Bisping St-Pierre showdown in New York

BisGSP


UFC legend Georges St-Pierre will return after a 4 year absence to attempt to snatch the middleweight title from English fighter Michael Bisping. The fight will see Bisping defend the belt for the third time after winning it from Luke Rockhold and defending it in Manchester against Dan Henderson. It is an interesting match up and the returning GSP, who says he is back to stay, has numerous questions over his head.

St-Pierre ,the former welterweight champion, has not fought since 2013 when he defended his title against Johny Hendricks. Later he vacated the title and said he was not going to compete for a while. GSP informed fight fans that he needed some time away from the sport so he could recharge. He was one of the best fighters in his time in the UFC and had a strong following. He will be hoping to return to glory with a victory over Bisping.

Can GSP step back in and be as magnificent as he was? It is a tough ask for the Canadian as no matter how hard you train and how much you spar nothing replicates being under the pressure of fighting in the octagon. Bisping has been active in the 4 years GSP has been away. The champion has fought 5 times and won all of his bouts while GSP has been away. The sharpness of GSP will be vital and if he cannot settle quickly Bisping will be able to take control.

The key to this fight is who can implement their style. Bisping is happier on his feet and if he can stop GSP taking the fight to the ground it will be a successful night for the Englishman. Bisping has relentless stand up skills and will not stop until he lands a knockout shot. If GSP can get the fight to the ground it will be a different story. Bisping struggles when taken down and with his opponents elite ground game he could be in serious danger.

While GSP weighed in at 184.4 pounds to Bisping’s 184.6 size is a huge factor. GSP is moving up from 170 to middleweight and it shows. Bisping is slightly taller but is comfortable at the weight. It is the champions natural weight and the challenger is moving up. Again GSP can negate this by securing a take down which would remove all of Bisping’s strengths.

The build up has been a good watch. Bisping has been outspoken and verging on arrogant. Instead of respecting what GSP has done he has questioned why he has come back and why he has returned at a higher weight. His game plan is to get under the skin of the returning fighter and put him on the back foot before they come face to face on fight night. GSP has been relaxed, nothing has angered him to any extreme and, as you would expect with all his experience, he has taken everything in his stride.

When it is all said and done fight fans are being treated to a truly unique encounter. A legend returning to competition against a fighter with a great record and will be regarded as one of the greats when he does call it a day.

Who will win? Bisping is the favourite. Everything is in his favour physically and momentum is with him. But anything can happen. Especially with a fighter as special as GSP in the octagon. If he can take Bisping out of his comfort zone he could cause an upset.


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Michael Bisping should retire if he beats GSP



Arguably the most exciting card of the year is upon us. UFC 217 is here and it is stacked with huge clashes. 3 title fights will be taking place with fighters who come with a reputation of entertaining fights! Watching the prelims and under card match ups can be extremely entertaining as they can be much more engaging than the pre-main event fights in any boxing match up.

So on to the main event of the evening. The huge middleweight match up between long time veteran and current middleweight champ, Michael Bisping and former welterweight champion George’s St-Pierre.

This has all the qualities to be the fight of the night, even when you include the Gardbrant vs Dillashaw feud and all the bad blood that goes with it.

If you are a GSP fan then this blog is not going to be for you! Bisping has had a colourful career and his story is an interesting one. It is good to see that he has not only won the belt but successfully defended it against many tough opponents. He will win this fight, it will not be easy but he will win and not via a decision. But via a brutal knockout.

Watching Bisping fight is like watching a Rocky film, he keeps getting put down but just wont stop getting back up. The heart this guy has is colossal and we have seen him overcome adversity time and time again.

The only way GSP can win this fight is a submission which given GSP’s huge success in take down attempts is not impossible.

So what if Bisping wins?

Retire, he needs to retire. Why? Here is your answer.

Age

He is 38 years old and the type of fights he finds himself in do not exactly embody the art of ‘hit but don’t get hit’. He is in some absolute wars and why would you want to take on that kind of punishment any further as you approach your 40’s

What more does he have to prove? 

