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Posts Tagged ‘UFC

Wrestling and MMA, some more thoughts

UFC 100 went off last night at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, and like millions of other fight fans, I ponied up the $45 and sat back in my recliner, laptop sitting on my lap (how appropriate) and sipped on an Arnold Palmer beverage.

Much of the buzz surrounded the rise of Brock Lesnar up the UFC ladder and his rematch with Frank Mir. The two met last year in a bout which saw Lesnar’s raw power trounce Mir in the early going, before the BJJ specialist made the lesser experienced Lesnar tap out.

Here’s where I started getting into things.

As a wrestling writer, I’ve covered the sport and all its nuances for over a decade. College, high school, middle school and youth wrestling events, and I have a vested interest in the sport of wrestling. It is my livelihood.

So that being said, I tend to root for wrestlers, and last night, there were A LOT of wrestlers on the card. I was participating in Maggie Hendricks’ Yahoo MMA live chat/blog, watching the fights and using twitter. I never felt the need to tweet much of anything, especially where everyone and their mother is tweeting from the UFC fight.

So here’s a few ideas.

Twittering from Tommy Rowlands on GSP
Tommy Rowlands was a two-time NCAA wrestling champion at Ohio State. He’s managing the Regional Training Center in Columbus, Ohio, a site where wrestlers have been training in freestyle for places on the U.S. National teams training for world and Olympic titles. Well, Tommy was seeing his first UFC fight and was “tweeting” from the event. One such tweet I found particularly interesting was about Georges St-Pierre.

Simply put: “GSP is the best wrestler to never wrestle.”

That’s what Tommy said and I can’t agree more. What I’ve seen from GSP over the last two years, maybe longer, has been his fantastic takedown and wrestling ability. Considering he never wrestled growing up, GSP has been able to neutralize MMA’s top wrestlers. I was first impressed with his ability to takedown former NCAA champion and four-time All-American Josh Koscheck. Last night against Thiago Alves, GSP neutralized his opponents deadly leg kicks and snatched them up and countered with 10 takedowns. I noted on the Yahoo! live blog that his takedowns were textbook. Snatching up the leg, driving in and doubling off at the waist and finishing with control. I sat in my chair thinking “TWO!” nearly every time GSP took Alves down to the cage floor.

GSP was amazing, and I never realized I was older than he was. He just has a sense about him of maturity and dominance unmatched. He gives Quebecers a sports hero to be proud of.

Even though GSP never wrestled, his mat skills make wrestlers tend to gravitate towards the guy.

Dan Henderson
The knockout of the night. Dan Henderson, a 1992 Greco-Roman Olympian, wasn’t part of the main event, but UFC 100 was solid enough that this bout could have headlined any other UFC event I’ve watched over the past decade.

He KO’ed Ultimate Fighter alum Michael Bisping and then after the fact, landed a hard shot to the face of Bisping as he laid flat on the ground. Henderson was quoted in Dan Doyle’s story eloquently.

“I don’t know if he’ll ever shut his mouth,” said Henderson (25-7) in his postfight octagon interview. “I think that last [forearm] was just to shut him up.”

The UFC has come under fire for promoting a trash-talking element to it and getting away from the sporting aspect. Well, at least that’s the case in the eyes of some combat sports writers and MMA purists. Personally, I like how this can be somewhat “real” in terms of these people just don’t like each other and it’s not scripted like the wonderful world of the WWE.

Hendo gave wrestling fans another reason to cheer last night.

Speaking of the WWE
I get a bit annoyed when fans will immediately associated Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley with the WWE. It’s unfortunate for both of them they will be viewed as the “fake” wrestlers before their stellar amateur/college wrestling careers are mentioned.

Here’s where I have an issue.

Neither Lesnar or new-on-the-scene Lashley use anything they did in the WWE to develop their fighting skills when entering MMA. Lesnar’s attitude drew the ire of MMA fans and media, and Lashley isn’t even in the UFC (yet), but WWE fans are quick to point out those two are “from” the WWE.

No, they are not FROM the WWE. They’re from wrestling, real wrestling. Lesnar was an NCAA wrestling champion at Minnnesota, while Lashley was a solid two-time NAIA champ at Missouri Valley. They got their mat skills from wrestling. It’s like saying a sportswriter learned how to hit the keys because he was a bricklayer previously.

I’m indifferent on Lesnar’s post-fight antics. He was fired up. People might say it was an act and his WWE persona, but hell, he didn’t act classy in victory, but who cares? Didn’t he give us what we wanted to see? He pounded Frank Mir’s face into hamburger. He was fired up and then fired off some shots at Mir, the sponsors, etc.

I like how regal and appreciative and sportsmanlike guys like GSP are in victory and in defeat (although GSP’s defeats are few and far between), but Lesnar was a brash and took all the credit. I loved it. I don’t like showboats or taunts in college wrestling. I appreciate personality and a fiery disposition. I guess I’m watching the UFC, I don’t want to see two guys beat the crap out of each other and then hug when there’s obviously no respect there.

When there’s respect, there’s sportsmanship. When there’s no respect, you see fire. There’s room for both. But in terms of sales, Lesnar did what people might have wanted him, or expected him, to do … taunt and get brash. I don’t have too much of a problem with it.

