Monthly Archives: January 2011

UFC Fight for the Troops 2 – What We Learned and What’s Next

The best things about the UFC “Fight for the Troops” events are that the UFC really does raise a boatload of cash for injured military personnel, and you can really tell in post fight interviews how much fighters value the opportunity to fight in front of thousands of those who protect our country.

Aside from that, we were treated to five thoroughly entertaining fights for free (or nine, if you include the four the UFC put up on its Facebook page). Here’s what we learned and what should come next for some of the main participants in Saturday night’s fights.

Melvin Guillard

What we learned – That his athleticism and striking ability are up there with the elite of the lightweight division. That he may have finally honed in all those skills to form a complete package of mixed martial artistry.

What’s next? – There are a lot of options here, but I’d like to see him face the winner of UFC 127’s bout between George Sotiropoulos and Dennis Siver.

Evan Dunham

What we learned – Honestly, Dunham doesn’t get downgraded a whole lot for this loss. Guillard is a tough matchup for a guy like Dunham, and he still has a word of potential, but needs some obvious work on his stand up game.

What’s next? – A bounce-back fight against a guy like Rafael dos Anjos or Yves Edwards would seem suitable. The UFC needs this guy to get back to his winning ways.

Matt Mitrione

What we learned – That he can legitimately compete with real mixed martial artists. That there is a lot of power behind his punch. That some real tests for him are still to come.

What’s next? – A big step up against a guy like Stefan Struve or Ben Rothwell.

Mark Hominick

What we learned – That he has impressive standup and does not wilt under the pressure of the big lights.

What’s next? – A fight for the UFC featherweight title against Jose Aldo, April 30 in Toronto.

Pat Barry

What we learned – That he might be the most dangerous striker in the heavyweight division this side of Cain Velasquez or Junior dos Santos. That he still has the propensity to let up late in fights and needs to learn to finish.

What’s next? – Brendan Schaub after Schaub defeats Mirko Cro Cop.

Matt Wiman

What we learned – That he has a relentless motor that is unrivaled in the lightweight division.

What’s next? – A rematch against Mac Danzig.

Predictions record – 4-7 (3-2 on main card).

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Championship Game Predictions – The Meaning of Bears-Packers

Let's just get this over with already.

(I have to apologize in advance for this post. I’ve been trying to put my feelings about this game into proper words all week, and seem to have failed. What I came out with is an incoherent, jumbled mess of thoughts that don’t blend together in the slightest. But I think those who truly appreciate the nature of a game like this will get what I’m talking about)

As sports fans, moments like this are rare.

Moments when there are no long term ramifications. Moments where literally nothing else matters for one three-hour period except the success of the team you’ve poured your heart and soul into.

I think Bears and Packers fans can attest equally. As a fan who lives and breaths at the success and failure of the teams he roots for, I can safely say this is the most important singular moment of my life as a fan.

You might first point to the 2005 White Sox when questioning that statement, and that’s a valid point. The 2005 White Sox World Series title is undoubtedly my proudest moment as a sports fan. But there’s a huge different between that and this.

In 2005, there was never a do-or-die moment. As great of a thrill ride as that playoff run was, there was never a moment that made you say “If the White Sox lose this game, everything emotion I’ve poured into this team for the past six months goes down the drain.”

The White Sox only lost one game during those playoffs. In hindsight, it was kind of a breeze.

There’s no do-over here. The winning team’s fans holds bragging rights over the losing team’s fans the foreseeable future, regardless of how the winner does in the Super Bowl.

This game will get mentioned during broadcasts of every Bears-Packers game from here until who knows when. There will always be a “When these two teams met in the 2011 NFC Championship game…” graphic, just like they’re now doing about 1941.

Don’t get me wrong. This game would be huge for the Packers if they were playing the Seattle Seahawks. It would be huge for the Bears if they were playing the Atlanta Falcons.

It’s the chance to go to the Super Bowl. As a fan, you never know when that opportunity will come again. The Bears went 21 years between appearances, which was agonizing to the fan base. The Packers went 29 horrible years I was lucky not to be alive during.

You never know when a chance like this is going to happen again. What’s more, you never know if/when your team is going to get the opportunity to extract revenge. What if it’s 2081 when the Bears and Packers next play in the NFC Championship game? The losing fan base will have the lingering feeling of coming up short forever.

