MMR: What Did We Really Learn?
This was a can't miss weekend for the mixed martial arts world,
what with Frank Shamrock
(Pictures) fighting Phil Baroni (Pictures) on pay-per-view and the "The
Ultimate Fighter" finale on SpikeTV the following night.
There were some scattered shows across the world as well but it's
always the big ones which garner the most attention.
There was an explosive return of an all-time great; a crowning of
another reality television champ; and a brilliant competitor
exacting revenge against a bitter rival.
With just those three examples of how splendid last Friday and
Saturday were, what more could a fight fan ask for besides King
Fedor fighting on a more frequent basis?
For starters, B.J. Penn
(Pictures) demonstrated why he has always
been one of the most hyped fighters in the short history of mixed
martial arts, as he thoroughly dominated one of the sport's better
Penn's systematic execution of rival Jens Pulver (Pictures) was a sight to behold for more
reasons than just the exemplary rear-naked choke he applied to
"Little Evil" that forced a tapout. He showcased his magnificent
arsenal of weaponry, displayed the killer instinct needed in
certain individuals to become living legends and he also proved
that he can carry his stamina into the second round, unlike his
previous two outings.
Penn has been one of those amorphous figures within the sport as
his focus has shifted more than the San Andreas Fault. Starting off
as a lightweight before jumping up as high as Fedor Emelianenko
(Pictures)'s division, Penn has always
been regarded as one of the sport's finest fighters. However, not
only did a lack of focus in recent contests cost him sweet
victories, it also caused some to question if his heart is truly in
the fight sport.
It seemed for a little while there that Penn was slowly squandering
his talents and would possibly never achieve all that fistic glory
and wind up as that all-too-rare coulda been in the fight
game. But that all changed Saturday night as he nullified
everything Pulver threw his way, punished his adversary and
eventually secured one of the slickest rear-naked chokes in recent
The win was emphatic for "The Prodigy" but before the entire legion
of fight fans climb aboard the Penn Wagon, I must forewarn
everybody: don't get too carried away just yet.
Even though I was impressed at how easily Penn defeated Pulver,
I'll have to wait and see what the Hawaiian does two fights from
now. It's a cinch to shower Penn with all the praise known to
mankind, but we collectively must understand that the Jens Pulver (Pictures) Penn submitted was not the same
lightweight who handed the Prodigy his first loss some five year
Pulver has had a tumultuous personal and professional life since
his greatest triumph and it's somewhat safe to say that "Little
Evil" may never again regain that lost luster that made him the
first 155-pound champion in the history of the UFC.
Furthermore, I'm skeptical as to how far Penn will go before he
loses his focus again and doesn't take an opponent seriously enough
to become that all-time great that he is more capable of becoming
than virtually anybody else in the sport.
The way he gave the fight away when he fought Georges St. Pierre
(Pictures) and how his stamina was depleted
early in the second round in his rematch with Matt Hughes (Pictures) irks me to this day.
Penn has been too inconsistent throughout his career so I'm playing
it safe and will refrain from both proclaiming his full return to
form as well as expecting him to finally live up to the hype. I
know what he's capable of and when Penn is fully trained and
hungrier than one of those starving kids Sally Struthers tries to
make you adopt, he's as close to unbeatable as anyone in the
history of MMA.
So until Hawaii's greatest fighter proves me wrong and makes me eat
every word of harsh criticism, I'll just pretend that I know what
I'm talking about.
…hardly anything until Shamrock fully commits to being a
professional fighter with a goal of becoming a legitimate world
It's easy to cheer for Shamrock after he pummeled Phil Baroni (Pictures) in the manner that he did Friday
night, but before everybody hops onto the new Shamrock Wagon, like
Penn, I won't be holding my breath for Shamrock to face someone the
caliber of Anderson
Silva, Matt Lindland
(Pictures) or even David Loiseau (Pictures).
Until then, it'll be very hard for me to include Frank among the
top 10 middleweights in the world. He's very close, but in my
opinion he isn't in that exclusive group. My e-mail inbox has been
flooded with messages claiming that Shamrock is back and it's just
a matter of time before he cleans up the UFC. Well, I have news for
those fans: it's not going to happen.
If anybody has read the material I have written on Shamrock, it's
quite obvious that I think the world of his talent and I have
always maintained that he could have been the greatest fighter in
the history of the sport.
When he was at his best, he was nearly invincible. His skillset was
as close to perfect as one could find and his talent was far and
away more gifted than anybody else in the sport at that time.
But like Jim Brown and Barry Sanders, he opted out of his sport too
early. He came back and toiled with the possibility of actually
continuing his dominance, but it was all smoke and mirrors. I'd
delve deeper into that saga, but I've done it too many times so
I'll save you, the reader, tedium.
So now Shamrock is back in the fold and if what he told me is true
about him staying in this sport full time, who knows? Maybe he will
fulfill the destiny that he laid forth many years ago when he
ripped through the UFC. However, I still am cynical about his
In order for Shamrock to come full circle and reclaim the title of
the best "artist" on the planet, he has to start fighting elite
fighters and not just rugged tough guys like Baroni. But in order
for that to happen, he would have to sign with Zuffa and since he
literally hates Dana White, that'll probably never happen.
Hopefully I'm wrong and Frank
Shamrock (Pictures) is serious about this comeback
and he does start locking horns with top ranked fighters, but
something deep within me tells me he won't. My gut feeling is that
Shamrock will electrify the fans with sensational victories over
popular, albeit hand-picked, opponents designed solely to make us
all wonder if he really is the best.
So here's to both B.J. and Frank: please prove me wrong!
Nate Diaz, in my opinion, lucked out in his win over Manvel Gamburyan (Pictures) Saturday night. He was getting
dominated from the start and it appeared as though he had no
answers for the bullish Armenian.
I'm not saying Diaz wouldn't have won, but he didn't actually beat
Manny. It sucks when fights end with injuries; hopefully Zuffa does
the right thing by setting up an immediate rematch once Gamburyan
is fully recovered, provided that is in a timely manner. …
Roger Huerta (Pictures) will be a mega-star in the sport
of MMA -- mark those words. His fighting style is as exciting as
they come and it's just a matter of time before the a group of
rabid fight fans (the Latino community) start worshipping this
sport. I truly believe Huerta is that guy to do it. …
The Gray Maynard
(Pictures) debacle was something else,
huh? That fight, as crazy as it ended, should been ruled a
submission win for Maynard because Steve Mazzagatti stopped the
fight after Rob Emerson tapped out. Mazzagatti, one of the best
refs in the sport, said so himself. Even though Gray was knocked
out, he should have been awarded the win. The only solution?
Immediate rematch. …
Can Wiman be the next De La Hoya? I think so, just not in the same
aspect of being able to walk away with $20 million per fight. He's
a talented young fighter and in due time he'll be a worthy
contender. But more importantly, the women love him. Virtually
every woman inside the Palms' Pearl concert hall was ready to
undress as they shrieked for him during the intros and his fight. I
haven't seen that sort of female response to a fighter since, well,
Oscar De La Hoya. If the UFC plays it smart like I think they will,
they'll match and market him intelligently where they can
capitalize on how the women covet him. …
(Pictures) beat former boxing title
holder Ray Mercer on
Saturday. Does anybody really care? …
Cung Le (Pictures) has thus far proven the critics
wrong. He looked sensational on Friday against Tony Fryklund (Pictures) as his tricky kicks were things
of beauty. I don't think he's ready for anybody of elite caliber
but he clearly has the talent to make a lot of noise in this sport.
It'll be interesting to see just how far he'll go in MMA.
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