A Not So Gentle Reminder

Junior-Dos-Santos-1024x575

In sports, it’s said you are as good as your last performance.

Let’s see; Junior dos Santos’ last performance resulted in him being on the receiving end ofufc-zagreb-recap-and-highlights-junior-dos-santos-wins-decision-vs-ben-rothwell_1 a second round knockout, courtesy of Alistair Overeem, while Ben Rothwell did the unthinkable; giving former Strikeforce and Pride heavyweight champion Josh Barnett the first submission loss of his career.

Based on those results, where Rothwell capped of a four-fight winning streak, and dos Santos losing the second fight of his last four, I was fully subscribed to the aforementioned notion.

Here’s what I say about what “they say”…don’t buy into everything “they say”.

In the carnage that Rothwell left behind in the form of his four-fight winning streak over Barnett, Matt Mitrione, Alistair Overeem, in that descending order, I got distracted. In dos Santos’ wavering path (win-loss-win-loss) of of the same stretch, I suspected that Brazilian was puttering into irrelevance.

Boy was I off on this one!

From the get-go, dos Santos reminded everyone in observance why he is a former UFCjds-vs-rothwell heavyweight champion. Many, including myself, forgot how heavy his hands are. We forgot abotuthe accuracy that accompanies the heaviness of said hands. What really left fight fans in awe was his nimbleness around and throughout the octagon.

To Rothwell’s credit, his chin is made of granite. Now many can take the shots fired by JDS and stick around long enough for the verdict to fall into the judges hands. Still, even with the pendulum swinging in Dos Santos’ favor, Rothwell missed, in my eyes, a major opportunity to to keep his streak alive.

As mobile and accurate as the former UFC heavyweight king was, he left himself vulnerable on numerous occasions. Junior dos Santos left his lead leg exposed for striking, but for whatever reason, Rothwell was more hung up on landing homerun his with his fists, than systematically breaking the faster Brazilian.

While I’m the furthest thing from a mixed martial arts trainer, I think I have enoughfight-night-zagreb-junior-dos-santos-defeats-ben-rothwell_586826_OpenGraphImage wherewithal to see that Rothwell should’ve popped dos Santos’ lead leg with leg kick profusely, in order to slow him down, and from there, get dos Santos in the clinch and land the bombs that met the air the majority of the night. The shots that Rothwell onto dos Santos’ lead leg were far and between, with only one being the Wisconsinite’s best strike of the night, that resulted in discoloration in said leg.

At the rate of dos Santos’ performance this past weekend, he will once again be in position to vie for a second title reign. Rothwell, on the other hand, can also get himself into an inaugural title shot, if he learns to take the opportunities that glaringly present themselves.

Nonetheless, the fight was entertaining, but dos Santos walked away with a much needed win, securing a unanimous decision.

Up next, UFC Fight Night Tampa, Saturday, April 16th at 8pm, where the main event features two, top-10 light heavyweight, #4 Glover Texiera vs. “Suga” Rashad Evans.

Written by Antoine Hoffman

MIC DROPPED!

kobe-bryant-last-game

No one, not even Kobe Bean Bryant, could have predicted what NBA Nation witnessed last night. Bryant score 60 points on his retirement night. He shot his way into the history books once again, leading his young team to an incredible comeback victory.

 

And after the game, with all the emotion and excitement, he let everyone know how appreciative he was of his teammates (Current and Former), family, and most importantly, the fans.

And then he said, “Mamba Out” and dropped the mic!

What a way to end a remarkable career!

Bryant gave the Lakers faithful what they wanted at Staples Center. An epic performance

NBA: Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Lakers

that capped off a brilliant 20 year NBA career. A final offensive explosion in the Lakers’ 101-96 victory over the Utah Jazz.

The game started off sloppy for Bryant as he missed his first five shots. Then after blocking Utah’s Trevor Booker’s layup, Kobe went on to make 5 consecutive shots, including a 3 pointer that ignited the crowd.He finished the first half with a game high 22 points.

Bryant would score 38 points in the second half, 23 of them in the fourth quarter, making him the oldest player to ever score 60 points in his final appearance. That 23-point, fourth quarter effort helped erase a 15-point deficit to win the game.

Five championships, League MVP, Finals MVP and 18 All-Star game selections, all with the Lakers,are all part of him being the fifth player in NBA history to play 20 seasons, and the only player to do it for one team.

This was Kobe’s night and everyone involved played their parts in honoring Bryant. Before3328C33800000578-3539089-image-a-54_1460608511695.jpg the game, Magic Johnson introduced Bryant. From there,  a video in tribute aired that showcased messages from former teammates Derek Fisher, Shaquille O’Neal and Lamar Odom; fellow NBA players, Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Kevin Garnett, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Pau Gasol; coaches Phil Jackson and Gregg Popovich; and the Lakers number one fan, Jack Nicholson.

The past few years for Kobe ended with injuries and franchise record breaking losing seasons. And while he’s played through these tough times we all can see the wear and tear has become evident. However, as the end approached, Bryant gave the fans across the globe a show for the ages, one last time.

Written by Keith Madyun

 

 

Rothwell’s Road Rage

Screen-Shot-2015-10-13-at-21.09.55-800x445.png

Like any motorist who has anger issues, anyone who is in their way will feel said driver’s wrath, as they progress towards their destination.

