"Randy Couture is my hero"
UFC 68 was arguably the greatest night in the history of the UFC. Randy Couture demolished and dominated the much larger and younger heavyweight champion, Tim Sylvia. The performance was something that even days later still feels like a dream. I had picked Couture to win the title, but I was beyond nervous as he entered the area to the very appropriate Aerosmith song "Back in the Saddle Again". Memories of Couture being knocked out by Liddell, having his eye-socket crushed by Ricco Rodriguez, and being stopped by Josh Barnett kept dancing around my head as Bruce Buffer belted out the introductions. I never expected Couture to start off the fight the way he did and I doubt he could have dreamed up a better scenario. Couture dropped Sylvia with a vicious combination that was punctuated by a big right hand that landed flush on the 6'8 champion’s chin. I leaped out of my seat and would not be able to return to the sofa till the belt was around Couture’s waist. Sylvia was lucky to survive the big right hand and from that moment on Couture dominated Sylvia in a way that no one other than Couture and his training camp believed he could do. Randy Couture’s performance was perfect and his story is truly something that is only seen in the movies.
Couture Verses Mirko Cro Cop This Summer
Randy Couture will have a few months to soak up his greatest victory before he must get back in the gym and prepare for the biggest test of his career. It is expected the Mirko Cro Cop will dispose of Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 70 and find himself in a UFC heavyweight title fight with Couture in July or August. The match up would as always put Couture as the underdog, but the fighters match up much more even than Couture/Sylvia. Cro Cop is the mixed martial arts world’s most dangerous striker, but Couture can never be counted out. I will never bet against Randy Couture and firmly believed that he is more than capable of ground and pounding Cro Cop for the win. Couture/Cro Cop has the makings of being another classic fight.
Franklin and Hughes Get Back To Winning Ways
Rich Franklin and Matt Hughes both won their respective bouts at UFC 68. It will be interesting to see just how fast both of these men will find themselves back in the octagon fighting for a titl. I expect Franklin to find himself matched up with Anderson Silva again before Hughes will compete for the welterweight belt. Hughes will most likely have to fight one more fight before stepping back in with Georges St.Pierre. This is not because Hughes has to earn a title shot, but at the rate GSP is defending his title and his tendency to get injured will more than likely push the final bout of the trilogy back towards the end of summer.
UFC FIGHT NIGHT:9
Apparently Ortiz/Shamrock: The Final Chapter was not counted as a UFC Fight Night. So "The Basement Breakdown" will be breaking down UFC Fight Night: 9 for the second time, as I had assumed that Sanchez/Riggs was the 9th Fight Night card. Anyway, it does not really matter. What does matter is the card is headlined by a great lightweight fight between Joe Stevenson and Melvin Guillard. The bout will have a major impact on the division as both fighters are pushing hard to get to the top. Guillard is explosive on the feet and is always exciting to watch, but I think Joe Stevenson is going to be too much on the floor and get a submission victory.
UFC 69: Sanchez to Battle Koscheck
The UFC 69 card is not one of the best cards in recent memory, but does offer a bout that is worth the pay-per-view price. Diego Sanchez puts his undefeated streak on the line as he takes on Josh Koscheck. Koscheck has been running his mouth about wanting to fight Sanchez for sometime and this bout is going to be explosive and action packed. Koscheck has a bad reputation as being boring, but I do not feel that this match up could end up earning itself a negative reaction. The match up offers a true test to both fighters and will solidify Sanchez as the number one contender if he can earn a victory.
UFC 70: British Invasion
Mirko Cro Cop taking on Gabriel Gonzaga has gained the majority of the attention, but two bouts on the card have hardcore fans salivating. Andrei Arlovski taking on Fabricio Werdum and Forrest Griffin battling Ryoto Machida are bouts that have the makings of being classic wars. Arlovski will be looking to get a two fight winning streak going, Werdum will be looking to establish himself as a threat in the division, Griffin will be fighting to make up for his bad performance at UFC 66, and Machida has a great opportunity to make a name for himself with the UFC fans. It is very interesting match making on the part of UFC match maker Joe Silva, and it is going to be a must see event.
UFC 71: The Return of the Iceman?
