We’re back for another edition of the Heavy MMA Roundtable, and this time we’re looking at Saturday night’s “UFC 113: Machida vs. Shogun 2” card in Montreal. The card features the highly-anticipated rematch between Lyoto Machida and Mauricio Shogun Rua for the UFC light heavyweight championship, a welterweight contender’s bout between verbal warriors Josh Koscheck and Paul Daley and the debut of Kimbo Slice on pay per view.
Our panel this week consists of:
Jeremy Botter: Lead Staff Writer, Heavy.com
Ryan Loco: MMA Contributor and host of The Loco Life
Matt Brown: Senior MMA Editor, Heavy.com
1. Machida vs Shogun is one of the most anticipated rematches in quite some time. Who did you have winning the first fight and how do you see this one playing out?
Botter: I’m one of the rare few who had Shogun winning four out of the five rounds in the first fight. I didn’t see Machida do much of anything to attempt to win, only sporadically attacking when his legs were being punished. Shogun stayed on the offensive for the majority of the fight and was able to land those lead leg and body kicks to an amazing degree. I don’t see the rematch playing out the same way, however. Neither fighter will want a replay of the first bout, and Shogun will be the aggressor early in this fight. Machida will capitalize on a mistake, look for a takedown and then win the bout by submission, probably in the second round.
Brown: I had Shogun winning the fight three rounds to two. I think he fought the perfect fight to beat Machida and should have been rewarded with the belt. That being said, I don’t think this fight will go the same way. I see Machida learning from his mistakes and nearly dominating the fight. I think Shogun might win one round, but Machida will go back to being Machida and avoid being hit at all. He’ll be the elusive guy we got to know over the last two years and take a lopsided decision.
Loco: In the first matchup between Shogun and Machida, I had Machida winning, solely due to the “You have to BEAT the champ in order to beat the champ.” It was too close to call. I think that Machida realizes that he cannot afford to fight that same fight, because he will not win another decision that way. I see Machida being more aggressive, and in turn, guaranteeing the fans a finish. Whether that finish means Machida earning the ko or Shogun earning the ko, I can’t 100% say. I think Shogun will have a slight edge in confidence due to his last showing. However, I have to give the advantage to the man holding the belt. I like Machida by TKO.
2. Do you consider Kimbo Slice a real mixed martial artist or is it too hard to look past the EliteXC days and view him as something of a cartoon character?
Loco: It is very tough to get the past out of my mind. However, I have the benefit of knowing Kimbo for quite some time, and having seen him train in person. The man is a hard worker, and focused on ALL aspects of MMA, not just striking. I know he wants to improve on his ground game, and I know he works hard on it. I have no problem saying that Kimbo is on the right path to becoming a true mixed martial artist. He hasn’t had enough time to truly build a formidable ground game, but his heart and desire can never be questioned, and he will only continue to try and evolve.
Brown: I’d like to start this by saying that I respect Kimbo for everything he has done. He stepped up to the plate and took a spot on The Ultimate Fighter – a decision that I know must have been humbling. Further, he’s doing some serious training down at American Top Team and has gone on record as saying that he has improved leaps and bounds from the one-dimensional fighter he was a couple years ago. However, it’s hard for me to shake the EliteXC memories. It’s like the guy that played McLovin in Superbad. He’ll be McLovin for a very long time. Kimbo will be the “street fighting legend” at least for a few more fights in the UFC. I hope that part of his career will be an afterthought and people will be talking about the new and improved Kimbo pretty soon. He’s a good guy and people genuinely love him. He’s a quality rags to riches story and that is great for any sport, especially MMA.
Botter: I never watched Kimbo’s YouTube videos. I think I’ve seen a whole ten seconds of the Sean Gannon fight, and then I stopped. It didn’t interest me at the time, and it doesn’t interest me now. What does interest me, though, is Kimbo Slice’s evolution as a mixed martial artist. The Kimbo we saw in the Houston Alexander fight was far different than the Kimbo that we saw in the Roy Nelson fight. He was more measured, more controlled, and paced the fight to go in his favor. He wanted the big knockout in a bad way but refused to be drawn into a situation that could turn out badly for him. That spoke volumes for me, and it speaks volumes for his evolution as a fighter at American Top Team. I think we see the next evolution of Kimbo Slice tomorrow night as he gets Mitrione to the ground and pulls off a shocking submission for the win.
