UFC 60 Review by Stephen Quadros
UFC® 74: Respect
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Mandalay Bay Events Center
Las Vegas, NV
By Stephen Quadros, “The
On The Not So Scientific Art Of Picking Winners
I have always enjoyed writing this column because it makes me take a long look
at what’s happening in the world of American pay per view MMA events, which
these days means the UFC® exclusively (the owners of the UFC, the Fertitta
brothers, devoured their competition, the ‘other’ MMA pay per view event, Pride,
So here we are in 2007: the sport is mainstream and the athletes are much more
evolved. But in that evolution comes the uncertainty of predicting who will
prevail in any given contest. Longtime UFC® matchmaker Joe Silva has done such
an outstanding job on putting together contests that have defied even the best
I have had a fairly good run of picking winners…until lately. What were once
bankable ‘sure things’ have left every betting man cautious (personally, I don’t
bet on fights). It’s surely the era of the upset: Matt Serra topples St. Pierre
(I picked Georges), Randy Couture comes out of retirement and snatches Tim
Sylvia’s heavyweight title (I went with “The Maine-iac”) and Cro Cop receiving
some of his own medicine when he was KO’d with a head kick by Gabriel Gonzaga (I
figured if the Brazilian was to win it would be with a ground game). It was now
clear that all bets were off, we were clearly in the ‘age or upsets’, or more
succinctly the ‘era of unpredictability’.
One more thing that will further put all this in perspective, I must recall a
conversation in which a man in the MMA business asked me who I thought would win
a particular match between two well known fighters, one of who was a bit of a
smack talker. I told him whom I felt would be victorious and then he proceeded,
with a straight face, to ask me who I HOPED would win. He seemed baffled at what
I said next: I told him that I did not care who won, that I hoped that the best
man would come out on top. You see, when I give analysis and/or predict who I
feel will prevail in a contest it is not based who I HOPE will win, who is a
“nicer” guy, who is more popular or “famous”, it based on as much objectivity as
I can put forth in rendering a non-personal, professional OPINION.
Which brings to mind…
|Randy Couture (Champion)
Gabriel Gonazaga (Challenger)
||My latest phobia, the fear of my picking the 'wrong
guy' again, will be overcome. “Right” or “wrong” my first reaction when
they announced this fight was Gonzaga by TKO mid way through. But then
the ghosts of the recent ‘era of the upset’ started to infect my brain.
It didn't help that I spoke with Randy (Couture) in San Jose during the
Shamrock/Baroni Strikeforce event and he made a solid case on where he
felt Gabriel weaknesses lie and how he planned to exploit them. Couture
is one of those characters that, right when you write him off because of
age, size, whatever, comes back and reminds you why he is so revered. He
has proven the naysayers wrong on so many occasions that even the most
seasoned oddsmakers shudder when his name is announced as a combatant.
Still I have to go with my original assessment: GG by TKO.
“Respect” couldn’t be more appropriate…and that isn’t always about
something that happens in a cage.
After his UFC® debut in November 2005 Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga was mostly
remembered for his less than lukewarm performance against Kevin Jordan
(UFC® 56). Until Gonzaga rallied and scored with the old light switch KO
in the fight’s final seconds, it had been a dreadfully boring match. But
the behind the scenes scenario that the jiu-jitsu black belt had to face
before the Jordon match was far more of a problem than his opponent was.
Gabriel’s wife was pregnant with twins, the twins developed
complications that threatened their lives and the life of the soon-to-be
Mother. In a life and death situation they were forced to give emergency
birth after only seven months. The Mother and one daughter survived.
This was all in the weeks leading up to the biggest moment in the
fighter’s life, fighting for the first time in the US, making his UFC®
debut. Even though he was faced with such dire circumstances, and the
lack of training he had because he stayed at his wife’s side, Gabriel
refused to leave the promoters hanging and cancel his appearance. He
fought anyway…and prevailed.
