Preview of UFC 148: Silva vs. Sonnen II

Good afternoon my muchachos, welcome back to Cardiac Attack Sports, you’re No. 1 source for my opinion on the world of sports.

Saturday is one of the UFC’s most anticipated rematches of all time, possibly surpassing some of the sport’s most awaited second bouts like Couture-Liddell II. The UFC’s most dominating champion of the last 10 years, Anderson Silva, takes on a trash-talking wrestler in Chael Sonnen. It’s Brazil vs. America in a bout between a pair of bitter rivals. It doesn’t get much better than that for a main event. Add that to the retirement fight of one of the UFC’s most successful fighters in Tito Ortiz, plus a bout featuring the San Shou legend Cung Le, and this should be one heck of a Saturday night.

All statistical information is courtesy of Fightmetric.com unless noted otherwise.

Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen

Generally speaking, Silva has always dictated where his fights will take place. If he feels comfortable in his ability to submit an opponent, he’ll allow a takedown and work from the bottom. If he feels he can out-strike an opponent, he keeps the fight on its feet. However, that all came crashing down when Sonnen fought the Brazilian at UFC 117 in August of 2010.

Sonnen wanted the fight on the ground, got it there and kept it there. He out-landed Silva 89-29 on significant strikes, landed three takedowns and performed six guard passes as he out-wrestled Silva for 4 ½ rounds. Then he made a mistake, left his arm and head too close to Silva’s chest and got choked out with less than two minutes to spare. It was the closest Silva had come to a non-DQ defeat since Ryo Chonan’s flying heel hook victory back at Pride Shockwave 2004.

For Silva to win, he has to have worked on his takedown defense over the past few months. He could theoretically use his elite BJJ to land another sub, but it’s no sure bet against any high-caliber grappler in the UFC. His best bet is to keep the fight on its feet and use his UFC-record striking accuracy try and wear Sonnen out. He’s tough to hit as well, averaging just .91 strikes absorbed per minute, but it’s probably Silva’s best bet to win.

For Sonnen, this fight is all about backing up your mouth. You talked the talk and said you were the best fighter in the world, not it’s time to fight the No. 1 ranked pound-for-pound fighter to see if you can cash that check. His key to success is simple: takedown, takedown, takedown! Force Silva to relive his UFC 117 ordeal and wear him down. Silva has never been knocked out or TKO’d, so try and grind out a decision victory over 25 minutes. Don’t go for submissions, don’t try to trade with him. Keep doing what got you here and wrestle.

This fight has kept me up at night. I know, I’m a UFC geek but hey, this is what I do. The significance of Silva’s rib injury in their last fight could be minimal, but I feel it played enough of a role to reduce his core strength and, inevitable, his takedown defense. If he’s 100% for this fight, he should have less trouble in scrambles. However, Sonnen can do serious damage if he gets you on the ground just once, so it’ll be interesting who can win this war of attrition.

Expect this to go to distance with no loving embrace at the end. I have Silva eeking out a 48-47 decision by doing enough damage on his feet to prevent Sonnen from closing strong. Sonnen may well win two of the first three rounds, but I feel the passion Silva has displayed leading up to this fight is heartfelt, so he’ll do his best to inflict as much bodily harm as possible. But Sonnen is a tough SOB and won’t go down quietly.

Prediction: Silva by Decision

Tito Ortiz vs. Forrest Griffin

It’s finally come down to this. The original Ultimate Fighter in Griffin takes on one of the sport’s most dominating champions in Ortiz. This rubber match features two legends past their prime, but ready to rumble at a moment’s notice. Ortiz wants to exit the Octagon with not only a place in the UFC Hall of Fame, but a win to top off his stellar career. On the other hand, the author of three Fight of the Year selections wants to keep from getting knocked out for the fourth time in his last six fights.

Ortiz has been plagued with injuries for the better part of five years, but appears healthy and ready to give it one last go. He’s posted a 1-6-1 record since late 2006 with three TKO and three decision defeats. Nobody has ever questioned this guy’s heart, but many question his continued fight career. We the fans don’t want him ending up like Gary Goodridge (for those who don’t know the name, he was one of Pride FC’s toughest fighters who had some brutal wins and took some bloody losses before retiring in 2010. Now he is 46 years old and suffering from Dementia).

For Ortiz to make it a W to end his career, he’ll have to utilize his wrestling prowess and stay in dominant positions. Griffin can escape from his back, so the best recipe for victory is a conservative approach with plenty of Lay & Pray. Do some damage with strikes and go for a finish if he sees one, but don’t make any stupid mistakes and get reversed.