Chuck Liddell is slated to defend his title at UFC 71, however at this time no opponent is known. Quintin Jackson is the obvious choice, but it is rumored that Jackson wants one more fight before a match with Liddell. This leaves the door wide open and the UFC could very well find itself putting a fighter who is not ready or having to bring in outside talent to step into the octagon with Liddell. If Jackson does not take the fight, it will be very interesting to see what the UFC puts together. The UFC 71 card is also rumored to have Karo Parisyan in action as well as Tito Ortiz taking on Keith Jardine. The Ortiz/Jardine match up is very intriguing and if an opponent is not found for Liddell, could very well end up being the main event. The question will be how Ortiz will prepare for the fight, knowing that he will not be moving up the ranks with a win. Ortiz is stuck in a situation that will not allow him to move into title contention and only really move down with losses. If Ortiz is focused on one day gaining the light heavyweight belt back then he must win. Jardine offers a really dangerous threat to the former UFC poster boy, and Jardine will more than likely come into the fight as the my pick for a victory.
Gomi is a Chump, Wanderlei Silva Needs a Vacation, Henderson Takes Over Pride
Takanori Gomi has now lost two "non-title" bouts, rendering his Pride lightweight belt meaningless. Nick Diaz once again put on a striking clinic as he did against Robbie Lawyler and Josh Neer and then finished Gomi with the crazy gogoplata. Diaz will be out most likely for the rest of the year with a fractured orbital bone. Gomi on the other hand needs to get back to training hard and not taking fights lightly. Wanderlei Silva has never taken anyone lightly and has never really had an easy night and the wear and tear of his career is beginning to show. Dan Henderson is one of the best fighters in the world and now hold two belts in a promotion full of some of the best fighters in the world. Silva has been rendered unconscious in back to back fights and needs time to recoup, but will probably get right back in the Pride ring as soon as possible. Henderson, now the Pride champ in two divisions will take some time off to recover from breaking his hand in the Silva bout, before attempting to defend both belts. It will be interesting to see how Pride handles Henderson as a duel champion.
ICON: Frank Trigg Defends His Title Against Robbie Lawler
Frank Trigg has rejuvenated his career at 183 pounds and will be defending his Icon title for the first time against former Icon middleweight champ Robbie Lawler. The card is set to take place in April and is also rumored to feature Jason "Mayhem" Miller. Trigg/Lawler is a very interesting fight, and as long as Lawler comes to the fight in shape he should be able to test Trigg. However, Frank Trigg is on my current list of fighters not to bet against, so I will be taking Trigg by ground and pound.
Cage Rage: Judgement Day
The Cage Rage promotion will be putting on a show on the same night of UFC 70. The UFC chose to take Cage Rage head on and the British based promotion is accepting the challenge and has put together a nice card. Judgement Day will be headlined by the UK debut of Bob Sapp, as he takes on Robert Berry. Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos will defend his Cage Rage world light heavyweight title against James Zikic. Vitor Belfort will be getting back into action with a new training camp behind him as he takes on the undefeated Ivan Serati.
International Fight League
The IFL has not really offered any complete fight card that has been worth breaking down. The IFL will be receiving a full Basement Breakdown when it hits playoff time, but as for right now it is too early to really get a good grasp on how this first season is going to shake out. The New York Pit Bulls are in first place with a 1-0 team record, but a more important 4-1 individual fight record that gives them a league leading 35 points. The individual fight records are going to be the deciding factor as far as earning playoff births. The up coming IFL shows do have some individual fights worth mentioning. On March 17th, Los Angeles Anacondas’ Chris Horodecki, who is the fastest rising star in the IFL will put his undefeated streak on the line against San Jose Razorclaws’ Josh Odom. I expect Horodecki to make short work of Odom and improve to 9-0. Also on that card, Krzystof Soszynski of the Anacondas will take on the Razorclaws’ Dan Christison who will be making his IFL debut. Christison will earn himself a victory by tko. The show will also feature a very interesting bout between the Tokyo Sabers’ Vladimir Matyushenko stepping into the ring with Southern California Condors’ Justin Levens. The bout could turn into a very interesting stand up war, and I think Levens will come out on top. On April 6th, the Quad Cities Silverbacks’ Rory Markham will return to action, after taking time off to recover from an injury to face the Reno Lion’s Pat Healy. The fight will be the first fight for Markham after losing at the IFL championships last fall.