by Michael Comeau… I like Kenny Florian. He’s a game opponent always striving to fight better competition, and more importantly, he’s good for the sport. While The Ultimate Fighter has devolved into a circus of vomit-inducing food tampering, Kenny’s friendly personality and professional appearance give the public a different picture of what an MMA fighter can be.
But has he proven himself as a top lightweight? I don’t think so.
I call Kenny the “Asterisk Man” because I feel compelled to add an asterisk to just about every one of his victories in the UFC:
Roger Huerta* - With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, Roger is an average fighter who couldn’t handle quality competition after being fed a string of easier opponents.
Joe Lauzon* - Joe gassed in the second round, essentially handing victory over to Kenny. Prior to that, the match was fairly close and Joe could have grinded out a win.
Din Thomas* - Din blew out his knee against Kenny, leaving Ken-Flo’s submission victory looking better on paper than it did in reality.
Kit Cope* and Sam Stout* - Both these guys are one dimensional strikers who obviously weren’t ready for anyone with a decent ground game.
Alex Karalexis* - This is a cut stoppage victory over a guy who subsequently moved down to the WEC - not very impressive in my opinion.
So while the UFC is clearly positioning Kenny for a title shot, I’m not sold on the story just yet. From a technical standpoint, Kenny is up there with the best in the UFC’s lightweight division, but he needs an impressive win over a top-quality opponent to get me on board.
And at UFC 91, he’ll have one to tangle with in Joe Stevenson. Joe will be a huge test for Kenny, mostly because Joe presents a rough approximation of Sean Sherk - a guy who beat Kenny via sheer brute physicality at UFC 64.
Joe Daddy will not go quietly. He has a great ground game and brutal strength, and is coming off a submission victory over Gleison Tibau, the biggest lightweight fighter in MMA. Tibau is so big that Kenny Florian will feel like a little kid in comparison.
Has Kenny’s technical skill-set evolved to the point where he can overcome a physically imposing top-10 lightweight? The betting odds say yes, but for now I’m saying no.
by Michael Comeau… Last night’s decision loss against Keith Jardine marked Brandon Vera’s fourth straight disappointing performance inside the octagon, and my spidey sense tells me that he could be finished in the UFC, at least for the time being. Brandon’s back has been up against the wall for a while now, which combined with his high salary makes him a good candidate for a temporary exodus from the UFC.
Given his heritage, Vera is most definitely part of the UFC’s efforts to break into Southeast Asia, notably the Philippines, and he’s a marketable guy with a good personality. But he’s running out of excuses for his uninspired performances. With Tim Sylvia, it was a broken hand. With Fabricio Werdum, it was a bad ref stoppage. With Reese Andy, it was the first weight cut to 205.
Should the UFC Dump Brandon Vera?
We can reasonably say that Jardine is a bad style matchup for just about anyone, but let’s remember that Jardine hurt his leg in the second round. That should have given Vera the edge to take the second and third rounds, and the decision victory.
I don’t think the UFC should necessarily cut Brandon permanently. But it might not be the worst idea to suggest a break from the UFC to compete in a few bouts in smaller promotions before coming back. Because with a contract paying him $100,000 to show up and $100,000 to win, giving Vera chance after chance to prove himself, is a slap in the face to guys who go out and give it all for 10 grand.P.S.: Visit MMAEruption.com and read about the UFC Drinking Game!
by Michael Comeau… I just took a look at the UFC/MMA betting lines over at BetUS. They are pretty much what I expected, but I do see potential value for gamblin’ types in two fights. But first, here’s a quick list of the current odds:
Chris Leben +175
Michael Bisping -220
Keith Jardine +145
Brandon Vera -185
Anderson Silva -800
Patrick Cote +550
Joe Stevenson +135
Kenny Florian -175
Brock Lesnar -130
Randy Couture -110
Frank Mir +225
A. Nogueira -350
Quinton Jackson -120
Wanderlei Silva -120
Rashad Evans +120
Forrest Griffin -160
Rich Franklin -105
Dan Henderson -135
Overall, there aren’t many surprises here, but I do see some value in a couple of fights. First, I think MMA Fans may be underestimating Joe Stevenson’s chances against Kenny Florian next month at UFC 91. Kenny is probably a better fighter from a technical standpoint, especially when it comes to striking, but Joe has a great ground game and can deliver a furious pace.
