Cube's Corner

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February 5, 2018

 

The Last Fight In The Cage


In the short story "The Last Fight In The Coliseum," Charlotte Yonge penned about the barbaric fights that the Roman gladiators were forced into in A.D. 404, how "condemned criminals and deserters were reserved to feast the lions, and to entertain the populace with their various kinds of death."


Thus was the modern plight of Priscila Cachoeira, who made her UFC debut against No. 1 ranked women's flyweight contender Valentina "Bullet" Shevchenko this past Saturday at UFC Fight Night 125.


A breakdown of the fight reads more like an assault report to the police than a report of an MMA contest.


It was just 40 seconds into the fight that Shevchenko took Cachoeira down to the mat, where she would brutalize her for the remainder of the round.


A nasty elbow at 3:30 of Round 1 splits Cachoeira's head open and makes Felder groan "ohhhhh," while both commentators make mention that referee Mario Yamasaki is watching the action closely.


Fitzgerald says at the 3:00 mark, "Yamasaki standing right above it," as the barrage of ground-and-pound continues and Cachoeira's face turns into a bloody mask of crimson.


At 2:30, more elbows delivered from Shevchenko and more groans from Felder.


"If this fight continues like this, I don't think we're going to see this last much longer," Felder says at 1:30. Little did he know.


At 1:15 of the first, Felder provides an eloquent albeit humble analogy of brutality, saying that Shevchenko's elbows are making his elbows look like child's play. This is the "Irish Dragon" Felder talking, the possessor of some of the nastiest muay thai elbows in MMA.


"Huge ground and pound," Fitzgerald says at 25 seconds as the beating continues. And the crowd roars. By the time the bell rang, Shevchenko had landed 90-plus strikes to Cachoeira's one.


As Yonge wrote, "When a gladiator wounded his adversary, he shouted to the spectators, Hoc habet! 'He has it!' and looked up to know whether he should kill or spare. If the people held up their thumbs, the conquered was left to recover, if he could; if they turned them down, he was to die: and if he showed any reluctance to present his throat for the deathblow, there was a scornful shout, Recipe ferrum! 'Receive the steel!'"


Evidently, Cachoeira got the thumbs down from her corner and was promptly sent out for Round 2 to "Receive the steel" from the "Bullet."


It took Shevchenko a mere 15 seconds to get the takedown in the second round, and another 30 seconds to move into crucifix position, where she then proceeded to deliver 22 unanswered blows. 


After losing position momentarily trying for an Americana keylock, Shevchenko then immediately went back to the crucifix position, where she landed 34 more unanswered punches, along with three brutal elbows thrown in for good measure.


Meanwhile, Yamasaki kept watching. Blow after blow, Yamasaki kept watching. At 2:16 of the second round, Fitzgerald inquired, "how long is it going to last?"


One minute later, Shevchenko took back mount and Felder said hopefully, amid another barrage of punches, "This might get stopped."


40 seconds later, with no stoppage from Yamasaki seemingly in sight, Shevchenko finally and mercifully sunk in the choke for the anti-climactic win.


"217 strikes to 1 = take a grappling dummy from the gym, handcuff its fake arms behind its back, throw it into a pool, wait til it is fully submerged and can't breathe (even though it's a dummy) and then just beat the shit out of it," Eric Kowal of mymmanews.com posted on his Facebook. "Great job Mario Yamasaki. Great job."


UFC head Dana White, who has long been outspoken in his criticism of Yamasaki, was seething at the press conference afterwards, calling Yamasaki's performance "disgusting," which it absolutely was.


For all of his ineptitude during Saturday night's fight, however, Yamasaki is far from the only one at fault for this massacre. He is simply the easiest and most visible target.


Fault also lies with the matchmaker, Sean Shelby, as well as the overseeing baldfather White - in spite of his harsh and deserved verbal spanking of Yamasaki in the post fight aftermatch - for allowing this mismatch in the first place. After all, how do you justify putting the No. 1 ranked contender against someone making their UFC debut?