For Griffin, he needs to stuff Tito’s takedowns and try to get the former champion to gas out. He’s come on strong early in fights just to lose stamina midway through the second round, so weathering the early storm is a must. If he can get top position, use a similar strategy to Ortiz and work for dominant positions to score some points. Ortiz is a crafty veteran that has plenty of escapes.

If these two pieces of advice look similar, it’s because they are. I feel these two former Light Heavyweight champions are almost identical in skills at this stage of their careers. The main difference is that Griffin hasn’t had the amount miles on his body as Ortiz, and therefore should be able to execute his gameplan best and earn a decision win.

Prediction: Griffin by Decision

Cung Le vs. Patrick Cote

One of the best all-around strikers in the world today in Le faces off against a formidable kickboxer in the Canadian Cote, both coming off far different paths. Le is coming off a loss to aging legend Wanderlei Silva at UFC 139 while Cote has won four in a row after being cut by the UFC in late 2010. This is sure to be a candidate for both Knockout and Fight of the Night as Le has never won (or lost) a fight by any method other than KO/TKO and Cote has the knockout power to oblige the Taekwondo Black Belt.

Le has a number of factors working for and against him in this fight. For one, he knows Cote will be willing to trade with him, which naturally gives the world-class striker an advantage However, Le is also 40 years old and doesn’t have the Octagon experience of most fighters his age, having only fought nine times in MMA. Le’s best bet is to make this a kickboxing bout: keep the fight standing and unleash you’re whole bag of tricks in hopes of a first-round KO. At his age, the later the fight goes, the more danger he’s in of gassing out. It’s a risky approach, but it’ll also make for an epic bout.

Cote has a serious chip on his shoulder since being cut by the UFC just two bouts after fighting for the Middleweight title. The last time he fought a striker of Le’s caliber was that aforementioned title bout in which Anderson Silva landed 73 percent of his significant strikes while Cote failed on all three takedown attempts. He’ll have to change that if he want to beat Le, whose takedown defense isn’t as up-to-par as Silva’s. Cote has an advantage on the ground and can certainly steal a win with ground and pound, the recipe for success against a pure striker like Le.

However, I feel the level of competition that Le presents is simply too much for Cote. He’s one of those fighters who’s excellent on the smaller circuits (14-0 in non-UFC fights) but average in the big show (7-7 in UFC bouts). Expect Le to baffle him with his unorthodox striking game and take a KO victory in round 1 via highlight fashion.

Prediction: Le by KO

Dong Hyun Kim vs. Demian Maia

A classic matchup of Judo vs. BJJ pits the 4th Dan Black Belt Kim up against a 3rd degree Black Belt in Maia. Both fighters are excellent representatives of their respective disciplines and should give the fans a taste of the classic style vs. style bouts of yesteryear.

Kim gives his opponents a formidable combination of martial arts kicks and judo throws, a winning combination so far as his only legitimate defeat came against interim Welterweight champion Carlos Condit. “Stun Gun” also is fighting in Las Vegas, the home of each of his last six bouts, so he’s used to the surrounding and atmosphere of a bout in the city. Kim should use his Judo to his advantage, stuff any takedowns from Maia and utilize a few Judo throws, finishing up with strikes in dominant top positions.

However, Maia is no slough on the ground. The 2007 Abu Dhabi Submission Wrestling champion has notched four Submission of the Night honors in his career, including a triangle choke win over Chael Sonnen. But he hasn’t won by submission since 2009, instead mostly winning and losing by decision. To defeat Kim, he’ll have to break that trend and take more risks on the ground. He can’t lie in his guard and wait for an opening, he has to create them or else end up beaten and bruised then the final bell sounds.

With Maia coming off a rough performance against Chris Weidman, I feel that Kim should win this fight if he sticks to a grapple-first gameplan and grinds out a decision or TKO. However, since Maia has only been finished once in his career, I feel inclined to give Kim the fight by decision.

Prediction: Kim via Decision

Chad Mendes vs. Cody McKenzie

Poor Cody McKenzie: he was one of my favorite fighters on that season of TUF, but he’s in way over his head in this bout against Mendes. I’m not going to go into many details except to say his only chance is a “McKenzietine,” something Mendes, something an All-American wrestler who’s never been submitted probably won’t fall for. Mendes will get a takedown, take a dominant position and ground and pound McKenzie until the ref steps in. It’s an unfortunate mismatch that the UFC shouldn’t have put together.

