Sunday, January 25, 2009

Affliction 2 Review

Wow, that was quite a card! For all of Affliction's production blemishes they sure do know how to put together a fight card.

The production quality actually took a step back from their first card unfortunately. Scott Ferrall and Chuck Zito as correspondents? Seriously!? Scott Ferrall is probably the most annoying MC/Reporter ever, not just in MMA. And as for Chuck Zito, just because you go to every UFC doesn't make you a qualified "sideline reporter". That's the same as throwing me out there except that I haven't been on Oz. Putting the two together was just overkill.

The announcers were also very sub par. The main play by play guy wasn't bad but the color commentators, Tito in particular, were just awful! Glazer, Trigg, and McCarthy were much better. After watching these commentators I think I need to stop being so critical of Goldberg and Rogan because obviously it's not as easy as I thought.

I was also really psyched to see "Big John" back in the ring instead of in the booth! The ring announcer actually wasn't bad. He was no Michael Buffer but I actually liked him more than Bruce Buffer.

Apparently I was misinformed about Ozzy Osbourne performing but that was the one improvement from the last show was no musical performance. Also, I appreciated the fighter introductions PRIDE style at the beginning of the show even if the production value was low budget.

Okay, with the production critique over let's dig into what you all really want and that's the fight breakdowns. Unfortunately I don't get HDNet so I can only dig into the main card fights and give you the straight results of the undercard:

*Note: Apparently the Jay Hieron v. Jason High bout was a swing match or something happened last minute because it never happened. This is very strange considering that Hieron was part of the marketing push for this card. I'll try and give you an update if I find out what happened.

Vladimir Matyushenko v. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: "Little Nog" mops up "The Janitor" by TKO in the second round. I picked this one right on the button!

Dan Lauzon v. Bobby Green: Green was the last second replacement for Chris Horodecki. This was a very inauspicious start to the card with three stoppages for groin strikes by Green in the first round resulting in two points (by the way this was the first time I ever saw TWO points taken away) deduction. However, it didn't matter because Lauzon used his superior grappling to take Green down and choke him out with a very unorthodox but effective rear naked choke. Green has some promise but Lauzon was just too technical.

Green showed great athletic ability but little technical skill on the feet but he was aggressive and powerful. Lauzon looked flustered having this kid come in last minute without getting any time to prepare for him. Lauzon obviously was also thrown off by the groin strikes (though the third time he seemed to be embellishing) and even though he won through his superior ground skill he did not win any fans and I would be surprised if Affliction brought him back even though I think he's a good fighter. This fight won't count against my record with Horodecki not taking part in the fight.

Paul Buentello v. Kirill Sidelnikov: "Baby Fedor" Kirill is not. Buentello just picked him apart for three rounds. Kirill in fact looked nothing like Fedor. He was not aggressive and never looked for the takedown. He just stood there and let Buentello stay outside and pick him apart with his technically superior striking. Kirill obviously needs a lot more experience against better competition before getting back in the ring with top fighters.

Buentello, while he ultimately won the fight by third round TKO (doctor stoppage), was really unimpressive to me. He just stood outside and picked apart a technically weaker, smaller, and inexperienced opponent. Buentello is obviously talented he just doesn't have a killer instinct which really frustrates me. I'll hand it to Kirill though, he's a tough kid. I got the pick right but was a round too late on the prediction.

Renato Sobral v. Remeau Thierry Sokoudjou: It is officially time for Sokoudjou to take a step back in competition, gain some more experience, and build his confidence back up. Neither fighter showed an advantage on the feet which was really disappointing for Sokoudjou who was obviously more athletic and hit harder than Sobral. "Babalu" absolutely took Sokoudjou apart on the ground.

You could tell how crushed Sokoudjou was when he lost and I think he has a long way to go before he gets back in the big leagues any time soon. I think he's young enough and talented enough to be a great fighter someday, especially training with Team Quest, but he needs to take a step back right now and re-evaluate how he's approaching these fights.

Babalu looked great in this fight and I'm hoping that at the next card they let him and Rogerio battle it out for a light heavyweight title, Affliction or WAMMA I don't care, to go along with Babalu's Strikeforce belt. Big props to Babalu for a great submission (anaconda choke - one of my favorites!) in the second round. I also picked this one right on the nose!