My friend Reid, the biggest Bears fan I know, told me the other day that Sunday’s game likely won’t be enjoyable for him to watch, regardless of the outcome. I feel the same way. It’s not so much that I can’t wait for Sunday to come, it’s that I can’t wait for it to come and be over, so I know if I have to grieve or celebrate. Unless there’s a blow out one way or the other, die-hard fans can’t and won’t enjoy the action in the field. It will be agonizing and exhausting.

What’s so cool and so damn terrifying about this game is that there will be no more excuses. I’ve seen Facebook banter all season, more specifically this week, from fans of both teams going absolutely insane with rage at each other. There’s “National F**k the Packers Week” and “National F**k the Bears Week” going on.

There’s been Packers fans calling the Bears lucky. There’s been Bears fans gloating over their NFC North Title. It’s gotten to the point that anything good/bad either team can do produces some sort of retort out of fans of the other team.

But after Sunday, there won’t be any excuses. No matter what happens, one group of fans will be able to say “We’re going to the Super Bowl,” the other will simply have to hang their heads and acknowledge the fact.

You won’t hear any excuses out of me if the Bears win, just a lot of sniffling and whimpering.

It’s hard for me to give a proper prediction for the game, and it likely won’t matter because, as unbiased as I try to be throughout the season, there’s no way anybody will believe I have a level head about this game. (I don’t.).

But if I have to say one thing about this game from an X’s and O’s standpoint, it’s this:

I don’t see the Bears winning without a big special teams play. And I’m not just talking about Devin Hester.

The Bears’ special teams as a whole is great. The Packers’ is horrible. If the Bears win this game, it’ll be because Hester takes one to the house, the Packers fumble a punt, the Bears block a field goal, SOMETHING of the sort.

On the flip side, I don’t see the Packers winning without forcing at least two turnovers. Jay Cutler will give them at least two opportunities to pick him off. They have to take advantage of those opportunities to win the game. Dropped interceptions will be the death of them.

So what if the Packers make a special teams mistake, AND force two turnovers? Then, who knows? What do I know, anyway?

Packers 17, Bears 10

Oh, and that other game, it’ll be Steelers 27, Jets 17, I guess.

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UFC Fight for the Troops 2 – Preview & Predictions

Seeing as how we’re currently in the midst of one of the rare occasions where more than a month goes by without a UFC pay-per-view, the UFC is putting on a free show this Saturday night with a “Fight for the Troops 2” event on Spike TV.

The show was supposed to be headlined by a Kenny Florian-Evan Dunham bout, but after a Florian injury, we got injury replacement Melvin Guillard in what is, to me, a much more appealing match.

After what Gray Maynard did to Florian, a Dunham matchup would have likely gone the same way, but Guillard provides much stronger striking and athleticism that makes for an intriguing matchup that could go either way.

Here’s a breakdown of each fight on the main card and predictions for the entire card.

Evan Dunham (11-1) vs. Melvin Guillard (26-8-2, 1 NC)

Rundown – This fight has more to do with how Guillard fights than Dunham. We know about Dunham’s consistency, his wrestling prowess and his submission skills. Guillard has a ton of skill and athleticism, but a lot of his success depends on which Guillard shows up. Ever since he began training with Greg Jackson, a smarter Guillard has entered the ring and he has been able to hone in on his athleticism and fight a lot smarter. The key for him will be picking apart Dunham on his feet and avoiding the takedown, because if Guillard ends up on his back I don’t know if he’ll be able to get back up.

Prediction – Dunham is a strong favorite here, and Kenny Florian (his original opponent) was a much better matchup for the rising star. I think the work Greg Jackson has done with Guillard will work wonders and he will come out with a perfect game plan to negate Dunham’s strengths. I’m going with the upset here. Guillard by decision.

Matt Mitrione (3-0) vs. Tim Hague (12-4)

Rundown – Mitrione has generated a bit of hype in the heavyweight division following a decision victory over Joey Beltran at UFC 119 in September. Hague is back in the UFC following two straight victories in a Canadian promotion. Mitrione is an incredibly raw mixed martial artist that has improved with each fight, but how much he has improved is the question. While his professional record is flawless since graduating from “The Ultimate Fighter Season 10,” Beltran is the only true mixed martial artist he has fought on the professional level. How much his game has evolved will tell the tale of if his record remains flawless.