To be fair, if McKenzie wins I’ll post a video apology online and send it to his twitter account. You have my word.

Prediction: Mendes by TKO

Ivan Menjivar vs. Mike Easton

In a bout between a pair of passionate brawlers, “The Pride of El Salvador” Menjivar takes on a well-rounded mixed martial artist in Easton. Both men have solid BJJ backgrounds, but have utilized their striking most in the Octagon, averaging 3.52 and 4.66 significant strikes per minute in the UFC bouts.

Menjivar has two significant disadvantages in this fight. His reach is four inches shorter than Easton, despite being the same height, and he lands only 27 percent of his takedowns while Easton had defended all attempts in his UFC career.

Easton, a Taekwondo Black Belt, should use that reach advantage to his advantage and stay on the outside, peppering his short-armed opponent with strikes and waiting for the right moment to unload a knockout blow. All signs point to Easton taking this fight by knockout.

Prediction: Easton by KO

Now for the quick predictions on this event’s undercard:

Gleison Tibau vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov

Don’t try to pronounce their names, just enjoy this entertaining matchup. Tibau is a large lightweight with excellent BJJ skills while Nurmagomedov is an unbeaten Sambo expert and military hand-to-hand combat champion. While the Russian has some great credentials, he is very untested against high-caliber competition, while Tibau has made 15 trips inside the Octagon. Expect that experience to put the Brazilian over the edge via decision in an exciting ground battle.

Prediction: Tibau by Decision

Melvin Guillard vs. Fabricio Camões

A pair of veterans will grace the cage here as the hard-hitting Guillard takes on a 3rd degree BJJ and former Vale Tudo fighter in Camões. If there’s one thing Guillard hates, it’s submissions. Nine of his 10 career losses came via submission, including eight via some form of choke. Luckily for Camões, who lasted over 25 minutes against Anderson Silva in a bare-knuckle Vale Tudo match in 1997, five of his seven submission wins have come by choke. It’s just too hard to ignore, so I’m going with the Brazilian

Prediction: Camões by Submission   

Constantinos Philippou vs. Riki Fukuda

In a war between the decedents of two island nations, the well-rounded Philippou takes on former Japanese pro wrestler and DEEP Middleweight titlist Fukuda. This fight will come down to takedown defense, as Philippou posts a 79 percent defense while Fukuda attempts an average of three takedowns per 15 minutes. Eight of Fukuda’s last 10 wins came by decision, mostly due to his ground control and excellent top-side grappling. With Fukuda’s experience in both professional and amateur wrestling, I feel the Cyprus native will most likely succumb to a lay and pray bout, with Fukuda taking a decision win.

Prediction: Fukuda by Decision

John Alessio vs. Shane Roller

An elder statesman on the MMA scene despite being just 33 years of age, Alessio is taking on a former WEC star and D-1 wrestler in Roller. How elder is Alessio? He fought Pat Miletich for the UFC Lightweight (170lbs) title at UFC 26 in 2000. As for Roller, he starred at the MMA breeding ground for wrestlers in Oklahoma State, earning three All-American selections. Alessio has an impressive 75 percent takedown defense, while Roller only brings down 33 percent of his attempted shots. With that in mind, Alessio should be able to keep this fight standing. Also, Alessio has 10 wins via rear-naked choke, while most wrestlers are more than willing to give up their backs when on the ground. Expect Alessio to dictate the fight and sink in the hooks for a submission victory.

Prediction: Alessio by Submission

Rafaello Oliveira vs. Yoislandy Izquierdo

In what will certainly be an interesting fight, a BJJ Black Belt in Oliveira will take on a former Cuban military veteran turned defector in Izquierdo. The young Cuban is a high-level Karate and San Shou fighter with devastating strikes, but little submission defense at this stage in his career. He was dominating his last opponent in Reza Madadi before getting taken down and submitted. Therefore, expect the grappler to take down the striker in what may be a very short fight.

Prediction: Oliveira by Submission

Thanks for making it through all 2,500 words. If you actually read the whole article, give yourself a pat on the back and go buy an ice cream cone to reward yourself. I’m Lucas Kinser signing off for Cardiac Attack Sports. Be sure to follow me on twitter at @LucasKinser or find me on Facebook. Take care and enjoy Saturday’s action!  

