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A couple of MMA careers should be finished after tonight’s shows

By Zach Arnold | December 4, 2010

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And I’m not even talking about the judges who scored the Nam Phan/Leonard Garcia fight in Las Vegas, either. (More on that in a minute.)

The immediate reaction to my thoughts about both Scott Smith and Matt Lindland needing to retire is that Smith should get a pass as long as he goes back to Middleweight, but that yes, Matt should call it a career. I think an argument can be made for both. Smith suffered yet another brutal knockout in his career, this time at the hands of Paul Daley. Lindland also suffered a sub-one minute KO loss to Robbie Lawler who was in target practice mode the entire time. Given the relative weakness Scott Coker has displayed in the past in standing up to fighters, I expect both men to continue getting booked. Realistically, they shouldn’t be booked for any more bouts after tonight’s showing in St. Louis.

The accumulation of punishment that both Smith and Lindland have endured over the span of their MMA careers is remarkable. They should not get future bookings simply because watching them get knocked out is fun or entertaining. This is a violent sport and it’s a sport where fighters figure out the realities of their careers and health way too late after the fact when the damage is already done.

I get it. MMA writers, for the most part, shouldn’t think they are entitled to tell a fighter who puts his health on the line in a fight to be an arbiter as to when that fighter should hang up the gloves. However, the body of evidence for both Smith and Lindland to call it quits before they suffer permanent brain damage is mounting fast.

As for the horrible MMA judging on display in Las Vegas tonight for the Nam Phan/Leonard Garcia fight, all I can say is that Garcia has some sort of magical spell that he puts on American MMA judges. (See: His fight from April against The Korean Zombie.) His technique is horrible and he swings like a wild man, yet a boxing judge like Tony Weeks of all people rewards him with a decision win over Nam Phan. The look and reaction on Phan’s face after the decision was priceless. It was so bad, Spike TV utterly failed at bleeping out ‘bullshit’ chants by the crowd. It was so bad, Joe Rogan used the second round of the pedestrian Johny Hendricks/Rick Story fight to tee off on Keith Kizer.

(Heckuva job, Keith. Hell of a week, too, for the Barney Fife of MMA. People are laughing at you, not with you.)

“It puts a tremendous amount of pressure on fighters not knowing what kind of officiating you are getting. … It’s gross. You should be able to leave it in the hands of the judges. The Nevada State Athletic Commission, that’s what it is. Keith Kizer has denied that there’s an issue. … I think he needs to clean house. … It’s sheer, complete, total incompetence. Send e-mails, write blogs, get online…”

The one judge who got the Phan decision right was Japanese.

Topics: Media, MMA, StrikeForce, Zach Arnold | 34 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

34 Responses to “A couple of MMA careers should be finished after tonight’s shows”

  1. Jonathan says:

    That was the worst decision that I have ever seen. It was pathetic, it made me sick to my stomach, and I hated the sport for it. We talk about robberies, but this was on another level.

    • Ed Shoaf says:

      Nam Phan got SCREWED, TRASHED on the worst judging I have ever seen. I’m calling prejudiced on this one. Either that, or 2 of the 3 judges were blind as bats. Something desperately needs 2 be done about it before the sport gets wrecked due to complete incompetent moron judges that couldn’t see past their own shoelaces. Nam Phan won by a landslide in my books

  2. Michaelthebox says:

    Whats your beef with Scott Smith? For your talk about all the punishment he’s taken, this is a guy who has only been finished with strikes 4 times in his career, and who has only been actually knocked out once in the past six years. He’s taken a lot of punishment, but he’s still far from the point where he can’t compete. The real issue is that Strikeforce keeps using him as a punching bag to put over superior fighters. If Smith got to beat up on weaker fighter between the occasional beating, nobody would think he should hang them up.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      Whats your beef with Scott Smith?

      I have no beef with him. That’s my point. I think he’s a great guy. Good talker, could be very valuable in PR and helping promote Strikeforce shows in the Bay Area. I don’t want to see the guy suffer from permanent brain damage. He’s been put in fights and positions lately where the amount of damage he is taking is just too much. He’s not going to quit taking fights because he’s a very mentally tough guy. Someone is going to have to step in before he really gets violently hurt in the cage.