Matt Lindland v. Vitor Belfort: Vitor is back people! In one of the most astonishing and horrifying KOs I've ever seen in my life Vitor Belfort destroyed Matt Lindland only 37 seconds into the first round. I was legitimately scared for Lindland who was seen shaking and unconscious for quite some time before coming to and having to be restrained and helped by the medical staff. Fortunately he was able to walk out of the ring under his own power. Big props to Dan Henderson for coming in and helping his friend in what had to be a very scary moment at ringside.

Obviously I am wishing Lindland the best in his recovery and hope that nothing serious comes of that KO. However, I would not be shocked if that might sit Lindland out for awhile and possibly push him to finally hang up the gloves.

On a more positive note let's give big props to Belfort who looks like the old Vitor with hands of lightning that are also made of steel. He looked absolutely fantastic tonight. He looked much better at 185. He looked lean, quick, and powerful. He tore through one of the top five middleweights on the planet and I think he is a very dangerous opponent for almost anyone (not named Anderson Silva) in the world at 185.

Unfortunately I'm not sure what's next for Belfort since Affliction doesn't have anyone else good signed on at 185. Hopefully they can find him someone good on the next card or he can find a home somewhere else so he can get a shot at a title because he obviously deserves it after tonight's showing. I was way off on this fight but I'm still happy for Vitor.

Josh Barnett v. Gilbert Yvel: "The Baby Faced Assassin" had a solid but unspectacular performance shutting down "The Hurricane" by submission (from strikes) in the third round. Yvel looked strong on the feet but unfortunately Barnett was just too good a grappler and was able to take the fight down and keep it down for all three rounds. Yvel had no answer for Barnett's ground control, though he did perform much better than I expected in his submission defense. Unfortunately for Yvel, Barnett wound up in mount all three rounds.

I think Barnett gassed out after trying to finish Yvel at the end of the first round because even when Barnett got into mount in the second round Yvel really wasn't in any danger. However, in the third round when Barnett recovered he began dumping punches and elbows that forced Yvel to tap. Unfortunately the fans wanted more and Barnett expected more from himself. So even though it was a dominating performance it was somewhat of a let down. I got the pick right but not the prediction.

Fedor Emelianenko v. Andrei Arlovski: What a great finish! This was a wake up call for "The Last Emperor". "The Pitbull" came in and dominated the first round in the stand up until he went in for a flying knee and Fedor caught him with an overhand right that got him the KO.

Arlovski looked great until the KO. He was staying outside of Fedor and using his technically superior striking to win the stand up. Unfortunately I think he got a little cocky and went for the flashy flying knee and got caught in the process. After watching the replay I think Arlovski's soft chin may have let him down again as Fedor's punch only seemed to be a glancing blow and not a crushing punch. But in the end it doesn't matter as Fedor wins by devastating fashion again in the first round.

Arlovski should be proud of the work he put in against Fedor before the KO but unfortunately it just wasn't enough tonight against one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world. Hopefully his transition to boxing will be helped by the big gloves because his chin has been suspect for some time and I didn't see anything different tonight.

Fedor got a little bit of a wake up call but it seems as if there's nothing the heavyweight champ can't fix with his over hand right. This win hopefully sets up a match with Barnett at the next Affliction card. However, the two are good friends so it's yet to be seen if they would agree to fight. Big props to Fedor though for finishing the night with a bang! I got the pick right here but not the prediction.

Well this was certainly one hell of a card and I look forward to the next Affliction event whenever that may be. Here's to hoping it will be sooner than 6 months from now! My pick for KO of the night goes to Vitor Belfort. My pick for submission of the night goes to Babalu Sobral. And my pick for fight of the night goes to Fedor Emelianenko v. Andrei Arlovski.

Here are some of the fights I would like to see next time around:

Fedor v. Barnett - WAMMA title

Sobral v. Rogerio - Affliction or WAMMA title

Mark Hominick v. LC Davis or Albert Rios

Chris Horodecki v. Dan Lauzon

Paul Buentello v. Ben Rothwell

Aleksander Emelianenko v. Andrei Arlovski or Tim Sylvia

How about those six fights on one card!? Not to mention all the quality fighters Affliction has under contract that they could still put on the undercard!

All in all this was a great night for MMA but Affliction does need to improve their production value dramatically if they want to even stay competitive with the UFC. I had a great night in terms of predictions going 5-1 with two bonus points for getting the prediction right. Well I hope you all enjoyed the fights as much as me. Stay tuned for my WEC 38 review. Until then,

Soccer kicks and head stomps...

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