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Preview of UFC on FX 4: Maynard vs. Guida

It’s been a while my friends, did you miss me? I haven’t posted for a couple months due to the insane stress of final exams as well as a minor heart surgery, but now I’m back to 100% and ready to give you my two cents on this weekend’s upcoming UFC card.

Joe Silva and the rest of the UFC’s matchmakers have done a solid job putting together a number of exciting bouts in a Cable TV broadcast, which has been a challenge in the past. If you can’t watch this showcase live on Friday, DVR it because it might be the best free card of the summer.

Let’s start from the top and move down, shall we?

Gray Maynard vs. Clay Guida

A battle between two of the division’s top wrestlers pits a powerful All-American out of Michigan State in Maynard against a tenacious takedown artist in Guida. Both combatants have faced top competition and produced amazing fights, including a combined seven Fight of the Night and three Fight of the Year honors.

While both men will surely give it their all, I feel Maynard is superior in most all facets of his game to Guida. His 85 percent takedown defense shows he can keep off his back, which is where Guida will try to plant the former lightweight title contender. If Maynard can take Guida down, his superior top control should lead to a solid unanimous decision triumph.

Prediction: Maynard def. Guida via decision

Sam Stout vs. Spencer Fisher

The all-important rubber match of a classic trilogy matches Canadian kickboxer Sam Stout against a high-pace brawler in Spencer Fisher. The pair is 1-1 with two decisions going to either man, including an epic bout on UFC Fight Night in 2007 that was selected one of the 100 greatest fights in UFC history. The two haven’t faced off since that date while cementing themselves as the division’s gatekeepers.

This will surely be another standup war between the two fighters, but father time has made its impact on Fisher. A loser of four of his last five bouts, the 36-year-old is near the end of his career while the 28-year-old Stout still seems to be going strong. If Fisher has one good fight left in him, he’ll give it here against a foe he respects. However, Stout’s superior youth, reach, and takedown defense should provide this striker from north of the border his seventh win inside the Octagon, most likely going to distance for the ninth time since 2008.

Prediction: Stout def. Fisher via decision

Brian Ebersole vs. TJ Waldburger

One of the night’s more intriguing matchups puts Brian Ebersole, an MMA veteran with 65 bouts in six different countries, against TJ Waldburger, a BJJ brown belt coming off a pair of first-round submission wins. Both fighters have taken on their share of tough competition, with Ebersole beating a who’s who of former UFC talents and Waldburger holding submission victories over Pete Spratt and Shannon Ritch.

This fights matches up a fighter in Ebersole who has never been KO/TKO’d against Waldburger who has never been submitted. Another interesting matchup to look at is Ebersole’s 85 percent takedown defense vs. Waldburger’s 77% takedown success rate. This bout is a coin flip in my book, but I feel Ebersole’s nine submission losses are too much of a liability against a submission artist. If Waldburger gets Ebersole to the mat, look for him to finish the bout quickly.

Prediction: Waldburger def. Ebersole via submission

Ross Pearson vs. Cub Swanson

This cross-Atlantic showdown matches an excellent striker who can grapple in Pearson against an excellent grappler who can strike in Swanson. Both fighters have had their share of success, with Pearson being the TUF Season 9 lightweight winner and Swanson as a three-time Fight of the Night winner during his time in the WEC.

Swanson showed an improved standup game in his KO win over George Roop in January, but Pearson is a well-rounded striker with a black belt in Taekwondo. He also holds the rank of brown belt in Judo, which shows in his 79 percent takedown defense. If Pearson makes this into a kickboxing match, which I feel he will, expect Swanson to succumb to strikes in an action-packed bout.

Prediction: Pearson def. Swanson via TKO

For the undercard, I’ll provide a brief summary of how I feel the fight will play out along with my picks.

Hatsu Hioki vs. Ricardo Lamas

Hioki’s superior ground game should help propel Japan’s top pound-for-pound fighter to victory over a solid BJJ specialist in Lamas. Prediction: Hioki by decision.

