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Passing the Guard: MMA Thoughts 2.2.16 — February 2, 2016

Passing the Guard: MMA Thoughts 2.2.16


By E. Marcel Pourtout, Editor

Music to listen to: Entangled (live) by Genesis

-Anthony Johnson quick submission of Ryan Bader shows clear divide in UFC light heavyweight division. Coming into UFC on Fox 18 earlier this month, we knew that the depth of the the division wasn’t the strongest especially with Jon Jones’ suspension still in place. Viewers hoping to see Bader provide a challenge to the top-level of the division had little optimism when he shot into Johnson for a takedown in the first round. Johnson defended it, got Bader’s back and proceeded to gain the knock out on punches from up top.

We’ve seen Johnson fight current UFC champion Daniel Cormier already and suffer a loss. This provides impetus at the highest level for us to see Jones/Cormier 2, most likely at UFC 200 to gain some clarity in the division.


-Sage Northcutt loss not worst thing for career. The 19-year old came into his UFC on Fox 18 contest against Bryan Barberena with the promotional backing of the organization that prompted him into the main card of a network television broadcast. While Northcutt had shown promise in previous fights, his relative lack of experience didn’t match the hype.

What we ended up seeing is the veteran Barberena take advantage of Northcutt novice skills on the ground and promptly sank in an arm triangle for a submission victory.

I’m not a grappler (I need to take some classes) but from seeing the comments of other fighters, grapplers and even Joe Rogan on the broadcast, it looks like Northcutt submitted to a hold that the majority of others on the UFC roster would have countered and avoided losing to.

Even with this, Northcutt isn’t in bad shape. In most cases, he would have been in this prediciment at some dojo without cameras, tapped and learned a lesson from his instructor. We witnessed this on Fox. The potential is there for him to become an elite fighter and even a champion. He isn’t there yet. Not everyone is Jon Jones and can make it through the majority of his career without a loss.

I’ve personally seen Anderson Silva, Georges St. Pierre, Matt Hughes, B.J. Penn, Fabricio Werdum, Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture, Tito Ortiz, Wanderlei Silva and countless other world champions and some of the best to ever fight in MMA lose a fight and then comeback and achieve greatness. I’m not saying that Northcutt is going to make it to that level but if you’re going to be the best in a sport like MMA, setbacks are going to happen.

The best move for Northcutt will be to get back in the gym, work on his ground defense and continue to develop.


-Changing UFC 196 to UFC on Fox 18 was wise move. This Saturday, we were supposed to get UFC 196 which featured a main event of Werdum vs. Cain Velasquez for the heavyweight title. Velasquez gets injured (not a surprise at this stage of his career) and Stipe Miocic stepped up to face the champion Werdum. A day later Werdum pulls out of the new fight due to injuries of his own, therefore that fight is off as well.

Jones threw his hat in the ring to fight for the legitimate title, not an interim one but the UFC balked at that. Smart move by the way.

In the end, the fight card wasn’t cancelled but moved to Fox with Johny Hendricks facing Stephen Thompson in the main event.

First, if the heavyweight division wasn’t so top heavy, I’d say that Velasquez has permanently placed himself outside of the title picture due to the continued injuries. However, he’s still a viable name and there’s not much standing in his way for a future title shot.

I don’t want to call dirty pool on Werdum but if he agreed to the Miocic fight to than pull out of it after it was announced, that’s not cool. He has the right to not want to fight a new opponent on relatively short notice (this is professional fighting, not a bar fight) as a champion but a promise like that can’t be broken. If the UFC made the Miocic decision without consulting Werdum (not entirely improbable), that’s a bad move by the promotion.

I’m happy that the fight card is still in tact so that those fighters can get paid and that’s the most important thing. Sure, the UFC loses money not having pay-per-view buys even if it was going to have a low buyrate but it will make up for it in the future.

The fans get to see a free fight card and that’s great too.


-Wise move by Benson Henderson to move to Bellator. I’ve seen people criticizing this move, mainly Dana White (why is he so salty every time a fighter leaves the promotion) but its good for Henderson.

If the asinine Reebok sponsorship deal wasn’t enforced in the UFC right now, I believe Henderson would still be in the promotion. There were still fights available for him in the 155-pound division and personally think he would have an impact in the 170-division as well.

However, while Bellator may not offer as much money as the UFC and there are conflicting reports about that, Henderson will make up for it in sponsorships.

Henderson has been around a long time and may have four or five fights left in him. Best to take advantage of the healthy body now before it breaks down. Furthermore, if Henderson lights it up at Bellator, he’ll have leverage to get a new, more lucrative deal with promotions domestic and foreign.

Those are my thoughts, what are yours?


Atlanta Dream Resigns Tiffany Hayes —

Atlanta Dream Resigns Tiffany Hayes

Tiffany Hayes
Atlanta Dream guard Tiffany Hayes
Photo credit: Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

Release from the Atlanta Dream:

The Atlanta Dream have announced the re-signing of restricted free agent Tiffany Hayes to a multi-year contract. Per team policy, terms of the contracts are not disclosed.

