Mixed Marshall Arts returns next week!

Hey everyone!

Mixed Marshall Arts makes its return as  part of the launch of the all new KevinMarshallOnline.com next Monday. I hope to periodically update with my thoughts on fighting, links to other interesting news and editorials, as well as maybe a guest post or two from both fans and fighters.

In the meantime, check out this wonderful video of Kazushi Sakuraba foregoing a traditional media workout and instead making a robot cat in Photoshop. The exaltation when he’s finished is just precious.


Fedor Emelianenko Should Heed the Advice of Miguel Torres

Fedor Emelianenko finds himself at a crossroads.

Miguel Torres has found himself the talk of the MMA blogosphere, and not because of anything he’s done in the cage. Instead, it’s for comments made about another fighter in a different weight division.

Torres was recently asked for his thoughts on Fedor Emelianenko‘s decisive (despite attempts by Strikeforce and Fedor fanatics to spin it to the contrary) loss to Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. Although Torres himself would admit that he’s nowhere near the status of Fedor in the industry, he does see some parallels between what’s happened to Fedor in his last two fights and his own career, where he went from being a champion in his division to a finding himself in a two-fight losing skid a little over a year ago.

As he told MMAFighting.com:

“He’s at a crossroads in his life … (He’s been) dominating his division, plus the popularity, exposure and everything that comes with being The Man, a showman, a father, representing a country and people – and being a fighter. … He needs to adjust to the times and start working on being a cerebral fighter (again) and not a showman. He needs to play catch-up in a world he used to dominate. That stings really bad, but you man up or get left behind. … Russia will always be his home, but he lacks growth. Sometimes loyalty can hold you back.”

“I left to find growth – and everyone hates me for it, saying I’m a deserter and forgot where I came from. Even now, with my new style, people say I’m scared or not exciting. When I was training here, I didn’t give a s*** and fought for the fans. When I lost, everyone threw s*** on me saying I was nobody. My new style is actually cerebral and smart. I don’t get hurt anymore, but lost fans. When I get the belt back, they will (love me) again, but I won’t care. I’m all grown up. … I feel Fedor’s situation. It f***ing sucks, but s*** happens. All we can do is get better – and f*** everyone else.”

Of course, the comment everyone zeroed in on was “Fedor needs to man up.” As a result, many fans seem to have missed the point Torres was trying to make, which is that if Fedor is serious about continuing his fighting career (indications are that he is despite saying after his loss that he would retire), he needs to get out of his comfort zone.

Specifically, he needs to leave Stary Oskol.

Fedor is not the fighter he once was, nor is he ever going to be. He was once a dominant force in the industry, but in the present tense Fedor is a borderline relic who has not evolved with a sport that while not necessarily in its infancy was still nary a toddler when he began his ascent. His growth as a fighter was further stunted by a management team (M-1) that sacrificed long-term viability in the industry for immediate pay-offs. As a result he fought with less frequency and against inferior competition.

In short: while the sport and the Heavyweight Division grew and became more competitive, Fedor did not. While new game plans and styles were devised by potential opponents, Fedor was employing outdated training methods using a body that wasn’t getting any firmer, faster, or durable.

Again, I don’t think Fedor is going to be in any conversations about the best active pound for pound fighter, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still be a factor in Strikeforce’s Heavyweight division or that he can’t continue to make money for himself or the promotion. However, if he’s going to do so, he needs to either bring in a team that’s going to drag him into the current decade or relocate Stateside to train at a top-flight MMA facility. If he doesn’t, he’ll find himself at the losing end of another fight that he has no business losing.

The most important aspect of MMA isn’t the ground game, or striking, or punches or kicks or clinches. It’s growth. A good fighter is one who is constantly making adjustments to his game to adapt not only to his next opponent, but to general trends in his division and the sport as a whole. Like a shark, an MMA fighter needs to be constantly moving himself forward.

Otherwise the fighter will find himself in Fedor’s position – a creature who stayed still for too long and found himself adrift in a vast ocean.

For the Hardcores: More Thoughts on the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix

An addendum to the blog post I wrote for my space over on the Albany Times Union website about the Strikeforce Heavyweight Tournament.

Part of my reason for posting the occasional MMA piece over at the Times Union (usually on weekends) is to expose more people locally to the sport and, hopefully, help in some small way to advocate for its legalization in New York State.

As such, I write the posts with the idea that my audience is the casual fan with limited exposure to the sport. With that in mind, I didn’t go into greater detail of all the mis-steps and PR follies that have been committed by Scott Coker in the promotion of the Heavyweight Grand Prix because the context would be lacking, and providing it would take up far too much time (for both myself and the reader).

