splash: No love for Fabricio Werdum

By Zach Arnold | April 20, 2007

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One Randy Couture says that he thinks Mirko Cro Cop will lose to Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 70. I suggested the same thing a couple of weeks ago and drew surprise. I expect to be laughed at soon. Randy also picked Arlovski over Werdum, whereas I think Werdum has a real good shot here to win.

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Josh Barnett responds to Dana White’s comments about him earlier in the week. Plus an interview with Calvin Ayre with an evasive answer on pursuing PRIDE fighters.

Onto today’s headlines.

  1. The Mirror (UK): A bluffer’s guide to the new craze
  2. The Houston Chronicle: Heavyweights headline UFC 70
  3. Fox Sports: UFC 70 takes the show on the road
  4. The Fightworks Podcast: More great grappling content in iTunes
  5. MMA California: CSAC news – Sakuraba vs. Royce
  6. The Independent (UK): UFC – British crowds wooed by the ultimate in combat
  7. The Canton Repository: Americans can stop epidemic of violence, corrupting influences (UFC gets some blame)
  8. The Canadian Press: As MMA popularity grows, so does both the good and the bad of the sport
  9. The Baltimore Sun: Judgment Day – UFC 70 collides with Cage Rage 21
  10. UFC Mania: UFC 72 – Rory Singer vs. Jason MacDonald
  11. UFC Junkie: Exclusive – Marcus Davis announces UFC 72 fight

Topics: BoDog, HERO's, K-1, Media, MMA, UFC, UK, Zach Arnold | 24 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

24 Responses to “Saturday splash: No love for Fabricio Werdum”

  1. CapnHulk says:

    Do you think the lack of publicity and hype for Werdum is a result of Heath Herring’s flat performance in his highly touted UFC debut?

    It seems overly cautious.

  2. 45 Huddle says:

    I’m picking Gonzaga & Arlovski. I still don’t understand why Gonzaga is such an underdog to many fans. He is a solid figher. I think the myth of Cro Cop (and the UFC Hype Machine) is building him to be better then he is.

    As for Gracie/Sakuraba 2, I can see how K-1 would think that this fight would draw fans. But it won’t. At least not as many as they need.

    First, this fight does nothing for me as a fan. Both have gone down hill since there last fight 7 years ago. Secondly, Sakuraba only has name value for hardcore fans. Casual fans have no clue who he is. And I won’t be shocked if CA allows him to fight, but he should not be medically released to do so. He is a risk to any organization who allows him to compete.

    Lastly, the UFC HP has made official 4 fights for May. They are: Liddell/Rampage, Parisyan/Burkman, Irvin/Thiago Silva, & Salmon/Schafer. I honest might not be purchasing this card. Nothing gets me excited on paper.

  3. Zach Arnold says:

    I remain skeptical that Sakuraba will pass the medicals for California, considering that Armando Garcia has had to deal with issues for boxers dying or suffering bad brain injuries. Sakuraba would certainly fit in a potentially dangerous category.

  4. Rollo the Cat says:

    I am not laughing at anyone who bets on Gonzaga given the odds or who thinks Gonzaga has a shot. He is a solid, well credentialed fighter. But to actually believe he will win is another story. You have to give me more than you did.

    There are two factors working against Gonzaga. First, he isn’t a wrestler and will have trouble closing and then taking CC down. Mirko has fought Barnett, Randleman, Coleman: All better wrestlers than Gabe. Second, Cro Cop has a top level defensive wrestling game with his sprawl. So add up Gonzaga being less than stellar with takedowns and CC’s top level defence and what do you see?

    I would even add that Cro Cop has not been easily submitted. Noguiera did it but with difficulty. Fedor couldn’t and Barnett couldn’t. I might take Napao if the odds were Serra-like. As it stands, I don’t see any rational for taking Gonzaga.

  5. Rollo the Cat says:

    Sakuraba and Royce is just another example of why this promotion is a joke. 45 is right on the mark. Saku-who? Royce was washed up long before the Hughes fight, but that match really cemented an negative image of Royce in people’s minds. No one but his most brainwashed fans consider him a legit contender. Now Johnny Morton…WOW!

    Is the UFC looking as foolish in Japan as K1 is here?

  6. Zach Arnold says:

    Is the UFC looking as foolish in Japan as K1 is here?

    It’s a running competition right now.

