23 January 2011

Countdown To Zero

I just watched this movie and I think you probably should too. The number of times in which the world has very nearly come to see, in real time, with real consequences the horrible effects by accident and mis-communication will probably shock you as much as it did me. John F. Kennedy knew what he was talking about years ago.
Every man, woman and child lives under a nuclear sword of Damocles, hanging by the slenderest of threads, capable of being cut at any moment by accident or miscalculation or madness.

It is maybe more than past time to get rid of the sword.

As usual, clicking on the title will take you somewhere. In this case, it takes you to the website of Countdown to Zero where you can find further information on the documentary, and the movement to zero. The film is available to stream at Netflix, and also via their usual mail in method. Seriously go check it out.

01 January 2011

UFC 125 Predictions

Alright, this will be quick, and only dealing with the fights I am interested in watching, and thus about fighters I of which I have some knowledge.

Clay Guida v Takanori Gomi
Gomi by knockout, probably early. Clay Guida has strong wrestling but not a lot else. His stand up is, at this level, pretty middling, and against strong strikers he tends to take a lot of punishment, cuts up and swells. Gomi is easily the most devastating striker Guida has faced. Gomi isn't a bad grappler either. Guida's major strength is that he can dominate positionally and while he doesn't do a whole lot with that positional dominance it takes him places on judge's score cards. He also stays busy with his amatuerish striking. That is also a major scorer in the UFC. Tonight though his tendency to eat punches and kicks will probably earn him a loss from the crisper and heavier hands of Gomi.

Nate Dias v Dong Hyun Kim
Probably the toughest fight to call. Both men come conditioned and ready to fight. Kim comes into the fight with an impressive record 13 wins, no losses, and only 1 draw. I'm going to go with Nate despite the fact he has had more losses than Kim. Nate's edge, I think, is that his level of competition has been slightly higher in caliber. Nate wins, likely by split decision though a submission early isn't out of the question. If it makes it out of round one, expect an exciting fight.

Brandon Vera v Thiago Silva
If this was to be based on which fighter looked meaner, this fight would be all Silva. Even without the mean face, this fight will probably still have to go to Silva. Silva seems to have heavier hands, a decent ground and pound, and he seems to be the more aggressive fighter. Even moving forward uneffectively seems to score points in the UFC and that could potentially hurt the counter-fighter Brandon Vera. Both men are coming off losses (Vera's were at the hands of Randy Couture and Jon Jones; Silva via Machida) that could hurt their marketablity in the eyes of Dana White, so both of them will likely come in willing to take chances. I think this favors the heavier striking of Thiago Silva. My pick is Silva early.

Chris Leben v Brian Stann
Emotionally I am behind the brawler with oodles of heart that is Chris Leben. For me this is doubly so for an unfair and utterly shallow reason that has nothing to do with the skills of the particulars. Brian Stann looks like every dumb baseball player I have ever known. That said I am sure Stann is probably a nice guy, fun to train with and all that, but I am totally and utterly rooting against him (or you Brian if you are reading this- but if you are reading this and you ever find yourself in Maine, I will totally buy you a beer for the very shallow, and dickish anti-you stance I am taking here). However Leben has a lot of technical problems that concern me, not the least of which is getting off his game plan when he gets frustrated.

A streak of wins is a streak of wins though and Leben certainly has that psychological momentum in his favor (3 major wins at the big show). He has a good corner and his head is on straight. And Leben has a lot of experience, much more so than tonight's opponent.

One worry I have with a fighter like Leben is this. A brawler like Leben necessarily takes a lot of punishment to the head. Such fighters take this punishment on the night of the fight, and they take it in training. Brain trauma like that suffered by fighters and football players is cumulative thus the ease with which a fighter gets knocked out (by such insults to the brain as kicks, punches, knees and elbows) is related to the amount of punishment (blunt force trauma to their tender brain) they have accumulated over a career. The short story? Once you get knocked out, it gets progressively easier to get knocked out. Kind of sucky for fighters like Leben but those are the untidy facts. This is the reason fighters seem to lose their chins over time. Where is Leben on this trajectory? Assuming he still has a chin (and this may be reasonable to assume) he probably has this fight by attrition. Stann doesn't have alot of knockouts, or experience and hasn't faced the caliber of opponents Leben has faced. Thus, Leben by decision.
This is the other potential fight of the night that I see on the card.

Frankie Edgar v Gray Maynard
Edgar. He beat BJ Penn twice convincingly. What more do I need to say?

A bit.

Maynard has beaten Edgar before. So that makes this fight interesting. Has Edgar's skill elevated? Or did he have a style that simply proved to be the perfect answer to BJ Penn? Styles make fights and, as Marc Denny has said, some structures (fighting stances, idioms of movement) prove to be too much of a puzzle for other structures. If that doesn't make sense to you think of it this way. George Foreman manhandled Smokin' Joe Frazier. Joe Frazier gave Muhammed Ali 43 of the most competitive and brutal rounds of Ali's career. Ali beat George Foreman in 8 rounds and it took Foreman nearly a quarter of a century to recover his fighting spirit (which he did by the way and in splendid sports movie fashion to boot).

So, to repeat, styles make fights. Its possible that Edgar is simply a benificiary of this quirk of the fight game and he isn't as good as many of us currently think he is. Maynard will come in with confidence after all he has beaten Edgar before. However Edgar will also be looking to avenge a loss, have the confidence in his skill only wins over guys like BJ Penn can provide, and be motivated to keep the championship belt. I will stick to my prediction.
Edgar for the win, probably by decision.