FIGHT! Life

FIGHT! Life

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FIGHT!‘s “Alright Guy” Duane Finley goes toe-to-toe with FIGHT!‘s “Canadian Guy” E. Spencer Kyte in a UFC Fight Night 28 Faceoff. For this installment, Finley and Kyte take on the UFC middleweight fight between Yushin Okami and Ronaldo Souza.

The Case for Yushin Okami (Duane Finley, 1-3)

Let me take a moment to cherish my first victory in this series and take pride in bringing the coveted FIGHT! Faceoff Title back to the U.S. of A. I had been taking a shelling at the hands of my Canadian counterpart, but our last installment (Pettis vs. Henderson) helped stopped a ferocious backslide and turn my fortunes around.

Yet, like any true champion, I’m willing to put my belt back on the line in quick fashion, and it’s good I feel that way because our next challenge falls a mere four days after our last go-around.

There may be no fighter in the UFC more unheralded for his accomplishments than Yushin Okami. “Thunder” has been the Samurai gatekeeper to the championship tier of the middleweight division for years, and most who have faced him inside the Octagon have been reshuffled back into the fold. On the other hand, those fighters fortunate enough to get through his grinding attack have typically gone on to the next tier, where an even worse fate awaited them.

Okami’s upcoming bout with Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza will once again bring the Japanese guardian back to his post. The former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion is looking for a title shot, and he has made short work out of the first two UFC-branded competitors he’s faced. That being said—and with no disrespect—neither Ed Herman nor Chris Camozzi present the level of challenge Okami brings to the cage.

Souza’s biggest strength is a lights-out ground game, but Okami is one of the most difficult fighters to put on the canvas. Where Souza has been able to muscle opposition to the ground, Okami is one of the biggest, strongest fighters currently competing at middleweight, and putting him on his back will prove to be a difficult task.

On the flipside, Okami will be able to put Souza on the mat with frequency. While I highly doubt he’ll be able to keep him in that position, especially during the early minutes, his grueling clinch game against the cage and multiple trips to the canvas will start to drain the Brazilian’s gas tank. There may be some touchy moments, but in the end, Okami takes the fight on the judge’s scorecards.

While I believe Souza will one day be a legitimate threat to the 185-pound title, I don’t believe that time is now. Okami not only wins by decision, but also defeats a Brazilian fighter in his native land, and the proud Samurai will walk away from his post on Sept. 4 knowing he has done his job once again.

The Case for Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (E. Spencer Kyte, 3-1)

So this is what it feels like to lose? I’m going to be honest, I don’t like it.

Thankfully, this feeling doesn’t have to last too long, as we’re getting back in the cage on Wednesday, and my fine friend from the great state of Indiana is siding with the proven veteran over the relative UFC newcomer. I’ll take it, and I’ll take the victory too.

I’m a big Okami fan, and like Duane said, I think he’s criminally underappreciated because he’s a grinder. “Thunder” is a tremendous protector of the upper echelon in the middleweight division, and he is one of the top gatekeepers in the sport, but I have maintained for quite some time that Souza has championship potential.

While Duane is correct that Chris Camozzi, Ed Herman, and Derek Brunson are nowhere near the same level as Okami, these ease with which Souza dispatched each member of that trio is what he should be paying attention to, not their respective pedigrees. All three are solid, middle-of-the-pack UFC middleweights, and “Jacare” ran through them like they were rookies.

Souza is the more dynamic talent, and his skills in the grappling department nullify a lot of what Okami does best. The Japanese veteran isn’t going to be able to simply smother Souza on the ground for 15 minutes, and I don’t think people are giving the Brazilian enough credit for his hands either. Yes, his submission game is still his primary weapon, but he lit up Brunson when they fought in Strikeforce, and his hands have continued to improve by leaps and bounds each fight.

This will be a tough battle—and a great fight to watch on Wednesday night—but in the end, Souza will be the one who controls the action on the canvas, and ultimately earns the win. And with that, the FIGHT! Faceoff Title will make its way back to where it belongs—my hands.

