Re: UFC Discussion
Very nice post, M2, and I agree with the most of it. There are definitely more and more fighters taking up residence in boxing gyms just recently, in the last six months or so, training with top-level boxers. I've long thought that it would be a smart thing to do, but a lot are hesitant to, for whatever reason. More seem to be bucking that thought lately, though.
As far as the new era in fighting... there has certainly been a change in MMA fights over the last year or so compared to how it's been. Longtime fans of the sport will note that it's very cyclical in what the dominating facet of the game is, it's like a different era takes over every several years or so. The one thing that's stuck in my head about why the highly-decorated international fighters, and certainly PRIDE fighters in particular, are struggling so much when fighting in the States, especially against younger guys they're perceived to easily defeat, is the fact that WRESTLING is the particular part of the game that seems underdeveloped to a lot of these guys.
I'm not painting a wide brush and saying every fighter in PRIDE has deficient wrestling skills, but the most occuring theme in some of these upsets to me has been how the favorite has been controlled and position-dominated in these fights. Gabriel Gonzaga is known as a jiujitsu guy primarily (and will forever be known as a striker for good or bad due to the head kick KO of Cro Cop) but his wrestling is also top-notch and that's what he used to dominate Mirko to set up the finish. Forrest Griffin played the control game with Shogun Rua perfectly. It's happened in many other instances as well. I think more than any other aspect of mixed martial arts, wrestling for MMA is levels above here in the States (not to discount the success of pure amateur wrestling in other parts of the world, particularly the Middle East and Eastern Europe, neither of which have a particularly strong presence in the sport of MMA).
Regarding the Rampage-Forrest thing... knowing how things have been upside-down lately as a result of all this, I wouldn't be shocked to see Griffin pull the upset. But at the same time, I still wouldn't expect it. As M2 was saying, some guys have fallen behind the curve in training in today's MMA it seems - however, Quinton Jackson is not one of them. His camp is eons better today than it was even a year ago. Juanito Barrera is putting an awesome camp together out west and Rampage is the focal point of it. Rampage, incidentally, is one of the guys who DOES train with pure boxers, most notably, Shane Moseley. And 'MMAth', as we like to call it, often doesn't mean anything - Fighter A beat Fighter B and Fighter B beat Fighter C, so Fighter A naturally could beat Fighter C. It works that way a lot, but not always. Shogun did handle Rampage, due to Rampage's inability to defend the Thai clinch. Then again, I'm sure Randy Couture is well aware of this, and the Thai clinch will be fully worked on in the Xtreme Couture sessions with Forrest leading up to the fight.