Prediction – Like Dunham, Mitrione is a heavy favorite and I’m not quite sure why. Hague has been inconsistent, but with victories over the likes of Pat Barry. Mitrione also tends to wear down toward the end of fights, and a solid veteran like Hague should be able to take advantage. Hague via TKO (round 3).

Mark Hominick (19-8) vs. George Roop (11-6-1)

Rundown – The biggest mismatch on this card. Hominick is on the verge of a featherweight title shot, while Roop was a head kick away from being given his walking papers. Hominick possesses a number of strengths, and not one of them is countered by Roop, who was thrust into this matchup thinks to an impressive KO of the Korean Zombie a few months ago. Roop will have a slugger’s chance of pulling off another upset, but this is Hominick’s fight to lose.

Predictions – Often times, you see a rising contender with a shot at the title on the line become very timid, and that’s definitely possible in Hominick’s case, but I still see him being too much for Roop. He’ll overwhelm him with takedowns and eventually finish the fight. Hominick via submission (round 2).

Pat Barry (5-2) vs. Joey Beltran (12-4)

Rundown – Barry is one of, if not the most efficient strikers in the heavyweight division. A former kickboxer, Barry seemed on the fast train to contention breaking both a hand and a foot against Mirko Cro Cop last year that A) Lost him the fight and B) Put him on the shelf for a prolonged period of time. Enter Beltran, who is seen as a potential warmup fight for a man who is coming off of quite a bit of ring rust. If Beltran wins this fight, it’s because he catches Barry or gets him on his back.

Prediction – I don’t see any of the aforementioned results happening. Barry will likely pick Beltran apart for three rounds and hardly break a sweat in doing so. Barry via decision.

Cole Miller (17-4) vs. Matt Wiman (12-5)

Rundown – Miller is a lanky, improving lightweight coming off of an impressive victory over Ross Pearson. Wiman hasn’t fought in nine months and is coming off of a controversial victory over Mac Danzig (the referee thought Danzig was unconscious from a rear naked choke attempt, but he was not).

Prediction – Miller has evolved into a threat on his feet (he showed it against Pearson), and is one of the most dangerous Brazilian jiu-jitsu practicioners in the lightweight division. He’ll build his case as a rising contender. Miller via submission (round 1).

Undercards

Yves Edwards (39-16-1) over Cody McKenzie (12-0)
Mike Guymon (12-4-1) over DaMarques Johnson (11-8)
Mike Thomas Brown (24-7) over Rani Yahya (15-6)
Williamy Freire (17-3) over Waylon Lowe (9-3)
Amilcar Alves (11-2) over Charlie Brenneman (11-2)

Record

UFC 125 – 6-4-1 (3-1-1  main card)

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Divisional Playoffs Predictions – Looking at Hall of Fame Finalists

A definite Hall of Famer.

Before I get to my predictions for the divisional round of the NFL playoffs, I wanted to look at this year’s Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists.

After looking through the candidates, I find it silly that there is a limit of five modern day enshrinees, as I could see a minimum of seven candidates I would absolutely vote for, and a handful more I find deserving. Let’s take a look at them.

Definitely would not vote for

Charles Haley – Sorry, but I just don’t understand how Haley is a finalist and Kevin Greene is not. Being lucky enough to play in a bunch of Super Bowls isn’t a good enough reason, because you don’t see John Salley getting any Hall of Fame love in basketball.

Curtis Martin – Here’s my problem with Martin: While his career numbers are solid, particularly his being fourth in career rushing yards, I think how a player was thought of during his career is an important factor in the football Hall of Fame. Was there ever a time where Martin was truly feared by opponents? Was there ever a time where he was considered one of the two or three premiere back in the league? He was only a first team All-Pro once and never won a major award. I just think that if you vote Martin in, you have to vote Warrick Dunn in, as well as Thomas Jones once he retired. And there’s no way you do that.

Why are you being judged against actual players?

Ed Sabol – I love Sabol and what he did in creating NFL Films and think he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. The fact that he has to be left off any ballot because voters are limited to five choices makes absolutely no sense to me.