He has had a very good career and can finish it on his terms whilst at the top of the pile. This is a great match up and besides a Tyron Woodley fight there is not much more out their for him and given that Woodley’s last 3 fights have been the equivalent of bed time stories. Do not bank on that fight being made. Perhaps a third fight with Luke Rockhold or  match up against Yoel Romero but the end should come after beating GSP. Beating GSP will speak volumes a thousand decibels higher than beating any of those other fighters.

Motivation

What will wake him up in the morning so that he can endure a gruelling and punishing training regiment to fight? Especially when the fights that would seem as a step back in terms of a challenger. He definitely does not need the money, he regularly features on UFC commentary and analysis, he has a successful podcast and he also has a somewhat growing movie career.

So what happens if he loses?

He may take 1 or 2 more fights, 1 possibly being a rematch with GSP depending how good the fight is! Ultimately remaining healthy is the key along with retaining all his faculties and going out on a high. Every fighter wants to go out on top and a win over GSP would be a monumental high for Bisping.


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Conor McGregor and his wealth of options

Mac2Belts


“Options are a beautiful thing, and I have many.” (Conor McGregor)

As Conor McGregor neared his biggest pay day to date, fighting Floyd Mayweather in a boxing ring, he uttered these famous words. It is just as true now as it was when he said it. The biggest draw in the UFC, maybe in combat sports as a whole, has numerous options. The question is where does he go? The fight he takes will not even come close to the money he just walked away with. McGregor has made no secret of his plan to make his name, make his money and then leave competitive action. Is this the time he leaves? It surely can’t be. There are too many beautiful options for him to pass up at the moment.

Stay in Boxing

There is an outside chance that ‘the Notorious One’ could stay in the sport of boxing. Fighting the best of the best, even if he was beyond his prime, showed that the Irishman has a lot to learn about the discipline at the elite level. A man who does not believe in failure, like McGregor, must have an appetite to prove himself in a boxing ring. He will not want his record to stay at 0-1 for the rest of time.

https://twitter.com/EditinKing/status/900866810328821760

The issue here is the opponent he would be facing. Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin look set to fight again after their draw which was controversial. Who else has the pull around the middleweight division where McGregor would more than likely compete?

McGregor – Diaz 3

While Dana White recently informed the public that the third fight was not booked rumours have been swirling around before the Mayweather fight. It will happen. It has to. A win each for both the fighters signals the need for a conclusion. Is it the right time? It is indeed. Nate Diaz has not fought since the second encounter in order to preserve his reputation and not lose what would be the biggest pay day of his career.

December 30th has been speculated greatly as the date for this encounter to take place. The UFC would ultimately receive some heat from the roster if the fight was made. The fans may want it but fighters in the two divisions McGregor concurred will fancy a crack at him. It seems the UFC owners are at a crossroads here. Go for the big money fight? Or give a fighter who has worked hard for a title shot the chance to face ‘the Notorious One’?

Tony Ferguson

After UFC 216, where Tony Ferguson submitted Kevin Lee, he seems to be the man that has the most right in fighting the Irish superstar. Ferguson claimed the interim lightweight title at UFC 216 and now McGregor must defend the undisputed title against him. It is not only Ferguson who believes this but also White who said it was a fight that ‘has to happen’.

It is likely that McGregor will be faced with the decision of vacating the lightweight title or fighting Ferguson. The two weight champ was forced to give up his featherweight title in November 2016 and will be unwilling to do so again.

Max Holloway

The current champion at 145 is Max Holloway who beat Jose Aldo for the belt in Rio De Janeiro at UFC 212. Hollaway now holds the undisputed belt at the weight McGregor dominated before he moved up. The pair have met before with McGregor claiming a unanimous decision victory.

While the fight is a likely one it would not be a good move for McGregor. He looks drained fighting at featherweight and making the weight could be a struggle now that he has moved up to 155 and reaching 170 against Nate Diaz.