If you're not going to have her fight for the title against champion Nicco Montano right away, are you saying that the No. 2-10 ranked flyweights were all booked and unable to compete against Shevchenko in a fight that would seemingly determine next in line for a title shot?


For me, however, the real fault lies with the cornermen of Cachoeira, who saw she was outclassed and refused to save her. As someone who has cornered over 60 professional fights - in the UFC, Bellator, Strikeforce, WEC and elsewhere - I couldn't imagine allowing such a savage beating to continue. You have to defend your fighter when they are no longer able to. It's one thing to go out on your shield. It's another to go out on a body bag.


Several years ago, I cornered a nationally televised fight where my fighter got caught with a hook and suffered a flash knockout. He didn't appear that hurt as I looked at him in the cage from my spot in the corner, he just looked dejected from the loss.


As we were walking away from the cage area, he stopped me on the way back to our locker room and said he wanted to get some fresh air outside. The casino he fought at was set on top of a big grassy hill, and there was nothing but Oklahoma farmland and dark skies around. We walked outside and took a couple of steps, when he suddenly slipped and fell.


It was surreal as I watched him roll down this giant hill seconds after seeing him get knocked out. I ran down as fast as I could to make sure he was ok.


When I got to the bottom of the hill, he was groggy but alert and locked eyes with me, "Lewy (my last name condensed), I've got a fight coming up right now, what's going on?"


I told him the fight already took place. He didn't believe me at first and then he asked me what happened. As we sat alone at the bottom of this hill in the middle-of-nowhere Oklahoma, I told him. We cried together for the next couple of minutes.


The fight sports are not the place for the soft hearted or weak minded. This is the hurt business. It's what the fans tune in for, and it's what the fighters sign up for. People die in there. And while it hasn't happened in the UFC yet, it will. It's not a question of if, it's a question of when.


Which is why everyone involved bares great responsibility to make sure what happened Saturday night doesn't happen again. And certainly not because of neglect. Lest it will be, like the Romans in the Coliseum before them, The Last Fight In The Cage. - Scott Lewis


 

Scott Lewis is the writer of the Monday Morning Cornerman, and host of Inside Fighting Radio, heard live every Tuesday 4pm ET on www.w4cy.com and every Thursday on IHeartRadio. 


Photo with story is courtesy of www.mmajunkie.com



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January 29, 2018

 

Two claps and a Ric Flair



Is it me or do things feel a little off in the sport of MMA right now. Or is it a matter of the more things change, the more they stay the same?


Mixed Martial Arts may not be "human cockfighting" anymore, as it was once infamously coined by John McCain, but the lines of sport and reality are still oftentimes blurred. 


Ronda Rousey finally makes her much anticipated return last night - at the WWE's Royal Rumble, sporting a "Hot Rond" shirt as a gesture to the late pro wrestling great Roddy Piper.


Meanwhile, the night before, the Charlotte crowd watching UFC Fight Night serenaded the fighters with chants of "woooooo!" in an ode to pro wrestling great Ric Flair.


Conor McGregor is still seemingly on the run from the Irish Mob, and still hasn't thrown hands publically - from all newspaper accounts, at least - since Winter 2017 when he slapped a Bellator official following a teammate's fight, and then roughed up a local wise guy while hanging out at his hometown watering hole.


And somehow, without stepping foot in the Octagon in nearly 1 1/2 years - since decimating Eddie Alvarez to win the UFC lightweight title at UFC 205 in November 2016 - Conor still remains the champion of that division. And, despite being asked numerous times when the "Notorious" one is either returning or being stripped of his undefended lightweight title (as he was of his featherweight belt), UFC head Dana White is still finding ways to beat around the bush and deftly evade the questions.


Cyborg - the women's featherweight champion and the best women's fighter in the world - decisively beat Holly Holm last month but the UFC won't initiate the 155-pound weight class she normally fights in, "forcing" her into an unhealthy weight cut.  


