I was reading FIGHT! contributor Ben Fowlkes’ column on SI.com today and immediately thought of five (different) things I learned while in Chicago on Saturday. I normally wouldn’t coattail another writer/site so brazenly but Fowlkes and I are on friendly terms. Even if we weren’t, that chisel-faced zombie lives in Montana so it would take him a week to snowshoe to the nearest Greyhound station and come after me.
The Midwest deserves to host more large-scale MMA shows.
Strikeforce’s shows in St. Louis, Mo. and Chicago were well attended and the UFC set gate receipt records in Columbus and Cincinnati. So why are midwestern MMA fans treated to one, at most two, major MMA cards a year? I understand that the UFC’s home base is Vegas and Strikeforce needs to be anchored to San Jose. But 14,000+ screaming people tells me that promoters are not tapping into this market as well as they should. I know that sanctioning has been a problem in the past, but it’s more or less been solved outside of the eastern seaboard. Fans in St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Indianapolis, and Ohio will support more big shows and they deserve to get them.
No elbows on the ground is stupid. I assume Strikeforce (and the International Fight League before it) bar elbows on the ground because they think that gushing cuts are a public relations nightmare and turn off the casual fan. But in addition to limiting in-cage plasma donations, they limit the fighter on top to maintain control long enough to do anything. When a fighter postures up or creates enough distance to throw a punch from guard, half-guard, or mount, he or she is giving the fighter on bottom space, and jiu-jitsu/submission grappling is about utilizing space and leverage. So what we saw time and time again is one fighter would score a takedown, his opponent would stand, he would score another takedown and his opponent would stand again. Blood or boring fights – your call.
Women’s MMA is bigger than Gina Carano.
She may be the only female in the sport with a high Q-score other than Arianny Celeste but that didn’t matter on Saturday night. The average fan can’t pick Roxanne Modafferi out of a lineup or distinguish Marloes Coenen from Marlo Thomas but the Sears Centre was electric for their fight. Do novelty and fetishism factor into that? Absolutely, but those fighters put on a show (albeit a short one) and the crowd showered them with applause, proving that you don’t need big names to carry the women’s side of the sport. I hope Strikeforce adds women like Kelly Kobold, Julie Kedzie, Amanda Buckner, Tara LaRosa and Megumi Fujii to its growing stable of female fighters.
Fedor is who we thought he was.
No, he’s not a big pay per view draw, but he’s a star. A star of sufficient size to headline a card that sold 14,000+ tickets in a major market. The crowd held its collective breath when Rogers dropped punches from the top and it lost its collective mind when Fedor floored his opponent. Now that Strikeforce/Showtime/CBS owns some of his fight footage they can go to work making him a household name in the U.S. And yes, he proved that he’s still the best heavyweight in the world until further notice.
Jake Shields is a lot better than he gets credit for. Some idiots actually thought before this fight that Mayhem would win due to his superior size and stand up game. Unbelievable. Shields dominated Mayhem with his wrestling and was smart to be conservative on the ground – the one time Mayhem had an opening he nearly put Shields to sleep. It wasn’t a highlight reel win, but Mayhem is no schlub and Shields took the win. I wouldn’t rush to put him on any P4P lists just yet but he’s a legit middleweight. According to Shields at the post-fight presser, Cung Le doesn’t want to fight him. Fine, throw Tim Kennedy or Jacare at Shields and see what he does.