  3. David M says:

    That fight literally could not have been any easier to score. One guy landing punch combos at will, the other swinging wildly, never connecting, and looking entirely horrid.

    My only attempt at an explanation is that the judges’ physical viewpoint is such that they cannot see what punches land and what punches don’t. That is the only way to explain Leonard Garcia’s last 3 fights all being split decisions (all 3 of those fights were obvious losses for Garcia), and to explain Rampage’s win over Machida–he swung hard and that apparently impresses judges more than actually landing, the same phenomenon we saw tonight.

  4. Chuck says:

    That Phan/Garcia fight was one of the worst decisions I have ever seen. Just embarrassing. Those were some disgusting KAYOS on the Strikeforce show. I must say that Mike Kyle (before getting ko’d by Silva in round 2) looked great in the first round. Too bad he couldn’t finish the job. I thought it was funny that they had a poll on who should get the next title shot at light heavyweight against Feijao. The choices were King Mo, Gegard Mousasi, Mike Kyle, and the Henderson/Babalu winner (obviously became Henderson). Guess who was the winner with 39% of the votes? Yup……………….MIKE KYLE!!! I’m not shitting any of you. I couldn’t believe it either, but the fans have spoken. Henderson/Babalu winner got second with 34%, then Mousasi (forget the number) then Mo Lawal in last with I think 9% or so. Personally I think it should be Henderson at this point (probably will be now).

    I absolutely agree that Lindland should retire. Scott Smith I think has a little more left in him. Maybe another two years or so (so about four or five fights). Hell of a KO for Daley. And Lawler now I think about it. Even though Babalu got TKO’d nice and well, he has a little left in him. That wasn’t a bad TKO loss. Benji Radach looked awful. I had that St. Preux/Radach fight at 30-25 St. Preux. First two rounds 10-8 St. Preux and the last round 10-9 St. Preux. The actual scores were 30-27, 30-26, 30-25. Yes, judges used 10-8 rounds!!

    Speaking of I had Phan/Garcia 30-26, second round 10-8 Phan.

  5. smoogy says:

    Pretty clear where Zach stands on Strikeforce at this point. When they’re in the news for matchmaking problems, contract problems etc. he doesn’t hesitate to beat them up. When they have a spectacular show go off head-to-head with a UFC card, he has absolutely nothing good to say about them, and doesn’t even mention them in his wrap-up outside of taking a pre-emptive shot at Scott Coker. If it’s any consolation, I’m sure Ivan Trembow hated the event.

    It is pretty impressive how far SF has come in some regards since they got the TV deal. 18 months ago they got absolutely trashed for having no depth, now they have a half dozen or more interesting names in each division, and in one event they just set up the next title contender in three different weight divisions.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      I watched both shows. Thought Strikeforce was the better show. Also thought that the issue of two veterans and their health long-term are big issues coming out of the show.

  6. EJ says:

    I really do find it funny how much complaining Garcia gets because of his style and the fact that he’s been in several close fights where he’s gotten the nod. People seem to discount the fact that while he is extremely wild and sloppy he’s also pretty effective.

    Now I will admit that I scored the fight for Phan 29-28 but I was not surprised by the decision. Nam basically gave away the last round by doing nothing for the first 3 minutes he should have known better. You gotta go all out for 3 rounds unless you have dominated the first 2 rounds which he didn’t than anything can happen.

    Hopefully guys will realise that slugging it out with Garcia is idiotic, take him down and pound him out and stop playing into his game because he’s really good at it.

    • Joe says:

      Phan only really slugged it out with him for a minute or so (and he got the better of it when he did). The rest of the time he did exactly what you should do against Garcia– stay back and look for openings to step in and counter. If all the fans in the arena could plainly see that Phan won the fight, how could the judges miss it? I mean, this isn’t one of those situations where a fighter loses the first 2 rounds on points, almost finishes the other guy in the third but loses the decision, thus swaying the fans into thinking he won the fight.

    • David M says:

      Leonard? Is that you? How are you feeling today? Congrats on your “win”.

