Author Archives: oleg

Pardon our dust…

28 Apr , 2018,
oleg
6 comments

Dear readers,

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, we’ve upgraded our site layout to a more mobile friendly version. This is a work in progress and you will see some additional tweaks in the coming weeks. In the meanwhile, please let us know if you come across any problems: dead links, broken pages, usability issues on desktop or mobile devices, etc. Please leave your feedback in comments or use the Contact Us form and we will do our best to fix any bugs ASAP!

As always, thank you for visiting our site and please come back often – we’re looking to add some new features in 2018 and are open to your feedback about what you would like to see on Fight Matrix.

 

UFC: Seven under 30

7 Mar , 2018,
oleg
2 comments

Did you think based on the title that this article would be about seven hot UFC prospects under 30 years of age? Nope.  I am talking about the seven fighters with 27 or more UFC fights to their name – guys who are within three fights of reaching the record of 30 official bouts in the UFC Octagon. So who will be the first to achieve this record? Here’s the list of candidates, in the order of probability (in my opinion of course).

But first, a few notes:

  1. While for most purposes we ignore No Contests (i.e. treat them as if the fight never happened), for the purpose of this record they are considered as valid fights. Once the Octagon doors close and the referee signals the start of action, it’s a fight – no matter if it’s eventually ruled a No Contest. This gives a one-up to Jim Miller and Gleison Tibau (questionably – more on that later).
  2. ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ house fights – generally termed “pro-exhibition bouts” are not counted. If they were included, TUF alumni Diego Sanchez and Michael Bisping would have three and two additional fights each, respectively.
  3. Though Tito Ortiz and Frank Mir both have 27 UFC bouts, they are not included in this list as the probability of either fighting in the UFC again – let alone three more times – is infinitesimally small.
  4. The ‘Average Fights Per Year’ calculation does not include any fights which took place in 2018. The year of fighter’s UFC debut is included in the calculation only if the fighter fought two or more times in their first calendar year; any fights in other promotions in the same year but prior to the fighter’s UFC debut are not inocluded.

That said, here’s our magnificent seven:

[#7 MW] Michael Bisping
Age: 38
UFC Fights: 29
UFC Debut: Jun 24, 2006
Current Streak: L-2
Average Fights Per Year: 2.41

While the current record holder for most fights in the UFC will never be in consideration for one of the ‘GOATs’, he is guaranteed a future spot in the UFC Hall of Fame, and his accomplishments in this sport cannot be denied. For most of his UFC career, ‘The Count’ scrapped with the elite fighters in his weight class, but was never quite able to cross that threshold himself – he was good but not great, and seemingly always lost the fights that mattered the most. After a period between 2012 and 2014 where Bisping alternated wins and losses, he has had a late career resurgence, winning five straight in a streak that included capturing and defending the middleweight title, as well as scoring a decision victory over the former 185 lbs king Anderson Silva, and avenging two of his three stoppage losses at the time.

A victory over Georges St. Pierre would have been the crowning feather in Bisping’s countly headgear. Alas it was not meant to be, as Bisping was chocked unconscious in the third round, losing the middleweight title which GSP then promptly relinquished. Motivated by the loss, Bisping decided to get back in the cage as soon as possible, taking on the rising prospect Kelvin Gastelum a mere three weeks after the GSP fight. This proved to be disastrous for The Count, who suffered a brutal knockout loss in the very first round. It might have been the perfect opportunity for him to retire, but not many athletes can admit that it’s time to walk away from the sport they love – especially coming off a bad loss. Bisping has mulled retirement since then, but all signs point to him fighting at least one more time. More than a few middleweights threw their name in the hat to play the role of Michael’s final opponent, and it seems that Luke Rockhold trilogy is the matchup that interests Bisping the most. Should this fight happen some time in the near future, Bisping will almost certainly become the first UFC fighter to step into the Octagon for the 30th time.

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UFC 217 Preview

30 Oct , 2017,
oleg
3 comments

This weekend, UFC returns to Madison Square Garden with a stacked line-up for UFC 217: Bisping vs GSP. Featuring a trio of title bouts, including the long-awaited return of Georges St. Pierre – albeit under somewhat unusual circumstances – this promises to be a good card on paper.  For all you gambling types, take a look at the updated betting odds for UFC 217. Keep in mind that since the event is in NYC, we can expect all kinds of wackiness with refereeing, judging, and all other things which involve the New York State Athletic Commission, so play at your own risk.

