Tuesday, 3 September 2013

UFC Fight Night Teixeira v. Bader Weigh-in Live Blog!

LIVE NOW!!!! coverage of tomorrow's UFC Fight Night Texiera v. Bader Weigh-ins from Brazil!

Welterweight (170 lbs) Yuri Villefortvs.Sean Spencer:
Spenser looks very thin and drawn. 171lbs
Villefort looks excited 170 lbs
Welterweight (170lbs) Keith Wisinewski v. Ivan Jorge
Jorge looks fine. 169lbs
Wisinewsky looks fine. 170lbs.
Batamweight (135lbs) Lucas Martins v. Ramiro Hernandez Jr.:
Hernandez looks fine 135lbs.
Martins looks thin but well. Ripped. 136lbs
They talk during the staredown, are separated.
Welterweight (170lbs) Joao Zeferino vs. Elias Silvério
Elias Silvério looks strong. 169lbs
Zeferino looks strong as well. 170 lbs
Featherweight (145lbs) Felipe Arantes v. Edimilson Souza
Sousa looks fine. 146lbs.
Arantes looks fine. 146lbs.
Flyweight (125lbs) Marcos Vinicius v Ali Bagautinov
Bagautinov is excited and moving fast. 125lbs
Vinicius looks relaxed. Thin. 126lbs
Bagautinov stands around in his underwear for awhile.
Middleweight (185lbs) Rafael Natal v Tor Troeng
Troeng looks strong and comfortable. 185lbs.
Natal looks relaxed and well. 185.
Lightweight (155lbs) Francisco Trinaldo v. Piotr Hallmann
Hallmann looks relaxed. 155lbs.
Trinaldo is huge for the division. He looks drawn and pale. 155lbs. Very relieved and pounds the pedialyte right away.
Flyweight (125lbs) Joseph Benavidez v. Jussier Formiga
Formiga looks relaxed and well. 126lbs.
Benavidez looks thin but well. 126 lbs
Middleweight (185lbs) Yushin Okami V. Ronaldo Jacare Sousa
Jacare looks happy and excited. 185lbs.
Okami looks comfortable. 185 lbs
Light Heavyweight (205lbs) Glover Teixeira v. Ryan Bader
Bader looks confident and good. 205 lbs
Teixeira Looks fine. Has Pedro Rizzo with him. 206 lbs
Main Card
Weight classMethodRoundTimeNotes
Light HeavyweightGlover Teixeiravs.Ryan Bader
MiddleweightYushin Okamivs.Ronaldo Souza
FlyweightJoseph Benavidezvs.Jussier Formiga
LightweightFrancisco Trinaldovs.Piotr Hallmann
MiddleweightRafael Natalvs.Tor Troeng
FlyweightMarcos Viniciusvs.Ali Bagautinov
Preliminary card (Fox Sports 1)
FeatherweightFelipe Arantesvs.Edimilson Souza
MiddleweightJoao Zeferinovs.Elias Silvério
BantamweightLucas Martinsvs.Ramiro Hernandez Jr.
WelterweightKeith Wisniewskivs.Ivan Jorge
Preliminary card (Facebook/Youtube)
WelterweightYuri Villefortvs.Sean Spencer

Friday, 30 August 2013

Ben Henderson (c) v. Anthony Pettis I

(Click Here for Scoresheet)

Round 1:
This was a typical Ben Henderson winning round, in that it was very close. There was a lot of feeling out, feints and blocked kicks in the opening couple of minutes. Both men moved forward and back, and both threw first, drawing even in the control for the first minute before Pettis took the initiative and was more aggressive in the second minute. He was more aggressive, but not more effective. Finally in the third minute Henderson came forward with a punching combination that scored and initiated a clinch where he landed some knees to the legs and body. From that clinch Henderson scored a takedown and landed some sparse ground and pound, while maintaining top control until Pettis was able to push off and stand up with 1:20 left in the round. Both men landed some strikes before Henderson shot hard on a double-leg and eventually found the TD against the cage with :15 left. He held the control for the remainder of the round and landed a few shots, finishing the round with Pettis on his back.