So this post is for those of you who regular read this space, even if I update it with near-comical irregularity.

Let’s be honest: we knew this tournament was going to be a problem as soon as we heard Strikeforce was going to build it on the precipice of a potential fight between a guy who has no interest in fighting MMA because it doesn’t pay his mortgage (Alistair Overeem who makes much MUCH more from fighting K-1 hence his absence from the scene the last three years) and another whose management team screws with Strikeforce and re-negotiates after every single fight (Fedor Emlianenko).

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The Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix: Shoehorning a 20th Century Concept in a 21st Century Market

When the unregulated, bare-knuckle Ultimate Fighting Championships first appeared on the national scene in the early 1990s, the draw was more than bloodlust. The concept was a one-night tournament that would determine the best pure fighter in the world.

In the nearly two decades (!) since its inception, the sport has seen dramatic changes. So much so, in fact, that the previous statement is a slight misnomer, for it might be more accurate to say that it has since become a sport. With State Athletic Commissions providing oversight as well as the Unified Rules of MMA adopted by the New Jersey State Athletic Commission in 2000 becoming the standard in the industry, what we see today is an amalgamation of submission wrestling with a much tamer, safer version of kickboxing that bears little to no resemblance to the concept that was introduced to American audiences in 1994.

Yet, in 2011, Strikeforce wants to turn the clock back and sell the mainstream on a Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament.

Read more over on the Albany Times Union website.

Eye Pokes & Embarrassment

Last Friday, Strikeforce held one of its “Challengers Series” shows that was understandably swallowed up by the coverage for UFC 123′s stacked card.

For those who don’t know, controversy erupted when the fight between Marius Zaromskis and Wachiim Spiritwolf was declared a no-contest just six seconds into the fight due to an accidental eye poke delivered by Zaromskis, the DREAM Welterweight Champion, while trying to execute a flying knee.

That’s about when Mauro Ranallo completely lost his cool in the broadcast booth.

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UFC 123: Rampage vs. Machida Controversy Shows Fans and Journalists Still Need to be Educated

Honestly, I’m surprised at the controversy.

I sat with my roommate and watched the main event and remarked at how you could see in Lyoto Machida’s stance how much confidence he’d lost. He used to avoid getting hit as a strategy, but now it looked he was just plain tentative and scared of getting hit.

It was one of the concerns I had about Machida going into that fight. The cliche goes that the true mark of a champion or a legend is how he recovers from losing, and I wasn’t sure how Machida would respond to his loss to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, particularly since it was so decisive.

In the third round, Machida was on top of Jackson and looked up to view the clock as if to say “how long do I have to ride this out?” Seeing he had a full two minutes left, he went for a submission and narrowly avoided another legendary powerbomb slam from Jackson as a result. He, unlike so many other fighters, let go once he was lifted into the air.

It was the only smart thing I thought he did that entire fight.

I thought the fight was an easy 29-28 for Jackson, so imagine my surprise when I got home from the fight and saw the controversy on the internet. I figured if anything people would take issue with one of the judges scoring it for Machida. Yet here were people – even some people that while not working in the industry I would consider experts – using terms like “robbery!”

Then I realized what the problem was: for all the things that people have come to known about the sport, they still don’t know what the judging criteria are.

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New UFC Feature and UFC 123 Predictions: Why the Oddsmakers Have Rampage/Machida All Wrong

The look on Bonnar's face says it all (photo courtesy UFC.com; used with permission)

Check out my latest article for the UFC!

It’s called Grand Slams and highlights ten of the most epic, impressive feats of strength displayed in the Octagon. Surprisingly, when compiling the list we found that 4 of the 10 are fighting on this weekend’s card (UFC 123, Saturday November 20th @ 10:00pm).

In addition to highlights and videos of slams from four of this weekend’s participants – Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Matt Hughes, Gerald Harris, and Tim Boetsch – we also highlight slams that were not impressive so much as important and literally changed the landscape of MMA.

From the article:

American wrestlers have dominated the MMA landscape in almost every weight class, but in the early days it was Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that ruled the day and was thought to be the predominant form for the sport.
That changed when Dan Severn made his debut.


To read more, check out Grand Slams: The Greatest Slams in UFC History by yours truly.

You can also purchase a lot of the classic fights mentioned for only $2 each, many of which are classics going out of your way to see. And the classic Maynard/Emerson double-knockout is actually a FREE download (courtesy TheUltimateFighter.com) that’s worth going out of your way to see.

After the jump: my picks for UFC 123, broadcast live on pay-per-view from the Palace of Auburn Hills and showing at various locations throughout the area (including Jillian’s on North Pearl St. in Albany).

