Fighters remaining cordial ... for now
>LAS VEGAS -- When did the UFC get so ... polite?
If Saturday's UFC 175 pay-per-view event at Mandalay Bay Events Center had its own Twitter account, the bio might simply read, "Kill 'em with kindness."
During a national media call Monday, headliner and middleweight title contender Lyoto Machida said, "I'm always trying to find a positive side to my opponent."
Co-headliner and female bantamweight title contender Alexis Davis followed that by admitting if she even tries to talk trash, "I sound like an idiot."
There is a mini beef, sort of, between heavyweights Stefan Struve and Matt Mitrione. Struve has called the fight "personal," saying Mitrione asked the UFC for the fight before Struve was cleared from a potentially career-ending heart disorder.
Still, UFC 175 doesn't offer much in the way of good old-fashioned love lost, which might be turning into a trend in the UFC.
When featherweight contender Cub Swanson defeated Jeremy Stephens the other night in San Antonio, UFC commentator Jon Anik served up a softball by setting the stage for him to call out guys such as Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes. Swanson refused.
Lightweight Ben Henderson made a point of walking in the direction of press row after a recent win over Rustam Khabilov to adamantly remind reporters he does his talking in the cage.
Also on Monday's call, featherweight Frankie Edgar actually interrupted at one point to make sure he and BJ Penn, whom he fights Sunday at the TUF Finale, are cool. "I'd like to make one clarification," Edgar said. "I never said I wanted to retire BJ. That's not my style. My goal is to win this fight and whatever BJ decides to do with his career after has nothing based on what I say or do."
Not that this is a bad thing. It's nice when people get along. Respect can be fun.
But this sport, like any other, also thrives on emotion and, to an extent, a brash Muhammad Ali, "I'm the greatest!" kind of attitude.
That's why you know who Conor McGregor is and why the Diaz brothers probably deserve more money, even though they are a combined 1-4 in their past five fights.
UFC 175 is one of the best cards of the year with a wickedly cool main event. As UFC president Dana White likes to say, "It's all about the fights."
It's fine the UFC has become "as nice as it gets" lately, but one has to wonder how much White, secretly, wouldn't mind seeing a few more talkers on the roster.
MAIN EVENT: MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
@ChrisWeidmanUFC | Age: 30
Ht.: 6-2 | Wt.: 185
Rank: No. 5 P4P
Odds: -200 (favorite)
@LyotoMachidafw | Age: 36
Ht.: 6-1 | Wt.: 185
Rank: No. 3 middleweight
Odds: +170 (underdog)
Breakdown: Weidman has two natural attributes that work in his favor: composure and size. We know the champ tests off the charts in terms of composure. He beat Anderson Silva twice with less than four years' experience. He has fought on severe short notice.
He's also relatively long for the division (6-foot-2, 78-inch reach), which is nice in a fight against an opponent as elusive as Machida.
Stylistically, his advantage is in offensive wrestling. Weidman has great recognition on single leg attempt opportunities and a strong second effort. Machida is very hard to drive through on an initial attempt, but Weidman is outstanding once he has closed the gap and he'll find ways to trip or drag Machida to his back at the end of a shot.
Machida, of course, possesses phenomenal footwork, feints, counterpunching and speed. He uses his left arm to parry orthodox opponents' jabs and left hooks, while always looking for a chance to plant his feet and counter with the straight left.
One of his most devastating weapons is the left head kick. He throws it to the body in the beginning of the fight, which draws the opponents' guard down, and then he comes high with it. Striking 101 -- but it's extremely effective.
Machida is most vulnerable to right hands on the feet. That left arm, again, is used defensively, but he mostly relies on head movement and range to avoid attacks on his left side, as that left hand is constantly cocked and looking for offense.