  7. edub says:

    I will agree with Smoogy about how good the SF show was. Mike Kyle- Antonio Silva I thought was a stupid matchup because it would kill the momentum for whichever the loser was, but I was wrong. Both came out looking pretty good, with the Kyle blitzkrieg early and Bigfoot weathering the early storm to come back. Kyle is easy to hate because of incidents in his career, but he really has turned into a good mix of decent powerful striking and good grappling. I hope he fights Feijao next.

    There were also three huge KO’s. Pretty good night of fights.

    Nam Phan got screwed without lube, and Zach I think “Babalu” might fit in with the other two you mentioned about hanging em up.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      Nam Phan got screwed without lube, and Zach I think “Babalu” might fit in with the other two you mentioned about hanging em up.

      I don’t know about that, but tonight pretty much reaffirmed the history of Babalu’s career which is that in the biggest of moments he comes up very short.

  8. Kalle says:

    Effective? The only thing Garcia’s striking is effective at is fooling judges into thinking he’s doing damage.

  9. PizzaChef says:

    Is boxing trying to tell their judges who gets spots on MMA shows to judge the bout wrong to try to insult us MMA fans or to damage our sport?

    And this shows there is something wrong with American judges too. After all a British man got the right call during the Matt Hamill and Michael Bisping fight a few years ago…

    Man the UFC event turned me off. I did not wanted to see it especially with the fights mostly being boring.

  10. Kalle says:

    You’d think a boxing judge would know good boxing technique from bad.

  11. Keith Harris says:

    Zach, have you any idea how on board the athletic commissions, UFC and Strikeforce are with the research of the Sports Legacy Institute into CTE?

    Ed. — I’ve heard nothing on this front whatsoever as far as the commissions discussing CTE. Ironically, the person who would know the most about this is Dr. Margaret Goodman and she’s not on the commission any more.

  12. 45 Huddle says:

    I thought the TUF Finale had it’s moments, but overall wasn’t too exciting. The Phan/Garcia decision took a lot of excitement off that show from the very start. Which was a shame because it was a very good fight.

    What I find the most funny is how many people are trying to claim this night a “win” for Strikeforce. SF put up it’s 3rd biggest show of the 2nd half of the year against one of the worst cards for the UFC. Not to mention TUF will still have 4 times the viewers.

    The UFC could easily duplicate what Strikeforce is doing. Which is put on easily predictable fights and watch for great finishes. But that’s not what they do. It doesn’t look like a sport when that happens.

    Strikeforce has already lost to the UFC. The battle is over without more exposure. And I would say despite SF having a better roster…. They have lost to Bellator right not as well.

    • Jonathan says:

      It does look like a sport 45 Huddle? See….this is what I have a problem with. Whenever Strikeforce does something good, you de-base it, and in this instance, claim that it is not a sport. Everyone agrees that the Strikeforce card was exciting and fun to watch, and yet you still bash it.

      And it is the fact that you do this every single f*cking time that I have a problem with.

      • Isaiah says:

        The UFC obviously has a deeper roster than SF and puts on a lot more shows, with some of them being as good as or better than anything SF does. I think 45 just wants people to make sure to mention that before saying that they liked a fight promoted by SF. Is that so much to ask?

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Comparing the 2 organizations in the same article means the writer in some way views them on equal footing. Which in no way are they. That is the problem. When they talk about Strikeforce like they are more important then they are.

        • Isaiah says:

          Wow, you’re really sensitive, huh? I think the reason that people would dare talk about the two shows at the same time probably has something to do with the fact that they happened at the same time. So, I guess in addition to the standard disclaimer that should be inserted whenever someone says something positive about SF, they should also wait until nothing is happening with the UFC before discussing anything about SF. Would that, finally, satisfy you?

  13. Robert Poole says:

    45 –

    I don’t think anybody was arguing that, “Oh no, UFC is in deep trouble now” about this show. They’re saying on the straight head to head, for one night, SF had the better show. Which they did. It’s almost indisputable. You don’t have to always reflexively go into your “protect UFC at all costs” shill mode man. Seriously.

    The SF show was a lot of fun to watch, minus the horrible Benji Radach match which probably should have been stopped one of the many times he laid on the ground not defending himself from strikes and not attempting to move.

    Lindland was done after the Vitor pounding. Here’s seriously hoping that he never gets booked again… though I think Ken Shamrock does in some places still so I doubt all promoters out there would follow this and we’ll hear about Lindland being tooled by someone else as well.