[#1 MW] (C) Michael Bisping vs [NR] Georges St. Pierre for the UFC Middleweight Championship

To be honest, I am not particularly excited for this fight.  Partly because I am not a huge fan of either fighter, partly because I would like to see Michael Bisping defend his title against the interim champion (WME-UFC lingo for #1 contender) Robert Whittaker instead of taking another meaningless “money fight”, and partly because St. Pierre returning as a middleweight and getting an immediate title shot makes no sense.  I guess asking for UFC matchmaking to make sense may be asking too much at this point. GSP has not fought in four years, leaving the sport and his welterweight title after winning a very controversial decision against Johny Hendricks at UFC 167.  There are plenty of interesting matchups available for Georges in the welterweight division, and even walking directly into a title shot against Woodley would have been better than once again holding up the middleweight title picture. Hell, a rematch with Hendricks would have made more sense than the Bisping fight, alas Johny is also a middleweight these days…

If recent photos and comments from one of his long time coaches are anything to judge by, GSP is not carrying the extra weight well and it is questionable how his never-ending cardio has held up with the age, weight gain, and long layoff. Bisping in the meanwhile has evolved into an elite fighter late in his career, favorable matchups aside. I think GSP will be greatly out sized, and for the first time in his career out-performed in terms of endurance. St Pierre always excelled mainly due to his ability to keep the fight in the area where he has an advantage over his opponents, whether it be striking or on the ground. With Bisping, St. Pierre’s advantage is definitely on the ground – but we have historically seen many aging wrestlers find it more and more difficult to take down their opponents like they once used to, and with his lack of striking power GSP may be forced to fight Bisping on the feet for extended parts of the fight which will likely go the distance.  It won’t be pretty or exciting, but it will be more of a typical Bisping fight than a typical GSP fight.

Prediction: Michael Bisping by decision.

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UFC Fight Night 119 Preview

23 Oct , 2017,
oleg
No Comments

On October 28th, UFC is returning to Sao Paulo, Brazil with Fight Night: Brunson vs Machida, or UFN 119 (but who’s counting?).  It’s not a star-studded card by any means, but a solid line-up in terms of rankings and competitive matchmaking. As is usual for Brazilian UFC events, all of the main card fights feature a Brazilian taking on a foreigner.  The close rankings make it a difficult card to predict, and I am not very good at fight predictions to begin with, so if you’re interested in UFC betting for the next Fight Night, use your own prognostication skills instead of taking my word for it.  That disclaimer aside, here are my picks for the main card:

[#10 MW] Derek Brunson vs [NR] Lyoto Machida

It’s been over two years since we saw former Light Heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida in action, and almost three since we’ve seen his hand raised in the Octagon.  Machida is coming back from an 18 month suspension for a positive PED test, and was finished by Yoel Romero and Luke Rockhold in back-to-back fights prior to the suspension. His opponent Derek Brunson has been going through a minor slump of his own – after winning five fights in a row, he was stopped by the now interim Middleweight champion Robert Whittaker, then lost a controversial decision to the former champ Anderson Silva – but has rebounded by knocking out Daniel Kelly at UFC Fight Night 110 and is now looking to build up another win streak.

Can 39-year-old Machida make a triumphant return to action in his home country against an opponent in his physical prime? Lyoto looked like a shadow of his former self in his recent outings, and the long layoff is not likely to do him any favors.  Then again, Brunson has shown a tendency to make mistakes in his fights, which could be costly against a counter-striker like Machida. After running face-first into Whittaker’s punches, Brunson looked gun-shy against Silva, giving away the decision that he could have easily won if he was more active. My guess is that he won’t be pushing the action with Machida for the same reasons he did not push it with Silva, which could cost him the fight on the scorecards and will likely make for a lackluster main event.

Prediction: Lyoto Machida by decision.

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Gennady Golovkin vs. Canelo Alvarez

13 Sep , 2017,
oleg
2 comments

Editor note: This is a guest editorial by Thomas Matthews of Oddschecker.
Oddschecker are the leading odds comparison site, comparing markets across all major bookmakers to find the best odds.

Gennady Golovkin vs. Canelo Alvarez has the potential to rival the Joshua/Klitschko bout in April for fight of the year. The heavy hitters from Kazakhstan and Mexico respectively will go at it and most are tipping it to be a thrilling fight as opposed to the “spectacle” that was Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor last month.