FIGHT!‘s “Alright Guy” Duane Finley goes toe-to-toe with FIGHT!‘s “Canadian Guy” E. Spencer Kyte in a UFC 164 Faceoff. For this installment, Finley and Kyte take on the UFC Lightweight Title fight between Anthony Pettis and Champion Benson Henderson.

The Case for Anthony Pettis (Duane Finley, 0-3)

Thus far in our series, I am getting roughed up by my Canadian counterpart. Not since Georges St-Pierre exacted his vengeance against Matt Serra in their rematch in Montreal has a Canadian flogged an American so mercilessly.

That being said, this business is about to change on Saturday night.

Nearly three years have passed since WEC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis came over from the WEC. In a strange twist of fate, “Showtime” will square-off with the same man he took the WEC title from—current UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson.

Since their meeting at WEC 53 in December 2010, the two fighters have traveled much different paths. Henderson hit the UFC fold like a man possessed, eventually claiming championship gold, while Pettis has battled injuries and setbacks as he’s worked his way up the ladder.

Due to the amount of hype and expectation Pettis has garnered, every step of his journey is more dramatic than the last, and there will be no step more important than his rematch with Henderson. Pettis will not only get his first crack at UFC gold on Saturday night, but it will come in his hometown, under the bright lights of the Bradley Center.

For a man with the nickname “Showtime,” this is the ideal setting for the most important fight of his career.

As far as the action inside the cage goes, Pettis’ unpredictable nature will once again be crucial in the matchup against Henderson. In the first fight, “Smooth” was able to put Pettis on his back, and while I don’t see the current No. 1 contender stopping every takedown attempt, I do believe he will have much more success than the first go-around.

With Henderson’s machine-like cardio, stopping his takedowns won’t tire him out, but it will keep the fight standing, which is exactly where Pettis needs it to be. Pettis is at his best when he can dictate range and keep the opposition on the outside, and that is where I believe he will do the bulk of his damage on Saturday night. Henderson will have the advantage in the opening round, but Pettis will find his groove in the second, third, and fourth. Just like their first meeting, the championship tilt in Milwaukee will go to the judge’s scorecards, and Pettis will get the nod.

A new champion will be crowned, and my atrocious losing streak will come to an end at UFC 164.

The Case for Benson Henderson (E. Spencer Kyte, 3-0)

I have to commend my friend from the great state of Indiana—he’s already dropped three straight fights, and here he is picking against the reigning, defending, UFC Lightweight Champion. That’s brash…except not really, since most of Henderson’s championship fights have hinged on the scoring of a single round.

I actually expect that to change in Milwaukee on Saturday night. Yeah, you heard me. I think Henderson comes to Pettis’ town and earns a “there is nothing to debate here” victory over “Showtime,” avenging his earlier loss in the WEC and establishing himself as the undisputed “Lord of the Lightweights” in the UFC.

Of the two, Henderson is the one who has improved the most since their first encounter, turning up his intensity and getting rid of the “He looks so happy to be in there” grin that used to dominate his earlier fights. His striking has improved to the point that he’s edged out both Frankie Edgar and Gilbert Melendez on their feet, and his wrestling game and conditioning have never been in question.

I really don’t understand why Henderson didn’t turn their initial meeting into a grind, but I have a feeling that’s what we’ll see from him this time. There is no need for him to stand and exchange with Pettis, who is the more explosive, more creative striker. Force the challenger to prove he can defend the takedown, and then force him to defend as much as possible. As much as I’m certain Pettis has worked to shore up his wrestling with Ben Askren over the last couple of years, it’s still his weakest area, and you have to attack your opponent’s weakest area.

Here’s the other thing: the fight at WEC 53 was super-close, right up until the moment Pettis landed “The Showtime Kick.” Another way of putting it is that Pettis needed to land the craziest move in the history of high-level MMA to beat Henderson the first time, and the chances of him delivering an encore here are slim and none. Could he land something else that is utterly ridiculous? Maybe, but I don’t think Henderson will give him the chance. I fully anticipate “Smooth” to come out quick, cutoff the cage, and force Pettis to wrestle as much as possible.

Over the course of 25 minutes, I don’t see Pettis being able to repeatedly keep things standing, and when it hits the canvas, Henderson has the edge. My prediction is a 49-46 unanimous decision win for the Champion, and a fourth consecutive victory for the kid from Canada in FIGHT! Faceoff #4.