Prediction: Weidman is unquestionably one of those guys you expect to be better than he was in his last fight. He's learning all the time. The madness of two Weidman finishes over Silva (on the feet!) shouldn't detach us from recognizing the champ is one of the best grapplers in the division. Machida's hand speed is terrifying, but give me Weidman. WEIDMAN VIA DECISION.
CO-MAIN EVENT: WOMEN'S BANTAMWEIGHT
@RondaRousey | Age: 27
Ht.: 5-6 | Wt.: 135
Rank: No. 1 women's bantamweight
Odds: -900 (favorite)
@AlexisDavisMMA | Age: 29
Ht.: 5-5 | Wt.: 135
Rank: No. 5 women's bantamweight
Odds: +500 (underdog)
Breakdown: Alexis Davis could be in for a long night -- or a short one, depending on how you look at it.
What immediately jumps off the page is the difference in athleticism. Ronda Rousey is a legitimate world-class athlete. Frankly, Davis is not. She is tough, intelligent and highly skilled, but you wouldn't use words like "explosive" or "quick" to describe her.
On the feet, Davis throws straight punches but is not known for knockout power. Her elbows off clinch work are good and she has heavy leg kicks on the outside.
Rousey will have free rein to move where she wants in this fight, though. Her speed and improving footwork will allow her to dictate range against a slower and flat-footed Davis. On the inside, she's likely to throw Davis around as she has everyone.
Davis' hope (ironically) lives on the ground, as it has been well documented she is a black belt in Japanese and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Davis is deft in transitions and there is a chance (a chance!) she could take Rousey's back in this fight, especially if Rousey's aggressive nature to look for the armbar works against her.
If Davis gets there, her technique might just be enough to keep her there and work a choke.
Problem is, Davis' wrestling has never been on par with her jiu-jitsu and she'll find it difficult to work from her back against the ever-improving Rousey.
Prediction: A quick title defense for Rousey. Davis is tricky on the ground, but I think Rousey armbars her. She fights with a ton of heart, so don't expect her to give up, but Rousey will force the issue. ROUSEY ARMBAR, ROUND 1.
Chris Weidman vs. Lyoto Machida: Pretty simple. It's two of the best fighters in the world, competing for the most meaningful belt that exists in their weight class. On paper, one of the most intriguing fights of the year.
Uriah Hall vs. Thiago Santos: Never know what to expect with Hall. If he lets his hands (and wheel kicks) go, a knockout is always on the table. He also tends to drop his hands inexplicably, so a knockout loss is on the table, too.
Stefan Struve's comeback: A rare heart disorder nearly forced Struve into retirement last year. Thankfully it didn't and Struve returns for the first time since March 2013 -- to a fight he says has become personal with Matt Mitrione.
Will Uriah Hall fight? Seems like a silly question, but it's far from a given. He was solid in a TKO win over Chris Leben in December, but still didn't really show any renewed killer instinct. Be a killer, Uriah.
Urijah Faber: Always. There are other fighters on the card with far worse losing streaks, but Faber is expected to win (big) here. Potential money fights against Dominick Cruz and even teammate TJ Dillashaw hang in the balance.
Russell Doane: Aggressive striking style and a plus-athlete, Doane showcased a little swag in his UFC debut with a surprising submission win over a ground specialist.
|Complete UFC 175 fight card on FightCenter|
By The Numbers
Chris Weidman boasts a 68 percent takedown accuracy -- the second highest among active fighters (Machida is fourth with 62 percent).
Lyoto Machida seeks to become just the third fighter in UFC history (after Randy Couture and BJ Penn) to win titles in two divisions.
Ronda Rousey has finished eight of her nine bouts with an armbar, and eight of her wins have come in Round 1 (Rousey stopped Sara McMann via TKO).
Challenger Alexis Davis has never been submitted in her 21-fight mixed martial arts career (two losses by decision, two by TKO).
Davis is a plus-500 underdog going into her UFC 175 bout against minus-900 favorite Rousey.
Courtesy of Andrew R. Davis, ESPN Stats & Information