Originally posted on MMATorch.com on 10-19-2016
Rank the top three relatively big name talkers in MMA today in terms of their effectiveness at boosting the drawing power of their fights and increasing fan interest. Then, on the flip side, who are the worst three relatively big name fighters (who speak English) when it comes to selling their fights?
MICHAEL GROCKE, MMATorch contributor
The Best starts with… 1. Chael Sonnen. He took trash talking to an all new level and created the blueprint for Conor McGregor to follow. He talked his way into a title fight against Anderson Silva and through his trash talking made a fight no one really cared about “must see.” The verbal onslaught he unleashed on Silva, the country of Brazil, and its people made him the true bad guy of MMA. His pro wrestling-like promos, not his fighting skills, are what made him the attraction that he became.
2. Conor McGregor. The flashy Irishman isn’t just the best talker currently in the UFC, he’s one of the best in all of sports. His quick wit is second to none. McGregor’s trash talking is what got him noticed in the first place. His constant badgering of then Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo landed him a shot at the title. He then backed up his talk with a 13 second knockout to capture the Featherweight Championship. His verbal battle against Nate Diaz leading up to their fights were must see, as was his now legendary promo at the UFC 205 press conference.
3. Nick Diaz: His trash talking isn’t rehearsed or written for him. Nick’s verbal warfare comes from the heart while speaking his mind. Let’s just say Nick Diaz views the world and life in a very unique way, and it comes out in his talking.
The Worst: This could be a long, long list. Choosing the top three is next to impossible. Obviously names such as Jose Aldo and Demetrious Johnson immediately come to mind due to their inability to draw PPV buys. There are other guys who are just considered “nice guys” and don’t have trash talking in them. There are many fighters who fall into this category, Junior dos Santos immediately comes to mind as do countless others. Some of the greatest fighters in MMA history can’t sell water in the desert, but it doesn’t affect my excitement when it comes to watching them compete in the Octagon.
Bellator 162 comes to us live from the FedEx Forum in Memphis, TN on Friday night. Former middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko returns to the Bellator octagon to face veteran Kendall Grove in the main event of the four-fight main card. It will be Shlemenko’s first fight in Bellator since he knocked out Melvin Manhoef back in February, 2015. Unfortunately for Shlemenko the win was changed to a no-contest due to a failed drug test.
UFC veteran Kendall Grove enters the fight looking for his third straight victory and another run at a championship.
The co-main event features professional wrestler Bobby Lashley taking on Josh Appelt in a battle of heavyweights. The last we saw Booby Lashley in the octagon he was knocking out James Thompson roughly one year ago.
The main card rounds out with Hisaki Kato vs. AJ Matthews in a middleweight showdown and Ryan Couture vs. Goiti Yamauchi in a battle of lightweights.
Note: Join me at MMATorch.com tonight where I will be reporting live round by round coverage and analysis of Bellator 162.
Kendall Grove (23-15) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (51-9) – Middleweight (185 lbs.)
Kendall Grove comes into this fight with a huge height and reach advantage. Grove stands six inches taller than Shlemenko and boasts a nine inch reach advantage. Grove won his last two fights and looked good in the process winning both by knockout. It’s imperative that he is able to take advantage of his longer reach and keep Shlemenko from getting inside, where the Russian can do serious damage.
Shlemenko will obviously try to close the distance and work inside in an effort to negate Grove’s size advantage. The problem for Shlemenko is he has historically struggled when going up against bigger fighters. Although it’s been over a year since Shlemenko fought under the Bellator banner, he does have two wins in that time span while fighting in Russia. If Shlemenko is sharp and finds ways to work inside I think he has enough to put Kendall Grove away.
Pick: Shlemenko by TKO
Josh Appelt (7-2) vs. Bobby Lashley (14-2) – Heavyweight (265 lbs.)
Josh Appelt will be Lashley’s toughest challenge yet. That being said, he isn’t the challenge a 14-2 fighter should be getting at this point in his career. It’s time Bellator puts a serious challenge in front of the current TNA and former WWE wrestler.
I’m sure Bellator is hesitant to do this because they know Bobby Lashley would get exposed should he face a fighter such as Matt Mitrione or one of the other top contenders in the heavyweight division. Lashley sorely lacks striking skills and relies primarily on his wrestling to overpower his opponent and keep him on the ground.
If Josh is able to defend Lashley’s takedown attempts and keep the fight standing I think he has a chance. It will be interesting to see how much cardio Lashley has should the fight go into the later rounds.
My prediction however, is Bobby will again use his brute strength and overpower Appelt, get him to the ground and work in a submission.
Pick: Lashley by submission
AJ Matthews (8-5) vs. Hisaki Kato (6-2) – Middleweight (185 lbs.)
AJ Matthews comes into Friday night’s fight on a two-fight losing streak. After losing to Anatoly Tokov and Ben Reiter, this is a must win fight for Matthews. Unfortunately he’s going up against Japanese knockout artist Hisaki Kato. Kato scored an incredible knockout of Joe Schilling at Bellator 139 and will look to do the same to Matthews. I don’t expect this fight to go the distance.
Pick: Kato by TKO
Ryan Couture (10-4) vs. Goiti Yamauchi (19-3) – Lightweight (155 lbs.)
I was disappointed in Yamauchi’s last fight where he lost to Bubba Jenkins at Bellator 151. This is a big fight for him so I expect to see a much better Goiti Yamauchi this time out. Don’t get me wrong, Ryan Couture is no push over. He has excellent grappling skills and works well on the ground. He’ll be looking to get back on the winning track after suffering a loss to Patricky Freire at Bellator 148. Yamauchi is a submission specialist and I don’t see this fight ending well for Ryan Couture.