Maybe next year

Dermontti Dawson – Dawson was a stalwart center for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1988-2000. He’s a seven-time Pro Bowler with a great level of consistency. Offensive linemen are very tough to judge (as are how Hall of Fame voters will judge them), but it appears Dawson is on track to get in, if not this year, within the next few years.

Chris Doleman – Doleman should make the Hall of Fame one day, and hopefully he will. But his biggest problem is there are simply too many worthy candidates every year, and with the limit set at five, he’s usually one of the first omissions. Hopefully he gets in one day.

Andre Reed – Another in a long list of receivers who were stuck in the shadow of Jerry Rice. Reed ranks just below the likes of Carter and Brown, so will likely have to wait another year.

Richard Dent – I understand why there is an outcry to get Dent in the Hall of Fame, but his career compares mostly to Claude Humphrey, another deserving candidate who never quite made the cut. I hope Dent makes it one day, as there needs to be more enshrines from the ’85 Bears, but not this year.

Cortez Kennedy – Just as deserving of a candidate as the enshrined Dan Hampton. I hope Kennedy makes it one day.

Would definitely vote for

Cris Carter – Carter and Brown are in the same boat in being stuck behind Jerry Rice in most voters’ memories. Carter is third in career receptions, eighth in receiving yards and fourth in receiving touchdowns. I don’t quite understand how anyone could make an argument against him. Both he and Brown compare favorably with James Lofton and Steve Largent, who are both Hall of Famers. Hopefully, they both make it this year.

Marshall Faulk – I have to admit to being somewhat biased toward Marshall Faulk because he was such a joy to watch and I got to see him throughout his prime. But the numbers don’t lie regarding Faulk, who burst onto the scene in 1994 and ’95 with the Indianapolis Colts before exploding as the most feared back in the NFL with the St. Louis Rams in 1998. Faulk ranks 10th in career rushing yards, 7th in career rushing touchdowns and 7th in career touchdown. On top of that, his 1999-2001 run ranks among the greatest three year stretches in NFL history. I think he’s a shoo-in.

Deion Sanders – Sanders certainly benefited from his loud talking and flashy play, but his cockiness was always backed up. An eight-time Pro Bowler and six-time All Pro, Sanders’ skills weren’t just as a defensive back (he ranks only 23rd in career interceptions), but also as kick and punt returner, and was just a dangerous player all-around. Look at Devin Hester right now and imagine if he were an elite cornerback as well. That’s Deion Sanders.

Shannon Sharpe – I’m not quite sure why Sharpe isn’t in the Hall of Fame yet. He compares favorably with Hall of Fame tight ends Ozzie Newsome and Mike Ditka, as well as sure Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez. The Hall of Fame needs to start giving more love to tight ends, and hopefully it starts this year with Sharpe.

Willie Roaf – One of the most dominating offensive linemen that nobody talks about, Roaf is just as deserving of a candidate as current Hall of Famers Gary Zimmerman and John Hannah. I think he’s a shoo-in to make it this year.

Jerome Bettis – Bettis is interesting because he was a media darling with an incredible level of consistency, yet he never once led the league in rushing yards. He’s a six-time Pro Bowler and his No. 1 comparison on Pro Football Reference is Corey Dillon, someone the media did not love and is unlikely to make the Hall of Fame. However, Bettis does compare favorably to the likes of Ollie Matson and Larry Csonka, who are both Hall of Famers, and I think an entire body of work is important in a football Hall of Fame vote. He’d have my vote.

Tim Brown – The fact that Brown’s Pro Bowl credentials are even being debated seem like a joke to me. A nine-time Pro Bowler with the fourth most receptions of all time, the fourth most receiving yards of all time and the sixth most receiving touchdowns of all time. Brown’s biggest problem was timing because he played his entire prime during the prime of the greatest wide receiver of all time, Jerry Rice. I don’t know when Brown will get into the Hall of Fame, but he certainly has to eventually, and I would absolutely vote for him.

Recap

I don’t know if you’re good at math or not, but you may have noticed that I put seven guys in the last category and there will be a limit of five who get in. I couldn’t take any of those seven off, but if I were actually lucky enough to get to vote and HAD to take two off, it’d be the last two, Bettis and Brown. Hopefully, they’ll get in next year.