People who did not know about the heavy weight on his shoulders prior to
facing Jordan wrote Gabriel off. Even after he returned to the Octagon®
and TKO’d Fabiano Scherner (UFC® 60) and submitted the previously
unbeaten Carmelo Marrero in the first round (UFC® 66) he just couldn’t
get “respect”. …Until April 21st, 2007.
The stage was being set for Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, the Pride 2006
Open Weight Tournament champion, to soon challenge for the UFC®
heavyweight title. After one more fight the Croatian would get his
chance at the gold. His opponent: Gabriel Gonzaga. Most experts gave the
Brazilian no chance against the former K-1 competitor, who was now
widely heralded as MMA’s deadliest striker.
But this particular piece of “reality” didn’t go according to the
script. Gonzaga slapped the critics by walking right through Mirko’s
much celebrated takedown defense and putting him on the floor and
dominating through most of the first round. Then there was a standup
late in the round. Cro Cop ‘single bullet theory’ left roundhouse kick
could still get the job done many thought.
Mirko and the rest of the world did not expect what was to happen next:
with mere seconds remaining Gabriel decided to shot off his own Scud
missile…the right roundhouse kick. The kick landed with so much force to
Filipovic’s head that he was out before he crash-landed on the deck.
Shocking? Yes. The world was now FORCED to take Gabriel seriously.
Randy Couture is not the kind of fighter to underestimate an opponent,
especially when each fight could be his last. At 44 he is unique, beyond
what George Foreman accomplished in boxing. Couture has faced and beaten
more top-level opponents than George did in his post 40 career. But
Gonzaga is going to be a problem for “The Natural”, a BIG problem.
Gabriel Gonzaga has never gone the distance in a fight. All his wins
have been by TKO or submission and his only loss was in the third round
to one of the world’s best, Fabricio Werdum. Couture will be facing a
man (in Gonzaga) whose will is equal to his, whose body is 17 years
younger (Gabriel is 28), a man who has seen the darkest end of the
tunnel and still found his way back, a man who is getting stronger each
time out and a man who is peaking right now, both mentally and
I’ve said it a million times, Randy IS a legend, a title he more than
deserves. To me he is the greatest champion I have ever seen in the
UFC®. Randy will always be a competitor in his heart and that spirit is
what drove him out of retirement to take on Tim Sylvia and got his
title. But Gonzaga is no Sylvia. This could be a titanic battle…for a
while, but I predict Gonzaga will stop Randy Couture in a fight that
resembles The Natural’s clashes with Ricco Rodriguez and Josh Barnett.
|Georges St. Pierre
||Contrarily (to my gut feeling on Randy versus Gabriel),
when I first heard about the Koscheck/St. Pierre match I thought that
Josh should be favored simply based on his unstoppable wrestling. I
thought Josh should be able to “Antonio McKee” (that’s a verb) Georges
to a decision. The only chink in that theory is that a healthy Georges
will be a problem. And a motivated Georges is an even bigger problem. If
he hadn't gone and riled Georges up and given him a reason to make it
personal, it's a match that Koscheck should have won. But the Canadian
has a real good batting average in fights where his opponent tries to
stir him up with "trash talk" (Trigg, Hughes#2).
And Josh LOVES to talk… So far he’s questioned Georges heart and
criticized his fight with BJ Penn. It’s true that BJ smashed up Georges
pretty good in the first round (St. Pierre rallied to take the
decision), but Josh would be exaggerating if he was implying he has the
same kind of standup that “The Prodigy” has. The war of words, even
though it may be a little one-sided (Koscheck is doing most of the
talking), is great for building interest. Muhammad Ali was the
quintessential smack talker, mainly because he would back up (most of
the time) his boasts and taunts.
But can Josh Koscheck do that here? It’s definitely a possibility,
because he has evolved noticeably under Crazy Bob Cook and Javier Mendez
at San Jose’s American Kickboxing Academy. On paper this is a great
match and not an easy one to call with complete certainty. But I’m not
one to hold back and am going to go with Georges St. Pierre on this one.
Why? I see St. Pierre as being a better fighter overall.
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
ShoXC (Showtime), 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 bands
Snow and Whipped
Cream. Visit Mr. Quadros on the worldwide web at:
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