Tyron Woodley

Tyron Woodley is dominant at welterweight. He may not be the most loved fighter on the roster due to his defensive style but nobody in the division can beat him right now. Sounds like a challenge made for McGregor. 170 is a push for the Irishman and this option has to be considered an outsider. The pull of increasing his legacy to a three weight world champion could tempt McGregor.

Khabib Nurmagomedov

A dream fight for many UFC fans. Nurmagomedov is an absolute monster in the octagon. He is dominant and would give McGregor huge problems if he could get him to the ground, which you would not bet against. With a record of 24-0 in MMA he poses a real threat to McGregor’s dominant reputation.

The issue is Nurmagomedov has been inactive. His last fight took place at UFC 2015 11 months ago. Since then he has pulled out of a match up against Ferguson, for a third time, due to illness after issues with his weight cut. Imagine the intense pressure on the Russian in the build up with McGregor. A world tour and the globes eyes on you 24/7 would seriously weight heavily on him. To claim the McGregor fight he would need to prove his fitness and ability to prepare for the fight. He is a couple of fights away from earning this fight.

Retirement?

Why not? In his own words, ‘Get in. Get rich. Get out’. He got in, he is rich and now the final step of his plan could be realised. He has spoken of his wish to work in the business area of the UFC. McGregor is switched on an knows that this cannot last forever.

Unlikely of course. But as yourself, would it really surprise you if he called it a day?


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The mightiest mouse of them all

DJ11


UFC 216 was a truly remarkable event. The main event delivered with Tony Ferguson submitting Kevin Lee via triangle choke. A big headline but not biggest of the night. A rearranged fight that came second on the bill made the biggest impact for numerous reasons. It was not just a record that Demetrious Johnson captured with his victory against Ray Borg it was confirmation of his greatness in the sport.

A truly dominant performance against a dangerous opponent who was 7 years younger than the legendary champion. The finish certainly caught the attention of everybody who enjoys the sport. An acrobatic move saw him throw his opponent in the air with a suplex then catch him, in mid air, in an armbar which Borg try to work his way out of but ultimately had to tap to. It was almost like a WWE move – except Johnson got no help from his opponent in pull it off.

Johnson was tied with Anderson Silva on 10 title defences before his 11th win over Borg, now he sits at the top of the table in that attribute. 11 times he has defended the flyweight strap since become the first champion in the weight class in UFC history. He beat Joseph Benavidez in the final of the UFC flyweight tournament in 2012 to become the main man at the weight. In a close fight Johnson claimed a split decision victory.  Since then he has beaten everybody that has come in to face him.

So what makes Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson the best?

Now Johnson can make a serious claim to being the best champion in UFC history, if not the best fighter to step into the octagon. Frustration must have set in when the fight with Borg was cancelled 4 weeks earlier. It was scheduled to be the main event at UFC 215 but Borg pulled out due to illness.

It certainly did not affect the outcome as the champion was in truly dominant form. What sets Johnson apart is his ability in every department. He seems threatening with his strikes. In the early stages of the fight he ripped some viscious inside leg kicks on his opponent. When the fight went to the ground he was even more dominant. Borg had no answer to Johnson when the champion was on top. Then when Borg did gain some advantage and have Johnson on his back he could not capitalise. Johnson was able to slip away from danger and regain control.

His technique is flawless and because of that he does not have to exert too much energy when attacking his opponent. He never seems to lose his composure and be in full mastery of every movement he makes. The champ does not waste anything, every movement has a purpose.

Johnson’s performance at UFC 216 showed just how beautiful an elite level performance in mixed martial arts can be. In a sport were brutality sells Johnson showed that a fighter can use great technique to take little or no damage at all. Borg landed only 22 strikes on Johnson to the 172 Johnson landed on the challenger. The fight stats made even better reading for the champion the more they are broken down.

It is not even just Johnson’s ability in the octagon that force fight fans to give him the utmost respect. It is his attitude. With the Conor McGregor hype surrounding the company at the minute the flyweight kings opinion is an honourable one. He highlights the fact that ‘the Notorious One’ may be a two weight champion, the first in UFC history, but he has never defended either of his titles. The circus around McGregor’s fight with Floyd Mayweather may have made the Irishman a lot of money but Johnson highlights a flaw in his reputation.

