Sunday, February 8, 2009

UFN 17 *plus* UFC 94 recap

Good afternoon, fellas-
Time for another break down as we are half a turn of the clock away from Ultimate Fight Night 17, airing for free (!) on the Spike television network tonight at 9 PM EST. Tonight's Main Event will pit Boston's own Joe "J-Lau" Lauzon against the surging Jeremy Stephens in a match-up that will bring the victor one step closer to title contention in the UFC's crowded Lightweight Division. But first, I would like to recap last Saturday's UFC 94 event between BJ Penn and Georges St. Pierre and give some thoughts on the controversy surrounding the Main Event now referred to as "Greasegate" that just won't seem to go away.
As you all know, Georges St. Pierre and BJ Penn had a little fight a week ago. There was plenty of hype for this event, mostly generated by the seemingly nonstop smack talk provided by the Penn camp; namely BJ Penn himself, and a three part series on Spike TV called "UFC Primetime" which documented the training camps of both fighters in their respective cities leading up to the moment each boarded planes departing for Las Vegas where the fight took place. My own prediction for the historic bout was a 3rd round (T)KO at the hands of Penn, and I could not have been any more incorrect in my prophecy thanks to the one a sided drubbing given to Penn by the reining, defending, undisputed Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre. Although one sided, the fight was spectacular in that "Rush" controlled every aspect of the fight, keeping a gunshy Penn flustered and without foresight of what might be coming next as the French-Canadian mixed up his strikes brilliantly in the stand-up, never letting Penn know if it was a knee coming next, or a leg kick, or a superman punch or a take down. Most of the first stanza was spent with both fighters in the clinch against the fencing of the eight-sided cage, where St. Pierre was already exacting a brilliant gameplan of leaning on the smaller fighter and wearing down what would eventually expose a flawed endurance game by the Hawaiian. Having trained for this fight since last September, there was no doubt that St. Pierre would be physically ready, but it was his mental game that overall helped him rule the night, using a gameplan of keeping top position on the ground with high posture, disabling Penn from using his superior Jiu-Jitsu from the full guard while causing the blood in his (Penn) arms to flood his shoulders, taking power from his strikes in the stand-up later on in the fight. In the pre-fight talk at the beginning of the program, Georges St. Pierre mentioned something to the effect of wanting to take everything away from Penn, his grappling ability, his striking power, the power of his flexibility, and eventually, his heart, leaving him nothing. Every part of this prediction happened, as Penn ended the fight by quitting on the stool, unable to answer the championship 5th round bell (it was actually Penn's older brother, JD, who threw in the towel on behalf of his brother after BJ could not give response to questions from both his corner and Octagon-side doctors asking "Do you know where you are right now?" and "BJ, do you want this fight?"). Penn had nothing to say in the Octagon once the massacre concluded and left abruptly, leaving St. Pierre and his throngs of fans to celebrate the victory. That celebration, however, was cut short by some very disturbing news concerning St. Pierre's corner applying a greasing agent (Vaseline) to his upper body (shoulders, back, neck and chest) between rounds. The controversy began between the 1st and 2nd rounds when an Octagon side official noticed Phil Nurse, St. Pierre's Muay Thai coach and cornerman, rubbing Vaseline on the champs face, which is not illegal and purposed to help prevent cuts from easily occurring in strike attacks such as elbows. But Nurse wasn't finished, and as Head Coach Greg Jackson gave instruction to the young champion, Nurse's hands moved directly from St. Pierre's face to his shoulders (actually this happened once while Nurse was beginning to rub down the face, when the fingers still had a very ample amount of the lubricant on them), then to his back and chest. The official ran over to inform Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) Director Keith Kizer, who began to pay attention after being told and waited for the next break in the action to confirm this himself. Sure enough, between the 2nd and 3rd stanzas, Kizer witnessed that which he was told by the official earlier, and that was Nurse once again rubbing the back shoulders and chest area of Georges. Kizer sprang into action, entering the Octagon himself and running over to the Welterweight champs corner. "Get your hands off of his back, what do you think you are doing?" he told the cornermen, who replied by telling the director that it was just a breathing exercise that has been used on St. Pierre before to help affect his breathing in a positive way. Kizer himself grabbed a towel and wiped down the back of the fighter before he returned to action. The same occurred a round later and an official was back in the cage wiping down the back and shoulders of the French-Canadian yet again. What makes this news even more disturbing is that some time before the fight started, the Penn Camp mentioned to the commission to pay close attention to Georges corner, stating that in their first meeting 3 years ago, St. Pierre seemed to be a little "slippery". In the days after UFC 94 concluded, several fighters that have faced St. Pierre in the past (Matt Hughes-three times, Jason "Mayhem" Miller, Sean Sherk, Matt Serra-twice, Frank Trigg, and recently Jon Fitch) have been quoted to have said- right after their fights with the man- that Georges felt "slippery" or "greasy". Infact, that same knock has gone against several of Greg Jackson's fighters (Jackson is head trainer of Jackson's Gaido-Jistu Submission Fighting in Albuquerque, New Mexico). Tito Ortiz said after fighting Rashad Evans to a draw at UFC 73 "Stacked", that his skin was slick, and Kenny Florian's post fight comments about Roger Huerta being "slippery" were widely documented. A bunch of coincidences or the alternative? Well, even as we speculate here on this blog, a formal request (not a complaint) of investigation has been filed by the Penn Camp to the NSAC, who stated that even if the Penn's ended up not filing anything that the matter would be looked into. Just today it was announced that rules on greasing agents applied to the body were put into place to prevent anything of this effect happening again, but this will not stop the investigation against St. Pierre's cornermen from continuing, which could result in said cornermen's licenses being pulled- but limited to that- as the results of the bout cannot be changed due to this particular matter. St. Pierre has stated his innocence, saying that he has no need for cheating and that they can do it again, this time wearing rash guards so that greasing won't be an issue. Penn has accepted this challenge, but outside of those two, I don't think that anyone else is interested in seeing BJ Penn get owned yet again, but if it would put a cap on this controversy, I'll provide the backyard, which is where their next fight should take place, right next to the stage I built for Hootie and The Blowfish to perform. Still waiting, Hootie...Alright, I blew my wad on this and have no time to break down Lauzon vs. Stephens, so I will give my predictions for the main card, apologize, and kiss Jesse Jackson's ass just to make it right. I'm working everyday this week but I'll find time to go more indepth with some of the upcoming fight cards that the UFC and other promotions have to offer, that is if this rot is reaching any of you to begin with...

-Joe Lauzon(-200) over Jeremy Stephens(+160) via (T)KO 2nd round
-Cain Velasquez(-650) over Denis Stojnic(+475) via Death and Destruction 1st round (this guy is special, and will be making waves soon)
-Mac Danzig(-155) over Josh Neer(-125) via Submission 2nd round
-Kurt Pellegrino(-260) over Rob Emerson(+200) via Decision
-Dan Miller(-200) over Jake Rosholt(+160) via Decision
-Matthew Riddle(-135) over Steve Bruno(+105) via (T)KO 3rd round
-Anthony Johnson(-350) over Luigi Floriavanti(+250) via (T)KO 1st round

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