The most popular and dominating women's fighter in the world, fighting for the world's largest fighting organization, and she can't get fights or title shots in her own weight class. Yet, the UFC started up a 125-pound women's weight class in 2017 that featured an underwhelming roster of competitors on The Ultimate Fighter season 26.


You get two claps and a Ric Flair if you can name the 125-pound women's champion without using google or the rankings page.


This is the sport where Gabi Garcia has her fight in Rizin with a 53-year old grandmother canceled because Garcia missed weight by 28 pounds.


Where famous pro wrestler C.M. Punk can have a professional fight without a lick of combat experience, and a sport where the competitors clamor for the opportunity to fight said novice in the hopes of garnering attention and bigger paydays.


A sport where Timothy Johnson has to start a GoFundMe to raise money to fly two of his cornermen to Brazil.


A sport where Uriah Hall recently suffered a minor heart attack during a weight cut. An incident where doctors said he could have died if he had made the weight, but Hall said immediately after that he still wants to face Vitor Belfort in his next fight.


Which begs the question, should a competitor who had a heart attack even be allowed to fight again?


Then again, this is the sport that saw Dada 5000 and the late Kimbo Slice fight to, literally, the near death. Dada 5000 would actually suffer and survive a heart attack in the cage in the aftermatch, and Slice ultimately died of heart failure later in the year.


The sport of MMA is still young, as it's been just 25 years since the inception of the UFC, widely considered to be the birth of modern day mixed martial arts. There is a lot of growing up still to do.


As the late great UFC star, and my former radio co-host, Ryan "Big Deal" Jimmo once said to me during a show, MMA is like that teenaged kid, with acne on it's face and always finding itself in trouble.


Hopefully that teenager with the bad attitude and hygiene grows up soon, and grows into its potential for what it can be.


Meanwhile, for those still wondering, the UFC women's 125-pound flyweight champion is Nicco Montano. Clap, clap, woooooo! - Scott Lewis 



Scott Lewis is the writer of the Monday Morning Cornerman, and host of Inside Fighting Radio, heard live every Tuesday 4pm ET on www.w4cy.com and every Thursday on IHeartRadio.



January 22, 2018

 

Next Big Thing


Mixed martial arts fans are notoriously fickle, with a "what have you done for me lately" mindset and a 15-second attention span. Always ready for the next big thing.

And always ready to build up that new hero before, inevitably, that once shining star is burned down as well.


Alas, it's not necessarily the body of work that gets recognized and appreciated. The viewpoint of the average fan seems to be that if you lose, to put it bluntly, well, now you suck. Or even less forgiving, don't win by knockout or submission, or win in less than impressive fashion, and you still suck in the eyes of many.


Case in point is the current plights of UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion, Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier, respectively.


While Cormier maintained a slight edge as the betting favorite over challenger Volkan Oezdemir heading into UFC 220 this past weekend, the two-time defending UFC champion Miocic was actually the underdog going into his matchup with the feared Francis Ngannou.


The same Miocic that KO'd the great Fabricio Werdum to win the title, then followed it up with a KO over Alistair Overeem and a TKO over Junior Dos Santos (to avenge an earlier controversial loss at a UFC Fight Night in 2014 in Arizona that I covered as media, a fight that I thought Miocic won).


The same Miocic that had to beg for a title shot after KO'ing Andre Arlovski, is still missing the respect that he deserves, the respect that he has earned.


Meanwhile, Cormier is the best light heavyweight in the world not named Jon Jones. The former Strikeforce heavyweight champion has laid waste to everyone else in his path and did the same to a much hyped Oedzmir in dominant fashion.


Yet, Cormier is overlooked and underappreciated. Whether it's for his post-fight tears and perceived whining after both losses to Jones, his often acerbic commentary on UFC broadcasts, or his unaestethic physical appearance that belies his tremendous physical ability and MMA skills.

How many times have you heard, or maybe even said, something along the lines of "Cormier's good but Jones smashed him, he shouldn't even be champ!"