But back to the point here … Lashley and Lesnar aren’t “FROM” the WWE. They spent time in the sports entertainment world, but their talents in fighting, grappling and wrestling didn’t come from the WWE and I want to make that point, even if it falls on deaf ears.

They’re REAL wrestlers and they were REAL wrestlers first.

Written by Jason Bryant

July 12, 2009 at 1:23 pm

Keck, USAW Preseason Nationals off to great beginning

It’s now Sunday and chilly in the Twin Cities. The last four hours were spent trucking up I-35 heading back to Minnesota from a Saturday jaunt to Des Moines, Iowa for the USA Wrestling Preseason Nationals. Preseason folkstyle tournaments have grown in popularity since the explosion and exposure of events like the Delaware Fall Classic, the Lock Haven Classic and the Super 32. Kansas City now has a large event and now, so does Iowa.

The brain child of Brian Keck, the “Barn” in Des Moines hosted the 12-mat inaugural event with nearly 500 competitors in grades 9-12, which is very good for a first-year event.

Keck’s got a few tournaments he’s running out in Iowa now and with the support of USA Wrestling and the staffing of the Iowa pairing folks and coaches coupled with trackwrestling, this tournament has a lot of room to grow and fill a void in this part of the country.

One of the better matches of the day came at 171 pounds with Jake Dorulla of Michigan and Kyven Gadson of Iowa. Both were state runners-up and both showed tremendous ability in fighting off each other’s attacks, countering and taking advantage of their strengths.

Jesse Thielke was the tournament’s outstanding wrestler. The returning state champion was undefeated last year for Germantown in Wisconsin at 112 pounds. Thielke defeated another undefeated Wisconsin state champion, Alex Dieringer 9-1 in the finals. Dieringer won the title last year at 103 in Division I.

For the full release and results, click here.

USAW’s Chris Moen, Steve Buening and new NCEP director Sam Barber were all in the house. Good people.

The layout of the venue was perfect for wrestling. Lots of floor space, ample seating for spectators and parents and good sight lines. I think the only thing that needs to be improved, and this is not a shot, but I’m sure it’s something Brian’s already working on, is more officials. 14 officials for 12 mats is rough for the men in stripes. I’m sure that will be addressed, but from all accounts and my own observations, this tournament was a big success and will only grow in the future.

Scott Casber of Takedown Radio was manning the PA and I stepped in to do some play-by-play with Steve Foster for the finals. We had two falls in the finals and a couple of overtime matches.

Keep your eye on Alex Polizzi of Wisconsin this season. He topped Kyle Caylor in the finals, but Polizzi doesn’t look like a prototypical 215-pounder. I think he’d be a 189 who didn’t feel like shedding any weight for this event. It’s the first time I’d had an opportunity to see him wrestle. Looks like a real good D1 prospect. Good movement, strong and a thick mop of shaggy hair atop his head.

After the event, I headed out with Scott Casber to his place and we watched the UFC from Rosemont, Ill. Good card, but it’s unfortunate the Patrick Cote-Anderson Silva fight ended the way it did. They don’t measure “reach” with the legs, but Silva looks like he could kick you from Montana, that’s if you’re still sitting in suburban Chicago.

The Mangler
Mark Manning won two NCAA Division II titles in the 80’s for Division II Nebraska-Omaha. Now the head coach at the University of Nebraska, the 40-something coach had been “having words” with a former Husker football player. Long-story short, they settled it on the field.

Here’s the video, but here’s a thread on that explains it a bit better than my explanation.

Manning only had to stop the trask-talking <grin> strength coach once to prove his point.

Word is Brian Smith at Missouri’s going to give Tigers Strong Safety William “Willie Mo” Moore a shot at pass coverage.

Oh, and I still hate snow
The drive back through Iowa was met with insane crosswinds and snow. Yes, SNOW. I was getting pushed all over the highway by the winds coming from the west. Corn husks were flying through the air, pelting my trusty Blazer … then the snow came. Eh. I know there’s going to be worse days than this, but I didn’t expect to see any of the white stuff until at least Halloween.

Cal Baptist Open
One of the first college opens took place yesterday out in California with first-year NAIA program California Baptist hosting the CBU Lancer Open. John Petty, formerly an NAIA head coach at Embry-Riddle and Northwestern College, leads the Lancers into their first season.

How’d things go? Check out the results here.

Written by Jason Bryant

October 26, 2008 at 3:02 pm

The Ultimate Fighter

Several years ago when the UFC and Spike TV debuted The Ultimate Fighter, I was freelancing for InterMat and had run into Josh Koscheck several times during the wrestling season. I first saw him wrestle at the EWL Championships at Virginia Tech a few years prior and I remember saying “That’s the biggest 174-pounder I have ever seen.”

He was big and bad back in the day. I remember talking to Kos and his college teammate, Cory Ace, then a first-year assistant at ODU, up at the Mat Town USA Invitational literally 12 hours after I’d left my job at the Daily Press. About a month later, there was Koscheck again, coaching for Buffalo, at the Virginia Duals.

Two days after that, I was at the Sandbar & Grill in Newport News, enjoying a tall beverage and talking to “Monkey,” a former boxer turned MMA fighter/bartender. He  had connections to Chris Leben through Matt Horwich and Team Quest. During the debut of the show, I watched and went “I was just talking to that guy on Saturday.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Jason Bryant

September 17, 2008 at 8:20 pm