Round 2:
The second round started much different than the first. Pettis came out very aggressive and started throwing punches and kicks. He intitiated the exchanges and with a punch and knockdown had Henderson scrambling for a TD inside of :45. After taking loose back control, Pettis allowed Henderson to stand and tried to land a head kick on the way up. Henderson started working for a standing Kimura against the cage, but Pettis turned that into a TD, before trying a kimura of his own that allowed Henderson to stand, again. Henderson shot a single, which led to a clinch on the cage and Henderson landing some shots to the legs and body. They separated and met in the middle. From there Pettis kept on the attack with strikes and defended Henderson's TD attempts. Henderson was able to clinch against the cage and land some more shots to the body and legs, but with two minutes left Pettis was again moving forward and landing strikes. Interesting to note that with 1:27 left in the round Henderson tries to do a Superman punch off of the cage.
He might not have been successful, but it turns out the Showtime Kick was the second 'off-the-cage' manuver of the fight. Pettis reacts to the halfhearted attempt with a flying-knee that does not connect and gets him tied up against the cage. They break and in chasing Henderson down, Pettis clips Hendo's groin and the action is paused briefly. On the start-up Pettis starts landing some hard leg kicks and backing Henderson up to finish the round. Of note, Henderon threw a high kick that Pettis countered with a hard leg kick while Henderson had all his weight still on it off the kick.

Round 3:
Pettis started the third the same way he ended the second, moving forward, throwing kicks and punches, and backing Henderson up. A minute in Henderson landed a strong right , then shortly after they sort of collided in the middle of the cage. Henderson tried to throw a knee and Pettis used that to take him down into half-guard. He quickly stepped out and around to take the back of Henderson at the 1:15 mark, and held that dominant position for most of the remainder of the round (they broke with just enough time for Pettis to shout something Henderson's way before the bell). Pettis made consistant attempts to both sink in a choke or, alternatively, strike to the body and head. Henderson, for his part, defended the choke very well, but could not scrape, shake or slip Pettis off his back. He worked from laying down to his knees, to standing, to his knees, before ending the round standing, with Pettis letting go and facing off. I scored the round 10-8 for Pettis because he was dominant in all areas of the fight. He landed effective strikes to the legs, body and head. He controlled the pace and place of the fight for the entire five minutes. He also threatened with submission attempts. Henderson landed one effective punch standing and some marginal elbows while in the back-mount.

Round 4:
Henderson came out very strong in the fourth, and managed to get Pettis backing up early and landing some punches and especially kicks to the body. This would prove key in the round as Henderson won based on slightly edging Pettis in each of the different scoring criteria. A minute in Henderson came forward with a combination that finished with a hard right kick to the body that Pettis caught. When Henderson pulled his leg out he dropped for a single and Pettis jumped on a guillotine choke attempt that Henderson immidiatly escaped from. At that point Pettis was on his back and Henderson was standing and in control. Pettis attepted to push off and roll backwards out but Henderson kept the pressure on and held top position through several weak submission attempts and attempts to roll out from Pettis. Henderson toook the back mount and then body triangle as he came close on a couple rear-naked-choke tries that Pettis defended. After a little more than a minute, Pettis spun out and into Henderson's guard and briefly took his back before Henderson stood and got to the cage where they separated. With a little more than a minute and a half left they went back to trading strikes. Henderson was moving back more, but countering better than in the first three rounds. With a minute left and facing fire from Pettis, Henderson shot for a single and again Pettis jumped on a guillotine attempt, but again Henderson ended up in a dominant position. They finished the round with Pettis holding on and Henderson on top.