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It’s summer in Colorado and the weather is hot. Jared Hamman, a California-raised UFC middleweight, walks around with his shirt off, donning the comfortable pair of flip-flops he wears most of the year. Much like his experience in the Southern California fight scene, the fighter calls Colorado a hotbed of MMA, with a plethora of young and quality talent. This is evident, he says, with all the small MMA promotions putting on local fights in the area.

With the region so full of capable training partners, Hamman’s own training hasn’t fallen off since becoming a resident of the Rocky Mountain area. “It’s been cool,” says Hamman. “There’s a ton of high-caliber training partners out here.”

In addition to the local talent in the area, Hamman has a stable of grizzly veterans helping him sharpen his skill set for his UFC 164 fight against Magnus Cedenblad. Nate Marquardt is part of the team Hamman trains with called Elevation MMA. The group, which was the brainchild of Marquardt, isn’t tied down to solely one gym. This helps prevent gym politics from getting in the way of training and preparation for fights, according to Hamman.

“It’s worked out well,” he says. “We wanted to create this team—that’s really a team, not just a gym. There’s a bunch of us that make up Elevation MMA. We don’t have one gym that we call our own.”

The group began to work together about four months ago, and a number of the training sessions have taken place at the MusclePharm facility in Denver. Fighters such as Matt Brown have stopped by to join the team in recent months, which proved to be beneficial as the welterweight won his sixth fight in a row at UFC Fight Night 26 in Boston. From Marquardt to Brown to UFC Fight Night 27’s Brandon Thatch, the team comes together and pulls from a number of different places.

In terms of his own preparation, Hamman is gearing up to fight Cedenblad at UFC 164 in Milwaukee on Saturday night. Preparing to fight the Swedish mixed martial artist has been, in a sense, a chore for Hamman due to the relatively little amount of fight video out there on Cedenblad. What Hamman was able to find on his foe told him that he’ll fight a tall, lanky guy who likes to bring the fight.

“I just want to get in there and smash this dude,” he says.

After a year outside the cage due to a number of injuries, including an internal staph infection, bad hamstring, and elbow bursitis, UFC 164 is a chance for Hamman to get back to his winning ways. A loss would mean Hamman’s third in a row and likely his walking papers from the UFC. But a win over Cedenblad will be a step in the right direction for the fighter who has had to supplement his income in the past year by coaching and teaching young fighters.

“People are like, ‘Why are you still coaching when you have a fight coming up next week?'” Hamman says. “Because it fuels what I do and gives me motivation.”

Hamman and Cedenblad will kickoff the preliminary card action on Facebook at 6:30 p.m. ET.

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The UFC Fight Night 27 battle between Donald Cerrone and Rafael dos Anjos has the potential to win Fight of the Night and produce a new contender in the lightweight ranks.

As much as we often talk about “anything can happen” and “on any given night, anyone can beat anyone,” nowhere are those statements more valid than in the 155-pound ranks. Exhibit 967 in support of that came a couple weekends ago in Boston when Michael “The Menace” Johnson put an absolute hurting on hometown boy Joe Lauzon… after losing his previous fight to Reza Madadi.

Wednesday night in Indianapolis, there is a lightweight clash on the card that will have an impact on the divisional rankings, but more than anything, it will be another kick-ass scrap between two tough and talented fighters eager to prove they’re the next emerging contender in the ultra-competitive lightweight division.

Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone
Streak: One win
Last Fight: Win – K.J. Noons, Unanimous Decision (UFC 160)
Notable Wins: Jamie Varner, Dennis Siver, Melvin Guillard

Rafael dos Anjos
Streak: Four consecutive wins
Last Fight: Win – Evan Dunham, Split Decision (UFC on FX 8)
Notable Wins: Dunham, Mark Bocek, George Sotiropoulos

Why I Love This Fight

Have you ever seen “Cowboy” Cerrone fight?

The ornery Team Jackson-Winkeljohn representative almost always brings the goods when the cage door closes, and his ultra-aggressive approach to beating up people is really fun to watch. When he’s on point, Cerrone has bounce to his movement and snaps off leg kicks and combos with malicious intent.