But given the nature of this contest, the betting and subsequent interest in the fight has been alarmingly non-existent compared to last month’s. Oddschecker have seen an incredible disparity in the number of total bets placed, with 3,500 so far on Canelo vs. GGG compared with over 130,000 on the Mayweather McGregor show.

The round-by-round betting comparisons also give an indication of how punters are expecting the fight to go. A total of 54.3% of bets on Saturday’s fight have been on the match to be decided in round eight or further, compared with just 18.9% in Mayweather McGregor.

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League of Legends – a more serious take

31 Mar , 2017,
oleg
5 comments

In a recent post, I was rather dismissive of Vitor Belfort’s League of Legends: a special league that he proposed the UFC to create, where older Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters past their physical prime can face each other under a modified rule set. While Belfort’s idea is not likely to ever come to fruition, the fact remains that as long as there are aging fighters who are still willing to step in the cage and fans who still want to see them compete, these fighters will continue to fight – despite the fact that accumulating additional traumatic brain injury is very detrimental to their future health.

When the UFC was owned by Zuffa and Dana White wielded much greater power in the company than he does under the current WME-IMG ownership, there were a few select fighters who were offered an executive position with the UFC, essentially as a way to force them to retire from active competition while at the same time preventing them from lending their name value to a rival promotion. To my knowledge, only four fighters have been offered this deal: former UFC champions Chuck Liddell, Matt Hughes, Forrest Griffin, and Antonio ‘Big Nog’ Nogueira. When the UFC was sold, Hughes and Liddell were soon released from their jobs in a cost-cutting measure. Griffin and Nogueira remained on board (rumor has it that these two actually took their new jobs seriously, whereas Liddell and Hughes did not do much to earn their paycheck besides an occassional promotional appearance). It’s clear that WME-IMG has no intentions of paying former fighters a lucrative salary to prevent them from fighting. Just a few months after Matt Hughes’ UFC executive job has been terminated, he is already talking about potentially returning to MMA competition. There are talks of a Hughes vs Royce Gracie rematch taking place in Bellator, while another UFC veteran Mike Swick is campaigning to be the one to welcome Matt back to the combat arena.

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Weight Cuting, Redux

23 Mar , 2017,
oleg
2 comments

We’ve recently published an article related to the weight cutting issues in MMA, which have become a lot common since the introduction of the early weigh-in and the ban on intravenous (IV) re-hydration. I don’t want to continue beating a dead horse (where’s the referee to stop this beating?), but this issue deserves additional discussion in the light of the current MMA climate.  Fighters missing weight (or suffering health issues during the weight cut process which are severe enough to cancel the fight altogether) happens so often these days, that fans should be able to use the price per head sportsbook for placing bets on which fights will be cancelled in the 24 hours before the event. The regulatory bodies involved with the sport are well aware of these issues, and Andy Foster – executive officer of the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) – recently proposed a set of changes to address extreme weight cutting in MMA.

Foster’s proposal includes 10 key points, and I am not going to go over each one individually – you can read them all here, under “Agenda Item #15”. Most of the proposed points make sense, are feasible to implement without undue burden on promoters or fighters, and might actually make the sport safer for its participants, as well as reduce the number of disappointing last-minute fight cancellations. Whether these rules will actually be implemented is anybody’s guess, and the fact that some fighters will still find a way to bend or break the rules in attempt to gain a competitive advantage (even at the risk of their own health) is pretty much a given. Overall this seems like a very solid plan, which is unusual for something produced by a state athletic commission. However there are two points that I do want to address specifically, as they seem to be the biggest gaps in the otherwise well-thought out design:

  • Additional weight classes. 165, 175, 195, 225 with the removal of 170. This places each weight class below 205 at 10 pound increments. Along with licensing by weight class and ringside physician certification, the new weight classes· are essential so that each individual athlete has more options to choose a class that is suitable for them. (Authority-Association of Boxing Commissions) – Please see attached letter from the ABC Rules Committee and letter to the ABC Medical Committee

The proposal states nothing about 155 or below, heavyweights, or women’s weight divisions – so I am assuming these will be left intact. If the leading MMA promotions as well as state and international commissions all decide to adopt the new weight classes, this will lead to a major redistribution of talent. Lightweight, welterweight, and even middleweight as of late, are some of the deepest divisions in the sport, and have the talent pool to support the redistribution of fighters who currently perform between 155 and 185 lbs into five viable divisions spanning from 155 to 195. For light-heavyweight and heavyweight divisions, however, this doesn’t look promising.