Round 5:
This was the deciding round for a lot of people's scores. All of the judges had it at two rounds apiece, including colour man Stephan Bonnar. I too had it two rounds apiece but with the 10-8 R3 for Pettis I still had him ahead. Pettis came out in the fifth again moving forward and proving himself the more active and accurate striker. He was able to counter Henderson's kicks with hard leg kicks and punches to the face, as well as intitiate exchanges with fast punching combinations. He didn't put Henderson in a lot of trouble but he was pulling ahead. At one point Henderson slipped on a kick and Pettis pressed hard, forcing Henderson to scramble for a TD and eventually, briefly, have his back taken. Pettis was smart to abandon the position when it looked like Henderson as going to shake him off. A little before the halfway mark in the round Henderson shot a TD from outside and Pettis met him with a knee to the face. It's not clear how hard it hit Henderson but it did allow Pettis to avoid the TD and land some strikes during the attempt. Henderson persisted though and with more than two minutes left he put Pettis on his back. While in Pettis' guard Henderson was not able to land punches or attack. Henderson did advance to back control off an escape attempt by Pettis, but almost immediately after sinking his hooks in Pettis reversed the position, landed a couple of punches and stood up. He walked away and left Henderson sitting crosslegged. They threw a few punches and then we got into the Showtime Kick and it's setup. Pettis threw a high kick that Henderson blocked, but caused him to bounce of the cage with his back. Henderson put his foot on the cage like he wanted to try the off-the-cage Superman punch again but Pettis backed off and moved to his right, forcing Henderson to move to his own right as well, along the cage. As soon as Henderson started moving parallel to the cage Pettis ran at the cage instead of Henderson. He sprung off his left foot and planted his right on the cage more than a metre up. Henderson was trying to shuffle back and to the side and thought he was out of range, so he dropped his hands, at which point Pettis was able to catch up to him and land with the right foot to the jaw. Pettis wasted no time trying to get in and finish but Henderson did a very good job trying to tie him up and defend. Pettis moved to a type of crucifix and tried to land but could not put him away in the last twenty seconds. I gave Pettis this round as a 10-8 as well because of two things: 1) He was dominant in the majority of the areas for the majority of the time, 2) He nearly finished Henderson with a spectacular and innovative maneuver.

Monday, 26 August 2013

UFC Fight Night 18: Condit v Kampmann I

(Click here for Scoresheet)

Carlos Condit and Martin Kampmann are preparing to meet for a second time on 28 August 2013 in the main event of another Fight Night Card, around four and a half years after they first headlined Ultimate Fight Night 18. Their first fight was a showcase for the high paced, high-level skills of both men. Condit threw a variety of knees, elbows, punches and kicks, as well as attempting low-percentage grappling attacks in scrambles mixed with strong, technical position plays. Kampmann was a little more orthodox, and took the worse damage, but as best as I, and the judges on the night could tell, he won the majority of the rounds, as close as they were.

Round 1:
I scored the first round for Condit. He was aggressive and successful with his kicks to the body and punching and elbow combinations, including opening a cut on Kampmann's nose. He was able to clinch and strike, or escape most of the clinches that Kampmann initiated. He scored a takedown, and gave up one in return. It was in the chain grappling of both men that the brilliance of this fight was best displayed. Both men were looking for openings and submissions, and both men hit exciting reversals. In terms of control, Kampmann started the fight well, throwing first and getting a clinch. Through the middle of the round control was fairly even, then in the end Condit asserted himself.

Round 2:
Kampmann edged ahead in round 2, though it was closer than in round 1 for Condit. Condit was still landing more and better strikes, but Kampmann was able to close that gap considerably with leg kicks and solid, tight boxing. In the grappling department Kampmann was able to use a takedown and a submission attempt to secure control on top and maintain it for much of the round. There were reversals for both men but Kampmann edged the grappling and took the round on control. Additionally, Kampmann had a guillotine attempt going at the bell, though it is unclear how tight it was.

Round 3:
Kampmann took round 3 much more handily than round 2, similarly to Condit in round 1. Kampmann was able to edge Condit in strikes based on his effective ground and pound. He was also successful in both of his takedown attempts and utilized fairly tight top control with some position improvements, reversals and submission attempts as well. Apart from the last minute, Kampmann was in control the entire round.

This fight shows how MMA matches are athletic contests and not fights. The fight was awarded to Kampmann because he won 2 out of the 3 rounds, not because he demonstrated that he was the superior fighter. Both men showed that they were very talented and capable of highly technical manoeuvres, as well as strategy and improvisation. The first fight was hardly conclusive and the second should be equally exciting if not more definitive.

Lyoto Machida vs. Phil Davis

(Click Here for the score sheet)
Lyoto Machida vs. Phil Davis was a very close fight between two top UFC Light heavyweights. Coming into the fight the question was whether or not Phil Davis could put Lyoto on his back, or if Machida would take control with his evasive striking. After the fight, the questions became solely about whether you thought Davis earned the decision. I simply did not.

Round 1: Machida 10-9
The first round consisted mostly of Davis moving well and throwing ineffective punches and kicks. Machida took the centre of the cage though and slipped and blocked the attacks while launching much more effective, if rarer, striking attacks of his own. I scored damage from a Machida head kick that landed and staggered Davis against the cage. It did not prove lasting, but was there nonetheless. Davis' takedown was not a factor as he could not advance position or land effective strikes.