After starting his UFC career with consecutive losses—including being on the business end of a Jeremy Stephens’ uppercut of doom—dos Anjos has actually blossomed into a very well-rounded contender in the lightweight division. He showed his knockout power when he blistered George Sotiropoulos at UFC 132, and his grappling game has always been solid. Now that he’s putting it all together, the 28-year-old Brazilian is becoming someone who other emerging contenders might want to avoid on the way up the divisional ladder.

And that’s why this is such a killer fight.

Cerrone isn’t the kind of guy to back down from anyone, even “tough outs” who don’t have a very high profile. He signs on the dotted line, meets them in the Octagon, and deals with the outcome once the dust settles.

For dos Anjos, this is his chance to put himself in the lightweight Top 10, or, at the very least, secure himself a place on the fringes of the upper echelon. He’s steadily worked his way up the rankings, and if he’s going to be considered a contender, “Cowboy” is precisely the type of fighter he needs to beat to advance to the next level of competition.

“Cowboy” needs this win too. As much as he’s reliable from an entertainment standpoint—he’s earned six Fight Night bonuses in nine UFC fights—he’s historically stumbled against top competition throughout his career. While dos Anjos isn’t on the same level as Nate Diaz or Anthony Pettis (the last two men to defeat Cerrone), he’s a step up from Melvin Guillard and current featherweights Dennis Siver and Charles Oliveira.

Because the division is so deep and so full of talent, making an impact and keeping your name in the title conversation is imperative. You can be sure these two fighters know that, and they’ll be looking to make a lasting impression in the minds of the UFC brass and fight fans on Wednesday night.

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Victoria Lace Raffield

image descAge: 25
Height: 5’9”
Hometown: New Orleans, LA
Facebook: /victoria.lace
Twitter: @Victoria_Lace
Instagram: Victoria_Lace

What’s your best feature?
My eyes. They change colors from bright green to hazel.

How do you stay in shape?
I actually just started kickboxing classes, and I’m loving it. It’s very intense.

Who’s your favorite fighter?
Georges St-Pierre. His passion and love for the sport is like no other.

How do you like to relax and have fun?
Put me on the beach with my friends and a margarita.

What’s one funny thing that most people don’t know about you?
I’m obsessed with superhero movies.

Why do you want to be a FIGHT! girl?
Being a FIGHT! girl shows that women can be beautiful and powerful at the same time. It’s such an amazing opportunity to be featured in the top MMA magazine.

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Pat, flex and give us a mean grimace… eeeh, never mind, let’s try something else.

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And we love to listen.

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What’s worse than a wealthy business owner talking about money? Athletes talking about money. It’s never enough with these guys. Did you see how much money he’s getting? To play BASEBALL!! Spoiled athletes! I bet they never put in a hard day’s work their entire lives.

Ah, yes. We’ve all heard it. While I’ve never said it, I’m sure I thought it. I’d love to play baseball for $10 million a year. That’s a whole lot more than any MMA fighter has ever made, and there’s a whole lot less risk of brain damage at the end of their career.

But there’s one catch to that gameplan. I suck at baseball. No one is going to pay $60 for nosebleed seats to see me pitch for the Dodgers. They won’t even pay $25 for an obstructed view with me in right field. No, I’m not good enough to play professional ball. I’m not even good enough to play semi-pro. Probably not even good enough for slow-pitch with the local guys who drink a beer at every base.

But I can take a punch. And I can hit things really hard. So I decided to try my hand at fighting.

There’s one reason why the knuckleheads from TUF 1 were able to be successful in the UFC—we all had started fighting before it was “cool.” Before any of us had dreams of fighting in the UFC, we were there in the bars and high school gyms slugging it out for a few hundred dollars or less. And the UFC wasn’t doing much better—banned in most states and with only seven pay-per-views a year, they were on the verge of closing up shop.

Then TUF 1 happened and gave the fans a back-story on the fighters they were watching. Almost overnight, there were now more free fights on TV than there had been PPV fights in the past few years. And PPV numbers went through the roof. Now, fighters had the chance to not only follow their dream of being a fighter but to also support their family.