Ramsey Nijem vs. C.J. Keith

TUF 13’s runner-up faces a tough test in Army veteran C.J. Keith, but Nijem’s solid wrestling should help bring down his lanky opponent and lead to a gritty ground victory. Prediction: Nijem by TKO

Steven Siler vs. Joey Gambino

Siler, who is 15-2 since mid-2007, should be a tough test for unbeaten prospect Joey Gambino. He’ll be a mainstay in the UFC’s featherweight division someday, but Siler is too experienced and long for the young New Yorker just yet. Prediction: Siler by submission

Rick Story vs. Brock Jardine

“The Horror” Story has had success against wrestlers in the past (see his win vs. Johny Hendricks), but the power-punching grappler Jardine will should put up a good fight in a losing effort. Prediction: Story by decision

Nick Catone vs. Chris Camozzi

Catone hasn’t fought in 15 months, so the layer of ring rust should be fairly thick. Look for Camozzi to use his Muay Thai skills and land a knockout blow on the former D-1 wrestler. Prediction: Camozzi by KO

Matt Brown vs. Luis Ramos

Brown may have an iron will to go along with his iron chin, but the veteran has had cardio issues in his last few fights. Ramos is a Nova Uniao trained fighter who has worked with Vale Tudo legend Marco Ruas in the past, so I see him being prepared for his return to the Octagon. Prediction: Ramos by decision

Dan Miller vs. Ricardo Funch

UFC title contender Jim Miller’s older brother is an excellent gatekeeper for his division, defeating lesser talent regularly while falling to the sport’s better fighters. Funch is hoping to earn his first Octagon win, losing his first three tries. Make it four. Prediction: Miller by TKO

Ken Stone vs. Dustin Pague

Stone is a tenacious grappler who has shown excellent takedowns and chokes in his previous fights. On the other hand, Pague fought just a few weeks ago and has the lanky body type that lends itself to being taken down easily. Score one for the wrestler. Prediction: Stone by submission

Thanks everyone for reading my blog. You can follow me on twitter for more prognostication at @LucasKinser or look me up on Facebook. Have a great day and keep the sport growing!

 

The Case for Tim Raines

Well, it’s midnight in Texas and I can’t sleep. Benadryl didn’t work. Klonipin didn’t work. Vodka and Country Time Lemonade didn’t either. Therefore, a well-researched rant about one of baseball’s least appreciated stars seems to be in order. (In all seriousness, I’m not drunk right now, just having a little insomnia)

Before I get into Raines, I want to congratulate Matt Cain for an epic pitching performance today (or last night) against the Pirates. I was so impressed that a little Baseball Reference  research was in order. The last time a player pitched nine innings of perfect ball outside of a single by the opposing pitcher was Gary Peters in 1963 for the White Sox against Baltimore. At least in Peters’ case the hit was by Hall of Fame hurler Robin Roberts instead of some spare for Pittsburgh. Moving on.

Tim Raines spent the better part of his 23-year career in baseball purgatory: batting leadoff for the Montreal Expos. While the sporting world marveled at the accomplishments of a much more boisterous base-stealer on the west coast, Raines maintained an All-Star level of play despite issues with cocaine abuse. As the 1990s rolled around, “Hawk” kept a high level of play despite consistent injury problems which were later diagnose as the result of Lupus, an auto-immune disorder that can bring Olympic athletes to their knees in a matter of years. But Raines played on through 2002, making him one of only a handful of players to span their career over four decades.

So let’s play a game. I’ll list two players: can you definitively say one of them was better than the other?

Player A: 2616 games, 1610 runs, 3023 hits, 900 RBI, 938 steals, .293 BA, .343 OBP, 6x All-Star

Player B:  2502 games, 1571 runs, 2605 hits, 980 RBI, 808 steals, .294 BA, .385 OBP, 7x All-Star

Even more interesting, let’s look at each player’s career totals averaged out to 162 games, giving a glimpse of what one complete season to represent their careers would look like.

Player A: 162 games, 100 runs, 187 hits, 30 doubles, 9 HR, 56 RBI, 58 steals, 262 total bases

Player B: 162 games, 102 runs, 169 hits, 28 doubles, 11 HR, 63 RBI, 52 steals, 244 total bases

Player A is Lou Brock, a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Player B is Tim Raines, never receiving more than 50% of the vote for induction.

Maybe it’s the cocaine abuse. Maybe it was the fact he played outside of a major US market. Maybe Rickey Henderson simply overshadowed his accomplishments.

Whichever excuse the 294 BBWAA voters who bypassed Raines came up with simply doesn’t pass the smell test. Let’s make sure Cooperstown doesn’t go another year without one of the league’s greatest leadoff hitters, base-runners, and comeback stories doesn’t get left out of the game’s pearly gates.

Thanks for reading my blog. Be sure to follow me on twitter at @LucasKinser. Goodnight and have a pleasant tomorrow.