Pick: Yamauchi by decision
Quick Picks for the Prelims:
Gilbert Smith over Ricky Rainey
Steve Garcia over Ronnie Lawrence
Chase Gormley over Bobby Bents
Julia Bond over Arlene Blencowe
Dan Charles over Virgil Zwicker
Tyler Hill over Wade Johnson
Eryk Anders over Brian White
Jaleel Willis over Omar Johnson
Grady Hurley over Chad Cook
Frank Tate over Mike Wessel
Enjoy the fights!
Originally posted on MMATorch.com on 10-16-2016
Who should George St. Pierre face if he fights at UFC 206 (or soon thereafter)?
MICHAEL GROCKE, MMATorch contributor
It’s been roughly three years since we last saw Georges St. Pierre in the Octagon. Back on November 16, 2013 at UFC 167, GSP successfully defended his UFC Welterweight Championship by defeating Johny Hendricks by split decision (47-48, 48-47, 48-47). It was a fight many thought GSP lost, including me.
While it will be fascinating to see how well GSP’s skills have held up after a three-year hiatus, it’s not something I’m all that stoked to see. On a scale of 1-10, my excitement level for a GSP return sits around a 5. I’m not here to downplay GSP’s greatness, but his fights just aren’t that exciting.
As to whom St. Pierre should fight if he returns, my vote is for Anderson Silva. For years the UFC teased a super-fight between the two while they were at the height of their popularity, but nothing ever came to fruition. Should GSP return, this will be the UFC’s last chance to make this fight happen.
Originally posted on MMATorch.com on 10-10-2016
On a 1-10 scale, how much do you sympathize with Jose Aldo’s frustration with his inability to secure a rematch against Conor McGregor, and why?
MICHAEL GROCKE, MMATORCH Contributor
8.0. I do sympathize with Jose Aldo as I feel he has a legitimate argument. I’ve never seen a former champion, especially one as dominant as Aldo, have such a hard time getting a rematch. Look, I get that UFC wants to put together fights that will sell the most PPVs. It is a business, after all. But, here’s a man who dominated the Featherweight Division and was once considered as arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world – MMATorch has him no. 6 – and he has to beg Dana White and the UFC for a rematch – a rematch I’m fairly confident he’ll win by the way.
Dana White promising that Conor McGregor’s next move would be either to defend his Featherweight Title or drop the belt after the Nate Diaz fight didn’t help matters. Add to it the fact that after McGregor fights Eddie Alvarez at UFC 205, it will be his third fight outside of the division he holds the title in. Personally, I wanted see Aldo vs. McGregor 2 instead of Alvarez vs. McGregor.
Dan Henderson sat down with reporters after his failed attempt at capturing the middleweight title from Michael Bisping at UFC 204 and expressed his thoughts on the fight.
“The first round, I almost finished him,” Henderson said. “I thought that was obviously a 10-8 round, but you never know. I thought I won the first two rounds, and he won the third and fourth, and I wanted to make sure I went out and won the fifth, and I felt like I did that.
I scored the first four rounds exactly as Henderson thought they went. The difference is I scored the fifth and final round for Bisping.
On how the loss would affect him as he enters retirement, he said, “I feel like you have to ask me that in a few days. But I felt like before this fight, I accomplished enough in the sport, and was satisfied with that. But obviously, there was one more thing I wanted to do, and really worked my ass off in training camp, and thought I was ready to get it done.”
“I’m a little frustrated, feeling I did get it done and didn’t get credit for it, I guess. But it is what it is now, and there’s no changing that, I don’t think. I’ve just got to live with it.”
My viewpoint: Dan Henderson has nothing to be ashamed of after his performance last Saturday night at UFC 204. I had the same scorecard as two of the judges scoring the fight, 48-47 in favor of Bisping. He came so close to ending the fight in the first round with a huge overhand right that almost knocked Bisping out cold. But it wasn’t to be as Bisping covered up well and was able to roll out of the way as Hendo tried landing the finishing blows.
Dan Henderson will try to land himself a job within the UFC now that his fighting career is over. His accomplishments include winning a UFC tournament at UFC 17, winning a Rings King of Kings tournament, holding titles in two different Pride FC weight classes, and holding the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Title. He never held the UFC Middleweight title.
The future hall of famer has nothing left to prove. As a big fan of Dan Henderson, it was a pleasure watching him fight throughout his career, and I wish him well retirement.
Originally posted on MMATorch.com on 9-29-2016
TOPIC: Does Ronda Rousey deserve an immediate title shot if she agrees to return at UFC 207? If so, why? If not, why not and who should get shot before her and who should she fight first to earn a title shot?
MICHAEL GROCKE, MMATorch contributor
My instant reaction to this question upon first reading it was no, Ronda Rousey does not deserve an immediate title shot. But, after allowing myself time to think it through, I’ve done a 180 and think she should get the title shot. It’s the only fight that makes sense. Between Amada Nunes and Ronda Rousey combined, they’ve fought and beat the best that the Women’s Bantamweight Division has to offer… except each other. One can make the argument that Ronda’s return fight, regardless of foe, will do huge numbers for the UFC. While that’s true, it doesn’t help Nunes and her lack of drawing power. If not Rousey, whom else will people be willing to pay to see Nunes fight? Miesha Tate or Valentina Shevchenko again? No. How about Holly Holm, who lost her last two fights and did not look particularly good in either one. The answer is no again. Ronda Rousey vs. Amanda Nunes is the fight to make.
Agree or disagree?
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