    Smith is still young enough that with better training and a jump back to his normal weight class he’ll be okay but his problem is the same one I see Stephan Bonnar having. They’re both guys that like to put on a show and thus forego any serious technique to instead show their heart and courage. Guys like that don’t have particularly long careers and unless Smith starts to better his other facets, he’s going to end up punched out of the sport.

    Babalu to me was the other, “Yeah he should retire guy”. The fight felt like the Mousasi massacre all over again with Babalu getting knocked down and then apparently not knowing a single way to cover up and get out of trouble when someone is reigning top down strikes onto you.

    The one surprise to me was that Kyle decked Silva and had he been smarter about his follow up, might have been able to stop him. That made me question Silva’s chin, especially if that was a right hand from Fedor he was eating.

  14. Mr. Roadblock says:

    That was probably the best show Strikeforce has ever done. On their own at least. I loved Baroni/Shamrock but that was all Gary Shaw.

    Very fun show. Great fights.

    I caught a couple UFC fights. Lousy. I feel like about 90% of MMA fights these days all look the same.

    Lindland has at least one more beating coming his way from Scott Smith. I can all but guarantee Strikeforce does that one.

  15. Paradoxx says:

    Funny how people keep spewing this “SF had the better show” crap

    KOs do NOT make a show better. Especially when it is horribly mismatched KOs. If SF is just gonna set people up with warm bodies to KO, they’re even more of a joke than Coker lets on.

    Each and every one of the TUF decisions had more quality MMA action than most of the SF KOs combined.

    And even if you look past all was a TUF finale. SF put most of their marketable fighters without a belt on that card. It was a TUF finale. SF throws a chunk of its top talent and barely beats a UFC card that even the UFC really doesn’t care about.

    And these guys are supposed to be competition? Theres a big difference outdoing an NFL preseason game and outdoing the Superbowl… hell.. even a quality monday night game

    • Mr. Roadblock says:

      I don’t usually enjoy Strikeforce. They did a real nice job last night. Fun fights that all ended in a decisive way expect Radach/St. Preux.

      UFC was boring. The UFC TV product is becoming very stale and repetitive.

      • Paradoxx says:

        Sorry, but a bunch of pointless KOs is not a “better” product

        Maybe for the Kimbo Slice loving crowd.

        • Isaiah says:

          Hopefully, you made a ton of money on the show, as the betting odds did not suggest that it was loaded with mismatches.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          I went 5-0 in my predictions. Most people went 4-1 or 5-0 in their predictions. It wasn’t a tough card to predict. And that seems the norm for SF cards.

          By comparison, if I go 5-2 for a UFC card (including prelims), I consider that fantastic. I don’t remember the last time I did predict a few wrong.

        • Mr. Roadblock says:

          Very tough to predict UFC cards because 80% of the fights go to the judges and about 60% of the time they get it wrong.

          I apologize for not liking to watch two guys dry hump as much as all you guys.

          The Strikeforce show last night is what I like and miss about MMA.

          More please.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Judges get it right at least 9 out of 10 times. For as much grief as some fans give to the judges, they do get it right the vast majority of the time.

          And the beauty of the UFC is that you just don’t know who is going to win. That’s what keeps MMA interesting long term. Not squash fights.

          And the public has shown they are most interested in competitive fights. The one sided fights in Japan don’t have staying power. The one sided fights have never caught on in the states.

          The only people who seem to care for them are the fickle internet fans who are not representative of the overall fanbase.

        • Isaiah says:

          Congratulations, but you’re not getting the point. The favorites all winning doesn’t mean that the fights were all predictable. It just worked out like that. Likewise, you wouldn’t say that, say, GSP/Serra I was an “unpredictable” matchup just because everyone turned out to be wrong about it.

  16. Zack says:

    “I went 5-0 in my predictions. Most people went 4-1 or 5-0 in their predictions. It wasn’t a tough card to predict. And that seems the norm for SF cards.”

    Yep…SF cards are so easy to predict. That’s why favorites Fedor beat Werdum, Mo beat Feijao, Mousasi beat Mo, Cung beat Smith in the 1st fight, and Lashley beat that “can.”


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