  7. TG says:

    Sakuraba…….UFC & IFL have something in common, both will have Armando Garcia’s ear about this bout. Perception is reality, no way he lets this fight happen It doesn’t matter, unless they give tickets away early, the venue will be empty. I hope they’re not expecting many people to come, i think USC will be out by 6/2. I doubt many alumni will make the trek to the hood to see Morton fight, maybe during football season.
    It might be REALLY, REALLY bad or worse.

  8. Zeppelin says:

    I’m just happy that we have a good chance of seeing Josh Barnett fight again in Pride/UFC. It was starting to look like he was going to disappear back into Japanese pro wrestling again.

  9. Zack says:

    Cro Cop and Werdum are locks. Randy is a great story but says what the UFC wants him to. They have to sell Gonzaga as a threat. He’s not. Randy also said Dana would beat Tito. Great theory!

  10. ukiro says:

    Not that anyone cares, but I’ll ramble about my Cropcop/Gonzaga thoughts anyway. It will become quite obvious that I’m a Mirko fan, but I’ll try to be fair.

    I seriously doubt Gonzaga thinks going for a submission is a good game plan. The only reasonable approach would be to try to overwhelm Mirko with a flurry of punches, followed by a fake shoot and then try to rock him with an uppercut. Mirkos sprawl is amazing, but it does make him drop his hands when he tries to grab his opponent; timed right, this is an opening for a wild shot that could rock him. With enough presence of mind Gonzaga could then capitalize and possibly GnP his way to a TKO or soften him enough to be able to gram an arm for a submission. Pretty much what happened ni the first Randleman fight, only a bit more intentional and with a better ground game to open for a potential submission finish. I got the feeling that this is the scenario Couture predicts (or rather, hopes for – I think he’s realistic enough about his chances to fear Mirko).

    So, if we assume that this is the gameplan Gonzaga will employ, what should Mirko do? He should punch Gabriel in the face, real fucking hard. As simple as that. Mirko is really, really fast, something that can’t be said for Gonzaga despites his teams efforts to hype him in this regard. Sure he might have improved, but I would think Barnett is still much faster, and we know how that went… three times over. Mirko can move backwards with great speed, and he uses this well; He reacts to someones attack by stepping back real fast, and then moves to the side, creating an opening for (in most cases) that WMD left straight. And he punches insanely hard even when moving backwards. For Gonzaga to overwhelm Mirko he needs to commit more than he’s ever done, and preferrably with Mirkos back to the fence. To set up that situation before Mirko gets a chance to land some shots is very difficult, but not impossible.

    Gonzaga has a good chin, but aside from solid marble-headed Mark Hunt, those who take shots from Mirko always get a worried look in their eyes. There’s a Mirko quote and everyone having a game plan until they gethit, which rings very true. I think getting tagged hard will cause Gonzaga to resort to what he knows best – the ground game. If he realizes he’s about to get knocked out, he’ll go for the takedown like every ground fighter does. And a rocked shoot against Mirko is a mistake.

    Another thing, that isn’t mentioned much about Mirko, is sheer raw strength. Look at any old Mirko fight and look for when he’s in the clinch. See how he gets out of it? He just throws the guy away. Literally. Gonzaga may weigh 20 pounds more, but that is not 20 pounds of muscle.

    Conclusion: I see a stand-up fight, with a really committed attack by Gonzaga either right away, or after about two minutes of feeling-out and looking for position. And I see Mirko counter-punching single shots, not combos (for fear of leaving openings). I think Gonzaga will take a few and keep going, and if they reach round 2, Mirko will bring in leg kicks when Gonz comes forward. Mirko by TKO.

  11. MMA Game says:

    Ukiro – really good analysis. You can tell who’s really thought about stuff and who just makes picks based on instinct and / or favouritism… In MMA you REALLY need to think about the bouts individually and what you think’s going to happen, if you want to make successful picks.

    For instance I was going to pick Werdum and maybe even Gonzaga but if you watch tape on the fighters in question, I really think Mirko is going to punish Gonzaga and that Arlovski will manage to dispose of Werdum with his infinitely superior standup.

    Here’s my writeup, along with 2 other tipsters

  12. The Gaijin says:

    Ukiro – I don’t know where you got the idea that Mirko came up with that quote. It’s a pretty famous Mike Tyson quote if I recall correctly.

