Sherdog Preview: Gearing up for Art of War
ANARCHY! WATER! GANGSTER-FU! 80'S CARTOON SUPERSTARS!
If only SUN Management had focused on an "Art of War" marketing
campaign like that, more people would be plunking down their hard
earned cash for this card and ignoring that silly unification match
the UFC keeps on advertising.
Those who do spend the greenbacks however will get to see whether
or not wind really can slice open Pedro Rizzo (Pictures)'s skin, the effects of water
poisoning on PPV audiences and the match that will hopefully lead
to Jason Maxwell
(Pictures) finally getting his shot at
B.J. Penn (Pictures). People, am I the only one
who thinks this needs to happen?
Read on for more delusional attempts at matchmaking, baseless
accusations of witchcraft and as always, some solid MMAnalysis
thrown in for all you fans that actually expect me to add something
Long known as MMA's favorite -- and only -- anarchist, Jeff "The
Snowman" Monson has made a career out of using a more authoritarian
approach come fight time. Against Pedro "The Rock" Rizzo, Monson
would be best served keeping the Pierre-Joseph Proudhon
dissertations to himself. Never known as a lightning rod for
controversy, Rizzo is instead known for rearranging more faces than
the riot police at a NAFTA protest.
One of the few active mixed martial artists left who was forged in
the fire of actual Vale Tudo competition, Rizzo has seen a career
once marked by great potential fall into a tailspin. Boatloads of
anticipation accompanied Rizzo's debut for PRIDE FC but one-sided
losses to Sergei
Kharitonov (Pictures) and Roman Zentsov (Pictures) had many wondering whether, at
just 33 years old, Rizzo had seen his best days.
Although a recent unanimous decision win over Justin Eilers (Pictures) saw Rizzo claim the Art of War
heavyweight title and bring his record to 15-7, the hourglass may
be running out of sand as Monson looms large on the horizon. A
gifted grappler who is known for his suffocating top control style,
Monson will have to overcome Rizzo's sprawl and still potent
striking if he is to add another win to his 23-6 ledger.
There was a time when this match would have been a glorified
tee-ball session for Rizzo who always seemed to thrive against
opponents either too foolish to take him down -- paging Josh Barnett (Pictures) -- or simply incapable of doing
so (Dan Severn (Pictures) still feels those leg kicks).
Time has taken its toll on Rizzo, while Monson appears to be as
strong as ever at 34 years old.
Not known for having a particularly aggressive style, Rizzo won't
enjoy the luxury of waiting for Monson to throw the first punch as
he is far more likely to charge headfirst in search of a takedown.
While I wouldn't be surprised to see Rizzo land a few of those
trademark leg kicks, Monson will gladly take them if it means
scoring consistent takedowns and controlling the fight on a
This fight will be about as exciting as a four-hour lecture on
anarcho-syndicalism, so as the bout wears on look for Monson to
impose his will on Rizzo with takedowns and steady, if
unspectacular, ground-and-pound. Keeping in mind Rizzo has more
facial scar tissue than Seal, this could quickly turn into a Rob
In keeping with the western philosophy theme, the melting snow will
erode the immobile rock. Monson takes home the title thanks to a
doctor's stoppage TKO in the third round. First the heavyweight
title, then the capitalist pigs….at least Monson has his priorities
Looking to make his debut in MMA's century club, Jeremy Horn (Pictures)'s already impressive record of
79-15-5 has earned him his status as one of the sport's preeminent
veterans. The man looking to spoil the occasion for Horn will be
fellow UFC veteran Jorge
Santiago (Pictures) who would love to pull a John
Wilkes Booth and take out an elder statesman.
Known by many for his time as a welterweight in King Of The Cage,
Santiago actually managed to find success in the middleweight
division despite having the kind of wiry physique that would make
Ronnie Coleman contemplate suicide. Luckily, MMA is not about
flexing your muscles regardless of what Ryuta Sakurai (Pictures) thinks.
With a 13-7 record to his name, Santiago has proven his worth
against quality competition and is coming off an impressive win
over Red Devil product Andrei Semenov (Pictures). Horn has stayed true to his
reputation as MMA's premier nomad, bouncing around the map and
building a name for himself as a middleweight despite coming up
short against the likes of Matt Lindland (Pictures) and Anderson Silva.
Considering Santiago lacks a singular attribute he can use to
overwhelm Horn with, he'll find himself dealing with Horn on Horn's
terms. When Horn is able to gauge his opponents and pick them
apart, he becomes one of the most efficient fighters in the sport.
