Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Enter the Machida

(He has done it again. Here is the next installment of fighting news from "Little Dragon aka Bruce Lee".)

Georges "Rush" St. Pierre Victorious

With an incredible performance against B.J "the Prodigy" Penn, Georges "Rush" St. Pierre proves he is one of the best. In their first meeting there have been claims that St. Pierre was not an obvious winner. In the rematch GSP made an obvious point as he dominated the fight bringing him a step closer to his goal of being known as the best pound for pound fighter of all time. The first round was a good match up with Penn defending against a few take down attempts against the cage; although St. Pierre seemed to win the round by being the aggressor. After the first round, it was more of an onslaught by a determined St. Pierre who was not going to settle for a close win. He completely dominated the fight by using take downs to control his opponent (striking on the ground) and even out striking him in stances.

As St. Pierre said prior to the fight, it would not be enough to just beat B.J he [had] to finish him. During the fight, St. Pierre out performed B.J. in the first three rounds and continued to do so through to the fourth. It appeared Pierre, who had B.J. on the ground and partial side control while pounding away at his face towards the end of the fourth round, was really trying to finish the fight. Perhaps he wanted B.J to "eat his words", as Pierre's trainer Firas put it, by getting B.J. to tap out due to strikes. A feat (tapping out due to strikes) Penn had criticized St. Pierre of succumbing to in the past.

Although Penn's heart and will would not let him submit, it seemed like the referee was close to stopping the fight since B.J was hardly able to defend himself on the ground from Pierre's arsenal of punches and elbows. All B.J could do was keep feinting thereby making Geroges rejust in order not to strike the back of B.J.'s head. It was this bare minimal movement that prevented the referee from stopping the fight. You have to give B.J. some credit for not giving up as he was being overwhelmed with attacks that were hitting their target repeatedly.

When the fourth round came to an end Georges seemingly angry he did not finish B.J., punched the cage as each man went to their corner. B.J was in bad shape and I think it was the first time I saw his face bleed. Penn's corner had no choice, it appeared, but to call the match - Penn's brother indicated to stop the fight. I believe I heard B.J saying he did not want to stop even though he seemed physically unable to continue. With B.J.'s corner having his best interests in mind the fight was stopped, making St. Pierre the winner via corner stoppage.

You had to be proud of Georges St. Pierre.

Whether you viewed him as the representative native of Montreal, the 2008 Canadian athlete of the year, the face of MMA sports or just being your favorite fighter, you just had to be proud of GSP. He is not only impressive because of his in-fight performances but also because his attitude in general is something to admire. He is a very disciplined and hard working individual. He is quite humble. As you may have seen based on the pre fight talk (where B.J. Penn did a lot of criticizing of St. Pierre) St. Pierre still tried to be respectful towards Penn regardless by not responding to his taunts.

The one thing that may tarnish the night for St. Pierre is that after the fight there were allegations that GSP and his corner were using Vaseline on his back, which is not allowed. The case is still being looked into although it is not a factor that affected the outcome of the fight.

Enter the "Machida"

Lyoto "the Dragon" Machida scored an impressive knock out victory against Thiago Silva. He remains unbeaten in MMA. He seems to have what it takes to be then next light heavyweight champ (no offense Rashad). Lyoto is often criticized for his fighting style. He is not viewed as an exciting fighter. That may be one of the reasons he is long overdue for a title shot. His method is unorthodox but effective. The basis is Karate, although he is not limited to that. He appears to have taken the best of Karate and added it to his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Sumo, Muay Thai, and Wrestling skills. He uses a way of counter attacking. To do this he is constantly moving backwards which may be one of the reasons he is not a fan favorite. Some deem this "running away", which takes away from the action. Machida is also not completely fluent in English, taking into consideration these marketing factors, they may be the reason the UFC is not pushing for Machida to be the next Light heavy weight champion. After all, if this was the "Gladiator" days where the fans decide the winner, he may not have been the most popular fighter.

Now if you analyze his fights and see the technical side of his strategy, you can see the beauty of his method. Look at the lead up to the knock out of Thiago Silva. Lyoto gracefully avoided being hit before he countered. Silva was hardly able to even hit him throughout the fight. Leading up to the knock out, Silva missed two punches as Machida moved straight back and out of the way. When Silva threw his third punch, he probably thought the same would occur. It was a very lazy punch. Instead this time Machida avoided the punch while moving in towards him and countered with a three hit combo that floored him. Machida followed up with two ground shots to the head knocking out Silva at the final seconds of the round.

Now if you look at the larger picture of how styles have been used in the UFC there was a time when it was the majority of fans that did not like the Jiu Jitsu aspect of the fight. It was viewed as boring. Now more fans understand and appreciate a fighter taking control wherever the fight is. After all is that not an important trait of a fighter, being unpredictable and implementing techniques that work? If one fighter is dominant for whatever reason, is it not the opponents place to figure out how to beat that opponent? Perhaps it is only a matter of fans understanding what Machida is doing, or perhaps I am looking too deep into it.

The other Dragon (Bruce Lee) use to point out , not to limit yourself with tradition. He asked, "why block and counter when you can just immediately counter?". Lyoto's elusiveness (as Joe Rogan puts it) is not an easy thing to implement effectively in a fight; neither is his excellent accuracy. I think Bruce would have been proud of Machida creating and using his own unique style and honing his skill set.

Little Dragon can be reached at: Smashmauf@gmail.com

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