On to the predictions:

Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3)
This drives me crazy because the Ravens were my Super Bowl pick, but I can’t see Joe Flacco beating Ben Roethlisberger  and Troy Polamalu in Pittsburgh in a big playoff game. I may not bet this way, but here’s my level-headed prediction with no bias. Steelers to win and cover.

Green Bay Packers at Atlanta Falcons (-1.5)
Here’s my not-level-headed prediction with an incredible amount of bias. Packers to win outright.

Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears (-10)
I’m pretty sure this will be the easiest bet to make of the week. Bears to win, Seahawks to beat spread.

New York Jets at New England Patriots (-9)
I’m staying far, far away from this game for gambling purposes. I have no idea what could happen. Patriots to win, Jets to beat spread.

Playoff Record – 2-2 overall (2-2 against spread)

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NFL: Season Wrap-up and Playoff Predictions

I almost picked the Falcons to win the NFC South. Too bad I'm not playing horseshoes.

At the start of every sports season, everyone and their mother makes predictions on what’s going to happen.

Few of those pundits come forth at the end of the season and recap how foolish they are. I see Gene Wojciechowski and Gregg Easterbrook of ESPN.com do it. Bill Simmons sometimes mentions in passing how good or bad a prediction was. But rarely does it ever get brought up against after the initial predictions are made.

I don’t like that. I want the handful of idiots who predicted a Cincinnati Bengals-Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl to come forward. So owning up to that thought, here’s my recap of my preseason predictions, which can be read here, as well as my revised playoff predictions how that the field is set.

AFC East

Preseason prediction:
1. Patriots (11-5)
2. Jets (10-6)
3. Dolphins (7-9)
4. Bills (1-15)

Actual finish:
1. Patriots (14-2)
2. Jets (11-5)
3. Dolphins (7-9)
4. Bills (4-12)

Analysis – Probably my closest-to-accurate prediction of the season. Not too difficult. The only stretch I made was picking the Pats to finish ahead of the Jets (not many did). Everyone knew the Bills would suck and the Dolphins would be mediocre.

AFC North

Preseason prediction:
1. Ravens (14-2)

2. Steelers (11-5)
3. Bengals (8-8)
4. Browns (3-13)

Actual finish:
1. Steelers (12-4)
2. Ravens (12-4)
3. Browns (5-11)
4. Bengals (4-12)

Recap – I’m proud that I didn’t fall into the “Bengals are going to be awesome!” trap. But still, I thought they’d at least be respectable. I don’t think anyone predicted they’d finish behind the Browns. I think it was a no-brainer that the division title would be a toss-up between Baltimore and Pittsburgh. The Browns actually over-acheived to my expectations. But it still got their coach fired.

AFC South

Preseason prediction:
1. Colts (13-3)
2. Titans (9-7)
3. Texans (8-8)
4. Jaguars (3-13)

Actual finish:
1. Colts (10-6)
2. Jaguars (8-8)
3. Texans (6-10)
4. Titans (6-10)

Recap – Not breaking news that the Colts won the south again, what was surprising to me was how well the Jaguars did. I thought they would be miserable after cutting several key parts of the defense, and I thought David Garrard wasn’t any good. I was wrong on many levels.

AFC West

Preseason prediction:
1. Chargers (14-2)
2. Raiders (5-11)
3. Denver Broncos (5-11)
4. Kansas City Chiefs (4-12)

Actual finish:
1. Chiefs (10-6)
2. Chargers (9-7)
3. Raiders (8-8)
4. Broncos (4-12)

Recap – You’d think this was my most epic fail of predictions, but wait until I get to the NFC East. In reality, I knew the Chiefs had a good, young core and were going to be good eventually. I even wrote that I liked what they were doing with the young players they were bringing in. I just thought it would still be another year or two before they competed. I was wrong.