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Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, and The Business

At UFC 121, after Cain Velasquez’s devastating knockout win over Brock Lesnar to become the new UFC Heavyweight Champion, there was an incident as Brock was leaving the Octagon between him and his former co-worker in WWE, twenty-six year veteran Mark “The Undertaker” Calaway.

Undertaker was answering a question from MMAFighting.com‘s Ariel Helwani when his eyes appeared to catch something off-screen. He paused and moved towards where his eyes had become fixated: at former UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar, who was still reeling from his loss to Velasquez.

Lesnar, still groggy and needing stitches for a severe cut he received from the finish, gave him a brief confused look and kept walking with his entourage.

The video is below, and the incident in question begins at the 0:40 mark.

If Lesnar was confused, MMA journalists and fans were positively baffled. The morning after, the fog of confusion lifted as people tried to piece together what had happened, and the speculation began. Rumors started on the internet that WWE had made an official offer to Lesnar to face Undertaker at Wrestlemania.

As a background: there has been talk for some time in WWE of trying to get Lesnar back in for a short-term deal. That there’s talk, though, essentially means nothing. They talk about a lot of things that never come to fruition, and some of the ideas are so wild that in hindsight they sound ludicrous even to the person that pitched the idea in the first place.

This is also likely Undertaker’s final year as a professional wrestler. In the past sixteen months, it has become increasingly apparent that the years have caught up to him. Even a full-time schedule seems too much for a man who has taken more than his fair share of abuse in an industry that operates on an unnatural stretching of the pain threshold and endurance of human beings, which as everyone knows results in the highest mortality rate for any legal form of sport or entertainment in the world.

As such, Wrestlemania this coming Spring will most likely be Undertaker’s final match, and no doubt he (and WWE) would like a big name opponent to cap it off.

It is not all that unreasonable – and entirely plausible – to come to the conclusion that Undertaker was referring specifically to that. Undertaker is a company man through and through.

That said, I’m not completely sold on this being the case.

I think Occam’s Razor absolutely applies to this situation. The simplest and most likely explanation is this: The Undertaker, like so many professional wrestlers and especially those that have become as engrained and dependent on the lifestyle as he has, is a wound-up nutjob who says and does things that make sense only to him and the other carnie freaks that inhabit the strange, baffling, and outrageous world that Brock Lesnar was so lucky to escape intact.

Regardless of the real story behind the incident, Vince McMahon is an insanely shameless opportunist and if he hasn’t already will most definitely offer Lesnar some type of deal. For his sake, I hope Lesnar shows the same good judgement he showed in 2003 and tells the industry to take a powder, staying as far away from that insane and dangerous freak show as possible.

Tie Quan Zhang, Zuffa’s first Chinese-born Fighter, Wins in Quick Fashion

Tiequan Zhang, the first native Chinese fighter to be signed by Zuffa, won his WEC debut earlier tonight at 2:26 of the first round with a guillotine choke. His opponent, Pablo Garza, was a last-minute replacement for Jason Reinhardt and went into the bout with an undefeated 9-0 record.

Certainly this puts many fears to rest and provides needed momentum for the UFC’s foray into China, and with his performance, Zhang has cemented himself as the poster boy for the expansion.

Previously: Tiequan Zhang Could Be First Breakout Chinese Star, But Questions Remain

WEC 51: Tiequan Zhang Could Be First Breakout Chinese Star, But Questions Remain

Tomorrow evening’s WEC event may be headlined by one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world, but culturally speaking, a more significant MMA fight is occurring on the undercard.

"The Mongolian Warrior" Tiequan Zhang is heralded as a top Chinese prospect.

Chinese Lightweight fighter Tiequan (or Tie Quan) Zhang makes his WEC and North American debut on the card headlined by Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo defending his title against former Ultimate Fighter contestant Manny Gamburyan.

The undefeated Zhang (11-0) will take on the also undefeated Pablo Garza. His original opponent, Jason Reinhardt, was removed from the bout by the Colorado State Boxing Commission due to fears over his prescription contacts (MMAJunkie has more details on the debacle).

Zuffa’s expansion into China started at the end of last month, when Dana White tapped former NBA executive Mark Fischer to head up the UFC‘s main Asia office in Beijing. Current plans incude a Chinese edition of “The Ultimate Fighter” and re-airing live UFC events on Chinese television.

There’s no question for the potential for the UFC to make money in China, as the country seems ready to embrace MMA and Zuffa is ready to break though. The question lies in whether Chinese fighters are ready for international competition. Continue reading

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