While Horn was known for the occasional brain lapse early on in his
career, we've seen a much more focused version of Horn over the
past few years.
If Santiago is going to make something happen against Horn, he'd
likely be best served trying to keep Horn at a distance where the
size disparity would not play a role. Ideally, Santiago would stand
just outside the pocket and patiently chip away at Horn with a
steady diet of jabs and leg kicks.
What makes that scenario unlikely is Horn's improved striking and
the fact that if pressed, Horn has the option of taking this fight
to the ground since Santiago is lacking when it comes to defending
the takedown. This fight will unfold like a John Carpenter movie
for Santiago, as the occasional bit of hope is quickly snuffed out
by the oncoming existential horror of a well rounded Midwest
This should be an entertaining fight early on but look for horn to
start neutralizing Santiago's offense and in turn, take over the
fight. The Century Club will accept its newest member with a
victory as Horn puts away Santiago with a rear naked choke late in
the second round.
Not only does Ron "H2O" Waterman own one of the most redundant
nicknames in all of sports, he is also one of MMA's senior citizens
clocking in at 41 years old. This time around, Waterman's opponent
will be someone unfamiliar with the shuffleboard circuit as Mario
"Big Hurt" Rinaldi is looking to send Waterman to the local
Dubbed the "Big Hurt" for a reason, Rinaldi tips the scales at 280
pounds and looks more like a sumo than mixed martial artist. While
Rinaldi may appear as if he headed down a few buffet lines in his
time, he has compiled a solid 5-1 record and surprised many with
his athleticism and strong jiu-jitsu skills -- think Chris Farley,
just replace the drugs with some jiu-jitsu training.
Physically, Waterman is more gym rat than SNL star thanks to a
vigorous training regimen and a background in bodybuilding. Already
more than eight years into a MMA career that has seen him fight all
over the world, Waterman knows full well that adding another win to
his 13-5-2 record could be another step towards establishing
himself as one of the sport's top super heavyweights.
While Waterman is looking to cement his reputation, Rinaldi is
simply looking to steal a win and make a name for himself in front
of a PPV audience. To do so, Rinaldi will have to overcome
Waterman's notoriously passive style, which has frustrated both
fighter and fan alike. The most obvious route to overcoming
Waterman's top control-athon would be to avoid the takedown
altogether but this may not be an option considering Rinaldi isn't
a particularly strong wrestler and relies more on his jiu-jitsu and
striking to get by.
The key here is whether or not Rinaldi can either find a way to
hurt Waterman on the feet or use his jiu-jitsu game to dictate the
action on the ground. Normally, I'd take the guy who actually has
more than one offensive option available to him but this is the
world of super heavyweight MMA. The standard rules do not apply
when you're dealing with guys who should probably just hit a
treadmill and compete as heavyweights.
Why a matchmaker would ever put Waterman on a PPV main card is
beyond me, but whoever is responsible will get their just desserts,
just like any other super heavyweight.
Expect Waterman to put on a performance that will leave young fans
crying, old fans dying and those of us in the middle simply bored.
This one ends with Waterman the winner via uneventful unanimous
This month's entry from the department of off kilter matchmaking
comes in the form of a rubber match, minus the rubber, between
(Pictures) and Thugjitsu disciple
Carlo Prater (Pictures).
Having already lost a pair of unanimous decisions to Wisniewski,
Prater needs to get over the hump and take out his rival if he ever
expects to escape the MMA rat race and establish himself as a
Long known as one of Yves
Edwards (Pictures)' top students, Prater has
actually collected an impressive array of wins over fighters who
would go on to find success under the Zuffa tree of MMA
organizations. Then again, with a 20-4-1 mark, the problem with
Prater has never been finding wins, just avoiding the losses. It
seems as if though every time Prater is ready to make a splash, he
comes up just short.
One of the beneficiaries of Prater's Alex Rodriguez Syndrome has
been Wisniewski who was actually signed to the UFC after beating
Prater a second time. Unfortunately for Wisniewski, the win over
Prater was followed by four straight losses that have dropped his
record to 21-11-1.
My sources tell me that Prater actually resorted to witchcraft
after losing to Wisniewski a second time and both Wisniewski's
losing streak and the sudden interest in the Geico cavemen can be
traced back to Prater's dealings with the occult.