‘Mighty Mouse’ also practices what he preaches in this regard. The UFC wanted him to defend his title against former UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw but Johnson was not keen. Even though Dillashaw’s style could put pressure on Johnson the reasons the pound for pound number 1 gave were admirable. He argued he would prefer to fight somebody who had worked their way up the flyweight ranks and earned their shot. Johnson seems to be comfortable at the weight and wants to give the chances to people who are natural at the weight and work to make it a successful division.

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The GOAT!

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It was the perfect performance on a huge night in the career of Demetrious Johnson. Flawless does not even begin to do his performance justice. It was 23 minutes of MMA perfection. He was on top from the first minute to the final spectacular moments. Now he can focus on defending his title again and cementing his legacy as the greatest UFC star in modern times.


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The most exciting UFC match up of 2017

GarbrandtDillashaw


Over a month away from UFC 217 seems a little early to be discussing what could go down. The event is not even the next scheduled card with UFC 216 featuring great fights which include; the main event Tony Ferguson vs Kevin Lee and a rescheduled flyweight title match up which will see Ray Borg attempted to stop Demetrious Johnson defend the strap for the 11th time. The reason UFC 217 is the topic of discussion is not even the blockbuster main event which will see England’s own Michael Bisping go up against MMA royalty in George St-Pierre. Even though this match up is interesting there is a fight on the card that gets fight fans even more excited.

The supporting act for UFC 217 is a fight that runs way deeper than any shallow rivalry whipped up to create a few more pay per view buys. Cody Garbrandt will defend his bantamweight title against former team mate and California born TJ Dillashaw. The pair were never friends, by Dillashaw’s admission, and by the time Garbrandt came to the team Dillashaw was already on his way out. TJ believes that head of Team Alpha Male, Urijah Faber, is the reason so much annomosity remains between Dillashaw and the team. The Californian followed former Alpha Male head coach Duane Ludwig to Denver to train with him.

It’s complicated. That is for sure. But it does offer something special to the fight. It feels a lot more personal and as if there is a lot of emotion going into fight night. Such a public fall out does not often get such a thrilling finally. The build up with the fight will feature all the people who were involved and affected by the split. Old anger and bitterness will spill out. Dillashaw believes he made the correct decision leaving the team especially after The Ultimate Fighter series in which he featured.

As if TJ’s departure did not cause enough fuss The Ultimate Fighter added more fuel to the fire. In January 2017 it was announced that the two would be opposing coaches in the series. All the way through the series the two clashed and exchanged words.

Sparks flew on numerous occasions during the show and Garbrandt put his hands around the neck of his opposing coach. It felt tense and as soon as Garbrandt said the fight was going to happen excitement grew. At the end of the day we do not know exactly what has happened and how it happened between the two camps. Stories are offered from both sides but the true meat of the story will never become public knowledge. And we do not need to know. The combat sports community will be given a spectacle when the pair come face to face in the octagon.

https://twitter.com/Cody_Nolove/status/895302997600681984

So what can we expect on fight night? With any bout that involves so many raw feelings there will be the chance that the action could let fight fans down. With this one it will live up to the hype. Both men are quality fighters. Garbrandt is undefeated winning 11 fights out of 11 and 9 of those due to stoppages resulting from strikes. He had a career as an amateur boxer before switching to MMA and was a state level wrestling champion.

Dillashaw has a pretty similar skill set. Also a very good wrestler at university level his aggressive come forward style contrasts Garbrandt’s stand up game. If Dillashaw can come forward and not be overly concerned with what his opponent is throwing he may be able to put pressure on the champion like he has never experienced before.

The problem is Cody has power. He has quick hands and is an expert counter puncher so if Dillashaw is planning on getting close and being aggressive he will have to do so with care and concentration. He cannot go in there and expect to just walk him down, some method and skill must be used.

