UFC 60 Review by Stephen Quadros
Strikeforce: Shamrock vs. Baroni
Friday, June 22, 2007
HP Pavilion, San Jose, CA
I don’t think anyone can argue that the UFC® (Ultimate Fighting
Championship®) is the reigning leader in the field of MMA (mixed martial
arts)…at the moment. Since the fall (“purchase”, whatever) of Japan’s Pride
organization there has been no real sustained threat to toppling the UFC’s
growing stature. In the US they dominate the ticket sales and the airways.
But…Strikeforce is a feisty, long standing Northern California promotion that
has used crafty economics and regional drawing power to break records and stake
a serious claim to a piece of the volatile pie know as MMA. And teaming up with
Showtime pay per view was also a great strategic move.
When you look at this Strikeforce card from top to bottom it DOES rival some of
the UFC’s® better ventures.
If you follow the game, then you know what this match means and what it
Frank Shamrock was a dominant force in the mid 1990s when he went
undefeated in the UFC® and reigned supreme. He never went the distance
inside the Octagon® and won by a wide variety of ways including armbar
(Kevin Jackson), body slam KO (Igor Zinoviev), kneebar (Jeremy Horn) and
dispatched the whole Huntington beach connection with a pair of old
fashioned beatdowns (John Lober and Tito Ortiz). He was versatile, cocky
But that was the better part of 10 years ago – Frank’s last big name win
was when he stopped Tito in 1998…(Shamrock has fought a total of four
times since then).
“The New York Badass”, Phil Baroni, on the other hand has not won the
acclaim of Shamrock, simply because he has not captured a title or been
consistent. Phil’s hastiness can be a blessing and a curse, depending on
Regardless of not having a perfect record (Frank’s isn’t spotless
either), Baroni HAS fought some of the world’s best fighters LATELY. Two
decision losses to Matt “The Law” Lindland (2001 & 2003) are nothing to
fold up shop about…and his TKO loss to former UFC® middleweight champ
Evan Tanner was controversial (but his rematch decision loss in 2004
wasn’t)…and his late submission loss to Pete Sell (2005), a fight he was
winning…well, everyone gets caught at one time or another. A common
theme? Yes - ground-oriented fights can slip through Phil’s fingers on
But those fighters who could not take Phil down and keep him there paid
the price: Amar Suloev, Dave Menne, Ikuhisa Minowa, Ryo Chonan and Yuki
Kondo all had a panoramic view of the ceiling while resting on the
canvas after tasting an NYBA punch (or six). Baroni commits to his
punches like no other in the game, and that has served him well…most of
Even though Frank is notoriously outspoken about his upcoming opponents
in the past, this time out it is mainly Baroni who has done most if not
all of the smack talk. And this is one of the reasons Phil Baroni, who
has never won a championship and has lost 5 out of 8 UFC appearances, is
part of (potentially) the biggest non-UFC MMA pay per view eva: he knows
how to sell a fight. That combined with his ever-present knockout power
makes this an intriguing matchup.
To me the obvious game plan for Frank Shamrock is two-fold: to use
movement and counter punching (and kicking) to frustrate the charging
bull and to take him deep into the late rounds to test Baroni’s
previously questioned cardio. Phil’s method for getting Frank is to bull
him in his usual fashion. But the New Yorker must be thrifty at the
right times also. To shoot a lot of punches that do not land would haunt
him the later this epic clash goes.
Frank fought a relatively lackluster match against Renzo Gracie in
February of this year, a fight he lost by disqualification when he
landed several illegal knees to the back of the Brazilian’s head. But
this fight with Phil Baroni is a completely different animal, one in
which Frank Shamrock must fight not only to win, but to also protect his
The obvious difference here is in
experience with world class competition: even though Murilo “Ninja” Rua
(13-7-1) has lost 6 of his last 11 fights, look at WHO he battled with –
Ricardo Arona, Sergei Kharitonov (Ninja should have never fought at
heavyweight), Denis Kang and Paulo Filho, Kevin Randleman and Quinton
Jackson (many felt he won his fight with “Rampage”), all solid top ten
fighters. Joey Villasenor with a record of 23-5 actually has more fights
than Murilo and is coming off an impressive decision over the previous hot
David Loiseau. But his fight before that was an explosive KO loss to Robbie
But these details only equate things in a statistical sense. Some wonder if
all those losses have damaged Rua’s belief system in that he can get into
serious contention worldwide. Too many losses can have the reverse effect
that “experience” is supposed to have; it can make one more accepting of
defeat. But I doubt Murilo is approaching the fight with former King of The
Cage Champion Villasenor with anything but victory in mind.
One thing is for certain, because both fighters have a fast paced style,
this one will deliver action, along with a solid contender for consideration
for a match with the winner of Baroni/Shamrock.
Paul “The Headhunter”
Buentello is rugged and loves to get into tooth and nail battles inside
the cage. And that is exactly the strategy he needs for a win here with
Carter “The Beast” Williams. Williams burst onto the American K-1
kickboxing scene years ago and showed so much promise. But then he got
knocked out a few times and people started to doubt his staying power.
If Paul stays on the outside and tries to play a technical game with
Carter it will only give the K-1 USA champion a chance to notch a win. A
takedown or two will get Carter’s mind off kickboxing long enough for
Paul to secure the victory.
Cung Le continues his transition from San
Shou champion to mixed martial arts fighter in front of his hometown
crowd. Tony “The Freak” Frykland is a solid, if not declining, former
contender who will give Cung solid work before losing.
I saw the first match in King of The
Cage and felt that Victor Valenzuela easily won (the judges ruled the
contest a “draw”). But I think Charles “Crazy Horse” Bennett will win
this time…if he’s in shape. Valenzuela is a striker and seemingly does
not possess the thing that has given Bennett problems in the past,
Quadros, "The Fight Professor", has worked as a host and play-by-play
commentator for some of the world's greatest fight organizations including:
PRIDE, K-1 and Inoki Bom Ba Ye. He currently balances his
activities between acting, working as a analyst/color commentator for Cage
Rage (UK), the International Fight League (IFL) on Fox Sports Net and
MyNetwork TV, hosting his own radio show at
Sherdog.com (every Tuesday at 12 noon PST), choreographing fight scenes
for feature films and playing drums for the band Whipped Cream (http://MySpace.com/whippedcreamband).
Visit Mr. Quadros on the world wide web at:
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