NFC East

(Here’s where it gets really ugly)

Preseason prediction:
1. Cowboys (12-4)
2. Redskins (11-5)
3. Giants (8-8)
4. Eagles (7-9)

Actual finish:
1. Eagles (10-6)
2. Giants (10-6)
3. Cowboys (6-10)
4. Redskins (6-10)

Recap – That’s right, I almost completely flipped this divisional outcome in my preseason predictions. To be fair, nobody expected the Eagles to be good and nobody expected Mike Vick to A) Be the quarterback, and B) Be this good. I, like everyone, because sold on the Cowboys. But in reality, my biggest whiff here was on the Redskins. I believed in the Shanahan-Redskins combination. I even wrote: “Donovan McNabb has comeback, revenge streak written all over him. Let’s not forget how good this guy really is, and playing with a coach who can build quarterbacks, and with revenge against the Eagles on his mind, I think he’s going to have a season unlike we’ve ever seen from him before.” I also wrote: “The key to this team, though, is Mike Shanahan… He has the veteran quarterback he needs… He can easily out-coach any team in this division and arguably any team in this conference. He’s going to re-make the Redskins and they’re going to be the surprise team in the league.”

I just have one word for all of that: Doh!

NFC North

Preseason prediction:
1. Packers (12-4)
2. Vikings (11-5)
3. Bears (5-11)
4. Lions (4-12)

Actual finish:
1. Bears (11-5)
2. Packers (10-6)
3. Lions (6-10)
4. Vikings (6-10)

Recap – Obviously way wrong on both the Bears and Vikings. Still don’t know what to make about the Bears turnaround. Didn’t see that coming anywhere. But I should’ve seen the Vikings’ fall coming. I knew they wouldn’t be as good as 2009, but didn’t imagine the collapse they suffered.

NFC South

Preseason prediction:
1. Saints (12-4)
2. Falcons (11-5)
3. Panthers (7-9)
4. Buccaneers (5-11)

Actual finish:
1. Falcons (13-3)
2. Saints (11-5)
3. Buccaneers (10-6)
4. Panthers (2-14)

Recap – I came very close to going out on a limb and picking the Falcons to win this division. Woulda, coulda, shoulda… right? I even wrote: “If there’s one team to challenge the Saints in this division, it’s the Falcons.” But I didn’t have the balls to do it, and it would’ve been a nice predictions. NOBODY expected the type of season we got out of the Bucs, so I don’t feel bad about missing that. But I also missed out on how bad the Panthers would be, even writing: “I actually like the Panthers’ offense this season.” and “Matt Moore will be impressive in his first season as the full-time starter.” Dumb.

NFC West

Screw this division. It’s not even worth recapping. OK, kidding. (Sort of)

Preseason prediction:
1. 49ers (10-6)
2. Cardinals (5-11)
3. Rams (4-12)
4. Seahawks (3-13)

Actual finish:
1. Seahawks (7-9)
2. Rams (7-9)
3. 49ers (6-10)
4. Cardinals (5-11)

Recap – Seems pretty dumb that a team I predicted would go 3-13 won the division, right? Well, not really. The Seahawks really did suck this year. So did every team in this division. It was a crapshoot and I defy anyone to show me proof that they predicted the division to play out the way it did.

Playoff Predictions

Preseason:

NFC Championship: Saints over Packers

AFC Championship: Ravens over Colts.

Super Bowl: Ravens over Saints.

Revised – You know what? It’s rare that I go into the playoffs with all of my final four teams still intact. I can’t stray from those predictions now, right? So I’m going to hang on to the fact that the 5-seeded Saints will beat the 6-seeded Packers in the NFC Championship, and the 5-seeded Ravens will beat the 3-seeded Colts in the AFC Championship.

Seems unlikely, right? But what kind of man would I be to change it now. Anyway, here are my picks for the Wild Card Playoffs.

New Orleans Saints (-11) at Seattle Seahawks
They can’t make this line high enough. Saints to win and cover.

New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts (-3)
You guys saw what Jay Cutler did to the Jets’ pass defense, right? Yeah… this is Peyton Manning. Colts to win and cover.

Baltimore Ravens (-3) at Kansas City Chiefs
I still like the Chiefs (I even put a $5 bet on them to win the AFC when they were 21/1 odds earlier in the season), but the Ravens are the worst possible matchup for them out of all of their first round playoff possibilities. This one could be ugly. Ravens to win and cover.

Green Bay Packers at Philadelphia Eagles (-3)
I know, I know, I’m a homer. But my logical thought process for why the Packers can beat Philadelphia is that A) The Eagles have no home field advantage (only 4-4 at home during regular season), B) The Packers’ defense is fast enough and unpredictable enough to give Mike Vick fits, and C) The Eagles’ pass defense is atrocious and Aaron Rodgers should be able to light them up. That said, the “4th and 26 Game” still gives me nightmares, and for that, I’m terrified of what could happen in this game. Even still, Packers to win outright.