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League of Legends? LOL!

18 Mar , 2017,
oleg
one comments

As internet users, we’re all familiar with the abbreviation “LOL”. It may be one of the most ubiquitous terms we encounter daily during informal, text-based communication: internet forums & message boards, social media, SMS and various other real-time text messaging apps. LOL stands for “laughing out loud”; of course people rarely actually laugh out loud while typing away at their computer or a phone. At most, they might crack a grin. Nonetheless, LOL has become the most common way of expressing amusement in a text chat. It can also be used sarcastically – to shoot down a blog post, comment, statement, or dismiss an opinion that one finds so ludicrous that it doesn’t deserve a proper response or counter-argument. When you see a simple “lol” in response to something you’ve stated that wasn’t meant to be funny, the other person is laughing at you, not with you. A three-letter retort which indicates that you’re worthy of ridicule, no more and no less.

Now, the abbreviation LOL could come to mean something very different in the context of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA): League of Legends. If you haven’t heard, Vitor Belfort is making a pitch to the UFC brass to create some type of a “masters” division in the UFC, where aging legends of the sport can face each other under a modified rule set. At first, the idea appeared so absurd to me that the abbreviation LOL seemed very fitting. However, I’ll try to be a bit more open-minded and list a few reasons why I think this is a terrible idea.

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UFC 209 Review

6 Mar , 2017,
oleg
4 comments

It’s been a while since I did one of these event review blogs. I was actually going to write up a preview as I was very much looking forward to the event. Just as I was finishing up, the news got out that Khabib Nurmagomedov was hospitalized after a failed weight cut, cancelling his interim lightweight title bout with Tony Ferguson, which on paper was the most interesting matchup of the card. I was too bummed to re-write my preview, and decided to spend the evening playing video games instead.

Despite losing the co-main, and the main event which turned out to be a stinker, the card wasn’t bad overall. It had a couple of fun come-from-behind finishes, a good heavyweight scrap (in addition to two bad ones), and an early candidate for fight of the year in Vannata-Teymur. Here’s how the televised UFC 209 fights went down.

Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1)

[#72 HW] Mark Godbeer def. [#164 HW] Daniel Spitz by unanimous decision

A sloppy heavyweight striking battle to start off the night. Godbeer had the clear power advantage and landed some good shots but could not put Spitz away. Both fighters gassed badly halfway through the second round. Not much else to say about this fight.

Aftermath: Can we just pretend this fight didn’t happen? It’s pretty clear at this point that Godbeer will not make it past being a low-level gatekeeper in the UFC, if he doesn’t wash out in his next few fights. Spitz is young and has plenty of time to develop, but his career would be better served by doing this development in smaller leagues. But the UFC’s heavyweight division needs all the warm bodies it can get, so both guys are guaranteed at least one more fight in the Octagon. I have very little interest in watching their next fights, whoever the opponent might be, so I’ll take the lazy approach to matchmaking with a winner-loser matchup against the participants of the other sloppy heavyweight bout of the night (Tybura – Henrique).

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TUF 24: How They Stack Up

21 Jul , 2016,
oleg
4 comments

Another season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ reality series looms on the horizon.  This will be season 24, not counting the various unnumbered international spin-offs like TUF: Brazil and TUF: Latin America.  In my opinion, this show is long past its expiration date and I stopped watching many years ago.  However, this season will be a little different than most: coached by top UFC flyweights Joe Benavidez and Henry Cejudo, the cast features 16 flyweights who hold a title in one of various minor MMA leagues throughout the world.  The winner will get a shot at the dominant reigning champion Demetrious Johnson, who is currently not only #1 in the world in his weight class, but also #1 on our Division Point Dominance list, #2 Pound for Pound (likely soon to be promoted to #1 with the pending suspension of Jon Jones), as well as the #1 flyweight fighter of all time.  The coaches, who both already had their chance at DJ’s gold, will also square off at the conclusion of the season and the winner could likely be the next in line for another go-round at the title.  This will be the first season of TUF in many years that I will be watching, even though I still hope that the new UFC ownership axes the incredibly stale series.

So how do the TUF 24 flyweight contenders stack up in the FightMatrix rankings?  Keep reading to find out.

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