The Rise and Fall of Alistair Overeem

On Nov. 16, 2007, Dutch kickboxer Alistair Overeem won the Strikeforce Heavyweight title in dramatic fashion, tipping off a 12-fight unbeaten streak. The behemoth took out seven fighters inside of 90 seconds, won multiple titles in MMA, and earned top honors in the K-1 World Grand Prix. Arguably his 2010 campaign was the best of any combat sports heavyweight in history.

Now, his name is a punch line among mixed martial arts aficionados…and we all knew he was doping. Earlier in his career, Overeem fought between 185 and 205 pounds with mixed results. From Aug. 2003 to Feb. 2007, he went 8-7. In his UFC 141 victory over Brock Lesnar, he tipped the scales at 263 pounds.

Not that every pro athlete who mysteriously bulks up 60-80 pounds in five years is a cheater, but it certainly raised some eyebrows. Especially when the Dutchman skipped a mandatory PED test before his last bout, leading the Nevada State Athletic Commission to grant him a “conditional” license with more random tests.

Surprise! Random Test!

Overeem’s T/E ratio was 14-to-1, whereas the legally allowed amount to fight is just 6-to-1.

Here’s hoping the UFC does the right thing and cuts Overeem immediately. If he wants to come back, he’ll need to earn his spot after a public apology, a few years fighting overseas and a promise to the MMA faithful not to F us over again.

Thanks for following my blog. Please follow me on Twitter at @LucasKinser or find me on Facebook.

NFL Mock Draft Picks 1-10

Here it is, the Version 1.0 of my 2012 NFL Mock Draft on Cardiac Attack Sports. I’m just going through the first 10 picks for the time being, but check back for picks 11-20 and 21-32 later this week.

1. Indianapolis Colts: Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

What is there to say that you haven’t already seen plastered across ESPN for the past two seasons. This guy’s got the leadership, poise, intelligence, accuracy, and mobility to be an NFL star. Think Steve Young with a smaller learning curve. At best, he could be the best in the game someday. At worst, he’s Bernie Kosar. Either way, Indy has found their quarterback of the future.

2. Washington Redskins: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor

Rex Grossman, John Beck, or RG3? Which of these signal-callers do you think would make Redskins fans excited enough to pay big bucks and show up to games? The best combination of talents above and below the waist, Griffin can give hope to a franchise that has been all but irrelevant for the better part of two decades.

3. Minnesota Vikings: Matt Kalil, OT, USC

The Vikings need an upgrade at left tackle. Badly.  Among players who pass blocked 550 times or more in 2011, left tackle Charlie Johnson ranked 21st out of 29 linemen in pass blocking efficiency last season, one spot behind Doug Free. Being a Dallas fan, I know just how sad that is.

4. Cleveland Browns: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State

There are three different ways Cleveland can improve their offense with this pick. One, they could draft Blackmon and give Colt McCoy the top-flight receiver he hasn’t had since college. Two, they could reach a bit for Trent Richardson and fix their abhorrent running game. Three, they could reach even more and take Ryan Tannehill. Personally, I feel the team is best served giving McCoy one more year and a few more weapons. Blackmon is a great start, arguably the next Calvin Johnson.

5. Tampa Bay Bucs: Michael Brockers, DT, LSU

This is a little high for Brockers, but Tampa Bay has a serious need for a run-stopping lineman and the LSU product is the best available by far. To show just how bad the league’s 32nd ranked run defense was, consider this. Only three teams since 1990 have allowed 150 rushing yards and two scores seven or more times in a single season:  the 1990 Patriots (1-15) and the 2008 Lions (0-16). Another possibility to sure up the line would be fast-rising lineman Dontari Poe, but he’ll have to prove scouts he’s more than just a workout warrior before garnering a top five pick.

6. St. Louis Rams: Riley Rieff, OT, Iowa

Among the Rams many pressing needs, an upgrade to arguably the worst O-Line in the game ranks near the top.  Jason Smith has shown he can’t stay healthy and Rodger Saffold isn’t going to win Lineman of the Year anytime soon, so an athletic tackle from the Midwest who is equally qualified at pass and run blocking would provide St. Louis its best option going forward.