The general consensus heading into UFC 220 seemed to be that Cormier and Mioicic wouldn't be champs anymore. Not with Volkan and Ngannou ready to take heads off. Just look at the pre-fight marketing done by the UFC: it wasn't about the champs, it was about the new guys, the fresh blood. The next big things.


As for the fickle fight fans, those with the 15-second attention spans that soak in the blood, sweat and beers while watching the action. Well, I guess, as much as I hate to admit it, sometimes I'm one of them.


During my Inside Fighting Radio show 2 weeks ago, I picked both Miocic and Cormier to win. I had seen them do too much in past fights to go against them now, and felt that as spectacular as Ngannou and Volkan had been so far in their respective UFC careers, they were still largely unproven. 


But then last week - just 1 week later - I became that fickle fight fan I dread so much. I had seen the hype on commercials all week long, I re-watched Volkan annihilate Jimi Manuwa in 48 seconds, and Ngannou uppercut Overeem's head into the stands.


Nevermind my previous convictions, I was sold. The locomotive had come rumbling by and I had jumped aboard. I had been blinded by the bright lights, defeaned by the hype train. 


Sometimes the next big thing isn't coming around the corner, however, or next up on deck. Sometimes you just have to open your eyes and see that it's right in front of you. 


So make sure you appreciate champions like Miocic and Cormier while you can. While you can still build them up. Before you burn them down. And trust me, you will. 


After all, it's only so long until the next big thing does come along. Or, for Cormier more specifically, until Jones' suspension is overturned. And sure enough, we'll jump on the next train that leaves the station. Choo, choo, next big thing coming through. - Scott Lewis


Weekend Wrap Up

 

UFC 220 results


UFC HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE FIGHT

Stipe Miocic def. Francis Ngannou via unanimous decision (50-44, 50-44, 50-44)

UFC LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE FIGHT

Daniel Cormier def. Volkan Oezdemir

via TKO (punches) at 2:00 of R2

Calvin Kattar def. Shane Burgos via TKO (strikes) at :32 of R3

Gian Villante def. Francimar Barroso via split decision (30-27, 28-29, 30-27)

Rob Font def. Thomas Almeida via TKO (strikes) at 2:24 of R2

UNDERCARD

Kyle Bochniak def. Brandon Davis via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

Abdul Razak Alhassan def. Sabah Homasi via KO (punch) at 3:47 of R1

Dustin Ortiz def. Alexandre Pantoja via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Enrique Barzola def. Matt Bessette via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

Julio Arce def. Dan Ige via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)

Islam Makhachev def. Gleison Tibau via KO (punch) at 0:57 of R1



Bellator 192 main card results



Main Event - heavyweight grand prix opening round

Chael Sonnen def. Quinton Jackson – unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Rory MacDonald def. Douglas Lima

– to claim welterweight title by unanimous decision (48-47, 49-45, 49-46)

Michael Chandler def. Goiti Yamauchi

unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-25)

Aaron Pico def. Shane Kruchten

knockout (punch) - Round 1, 0:37

Henry Corrales def. Georgi Karakhanyan

unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)



LFA 31 main card results



Thanh Le def. Bobby Moffett via TKO (punches) – Round 2, 0:55 – to win interim featherweight title

Ian Heinisch def. Daniel Madrid via knockout (punches) – Round 2, 3:56

Matthew Frincu def. Roman Alcantar via TKO (injury) – Round 2, 4:10

Casey Kenney def. Kendrick Latchman via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27 30-27)

Jordan Winski def. Mike Hamel via submission (armbar) – Round 1, 4:06

Cory Sandhagen def. Jose Aguayovia TKO (strikes) – Round 1, 1:07

Mario Bautista def. Raphael Montini via TKO (doctor’s stoppage) – Round 2, 5:00



Scott Lewis is the writer of the Monrday Morning Cornerman, and host of Inside Fighting Radio, heard live every Tuesday 4pm ET on www.w4cy.com and IHeartRadio.