Garbrandt may be the champion heading into the contest after a career highlight win against Dominick Cruz at UFC 207 but his opponent has successfully defended the belt before. This is Garbrandt’s first defence of the title which will potentially changed his mindset. His opponent won the belt and successfully defended it twice before losing on a split decision to Cruz. So much here will come down to mentality. Who deals with the pressure of the situation more, how will Garbrandt react to being champion, can Dillashaw reclaim the belt? There is a lot to think about for both men.

When the bell rings at UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden, New York anything could happen. The circumstances surrounding the contest have deep roots and involve numerous people. The fighters themselves are two of the best and most exciting active men on the roster. Expect non stop action and both competitors to go to lengths they have never been pushed to before.

So much is at stake, pride, honour and respect. Will Garbrandt claim supremacy for Alpha Male? Can Dillashaw justify leaving the team by reclaiming the bantamweight title? It truly is up in the air. This is what the UFC is all about and it is why we love it.


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Luke Rockhold back to conquer the middleweights….. again!

Rockhold


It must have been a hell of a long 15 months out of the game for mixed martial artist Luke Rockhold. Injuries, promotional problems and lack of credible opponents extended his absence from the octagon. A highly rated and extremely talented fighter he was missed by fans who are now glad to have him back. He has had a lot of time to mull over his knock-out defeat to Michael Bisping at UFC 199 in June last year. This was the second time the two fighters had gone toe to toe with Bisping tapping to a guillotine choke that Rockhold was able to lock in in the second round of their first encounter. Bisping is still the champion at 185 pounds but Rockhold called him out and told the Englishman’s next opponent Georges St-Pierre to back out before he embarrasses himself.

The idea of a trilogy between Rockhold and Bisping is exciting to say the least. However, it is important to focus on what the returning fighter did in his comeback fight at UFC Fight Night 116 against David Branch first of all.

Rockhold was able to secure a victory in the second round moving from top mount to back mount after Branch struggled to deal with Rockhold on top. Once taking the back the former middleweight champion was able to land big bombs from behind and force a stoppage due to Branch’s inability to defend himself.

The fuller story is completely different. In the first round Branch looked good. He was moving forward and walking Rockhold down. After questions were raised about the returning fighters chin after being knocked out by Bisping, who was not considered a big puncher at the time, Branch was able to land some clean shots. Rockhold took them well but the fact he took them still shows he can be hit easily. With his chin still up in the air the vulnerability is still present, the same vulnerability that Bisping exposed at UFC 199.

Branch also did a good job of getting in to a good range to negate Rockhold’s fantastic range of kicks. If given space Rockhold will launch devastating kicks to his opponents legs, body and head that can be the difference in the octagon. Weaknesses are present in the style of Rockhold due to his lack of defence and struggles against high intensity opponents but that is nothing new.

While there were obviously some issues he was still able to win the match up. He did this through calling on different strengths in his skill set. First of all when rampaging forward Branch would often find himself in control of a clinch with Rockhold finding his back against the cage. From this position Rockhold defended himself well and tied Branch up in the clinch stopping his opponent getting off good effective shots. At the end of the first round Rockhold was able to gain control of the clinch and score a take-down – probably his best moment of the opening round.

Perhaps sensing that he had a far greater ground game than Branch due to this exchange in the late part of the round, even though he had little time to hammer home the advantage at the end of the first, Rockhold looked for a take-down again in the second. Being out worked on his feet and believing he had a greater skill on the ground you can say that Rockhold worked out the issues he was facing and put it right. In turn you can argue he showed good fight IQ. Once he got Branch to the floor he looked far superior. Quickly transitioning into top mount before Branch gave up his back where Rockhold was able to finish the fight.

Now on to bigger business. Rockhold Bisping 3. It has to happen. There is too much history for it not to. Both fighters are proud men and true warriors. They will both want to put a line under the rivalry and attempt to claim the victory in the decider.