Round 2: Davis 10-9
In round 2 Davis came out moving very well, better than the first. He was able to land with more accuracy, but not much greater effect. His movement did change the nature of control for the fight though. In this round Davis took the centre or shared it, as well as throwing the first strike more often and moving Machida backward. I think Machida won the striking standing, by a fair margin, but Davis was able to land effective ground and pound after he got his takedown. The grappling marks were awarded based on Davis pressing Machida against the cage, and Machida getting up from the takedown.

Round 3: Machida 10-9
In the third round Machida's striking came to a head. He was able to land hard kicks and rapid punching combinations throughout. Davis started strong, again with his movement, but could not  sustain his attacks, or succeed in them. This was the least competitive, and gave Machida a strong finish.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Mission Statement for MMA Score Sheet

MMA Scoring and Judging are, alongside PED's, the biggest problems with the sport. I am not in the gyms and at the events to personally make any informed commentary on PED's, other than to say that I am strongly opposed to their use and highly dubious of the supposed effectiveness of current monitoring schemes.

Scoring and Judging, however, are areas that are accessible to anyone who can read the rules and observe the fights. I think it's fair to say that the more fights you watch, and the more carefully you observe them, with specific regard to the Unified (HA!) Rules of MMA, the more informed the commentary. I think that we are still establishing experts in the field of MMA judging and the nascent conversations taking place will be formative in the years ahead.

I began my own search for what I thought constituted winning a round by watching every single UFC, WEC and PRIDE event, and any other pre-zuffa MMA, Vale Tudo, NHB, etc, contests I could get my hands on. I watched the evolution to the Unified Rules in North America not in real time, but compressed into an OCD feed of MMA that lasted a year or three. When I got to the Unified Rules era I read the rules very closely (The rules will be examined closely, one at a time in posts to come) and examined the criteria, then used it to judge rounds as best I could, and compared my results to the official record.

I was not too far off on many fights, though I was much more liberal with 10-10 and 10-8 rounds. I think I gave Chael Sonnen a 10-7 against Brian Baker in the WEC. I was getting more draws than TOR (the official record) and I'd like to think I was picking the best person, but I had doubts. Was I weighing things like control and striking evenly throughout the round, or giving greater importance to action later in the round? Did that guy get 2 or three takedowns that round? How do I keep track of advancements and reversals on the ground?  What about submission attempts?

I determined that what I needed was a scoresheet where I could record not just the result of the round, but the action as well. I needed to be able to keep an account of the behaviour of the combatants and the results of that behaviour as it was happening so that I could use that information to inform my score. I came up with this: (click here for link)

The essentials are all there: Striking, Grappling, and Octagon(Cage, Ring) Control. The top boxes are where I keep track of who is winning the striking exchanges. In a very dull fight this means counting single shots as they come. In a "Sloberknocker" this means watching closely and awarding marks between engagements based on who came out ahead. The right side of the striking section is to record damage, including knockdowns, cuts, swelling, bruises, etc. I do my best to record damage when it occurs, and not penalize that person further for the same damage, such as when a fighter is cut. That is recorded, but if it continues to bleed in later rounds, that is not.

Grappling is more difficult, but still not magic. Marks are awarded when one person grabs and controls the other. Pushing against the cage gets one mark. Reversing that position would get the other person a mark. Advancing from guard to side-control is a mark. Retaining guard from side-control is a mark. Takedown Attempts and completions are recorded as well.

Finally, Octagon Control, that most mysterious and deadly of the factors to consider. Does this mean moving forward? Laying on top of someone? Controlling position with a tight closed-guard? Who is in control in rubber-guard? I will go into more detail later, but essentially what I did was cop out, break the round down into minutes and assign control to one or the other, or both on a per-minute basis.

I watch the fights live or live-to-tape and calculate my score between rounds in the time allowed during the fights. If I have time I add a comment on why I gave on fighter the round. After the fight I comment quickly on why I scored the fight as I did.

I will be blogging regularly with scores of recent and classic fights. I want this to be a part of the conversation about how and why people won. I expect to have to defend my scores against contrary arguments, and I feel like these scorecards give me a way to defend my scores with evidence. If you plan of challenging them you better bring some evidence of your own.