And while it’s hard to argue with success, I wasn’t terribly impressed with Kenny’s last two victories. The fight with Joe Lauzon would have been pretty close had Lauzon not gassed, and Roger Huerta was clearly overhyped by the UFC’s marketing machine ahead of their fight.
Secondly, I think Rashad Evans has a decent chance of beating Forrest Griffin. Forrest definitely has the edge in the heart and determination department, but Rashad definitely has the goods to win. He’s a good wrestler with excellent speed, and he does have some power on the feet as evidenced by his brutal knockout of Chuck Liddell at UFC 88. Rashad also has Greg Jackson, one of the sport’s best game planners, in his corner. (nothing against Xtreme Couture!)
I’m not placing any bets myself at this point, but these are the two picks where I see some value at this early stage.
P.S. Visit MMAEruption.com and read about upcoming bouts.
by Michael Comeau… Brandon Vera’s career inside the Octagon has been something of a roller coaster since his UFC debut at Ultimate Fight Night 2 in late 2005.
However, “The Truth” is now at a crossroads in his career, and he’ll have to pull off an impressive win against “The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine this Saturday Night at UFC 89 to get back on the path towards becoming a star.
An undersized heavyweight, Brandon proved he could nonetheless play with the big boys by peeling off four straight wins in the UFC, all of them being first or second round finishes.
However, following a year-long layoff in the midst of contentious contact negotiations, Brandon suffered back-to-back losses to top 10 heavyweights Tim Sylvia and Fabricio Werdum.
After Brandon’s loss to Werdum, he wisely dropped down to the light heavyweight division, which is most certainly a better fit considering his frame, which looks downright frail relative to brutes like Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin.
However, it appears that Brandon’s first weight drop didn’t go well, as his light heavyweight debut was just a month after the loss to Werdum.
Even though he came out the winner by unanimous decision, Brandon’s performance against Reese Andy at Ultimate Fight Night 14 failed to impress MMA fans stoked to see Brandon fighting in his natural weight class.
If three straight disappointing performances weren’t enough, Brandon received criticism that he was significantly overpaid as he picked up $200,000 (including a $100,000 win bonus), that night, a figure equal to Anderson Silva’s pay for the same event. Needless to say, it is do or die time for Brandon Vera at UFC 89 this Saturday night.
It won’t be enough to merely beat Keith Jardine, who is also in need of an impressive win after being demolished by Wanderlei Silva at UFC 84. Brandon must do so in decisive fashion.
And not only to win over fans suspicious that he was overhyped while facing questionable competition, but to win over UFC management, who have been paying him the salary of 10 lightweights for performances that have been lackluster at best.
The only question is, will “The Truth” stand up?
Thanks for reading folks - please post a comment and let everyone know if you think Brandon will come out on top against Keith Jardine! And if you have a minute, visit MMAEruption.com!
by Michael Comeau… I’d like to say that this interview with Seth Petruzelli shocked me. Sadly it didn’t. Fast-forward to the 10:30 mark and you’ll hear Petruzelli make the following comments regarding a very special request from his promoters ahead of his fight with Kimbo Slice:
“The promoters kind of hinted to me and they gave me the money to stand and trade with him.”
“They didn’t want me to take him down, let’s just put it that way.”
“It was worth my while to try to stand up, stand up and punch with him.”
It’s one thing to engage in matchmaking in order to build up a certain fighter. The UFC has done that with many guys, most notably Roger Huerta. But to use money to try and influence what happens inside the cage crosses a whole new line. This absolutely stinks of the worst-smelling bullsh*t on the planet, and I’m just going to pray it’s not true because it makes me question some other things I’ve seen during EliteXC fights.
You know, like that highly questionable standup in the Arlovski/Nelson fight.
Even the smallest hint of the possibility of fight-fixing puts a dark cloud over EliteXC’s legitimate athletes just by association. Now I’ll ask two obvious questions here:
1) What the heck is the Florida State Boxing Commission going to do about it? Because shady business practices like this make MMA look a lot like professional wrestling.
2) Is CBS willing to continue working with EliteXC after this weekend’s debacle?
Props to Fightlinker.com for the audio link.
read more from Michael here