November 20, 2010

Anybody Watching the Fights Tonight?

So I let it slip during the dog days of July that I am an avid mixed marital arts fan. There are few individual sports that require as much technical proficiency, raw power, and heart as this modern combat sport, which has evolved to be the domain of an incredible new breed of hybrid fighter.

Unlike the early days of MMA when pure practitioners of various martial arts stepped into the cage with the mastery of one style, today's athletes cross-train as wrestlers, Brazilian jujitsu submission artists, kick-boxers, and brawlers.

That is part of what makes tonight's UFC fight between Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida interesting to me.

Rampage is a hotheaded brawler with a wrestling background that tends to be best on his feet, but who has decent submission defense. He's powerful and emotional and simply pours it out in an a rush, but isn't a technician, despite his championship belts. He's just a tough son-of-a-gun, without much quit in him, who prefers to push forward. Detroit seems to be pulling for him, as well, making this a"hometown" fight for him, of sorts.

Machida, on the other hand is one of the more disciplined martial artists in modern MMA, using Brazilian jujitsu, Shotokan karate, and even Sumo in an elusive, counter-punching style.

Those of you interested in sports gambling are going to have a tough choice to make tonight as Rampage and The Dragon face off.

My pick? I'm guessing Machida on points in a unanimous decision after three rounds, with Machida not really hurting Jackson but frustrating him as he points his way to a win.

UFC 123's other big fight is the rubber match between legends BJ Penn and Matt Hughes. I'd like ot talk this up, but I can't. Penn is slower and less flexible and doesn't seem to have the heart he used to, while Hughes is recharged and evolving.

Hughes by submission early in round 2.

Update: Penn destroyed Hughes in seconds, and Rampage outpointed Machida to a split decision. Did I mention that the unpredictability of the sport is another thing that fascinates me?

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