But now that old subject that we’re never supposed to talk about is right there at the forefront again. Money. How much is a fighter worth? How much should a fighter get paid in comparison to the amount of money he’s making his employers? I don’t have a clue. But I do think fighters who make it to the big show should be able to make enough money so they don’t have to bounce on the weekends. But no one likes the guy who complains with no suggestions on how to make the situation better. So here are my suggestions.

• Every new fighter in the UFC should be signed to a three-fight, no-cut contract. What will that do? For one thing, it will let fighters know that they have a legitimate shot at making it in the UFC. For one year, they have a job for the biggest MMA promotion on the planet. It will also give the fans a chance to get to know a fighter, to give him a following. And it will make the UFC more of an exclusive club. I don’t think fighting for the UFC has quite the swagger it should. How many people can say they “fought” for the UFC? Way too many, even though their UFC “fight” was taking a couple shots and then running across the ring, tapping as they covered their head. Bring back the pride that came with having a UFC contract.

• Raise the show money to $10,000. The win bonus for the three fights should be $5,000, $7,500, and $10,000 respectively. When you get the call, “We want you to fight for the UFC,” you know that for one year YOU are a UFC fighter. This is your chance to chase down your dreams. A guaranteed $30,000 a year sure isn’t much in today’s world, especially not in the sport’s world where the aforementioned MLB player that rides the bench all season gets $490,000. But you have to start somewhere. And that $30,000 with the assurance of having a job for a year is a whole lot better than $6,000 and hoping you don’t get the “Octagon jitters” or just have an off night and get handed your walking papers.

Me? I can sit and talk about how hard I worked and how I earned every dollar I ever fought for. But I’ve also been damn lucky. More lucky than I’ve ever had the right to be. And I’ve depended on the kindness of coaches and fans and even the UFC for giving me a shot. The last time I saw Dana White, I put out my hand and said, “I want to thank you for making this all possible—for giving us a place to fight and live out our dreams.” And I meant it. I’ve had seven surgeries, innumerable concussions, been knocked out in such a brutal fashion that it’s now at the start of every UFC PPV, but every morning, I wake up and do what I want to do with my life.

Don’t be afraid to chase down your dreams. Because if this guy—who’s only two real skills are taking a punch and hitting really hard—can make it, you can too.

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Max Holloway and Conor McGregor are poised to steal the show Saturday night in Boston at UFC Fight Night 26.

Over the last couple years, featherweight has become my favorite division to watch. Much like the lightweight ranks, the 145-pound weight class is loaded with talent, and just about every fight that hits the Octagon ends up being an entertaining affair.

Those grumblings about the lighter weight fighters not being able to finish fights? Nonsense. Don’t believe me? Pull up a Cub Swanson highlight reel and enjoy eating crow.

Saturday night in Boston, two featherweight prospects will share the cage in a fight that could potentially steal the show. While it’s not flying under the radar like some of the previous fights featured in this series, it is undoubtedly worthy of being deemed a Badass Beatdown.


“The Notorious” Conor McGregor (13-2, 1-0 UFC)

Streak: Nine consecutive wins
Last Fight: Win-Marcus Brimage, TKO (strikes), R1-UFC on Fuel TV: Mousasi vs. Latifi
Notable Wins: Brimage, Ivan Buchinger

Max “Blessed” Holloway (7-2, 3-2 UFC)
Streak: One loss
Last Fight: Loss-Dennis Bermudez, Split Decision-UFC 160
Notable Wins: Leonard Garcia, Justin Lawrence


Why I Love This Fight

In my opinion, McGregor is the real deal—a fighter with championship potential, and the type of charisma that could make him a major star in the UFC very quickly. Yes, he’s getting a lot of attention for someone with just a single UFC win under his belt, but he’s won nine straight—all by way of stoppage, and seven of those in the first round—and looked every bit as good as his advanced billing when he took out Brimage back in Sweden.

Holloway is no slouch, either. In fact, I actually think this is a tougher fight for the 25-year-old Irishman than his originally scheduled match-up with Andy Ogle. No disrespect to “The Little Axe,” but the Hawaiian is a superior striker and a much more dangerous stylistic match-up for McGregor.