Records

Week 17 – 10-6 (5-11 against spread)
Final Regular Season Record:
153-101 (130-121-3 against spread)

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UFC 125 – What We Learned and What’s Next

Who's the best lightweight in the world? We still don't know.

It’s not incredible rare for some of the least hyped cards to be the most exciting. Of course, it doesn’t happen all the time.

At UFC 115 in June, not many people were excited about a Chuck Liddell-Rich Franklin main event, but that card provided three main card fights that ended within a minute of a round ending.

Conversely, UFC 119, with a less-than-thrilling Frank Mir-Mirko Cro Cop main event, was a snooze fest from the opening round to the final bell.

UFC 125 wasn’t quite in either of those categories. After all, it at least had a title fight on the card. But with the un-hype-able Gray Maynard taking on a less-than-marketable champion in Frankie Edgar, as well as a never-heard-of-him Brian Stann taking on the unlikeable Chris Leben in the co-main event, it’s safe to say this card wasn’t about to set pay per view records.

But UFC 125 exceeded expectations, providing exciting finishes, slugfests, grappling matches and a main event that exceeded everyone’s expectations, despite a result similar to kissing one’s own cousin.

Let’s take a look at what we learned about specific fighters on the card, and what should be next.

Frankie Edgar

What we learned – That his back-to-back victories over B.J. Penn were not a fluke. That he’s improved vastly since his first fight with Maynard. That he’s got an incredible amount of heart.

What’s next? – Maynard. There was talk about whether or not an immediate rematch should take place or Edgar should fight Anthony Pettis, who was promised the winner of this fight. The thing is, Pettis was promised the winner. There was no winner. It’s not fair to Maynard (or Edgar) for this incredible evolving rivalry to go without a clear winner.

Gray Maynard

What we learned – That his propensity for boring fights — while justifiably criticized at times — was not on display for at least one night. That he’s absolutely on the same level as the top lightweights in the world (yes, there was a question to that before the fight). That he has earned the right to get a shot at winning this fight (after all, he still hasn’t lost to Edgar). That his punches pack a lot of power.

What’s next? – See Edgar, Frankie.

Brian Stann

What we learned – That the big jump up in competition was justified. That he has a relentless pace. That he’s an incredibly accurate striker with some very powerful hands. That he can out-brawl a brawler.

What’s next? – Stann said he wanted Wanderlei Silva. The problem with that is Silva’s likely got a date with Chael Sonnen. There is a lot of potential matchups the UFC could go with for Stann. But I think they’re going to play it safe with one of their rising stars and avoid matching him up against someone like Damian Maia or Michael Bisping, I think they bring him along slowly, and the likes of Alan Belcher or Maiquel Falcao seem like good possibilities.

Chris Leben

What we learned – That, just when you think he’s on his way up, he disappoints yet again. That he can be out-brawled.

What’s next? – Toiling in gatekeeper obscurity against the likes of Jason MacDonald or Chris Camozzi.

Thiago Silva

What we learned – That he’s an incredible dangerous and accurate striker who, when healthy, belongs among the top ten light heavyweights in the UFC.

What’s next? – Giving Phil Davis a giant step up in competition.

Brandon Vera

What we learned – That he continues to employ one of the strangest game plans in the sport. That he has a propensity for having his face royally screwed up.

What’s next? – The chopping block.

Dong Hyun Kim

What we learned – That the fact that he is one of the few UFC fighters to specialize in Judo can work to his advantage. That he can grapple some of the best the division has to offer. That he’s due a top-level wrestler to see how legit he is.

What’s next? – A top-level wrestler such as Jake Ellenberger would make a lot of sense.

Nate Diaz

What we learned – That he just might not be strong enough to compete with the top half of the welterweight division.

What’s next? – Playing gatekeeper for a guy like Daniel Roberts seems prudent.

Clay Guida

What we learned – That he’s come a long way and learned a lot since losing fights to Diego Sanchez and Kenny Florian over a year ago.

What’s next? – Welcoming Donald Cerrone to the big show.

Predictions record – 6-4-1 (3-1-1 on main card).

 

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