Monday, June 26, 2006

TUF FINALE........



Less successful TUF 3 Fighters
The off-TV bouts weren’t bad. Mike Nickels had zero trouble in dispatching Wes Combs (Pictures). Matt Hamill humiliated young gun Jesse Forbes. Kalib Starnes (Pictures) dismantled Danny Abbadi and Rory Singer scored the quickest win of the night, submitting Ross Pointon in a mere 44 seconds. And let’s not forget Team Dagger’s Solomon Hutcherson being knocked out cold from late sub Luigi Fioravanti (Pictures).
Like most of the “cast members” of each Ultimate Fighter series, there are a handful of guys with tons of potential, some with a little potential if they work their butts off and some who have basically no shot of doing anything worthwhile in the sport of mixed martial arts.
I’m not going to pinpoint those few who fall into the latter category, as it is certainly disrespectful to these professional fighters, but anybody who actually sees these cats in action will come to this conclusion on their own.
In keeping with only the season three alum, I am not particularly sold on the likes of Hamill, Nickels or Tait Fletcher (Pictures). I am, however, certain that Starnes, in due time, is a legitimate threat to virtually everybody in the upper echelon of the middleweight division. Granted, he isn’t going to be dethroning champion Rich Franklin (Pictures) any time soon, but the unassuming, laid back and low-key Starnes has all the potential to be a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming year or so.
And even though it seems like Starnes has to pay 30 bucks every time he smiles or says more than one sentence at a time, the guy is marketable. Why, you ask? Because his fighting style is pleasing and he has that look of a professional fighter. To top it off, his silent-but-deadly demeanor oozes of intrigue.
The rest of the cast, save for the two champions and Ed Herman (Pictures), are in for a long, arduous journey through the ranks. Don’t be shocked when guys like Abbadi, Forbes, Mike Stein and Kris Rotharmel struggle to appear on future Ultimate Fight Night events, let alone the big-time Pay-Per-Views.
And Solomon, whose hilarity both on camera and off is a recipe for a marketing goldmine, is funny, talks serious trash, has some off-kilter comments and slogans like “Dagger!” and he presses the action inside the cage.
The only problem is that Hutcherson apparently can’t take a punch. He’s been knocked senseless from a glancing shin kick and Mario the Plummer’s brother iced him with a short left hook. Can Solomon bounce back and make some noise in this sport with his charisma and appeal? Yes. Will it actually happen? That’s highly doubtful.
Bisping and Grove
Every year at the start of each Ultimate Fighter series, I pick one guy from each weight class and make him my pick to win it all. Every year thus far I have picked one guy correctly and one who gets his head caved in much earlier than the show’s finale.
In season one I chose Diego Sanchez (Pictures) and Bobby Southworth (Pictures) to win it. Season two saw me choose Joe Stevenson (Pictures) and Keith Jardine (Pictures). This season kept my tradition intact as I correctly chose Michael Bisping (Pictures) to win it all. The only downfall is that I predicted that Singer would score the upset and be awarded with the contract.
Bisping didn’t disappoint, tearing through everybody he faced and easily capturing the crown as the light heavyweight champion for this season. Singer, on the other hand, was soundly beaten by Ed Herman (Pictures), who in turn lost to Kendall Grove (Pictures) in the finals. But out of the two champions, Bisping is hands down the more marketable fighter.
That’s not to say that Grove (or Herman, for that matter) don’t have what it takes to be stars in the UFC or to one day have a title belt strapped around their waist. But Bisping flat out has “it.”
Many might ask what exactly “it” is, but it’s something that truly doesn’t have an exact answer. Athletes either have it or they don’t and I can’t put my finger on it. There have been some tremendous pro athletes in America but never amounted to anything marketing-wise or celebrity-wise.
Hakeem Olajuwon was, in his prime, a much better NBA player than Shaquille O’Neal. But who, outside of diehard basketball fans, knows Olajuwon? The same goes for Karl Malone and Charles Barkley. Malone was definitely the better player, but Barkley had it. The same can be said about the NFL’s Rod Woodson and Deion Sanders. Woodson was arguably the best cornerback in the history of the NFL, but only Sanders was talked about and only Sanders got the endorsements.
This all falls back into Bisping’s lap. The guy’s athletic ability is superior to 95 percent of the light heavyweights in MMA, he has superb striking ability and his grappling/submissions are good enough to hang with the best of them. He is also a very engaging bloke with a good head on his shoulders. Furthermore, he is a good-looking guy with that English accent, something the vast majority of American women become enamored over (just look at Orlando Bloom and Hugh Grant).
As long as Bisping doesn’t become careless and is served up a brutal defeat in his next three bouts, he can and should become the heir apparent to Chuck Liddell (Pictures)’s supremacy. Now, that’s not to say that Bisping is ready for guys like Liddell, Tito Ortiz (Pictures) or Wanderlei Silva (Pictures) anytime in the next year or so, but when he’s ready look out.
As for Grove and Herman, their epic showdown was one for the ages. It was eerily reminiscent of the thrilling war between Diego Sanchez (Pictures) and Nick Diaz (Pictures). While it fell just a notch short of that masterpiece, it probably landed in the top 15 greatest UFC fights in history, maybe even the top 10.
Dana White, in my opinion, did the correct move by awarding Herman a contract even though he lost on points. There will be a rematch in given time and it should be equally as entertaining, if not more so, than the awesome scrap they treated the fans to on Saturday night.
Kenny Florian (Pictures) will be the first UFC lightweight champion since Jens Pulver (Pictures). Something tells me that with Pulver being back in with the UFC and his alleged presence on season five of TUF (Jens dodged all of my questions at the show), it sets up a wonderful showdown between Pulver, who has never lost inside the Octagon and “Focker” Florian. My money would be on Florian big time. He’s that good. …
as read off sherdog.com
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