Once fight time comes around however, Harry Potter impersonations
won't get Prater anywhere against a man who has all the reason in
the world to believe that a win is well in hand. In their past
dealings, Prater has simply been incapable of controlling the
rhythm of the fight thanks to Wisniewski's well rounded skills and
willingness to drag out fights.
We've seen Wisniewski falter against opponents who can pressure him
but Prater has been unsuccessful in that regard. This match seems
to have all the makings of a showdown between the old Brooklyn
Dodgers and New York Yankees where you can't help but root for the
Dodgers while knowing the Yankees will win. Now, Wisniewski may not
be MMA's answer to Mickey Mantle but he has proven time and time
again that he has the game plan to take out Prater.
The one troubling thing about Wisniewski headed into this fight is
the losing streak he is on but if he's looking to get himself back
on track, fighting someone he's beaten twice is not a bad idea. The
past two encounters between these men have been short on fireworks
and long on bathroom breaks so count on Wisniewski adding one more
methodical win over Prater to his record. That is unless Prater has
unlocked the secrets of the eye of Agamotto in which case, we're
While the main card has the expected mix of veterans and …
veterans, the under card actually has a mixed bag of surprises for
the willing MMA fan. First up is a showdown between Lion's Den
member Alex Andrade and
(Pictures) of the Brazilian Top Team.
The knee-jerk reaction here is to pick the BTT member but Capoani
couldn't even beat Yasuhito Namekawa
(Pictures). If that isn't a red flag
then I don't know what is.
Training with BTT won't get you anywhere if you don't have the
skills it takes to succeed in MMA and while Andrade is hardly the
zenith of the sport, he is a solid fighter who has feasted on the
(Pictures)s of the world. Watch for
that trend to continue as Andrade scores an uneventful TKO due to
ground and pound late in the second round.
Next up on the menu is a light heavyweight tussle between
Damien Stelly and Luis Arthur Cane. A student
of the infamous Ryan Gracie
(Pictures), Cane has accumulated a
strong 6-0 record while Stelly has remained close to his native
Georgia in putting together a 2-1 record as a professional. This is
really more of a launching pad for Cane than anything else who
enters this fights regarded as a fine prospect.
Granted, Stelly doesn't plan on rolling over for anyone but Cane
simply has too much for Stelly who will fall victim to a rear-naked
choke courtesy of his Brazilian counterpart. Afterwards, count on
Ryan Gracie (Pictures) to act in a classy manner and
acknowledge his pupil's opponent in a most respectful fashion.
In another match-up of Brazil and the South, Chute Boxe product
(Pictures) will put his camp's vaunted
Muay Taekwondo style up against Texas' own Hector Munoz. Despite never
becoming a strong Chute Boxe representative at lightweight,
Marcello does have a solid ground game and sharp knees that he has
been known to use to great effect.
Against Munoz, it just seems like a matter of putting it all
together for Marcello since Munoz seems to lack anything he can use
to beat his Brazilian opponent. In typical Chute Boxe fashion,
expect Marcello to steal the undercard with a strong performance
and put an end to Munoz's PPV debut with a triangle choke in the
No MMA undercard is complete without a feMMA match and Art of War
delivers with Franita Gathings making her MMA debut against Lana
"Lethal" Stefanac. Not much is known about Gathings outside of
she's a woman and most likely enjoys fighting. I'll err on the side
of caution and take the girl who has actually competed before,
Stefanac via unanimous decision.
While the days of constant style clashes in MMA may be over, we do
occasionally get to relive the past and the match-up between
Anthony Njokuani and
Keyon Mike Jackson is a
great example of this.
Njokuani is a slick Muay Thai practitioner while Jackson has made a
name for himself thanks to a strong jiu-jitsu background. Both men
have actually compiled strong records against local talent and are
looking to enter the deep side of the pool with a win. Count
Njokuani avoiding the takedown just long enough to light up Jackson
like something that is in need of lighting.
Known more for his shock KO win over Jens Pulver (Pictures) than anything else, Jason Maxwell (Pictures) is on the road to rebuilding a
career that fell apart after what appeared to be the biggest win of
his career. This time, it will be Thomas Schulte (Pictures) of FitNHB who will look to keep
Maxwell from turning things around.
I'll give Maxwell the better shot of victory in this one
considering Schulte has consistently come up short in big spots
while Maxwell can at least say he knows how to notch a big win.
Expect Maxwell to take home a decision and demand that Art of War
put together a super-fight between him and B.J. Penn (Pictures).
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