“How the West is inadvertently holding back MMA’s Globalization.” Ever since the emergence of mixed martial arts, there has been a hemispherical divide between the two major proponents of the sport; Asia and North America. When Zuffa devoured the slowly decomposing remnants of Dream Stage Entertainment’s PRIDE promotion in 2007, the balance of the MMA world completely shifted and Japanese fans and fighters alike were thrown into a state of obscurity. Three years later and Japanese MMA is slowly attempting a major revival with both the DREAM and World Victory Road organizations. However, despite this attempt at rehabilitation, neither promotion has managed to capture the same public interest that PRIDE once did, and with most of the secure mixed martial arts promotions existing in the West (the UFC, WEC, Strikeforce, etc), many Asian fighters have been forced into seeking refuge in North America—unfortunately to largely disappointing results and negative critical responses.
Originally set to face Ultimate Fighter winner Efraine Escudero, Jeremy Stephens will now face Gleison Tibau at Fight Night Live: Condit vs. Kampmann. Stylistically, this opponent for Stephens is quite similar to the one that was replaced. Efraine presented a threat in the form of relentless takedowns, solid striking, and a very competent ground game. Not a great matchup for a guy who is primarily a brawling striker with decent takedown defense. The odds reflected this, with Efraine being the favourite to beat Stephens at approximately -240.
Last weekend saw the collision course of Gabriel Gonzaga and Shane Carwin at UFC 96. After dominating the opening seconds with punches that rocked his opponent and a subsequent takedown, Gonzaga was quickly knocked out by a punch thrown by the heavy-handed giant. Such a strange finish begs the question, what is Gabriel Gonzaga missing? Gabriel made his first big mark on the sport following his jaw-dropping knockout of former Pride superstar, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović. Even before the highlight-reel headkick, Gonzaga came out very confident and focused, quickly taking the Croatian down and landing heavy elbows. The shockwaves were felt by all, including UFC commentator Joe Rogan who stated Gonzaga might be the best heavyweight in the world. This claim wasn’t entirely unfounded, since along with being an apparently great striker, Gonzaga also held an extremely impressive grappling resume, with both Mundial and ADCC accomplishments. This guy had it all.
The Rise and Fall of Royce Gracie November 12, 1993 was a curious night in the history of combat sports. Looking back 15 and a half years later, it was also a night that may have had one of the biggest impacts on the modern sports world. However, the purpose of this is not to discuss the history and success of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, as that's a topic that has been covered ad naseum especially over the past few years. What deserves some more attention is the martial art, nay, artform that essentially exposed itself to the North American public for the first time that fateful night.
Nothing saddens an MMA fan more than seeing their favourite fighter fall from grace. I have long been a fan of David “The Crow” Loiseau, and it pained me to see him perform poorly against Swick and then get released by the UFC. I have since then, kept an eye on his activity outside the Octagon in hopes that he would redeem himself and one day return. Well, the Crow has his chance at UFC 97 against Ed “Shortfuse” Herman.