3. Predict the Fight of the Night, Knockout of the Night, and Submission of the Night.
Brown: I think the best bet for Fight of the Night as well as Knockout of the Night is the Josh Koscheck vs. Paul Daley fight. Both guys like to bang and with Koscheck’s big right overhand and Daley’s deadly left hook, the odds of someone getting the lights turned out is fairly high. But if nobody actually connects on the button, the action will certainly come early and often. So even if it goes to the judges, Fight of the Night is very possible. Submission of the Night goes to Matt Mitrione. He may say he want to stand and trade, but why? Kimbo has proven to have a shaky ground game and Mitrione will use that to his advantage to take the fight down and grab a high profile win via some sort of sub.
Botter: I’m going to go against the grain here and take Patrick Cote vs. Alan Belcher for Fight of the Night. I think it’s going to be a slugfest with a violent ending for one of the participants. Both guys hit hard and both guys can take a decent punch, and that’s the recipe for a Fight of the Night award. Submission of the Night will go to Kimbo Slice, not because it’s an amazing submission or anything, but simply because he will submit Mitrione and that alone is deserving of an award. Knockout of the Night will go to Sam Stout when he ends Jeremy Stephens’ night.
Loco: Fight of the night – Kos vs Daley, simply due to the amount of hate and buildup that these two guys have brought to it. I don’t see a way that this fight can disappoint. nockout of the night – This is a tough one, since I see Stout, Belcher/Cote, Marcus Davis, and Slice/Mitrione as all having a shot at this. I’m going to give the nod to Stout, as he’s fighting in front of his Canadian crowd, and he loves to swing. Submission of the night – I think Jason MacDonald gets this one, simply because I don’t really see anyone else securing a victory by sub. He benefits from Louiseau being dropped from this card.
4. Dana White made public that the winner of Josh Koscheck and Paul Daley will be the next to take on Georges St. Pierre for the welterweight belt. While everyone has a chance in MMA, what real chance does either have in dethroning the dominant champion?
Botter: Daley has almost zero chance. He’s a better striker than Dan Hardy but would be frustrated on the ground even worse than his teammate was. Koscheck may have the best chance of anyone in the welterweight division right now to grind out a decision over St. Pierre. His wrestling is far better than anyone St. Pierre has faced in recent memory, and he’s evolved and improved so much as a complete fighter in the past couple of years that it would be a stern test for St. Pierre. It would also be the biggest welterweight PPV buyrate they can do at the moment.
Loco: I think that Koscheck has the best chance of somewhat frustrating GSP. He won’t allow GSP to score takedowns at will. GSP will still get all his takedowns, just not super easy. But as for beating him, I don’t see anyone giving GSP trouble. His wrestling is just untouchable right now. If he gets within arms reach of you, it’s pretty much game over. Everyone has a punchers chance, but unless something crazy happens, that gold is staying on GSP’s waist for a long long time.
Brown: I don’t see GSP losing any time soon to anyone currently in the welterweight division. That includes Koscheck and Daley. I think St. Pierre is one of the handfull of truly special fighters in the sport and will only finally lose again by some freak counter or something of that nature. He makes everyone fight on his terms, and his skills in every aspect of MMA exceeds any of his potential opponents that are in the welterweight division at this time.
5. If Lyoto Machida successfully defends his belt on May 8, he’ll move to 17-0 with wins over Shogun Rua (twice), Rashad Evans, Thiago Silva, Tito Ortiz, Sokoudjou, B.J. Penn, Rich Franklin, and Stephan Bonnar. Is it crazy to say he’s the best pound for pound fighter in the world? If he’s not #1, who would rank ahead of him?