 “It is terrific to be back with the team that believed in me from the start,” Hayes said.  “I am honored and looking forward to joining the rest of my teammates again this summer for a successful season.”
Hayes ranked second on the Atlanta roster in scoring with a 12.9 ppg average in 2015.  She was third on the squad with 31 three-point field goals and tallied double-figure points in 22 games last season.  Hayes started 27 of the 28 contests in which she saw action during her fourth WNBA season.
Hayes was selected by Atlanta with the No. 14 pick in the 2012 WNBA Draft after a collegiate career at the University of Connecticut where she was a member of two NCAA National Championship teams (2009/2010).
“We are thrilled to have Tiffany back in Atlanta this season and moving forward,” Dream head coach Michael Cooper said.  “She brings a unique skill set and her athleticism is a challenge for opponents on both ends of the floor.  We are excited to see her continue to develop into one of the top players in the WNBA.”
The Dream will open the 2016 regular season at the San Antonio Stars on Saturday, May 14.  Atlanta’s home opener at Philips Arena will take place on Sunday, May 22 vs. the Chicago Sky in a3 p.m. ET tip.
@gsupanthers Baseball’s Roach, Blanton, Jones Tabbed Preseason All-Sun Belt —

@gsupanthers Baseball’s Roach, Blanton, Jones Tabbed Preseason All-Sun Belt

Joey Roach
Georgia State catcher Joey Roach
Photo credit: Georgia State Athletics

Release from Georgia State Athletics:

The Georgia State trio of catcher Joey Roach, center fielder Ryan Blanton and shortstop Justin Jones were named to the Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference team selected by the league head coaches and announced Tuesday.

All three are coming off all-star seasons in 2015 as Roach and Blanton are returning first-team All-Sun Belt honorees, while Jones was a Freshman All-American last spring.

Roach, senior from Holly Springs, N.C., is the two-time, first-team All-Sun Belt catcher. He was also a semifinalist for 2015 Johnny Bench Award as well as a Capital One Academic All-America second team selection.

The left-handed hitter has a career batting average of .300 with 14 home runs and 86 runs batted in, including a .302 average, seven homers and 39 RBI last spring.

Blanton, a junior from Lilburn, Ga., and Parkview High School, earned first-team All-Sun Belt honors despite missing the last month of the season due to a broken hand. He was the team’s leading hitter at .330 with six homers and 22 RBI in 44 games, along with 11 doubles and four triples. He the Sun Belt with 42 runs scored when he was injured.

Blanton was named Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week and Sun Belt Player of the Week after homering twice with five RBI in the same inning vs. Kennesaw State.

Jones made a huge impact, both offensively and defensively as a rookie to earn a spot on the Louisville Slugger Freshmen All-American team by Collegiate Baseball. The Warner Robins, Ga., native was first among Sun Belt freshmen in batting average, hits and runs and second in RBI as he hit .297 with 28 RBI and 35 runs scored, with nine doubles, two triples and one homer. He was a key part of Georgia State’s improved defense, including a Sun Belt-leading 57 double plays turned.

Georgia State, which was picked sixth in the preseason poll, opens the season Feb. 19 vs. Western Michigan in the first game of the Atlanta Challenge, which also includes VCU and Purdue.

2016 Sun Belt Coaches Predicted Order of Finish (first place votes)

  1. UL Lafayette (8) – 117 pts
  2. South Alabama (3) – 111 pts
  3. Texas State – 88 pts
  4. Troy – 81 pts
  5. Georgia Southern – 76 pts
  6. Georgia State – 63 pts
  7. UT Arlington – 57 pts
  8. Arkansas State – 50 pts
  9. Little Rock – 35 pts
  10. UL Monroe – 29 pts
  11. Appalachian State – 19 pts
ACC Announces Basketball Players of the Week —

ACC Announces Basketball Players of the Week

ACC_Identity_TM_PMS_WBGRelease from the ACC:

NC State junior Cat Barber has been selected as the Atlantic Coast Conference Basketball Player of the Week for the third time this season, while Florida State’s Dwayne Bacon earned ACC Rookie of the Week honors for the fourth time.

ACC basketball weekly honors are determined by a vote of a select media panel.

The Wolfpack’s Barber averaged 33 points and 4.5 assists per game and played all 80 minutes as NC State split a pair of ACC games. The 6-foot-2 point guard from Newport News, Virginia, had 36 points, four assists and five rebounds in last Wednesday night’s 90-83 loss to visiting Georgia Tech. He came back with 30 points, three rebounds and five assists in Saturday’s 85-69 win over No. 13 Miami.

Barber shot .511 from the floor in the two games (23-for-45) and went 18-of-18 from the foul line, continuing a streak that has seen him make 34 free throws in a row. Barber continues to lead the ACC in scoring at 23.1 ppg. He is currently the first player in the ACC since Georgia Tech’s Kenny Anderson in 1991 to average 23 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game.

The Seminoles’ Bacon averaged a double-double of 16.5 points and 10 rebounds as he led FSU to a pair of wins – on the road at Boston College and at home against Clemson. Bacon scored 21 points in the win over Clemson and recorded his third career double-double with 12 points and a career-high 14 rebounds in the win over Boston College. His 21 points in the win over the Tigers included a career-high tying 15 first-half points.

Bacon has scored in double figures in 19 of the 21 games he has played as a Florida State freshman.  He is only nine points shy of having scored in double figures in each of the first 21 games of his career. The Lakeland, Florida, native’s four ACC Rookie of the Week selections leads the conference this season and is a new FSU school record.