I think Holloway is a good test—a step up from Brimage, and someone who will help us get a better read on where McGregor’s ceiling rests. If the Straight Blast Gym student comes out and runs through Holloway the way he did Brimage back in April, then it’s time to give him an even tougher opponent next time out.

If he wins, but has some struggles, we know it’s time to pump the brakes and pull back on the hype just a little. And if he loses, Holloway gets a major bump in recognition and replaces the brash Irishman as the up-and-coming featherweight striker to watch going forward.

Holloway doesn’t strike me as the type of fighter who is going to be overwhelmed or unhinged by sharing the cage with someone who has been garnering as much attention as McGregor. He knows all the pressure is on his opponent, and that should allow him to be loose and fluid in this fight.

There is a very good chance this turns into a 145-pound game of Rock’em Sock’em Robots, with these two talented prospects slipping punches and slinging leather in the center of the Octagon until one of them goes down. McGregor has the edge on the ground, but chances are he’ll look to keep it standing and put on a show for the crowd in Boston and everyone watching at home on Fox Sports 1.

On a card full of potentially entertaining contests, this one is a front-runner for Fight of the Night, and will definitely carry on the proud tradition of the Badass Beatdown series.

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UFC Fight Night 26 Tweet-Sized Stats: It’s amazing what you can do in 140 characters or less.

You’ve heard the big news by now. Fox is expanding their presence in the world of sports, and FOX Sports 1 launches this weekend, anchored by a super-charged dose of UFC action. Not only is the card free, it’s loaded with big names and exciting fighters to make the biggest splash possible.

Before you search your channel guide to figure out where FOX Sports 1 is located, here’s some hard stats and facts…140 characters or less for your chirping pleasure.

Superlatives

Hardest Hitters by Total Knockdowns Scored: Shogun Rua & Matt Brown-6, Johnson-5, McDonald & OSP-4.

Hardest Hitters by Knockdown Rate: Pyle & McDonald-10%, Browne & OSP-9%, Rua, Howard & Brandao-8%.

Highest Significant Strike Accuracy: Overeem-62%, McGregor-60%, OSP, Hall & Matt Brown-57%.

Most Likely to Attempt Takedowns: Gamburyan averages 3.9 attempts per 5-minute round.

Highest Takedown Defense (>10 atts): Overeem-88%, Holloway-86%. Honorable mention to Browne who defended all 6 attempts to date.

Longest Reach: Overeem & Hall-80”, OSP-79”, Browne-78”.

Shortest Reach: Brandao-63”.

Oldest Fighters: Mike Brown & Mike Pyle both turn 38 next month.

Youngest Fighter: Max Holloway, who is 21 years old.

Most Accurate Power Head Strikers: McGregor-57% (small sample), Matt Brown-38%, Overeem-37%.

Best Head Striking Defense: Chael Sonnen avoids 81% of head strikes by opponents. Holloway & McGregor-79%.

Best Cage Control: Yuri Alcantara, who when standing, outworks his opponents by throwing 80% more total strikes.

Fun Facts

  • 5 fighters will come out in a Southpaw stance: Sonnen, Alcantara, Johnson, McGregor, and St. Preux.
  • Max Holloway has yet to attempt a single submission in 58 minutes inside the Octagon.
  • Max Holloway & Conor McGregor currently have the highest average significant strike attempt pace of all fighters.
  • The biggest betting favorite on the main card is Uriah Hall over John Howard at -515.
  • When fighting on the ground, Chael Sonnen has been in a position of control for 95% of those minutes. That same stat for Rua is only 44%.
  • Sonnen has a pace and defense advantage in striker over Rua, but Shogun is the more accurate & powerful striker in all categories.
  • In Conor McGregor’s UFC debut, he & Marcus Brimage combined for 71 attempted strikes in just 67 seconds of fight time.
  • Both #5 ranked Alistair Overeem and #8 ranked Travis Browne suffered upset TKO’s to Antonio Bigfoot Silva, currently ranked #4.
  • Overeem has more accurate striking than Browne, but Browne has a higher knockdown rate, higher pace, and better defense.
  • Joe Lauzon has attempted 24 submissions in the UFC. He finished 7 of those, winning SOTN 5 times.
  • Chael Sonnen spends 69% of his fight minutes on the ground. Rua’s takedown defense is only 34%.