Brown: I don’t think it would be CRAZY to say he’s the best fighter in the world. Personally, with a win over Rua again, I’d have him ranked fourth in the pound for pound rankings behind Fedor, Anderson Silva, and GSP. His resume is very, very impressive and another win over Shogun (a guy many considered the best light heavy in the world just a couple years ago) would solidify his top 5 pound for pound ranking and inch him closer to the top spot.
Botter: Even a dominating win here won’t make him the best in the world. It should put him in contention for a top three spot. The only way Machida makes it to the top is if Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre stop performing at a high level. Silva’s already dangerously close to doing just that, but St. Pierre is in zero danger of relenting any time soon.
Loco: I absolutely feel that if Machida beats Shogun again, it’s impossible argue against Lyoto being in the top 3 pound for pound (with Anderson and GSP rounding out the trio). Lyoto has to compete with those two gentleman for the crown, and those are big shoes to fill. However, if Lyoto wins in impressive fashion, and you factor in Anderson’s performance against Maia and GSP being content with just taking his opponent down and winning 5 round decisions, there’s a great opportunity for Lyoto to take the #1 spot.
Alan Belcher vs. Patrick Cote
Botter: Belcher is too well-rounded for Cote, and the Canadian is coming off a year and a half of being on the shelf. That’s not a recipe for a good comeback. Belcher by decision in a memorable fight.
Brown: I like Belcher in this one. I think he’s improving with every fight and ring rust is a real thing. Cote has been on the shelf a long time. Belcher via TKO.
Loco: Cote beats Belcher via tko in the second, due to Cote’s granite hands and Belcher’s love of swinging. Gonna be fun either way.
Kimbo Slice vs. Matt Mitrione
Loco: No one is really giving Slice a chance, which is why I’m going to pick him. TKo in the first. I don’t think we have to worry about this fight turning out to be like Slice’s fight with Alexander.
Botter: As crazy as this sounds, Kimbo is the experienced veteran going into the fight. Mitrione, right now, is what Kimbo was during EliteXC — a straight ahead, no-nonsense brawler who just wants to trade punches. I think this version of Kimbo makes him pay by taking him to the ground and submitting him. Kimbo Slice by submission.
Brown: Like I said, I like Kimbo. But I think Mitrione fights a smart fight and takes it to the ground early. Mitrione via submission.
Jeremy Stephens vs. Sam Stout
Brown: Stout pulls this one out for his fellow Canadians. Stout via TKO.
Loco: Stout wins this via tko in the second, firing up this Canadian crowd and being a contender for KO of the night.
Botter: Both guys hit plenty hard, but they call Stout “Hands of Stone” for a reason. It should be an exciting fight for the minute or two that it lasts, until Stout dispatches Stephens with a vicious knockout. Stout by KO, round one.
Josh Koscheck vs. Paul Daley
Botter: Koscheck is always in danger of doing something stupid, like standing and trading punches with a world-class striker like Paul Daley, but I don’t think we’re going to see that here. I think we’re going to see the smart version of Koscheck, and when he fights smart, Josh Koscheck is one of the best in the world. He’ll get Daley down early, grind him during the first round, then submit him with a rear naked choke halfway through the second round.
Loco: I like Koscheck beaing Daley via tko, ground and pound. Koscheck may like to stand and prove a point, but I’m sure he likes winning even more, especially knowing that a GSP title shot is next.
Brown: There’s not doubt that Paul Daley has power. There’s also no doubt that Josh Koscheck has an amazing wrestling base. A few minutes of standing, then to the ground we go. Koscheck via decision.
Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua
Loco: Machida takes this in the third. He knows he can’t risk going to a decision again with Shogun. Heck, we all know it.
Botter: Shogun will press the attack early here, attempting to put a swift and emphatic exclamation point on this rivalry. That’s going to cost him, however, as I believe Machida’s game plan is to not only avoid getting hit, but to take Shogun down and work his submission game as soon as possible and as often as possible. Shogun’s no joke on the ground, but Machida will prove to be too much. Machida by submission, round two.
Brown: Machida learns from the first fight and goes back to the “boring” Machida. He bobs, weaves and dodges his way to a long 5 round decision.
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