7. Jacksonville Jaguars: Quinton Coples, DE, North Carolina

As pressing as Jacksonville’s needs are at receiver, the No. 7 pick is a bit high to take someone like Michael Floyd or Kendall Wright. Need 1b would be a pass rusher, since Jeremy Mincey was the only threat from around the corner opposing lines had to deal with. A physical specimen at over 280 pounds, Coples still boasts some of the best pass rush moves in the draft. The comparisons to Julius Peppers are a little premature, but I feel he can reach that potential as long as he keeps his occasionally stalled motor running full blast at the next level.

8. Miami Dolphins: Melvin Ingram, DE/OLB, South Carolina

I could see Miami swapping picks with Tampa Bay to take Rieff instead of St. Louis, but in the case that no trades occur, I feel the Dolphins are best served taking a gamble on Ingram. With the retirement of Jason Taylor, there’s a vacant spot just waiting to be filled by a guy with a quick first step and experience with at linebacker as well as with his hand on the ground. He has a few issues, namely tackling, that could shy a few teams away, but his potential in the right system is through the roof.

9. Carolina Panthers: Morris Claiborne, CB, LSU

In a division that features Drew Brees and Matt Ryan, it’s only fitting that Carolina goes after the draft’s best cover corner and return man. An interception machine, the former wide receiver can track the ball through the air and make Revis-like plays when opposing signal-callers make a mistake. The only reason I have him falling to No. 9 is that there were more pressing needs for the 1-8 teams. That, however, won’t matter if someone goes the “best player available” route. In that case, his other likely destination would be Tampa Bay.

10. Buffalo Bills: Michael Floyd, WR, Notre Dame

A bit of a reach at No. 10, Buffalo knows that the money it gave Stevie Johnson and Ryan Fitzpatrick will go to waste if the franchise can’t bring in another receiving threat. At nearly the size of a tight end, Floyd would give his Harvard signal-caller a solid target with great hands, which should open up the running game for C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. It’s the best strategy if the team want to make a postseason run within the lifetime of their owner, 93-year-old Hall of Famer Ralph Wilson.

What a positive note to end a blog with, huh? Thanks for reading my post, be sure to follow me on twitter at @LucasKinser or find me on Facebook. Enjoy March Madness, Spring Training baseball and St. Patty’s Day! Horray green beer!

 

Jeepers Creepers: How simple math cost ‘Uncle Creepy’ at UFC on FX 2

Everyone adult in the civilized world should know how to count to 30. I could be wrong, but I thought it was part of the basic curriculum of all kindergarten and first grade classes to at least establish that minimum for passing the class. If that’s the case, then how did the bout between “Uncle Creepy” Ian McCall (Not a made-up nickname) and Demetrius “Mighty Mouse” Johnson (Real as well) get counted as a split decision for Johnson (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)…until an adding error was found to change the result to a majority decision (29-28, 29-29, 29-28)…just long enough for a final error in tabulation was discovered, ruling the bout a draw (28-28, 29-29, 29-28).

Did you catch all that? I thought the calculator had already made its way to Australia by now?

McCall and Johnson were fighting for a spot in the finals of the first ever UFC Flyweight Tournament, a four-man format to determine the champion at a new 125-pound weight class. A win last night would have matched up the fighter with Joseph Benavidez to determine the inaugural belt holder. The way the tournament is set up, if a fight is ruled a draw after three rounds, a fourth “sudden death” round is fought to determine the winner.

To rectify the decision, UFC Supreme Leader Dana White stated that a rematch will be scheduled for April. So why am I so annoyed?

The third round was dominated by McCall, so much so that I, along with a majority of fans watching at home, felt the bout should have been stopped. The credentials for “intelligently defending oneself” as stated in the Unified Rules of MMA weren’t being met, as Johnson was face-first on the canvas getting hit probably two dozen times. Some of the punches were partially blocked and McCall was show-boating when he should have been trying his hardest to win the fight, but it seemed clear that the brain of “Mighty Mouse” was going for a ride in the final 20 seconds or so.

The official stat tracker for the UFC, www.fightmetric.com , had McCall landing 83-of-104 strikes in the final frame. To be fair, only 24 were called “significant” strikes, but if the fight had been called a draw initially, Johnson would have had only about one minute to rest up before round 4 began. While “Mighty Mouse” looked like a beaten man, “Uncle Creepy” did a backflip and a number of push-ups after the fight to show the fans he still had plenty of energy left.

Now, Johnson has a month ro recover. He’ll have a chance to game plan for McCall, work on his takedown defense (McCall landed four takedowns on Johnson, who prior to the fight had never been dropped by a fighter 5-foot-5 or smaller) and enter the Octagon more prepared for the rematch. If the fight had instead gone a fourth round, my money’s on the fact he didn’t have another five minutes in his gas tank and would have lost. McCall would be fighting Benavidez for the title and one of the biggest embarrassments in recent UFC history would never have come to fruition.