    Visit fightnomics.com for more info, and follow Reed Kuhn on Twitter @Fightnomics.

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    FIGHT!‘s “Alright Guy” Duane Finley goes toe-to-toe with FIGHT!‘s “Canadian Guy” E. Spencer Kyte in a UFC Fight Night 26 Faceoff. For this installment, Finley and Kyte take on the heavyweight throwdown between Alistair Overeen and Travis Browne.

    The Case for Overeem
    (Duane Finley)

    It’s been a rough start for yours truly coming out the gates for this Faceoff series. I’ve dropped the first two bouts in my rivalry with Canadian hipster Spencer Kyte, but in my defense, only a Canadian hipster like Spencer Kyte could sleep with those two sketchy wins under his pillow.

    With Ellenberger vs. MacDonald curing insomnia across North America, and Machida vs. Davis rewriting the way cageside officials score fights, the lines of victory have been blurred in our first two exchanges. That being said, for out third endeavor, Spencer and I have decided to choose a bout that has absolutely zero chance of ending in any other fashion than brutality.

    When Alistair Overeem signed with the UFC, there was a tremendous amount of expectation riding on his mountain range shoulders. While the Dutch wrecking machine jumped out to a hot start by mauling former champion Brock Lesnar, things have gone horribly amiss for “The Reem” ever since.

    A failed drug test and the ensuing suspension, coupled with suffering a costly knockout at the over-sized mitts of Antonio Silva, have Overeem’s back firmly placed against the wall. There is simply no other option for the former Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion but to come out in “Hulk Smash” mode, and that is what I expect to see in Boston.

    Browne’s biggest strength is being a rangy striker, and keeping things on the feet is a dangerous dance when Overeem is involved. The former K-1 Champion has world-class credentials in the stand-up department, and if Browne wants to trade punches, knees, and kicks, he’s bringing his game directly into Overeem’s wheelhouse.

    Granted, Overeem’s chin has been suspect over the course of his career, but Browne’s chin has also faltered recently. I believe Browne will do his best to fire away from the outside as he attempts to keep the footwork flowing, but with a stand up-heavy battle, it’s only a matter of time before Overeem picks up his timing and lands the heat.

    While two powerful heavyweights squaring-off rarely make it beyond the opening frame, I believe this particular tilt will see the second round, before Overeem seals the deal with a KO.

    The Case for Travis Browne (E. Spencer Kyte)

    My bitter friend from Indiana really doesn’t like the fact that I’m 2-0 right now, and as much as I like giving him the gears, I have to admit that I feel a little sketchy about my unbeaten record thus far. Not that I can’t make a case for Phil Davis winning that fight, but I’m 2-0 without a truly dominant victory, and that is what I crave. Hopefully that changes here.

    I’ve always believed that Browne has the skills and potential to be a force in the heavyweight division. I expected his fight with Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva to be where he made that move. Unfortunately, “Hapa” popped a hammy, lost the fight, and was forced to regroup.

    This bout, however, could be an even bigger chance to announce his presence as a force. Despite his recent loss to Silva, Overeem remains a marquee name, and a victory over the former Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion would certainly propel Browne into the title conversation.

    As much as standing with Overeem is a dangerous proposition, if the same disinterested, overconfident fighter who fist-pumped his way to the cage back in February shows up, the 14-1-1 Hawaiian heavyweight has this one in the bag. That being said, I do believe that even if the best version of “The Reem” strides into the cage on Saturday, Browne has the skills to get the job done.

    The Team Jackson-Winkeljohn fighter is the most complete opponent Overeem has faced in some time—an adversary capable of winning this fight with strikes, or submissions if the bout hits the canvas. Browne isn’t going to be a stationary target for the Dutch heavyweight, and he’s not going to strike from traditional angles and set-ups either. His movement and overall athleticism is what has always made him such an intriguing prospect, and I think we’ll see him use that here to keep Overeem off-balance.

    Like Duane says, Overeem has been touched up and finished in the past, and your chin only gets more fragile with each passing fight. I think Browne will stay out of danger, pick his spots to engage, and catch Overeem being overly aggressive, earning the biggest win of his career.

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