Last week saw an end to the recent mid summer drought of major MMA events, and saw another slew of fight announcements from both the UFC and WEC. Also Chael Sonnen continued his one man verbal offensive against Anderson Silva, and Tito Ortiz’s next opponent was revealed.
Firstly Tito Ortiz has announced through another of the behind the scenes videos he has a habit of making that he will be taking on Matt Hamill next. As he often does, he also inexplicably filmed himself signing the contract that the UFC had sent him. Much more interestingly though is the stylistic clash that Ortiz and Hamill represents. Both are primarily wrestlers, neither is particularly outstanding on the feet, although Hamill probably has the edge, and neither is very comfortable operating from their back.
Often when two somewhat similar level grapplers meet they either avoid the wrestling altogether and end up in a brawl, or they take turns getting take downs and tend to cancel each other out, ending up with a snore fest for the fans. Something tells me that Hamill vs. Ortiz will be the former though, and should as such be a fairly equal fight. Hamill undoubtedly has the heavier hands, but Tito has an excellent chin, and at times better technique than his record suggests.
Tito though needs the win a lot more than Hamill, and could do with a stoppage as well. Over the last five years the only fighter Tito has finished has been an ancient and spent Ken Shamrock. Since last beating Shamrock in 2006, he has lost three and drawn one, taking to the cage only once per year on average.
Another loss probably won’t mean being cut for Tito, who can still draw in the fans, but would erase any last glimmer of hope that he is still a force in the division.
Interestingly, Tito taking on Hamill might mean that Chuck Liddell is finally done with the sport. After getting knocked out by Rich Franklin in his last appearance, the one fight many suspected that Dana White might allow Chuck to take in the UFC was Tito. Feeding into this idea Chuck has still not come out and said that it’s time for him to retire. Despite the fact that his chin is clearly not what it once was and will continue to betray him if he fights on.
Jose Aldo vs. Manny Gamburyan has been made official by the WEC, and will be happening on September 30th in Colorado. The fight had been as good as made after Gamburyan unexpectedly finished Mike Thomas Brown at WEC 48, but until now had not had an official date. Also on what looks like the most heavily stacked card of the year, Miguel Torres takes on Charlie Valencia, Donald Cerrone rematches Jamie Varner and both Leonard Garcia and Chan Sung Jung return, although sadly to fight Mark Hominick and George Roop respectively rather than each other again.
The odds will undoubtedly be heavily in Aldo’s favor in the main event, but Gamburyan with his wrestling will perhaps be able to test the one aspect of Aldo’s game that few have seen thus far in his career. Being a Brazilian, Aldo has a BJJ black belt as you might expect, and is reportedly just as adept at submissions as he is standing. If Gamburyan can take him down without getting his lights turned out though we might get the chance to see just how good he really is.
Back to the UFC, and Chael Sonnen has been continuing his unending quest to both provoke a reaction from Anderson Silva and hype the upcoming fight between them this week. So far though the verbal battle has been all one way traffic, although it isn’t clear what the always rather elliptical Silva really makes of Sonnen and his trash talking.
If Silva is bothered by what Sonnen is coming out with though, he had better not repay the insults by turning in another performance like he did against Demian Maia. UFC head honcho Dana White has already threatened to fire Silva if he pulls anymore of his showboating and general disinterest in future fights, and the reason he claimed to have acted that way against Maia was because his countryman and noted submission master had apparently disrespected him.
The only remarks Maia was coming out with before his fight with Silva were some rather toothless comments about the credibility of his Jiu Jitsu credentials. Sonnen on the other hand has done his level best to belittle the champion at every turn, even well before he was scheduled to fight him. Either way it should make for an interesting encounter, and if Sonnen has played his cards right he might just have uncovered the usually unbeatable looking Brazilian’s weakness.
UFC on Versus 2 takes place this coming Sunday, and will probably prove to be another big win for prospect Jon Jones, who has so far been running through anyone put in front of him. His latest opponent Vladimir Matyushenko is a quality grappler, but tends to struggle when up against larger wrestlers like Jones. His striking is also not dynamic enough to trouble Jones, who should be taking on the bigger names in the division in the near future. It isn’t that Matyushenko is a bad fighter necessarily, but Jones destroyed Matt Hamill before being disqualified for illegal elbows, and I can’t see ‘The Janitor’ offering much more than Hamill could.
Also in action on the card, Takanori Gomi takes on Joe Stephenson, who the UFC regularly call on to test the mettle of fighters above the chasing pack but not yet amongst the best fighters in the division. In his debut Gomi lost to Kenny Florian, and didn’t appear to have either gotten into decent shape for the fight or come up with a decent game plan. Stephenson vs. Gomi though is a much more straight forward prospect, and either he can take Gomi down regularly and grind out a decision, or he stays standing and eventually Gomi catches him.