    If there’s one thing that’s for sure these days, its don’t count out anybody! So while I think CC should take this, I thought Gomi, GSP, Herring, Silva, etc. etc. were going to win for sure too!

  13. ukiro says:

    Gaijin – I saw it attributed to Mirko on Sherdog (in the forums), which means I should have known it wasn’t him. My bad.

    And yeah, all the recent upsets is making me real nervous for this one. My write-up above is partially me trying to convince myself that Mirko will win, to calm my nerves =) But if Gonzaga is smart about this and manages to turn plan into action once he’s in the octagon, a win for him isn’t nearly as far-fetched as Serra vs GSP… and we know how that turned out.

  14. klown says:

    Couture also once nominated Tito Ortiz as the one UFC Light Heavyweight capable of defeating Chuck Liddell.

  15. Grape Knee High says:

    I have to agree with Ukiro here. Mirko has shown in the past to have insane takedown defense and I have trouble seeing how Gonzaga can possibly take him down. I can’t think of a single fighter who can or has done it reliably in the past (including Fedor, Barnett, Nog, Coleman, Yoshida, etc).

    I think the one chance Napao does have is if he can make Mirko gas (unless he can get a miracle Randleman punch in there); the unfortunate part is that Gonzaga himself does not seem to have exceptionally strong cardio. I see this going a similar way to Yoshida/Cro Cop. There will be a few wary tie-ups and clinches. Once they both get tired, it’s leg kick time, low mid or high.

    One thing to keep in mind here is that Cro Cop likes running away when he gets in trouble. It’ll be even easier for him to do this in the cage than in the ring because of the size of the cage.

    Regarding Werdum/Arlovski…I don’t know how this will go. It all depends on Arlovski’s takedown defense, which I suspect is not that strong. It could go similarly to Werdum/Kharitonov where Arlovski stuffs the takedown attempts and punishes Werdum, or like Werdum/Aleks with a quick takedown and BJJ 101 to a submission. If I had to put money on it, I’d go Werdum, but I don’t know that I’d be very confident of winning.

  16. Grape Knee High says:

    “I remain skeptical that Sakuraba will pass the medicals for California, considering that Armando Garcia has had to deal with issues for boxers dying or suffering bad brain injuries. Sakuraba would certainly fit in a potentially dangerous category.”

    I think it would depend on the opponent. Against Royce, I think he’d pass since Royce is hardly a danger to do anything but possibly break a bone or pop a joint. However, I do agree that Sak should have trouble passing medicals against anyone who actually knows how to throw more than the girly punches that Royce throws.

    I personally think Royce/Sak 2 would be a big fight, if it actually happens. Sure, they’re both past their prime and, yes, it’s not a premier MMA fight. But I think for old fans MMA fans who got to watch both in their primes, it will be an entertaining fight between two legends of the sport. At least it’s not a horrible mismatch like Royce/Hughes was. However, if this is the match that K-1 is hoping to sell 90,000 seats with, they’ll be sorely mistaken. Someone should start a pool to bet on when K-1 officially moves the event to a (much) smaller venue.

  17. Zack says:

    “Couture also once nominated Tito Ortiz as the one UFC Light Heavyweight capable of defeating Chuck Liddell.”

    He also said Eddie Sanchez was a very tough test for Mirko.

  18. Fan Futbol says:

    “Everyone has a plan until they get hit.” Actually, although Iron Mike did say it, those words were originally uttered by George Foreman.

    If GSP can lose to Matt Serra, Crocop can lose to Napao. But, still, I just don’t see how Napao will get Crocop down…I think Ukiro has identified the most likely way Gonzaga will win.


  19. Fan Futbol says:

    Correction: “I think Ukiro has identified the most likely way Gonzaga *could* win.”


  20. The Gaijin says:

    Thanks FF, I stand corrected on my correction!!

    And wow…wow….wow…Napao.

  21. 45 Huddle says:

    Keep this post…. Proof that I picked Gonzaga….

  22. taramis says:

    Gonzaga’s head kick knocking out Cro Cop is the stuff of legend. _45 Huddle_ , you totally called it!

  23. kw says:

    Zach, you might want to try SpamKarma 2.3

  24. Zach Arnold says:

    KW – I’m using SpamKarma 2.3 – and it’s keeping out both spam and good site commenters…


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