Archive for July, 2011
Friday, July 1st, 2011
I firmly believe Saturday night’s UFC 132 in Las Vegas is the fight card of the year, with a main event that should be outstanding to watch and a number of undercard bouts that should give us a ton of excitement. With Dominick Cruz putting his Bantamweight Championship on the line against Urijah Faber, the card has a great main event with some bad blood sprinkled in.
Here’s some of the UFC 132 audio we’ve collected over the last little bit:
- Dominick Cruz – UFC Bantamweight Champion
- Urijah Faber – UFC Bantamweight number one contender
- Showdown Joe - Sportsnet MMA analyst
Starting with the main event, it has some really nice bad blood to add to a really good matchup. Cruz and Faber’s dislike started prior to their Featherweight Title bout more than four years ago, a fight that Faber won in very quick fashion. Now, with them meeting for the first time since, both have strong words for each other.
Cruz is adamant he’s a much different fighter than the first time they fought and there’s no way he’s going to be able to cope with his pace and well rounded game. Faber has criticized the manner in which Cruz has won his last fights, eight in a row to be exact, saying he hasn’t put together any finishes and all he does is grind out decisions. So how might this fight actually play out?
I believe Cruz is the better fighter; his standup is very difficult to cope with and is at a higher level than Faber’s in my eyes. Dominick is guaranteed a takedown per round, even against a very good wrestler like Urijah, and the pace he works on the ground is furious. The way Cruz mixes up his strikes and takedowns, it’s going to be very difficult for Faber to cope; that said, good footwork and a conservative gameplan mixed with good striking might even the gap a little. This is Cruz’s fight to win though, and I think he will work a nice 25 minute gameplan to retain his title.
The light heavyweight bout between Ryan Bader and Tito Ortiz intrigues me, just because it could be Tito’s final fight in the sport. He hasn’t won a fight in years and he’s really not in the same league as the bruising Bader, but I’ll be very intrigued if Ortiz can keep this fight close like he has in all of his previous losses. But, at this point, Tito just isn’t in the same league as Bader, who I believe is a top ten fighter at 205 pounds. He’s a better striker, more powerful striker and better wrestler than Ortiz, so I really just don’t see Tito winning. If he doesn’t, you have to think that’s it for his impressive MMA career.
The potential of an absolute slugfest certainly exists in the Chris Leben-Wanderlei Silva fight, with both guys having a long history of knockout wins…and losses. You know right from the get go, these guys are going to rush to the middle of the cage and start throwing, but it’s what happens when both guys survive the frenetic opening seconds that will be very interesting. Showdown Joe believes this fight has a large potential of going to the ground, and if that happens, I think Silva has the edge as a true BJJ black belt. These guys won’t hesitate to exchange shots, but they also both need wins, and I think there will be some smart gameplans mixed in with furious striking. I’ll take Silva though.
Carlos Condit fights Dong Hyun Kim on the PPV card, and whenever Condit fights you’re usually in for a very exciting fight. And don’t forget to check out the free prelim fights on Sportsnet starting at 6 pm, because both ones promise to be pretty good. I’m especially looking forward to the Melvin Guillard-Shane Roller bout, because whenever Guillard fights, there seems to be fireworks. I’m really jacked for this one, so if there’s a card you order or check out at a bar this year, this really is the one. We’ll have a full review up next week.
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Friday, July 1st, 2011
July 1st is always a day for big money and overpaying, and the 2011 edition was no exception, with millions of dollars being thrown around. While guys like Erik Cole, Ed Jovanovski and Michael Ryder seem grossly overpaid on their new deals, there were some solid value signings to be had on Canada Day.
Tyler Kennedy, Pittsburgh Penguins
One of a number of guys who decided to re-up with their current team, Kennedy signed a two year deal worth $4 million overall, and that’s really good value for a very useful player. I see Kennedy very much in the same category as Curtis Glencross, a player who will give you solid contributions on a second or third line. He’ll add nice possession minutes with a little bit of offence, and having guys like that at affordable cap hits is important. Good player, good contract.
Radim Vrbata, Phoenix Coyotes
Another guy who stayed with his parent club, Vrbata was a guy I identified as a potential good value signing prior to free agency opening. He signed a three year deal at $3 million annually, which is pretty good value for a player who plays good, consistent minutes and is a pretty good bet to flirt with 20 goals on a yearly basis. Phoenix saw some nice chemistry develop between Vrbata and Martin Hanzal last year, and Radim has had a ton of success playing for Dave Tippet. He didn’t get a stupid raise, and I think all things considered, this is a pretty good signing.
Steve Sullivan, Pittsburgh Penguins
While the Penguins decided to stand pat while names like Jaromir Jagr and Max Talbot passed them by, Pittsburgh did make a rather nice signing when they brought in Sullivan on a one year, $1.5 million deal. The guy can still play, when healthy, and slotting him in as a third line centre is a really nice option. We all know Crosby and Staal are going to be the heavy lifters, so putting Sullivan et al against lesser opposition could net some really nice results. He’ll certainly face easier opposition in Pittsburgh than he did in Nashville.
Andrew Brunette, Chicago Blackhawks
Signing a one year, $2 million deal, Brunette can play a nice role with the Hawks, giving them solid production on a second powerplay unit and on a third line. He still has some of the softest hands in the NHL and has really nice vision, especially down low offensively. It’s also a one year deal, so if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work and you ride it out. On top of all that, everyone you speak to says nothing but good thing about Brunette’s character and personality, so that’s never a bad addition.
Sheldon Souray, Dallas Stars
Yep, I’m putting Souray in this category. He’s going very much down the same road Alex Tanguay went down last year, taking a one year deal at $1.65 million. The one main difference would be Souray’s buyout money from Edmonton, which makes his financial situation even rosier. For the Stars, it’s a no risk deal. You haven’t signed him long term nor have you broken the bank to get him, and Souray can still shoot the puck, so he might be able to help the powerplay. If it doesn’t work out, oh well, but he just might be okay for them.
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