The solution to this problem is simple. It can’t be reversed, they can’t reconvene the fighters for a one-round bout, the tournament shouldn’t be abolished. However, the UFC needs to enact a policy for all future fights that judges are mandated to take a minimum of 60 seconds to tabulate and re-tabulate their scorecards at the end of a bout before submitting them. If they can’t do simple math, give them a calculator or tell them to find another line of work.

And sadly, this is probably ranked as the 1,903,803th biggest issue regarding judges in MMA, but I don’t have an eternity to air my laundry on the subject. That will be for another blog post.

Thanks again for reading my blog, remember to friend me on facebook at Lucas Kinser and find me on twitter at @LucasKinser. Take care!

Thoughts on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Voting

It doesn’t seem like a very difficult proposition. Get 44 of the best football minds in one room and select the next class of Hall of Famers from a list of 17 players, including two nominees from the Senior Committee.

If only it were that simple. Everyone has their own personal biases which come into play when narrowing down the list. This doesn’t mean too much when you’re talking about the 573 ballots cast for the Baseball Hall of Fame. A handful of voters can make a bad decision without any real impact, case-in-point Pedro Gomez voting for Bill Mueller. However, one must only convince eight of the 44 football voters to effectively filibuster a player’s election, a much easier figure to manipulate.

Now I’m not saying there’s any funny business going on behind closed doors, but there aren’t too many other logical conclusions to the question “Why isn’t Cris Carter in the Hall of Fame?”

My personal standard for Hall of Fame election is very simple: a Hall worthy player should have displayed an era of excellence that stretches roughly 10 or more years. There can always be exceptions to this rule, like Gale Sayers, but generally speaking 10 years is my gold standard.

From 1992 to 2001, Carter met that standard, leading the NFL in receptions (905) and touchdown catches (102) while standing behind only Jerry Rice and Tim Brown in receiving yards (11,008). He went to eight Pro Bowls and was named an AP First Team All-Pro twice during that stretch.

Need more evidence? Carter recorded seven seasons with at least 75 receptions, 1,000 yards and nine scores. The only receivers to perform that feat more times? Jerry Rice and Marvin Harrison. Only six players have done so more than four times.

Another complaint I have is the exclusion of Bill Parcells, the ornery old man who flipped bad teams like repossessed houses. His accolades aren’t mind-boggling, but take into account the fact that he had to build four teams virtually from the ground up.

The Giants had posted a 46-96-1 record in the ten seasons before Parcells took over as head coach, making just one postseason appearance between 1963 and 1982 (He was the defensive coordinator on the only playoff team in 1981). With Parcells at the reins, they went 77-49-1 with two Super Bowl wins and five playoff spots.

Parcells had similar success with his three other stops. The Patriots had posted four consecutive losing seasons before the “Big Tuna” arrived. He took them to the postseason twice, including a Super Bowl appearance in his final campaign with the team. The Jets went from 1-15 in 1996 to 12-4 in ’98, moving their scoring defense rank from last to fifth place during that span. Finally, the Cowboys went from 5-11 in three consecutive season to 10-6 with an offense led by Quincey Carter and Troy Hambrick. Enough said.

But perhaps the most lasting success of Parcells is his coaching tree, the assistants he mentored and taught the knowledge necessary to become leaders of men. They include Bill Belichick, Romeo Crennell, Tom Coughlin, Sean Payton, Todd Haley, Eric Mangini, Al Groh and Tony Sporano. At least two of these men will someday grace the Hall of Fame with their membership.

All it takes is eight of 44 men to decide someone doesn’t belong. In my humble opinion, the voters should be shaken up a bit to ensure more integrity. For one, all the ballots should be public, no hiding behind a veil of anonymity. Second, there should be 15-to-20 year term limits for voters to remind those people that their position is a privilege and not a right. Finally, I believe the field should be widened to include more minds. Not to the point that baseball has, but it there were a 100-man panel it would take 21 nay votes to stonewall a candidate, hopefully leading to the most deserving players, coaches and executives earning their rightful place in Canton.

Thanks you for reading my blog. Be sure to like and share it on Facebook and retweet me on twitter. My twitter handle is @LucasKinser if you want to follow me. Have a great weekend, America!