Bisping is defending his title against UFC legend GSP in November and will have to come through that holding onto his belt to keep the excitement of the trilogy fight up. No matter what Rockhold has to say on the competitiveness of the fight there is always danger stepping into the octagon. GSP could win the fight and it would take the shine off the third fight between Rockhold and Bisping as there would be no title on the line. Bisping has to focus on this fight before looking ahead to his next potential encounter. It is more than likely that Rockhold will fight again before any match up with Bisping so he has to keep his end of the bargain as well. However, both men seem to be focused on each other.

It definitely adds a buzz to the middleweight division having Luke Rockhold back in the mix. While he is not deserving of a title shot just yet another fight against a higher ranked opponent would certainly put him on the shortlist. Bisping wants the fight too and with title defences against Dan Henderson and GSP it would seem he fights who he likes not necessarily the guy who deserves it the most. The fight would be a great spectacle as both have great history in the sport and big fan bases. As fight fans can only hope this goes ahead and the rivalry is put to bed – in a war inside the octagon for the middleweight title.


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Dos Anjos hopes to conquer giants at 170

RDA


Brazilian mixed martial artist Rafael Dos Anjos moved up to welterweight in June this year and has won his two fights at his new weight. Following two defeats at lightweight, his long term weight, moving up was a natural move. However, after losing twice at his comfortable weight how will he fair moving up.

A unanimous decision win on his debut at 170 pounds against Tarec Saffiedine saw the pair go to war. It showed that Dos Anjos can mix it with a naturally bigger man and his skill on the ground was still as strong. RDA also took some big shots from Saffiedine and did seem to be fazed. This is not the biggest test that the Brazilian will face when moving up and Saffiedine is not a top 10 fighter at the weight. It was a good fight for the newcomer in the welterweight division to kick off his campaign.

The shots taken in the Saffedine fight will reassure RDA, his team and his fans after Eddie Alvarez rocked and stopped the then lightweight champion. Dos Anjos was in control of the fight. He was moving forward landing kicks and punches and when the fight did go to the ground he controlled the situation. Alvarez caught the champion with a huge left right on the sweet spot, which can happen in the UFC to anybody. It must have been a confidence shattering event for Dos Anjos. Especially knowing that a fight with Connor McGregor was just around the corner.

He followed his defeat to Alvarez with a fight against Tony Ferguson which was practically a title eliminator. Ferguson claimed victory by way of unanimous decision and handed RDA his second defeat on the bounce. The fight saw the second ranked lightweight Dos Anjos lose to the person directly bellow him. Moving forward in the division seemed to have come to a halt. The move up seemed to be the only option for the experienced fighter.

Coming of the back of his debt victory at welterweight a fight was scheduled which would see Dos Anjos face sixth seed welterweight Neil Magny. The fight saw RDA completely out sized by his opponent in terms of height and reach. It was a real test for the Brazilian but one which he passed with flying colours. Dos Anjos quickly got Magny down to the ground where his size was not an advantage. He dominated Magny from the top and submitted the American via arm triangle. It was an impressive victory and one that saw RDA move into the top 10 welterweights.

After his victory the Brazilian said that he was aiming for glory in the division looking to secure a fight with current champion Tyron Woodley. The division is full of quality fighters and it is going to be an achievement for RDA to get the title shot. Gunnar Nelson sits just underneath Dos Anjos in the welterweight rankings. Above the title hopeful are fighters such as; Donald Cerrone, Carlos Condit, Robbie Lawler and Stephan Thompson. All of these fights would be a challenge for RDA moving up in weight and fighting opponents of this quality.

Looking at Dos Anjos when he took on Magny he looked strong. He looked in good shape and his legs seemed to give him a powerful base. RDA will more than likely want to get his opponents on the ground as this is where he is strongest. RDA has a solid striking game but moving up weight may mean that his power is not as influential.

RDA is a fantastic fighter and has a strong record of 27-9-0. Moving up is a good decision as it could reinvigorate his career. One thing is for sure, his upcoming fights will be exciting. The welterweight division is full of dangerous opponents and the size of Dos Anjos’ name in sport will mean he will take on the best. A potential title fight with Woodley is not out of the question. However, RDA has a few big fights at the weight before earning that shot. Do not rule him out as he has the potential to beat anybody on the roster.


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