Let’s face it, UFC heavyweight Ben Rothwell has seen his share of road blocks, pot holesUFC+104+Machida+vs+Shogun+KO9O0XbJF5Gx.jpg and detours along the way. His debut into the marquee brand of Mixed Martial Arts resulted in being knocked out by former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez 0:58 into the second round. He would then go into a win-loss pattern with his next four bouts against Gilbert Yvel (win via unanimous decision), Mark Hunt (loss via unanimous decision), Brendan Schaub (win via first round knockout) and Gabrial Gonzaga (loss via guillotine submission).

After seeing his share of peaks and valleys, Rothwell Wegman’s to pave his own way, starting with a third round knockout of MMA household name Brandon Vera. After plowing through Vera Parkway, Rothwell went into a tangent, warning MMA Nation of his  forthcoming dominance of the division. Of course, nobody outside of Rothwell’s camp, Rothwell MMA, considered this a serious alert, given his wavering pattern of wins and losses.

And then it happened!

It was September 2014…the card, UFC Fight Night 50, Sousa vs. Mousasi. Two minutes, 19benrothwell-alistairovereem-ufc-get seconds into the second round, the right hook heard ’round the world connected. Ben Rothwell landed said shot that sent former Strikeforce, K-1 and Pride Fighting champion Alistair Overeem tottering to the ground, abruptly ending his night and run for the UFC heavyweight title.

Rothwell would go on to successively defeat newly signed Bellator heavyweight Matt Mitrione and former UFC, Pride and Strikeforce heavyweight champion Josh Barnett with guillotine chokes, making it clear that his submission game is just as potent as his wrecking ball-like hands.

Now Rothwell has a chance to continue paving his road to royalty this Sunday afternoon against former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos, who is currently in the midst of his own journey through peaks and valleys, going 3-3 in his last six bouts.

What we’ve learned of dos Santos’ last two losses is he is susceptible to the knockout. ben-rothwell-laugh-ufc-fight-night-68-videoGiven Rothwell’s four-fight winning streak and dos Santos’ tendency to crumble under pressure, I am a believer of Rothwell’s road rage and foresee him steamrolling through the former champion, in what should place Rothwell in his rightful position, new number one contender.

UFC Fight Night gets underway Sunday April 10th at 2pm on Fox Sports 1. Be sure to check back with us here at Take No Prisoners Sports for a recap of this heavyweight bout.

Written by Antoine Hoffman

The Perfect Pair

mcgregor-diaz_3589331b.jpg

I may not celebrate everything that UFC’s front office does, but plugging in Nate Diaz as lightweight 01_10162348_85a6fa_2598834achampion Rafael dos Anjos’ replacement opponent for Conor McGregor at this Weekend’s UFC 196 was pure genius.

For marketing reasons, two of the companies most brash competitors will fire darts at one another up until, and even throughout the main event of the evening. Although McGregor will prove to be the most clever of the trash talkers, it will be quite entertaining to hear Diaz resort to his go-to retorts, when on the short end of the stick, ” F*€% YOU” and “I DON’T GIVE A
F*€%”.

During the match, the showmanship and taunting will be to the likes of which legends are made of.

The question is who wins what is UFC’s most anticipated fight of the year thus far.

You can rest assure McGregor and Diaz will put on a striking clinic. Both fighters are incredible at usingNate-Diaz the range that is provided to them. On the flipside, both fighters have shown they are vulnerable to take-downs. In addition, both know hot to work well from the ground: McGregor being one who can ground and pound, while Diaz is about to that and showcase Grade A, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Here’s what will separate these two, helping to determine a winner.  In losses to dos Anjos, Josh Thomson, Ben Henderson and Rory MacDonald, Diaz has proven to be vulnerable to pressure. Taking away his distance and applying pressure does indeed burst pipes, when it comes to Diaz. McGregor on the other hand, secured his legitimacy at UFC 189, when he faced serious adversity against Chad Mendes, who took the fight on short notice as a result of them champion Jose Aldo’s injury roughly two weeks before the bout, during their classic interim featherweight title bout. Despite being taken down four times and on the receiving end of a hailstorm of strikes, McGregor snatched himself out of the jaws of defeat and did the unthinkable, knocking out Mendes with a mere 0:03 left in round two.

Many, including myself, have argued that Mendes would’ve beat McGregor with a full training camp. That point is mute, considering results aren’t built on what ifs.

As fun and challenging of a fight this will be, the pressure of McGregor will be too much for one of Stockholm, California’s soldiers. What intrigues me most is how well will McGregor work with an additional 25 pounds, as he makes his debut as a welterweight (170 pounds).

My call is for my fellow Irishman to bring Diaz’s night to an end in round three.

Stay tuned into TNP Sports for a full recap of what will be a memorable main event.

Written by Antoine Hoffman

The Irish Curse

720x405-501171408

Okay, we might want to consider there is a such thing as the “Conor Curse” and its legitimacy. Why? Let’s travel back in time, shall we?Jose-Aldo-Rib-X-Rays-750-440x250

It was June 23rd, 2015, when news of Jose Aldo’s rib injury rattled the very foundation of UFC 189. All the marketing and animosity was to no avail, as the former Featherweight champion had to withdraw from his July 11th title defense against then competitor and eventual champion Conor McGregor.

Fast forward to Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016. Just under two weeks away from the slatedla-sp-sn-rafael-dos-anjos-ufc-196-20160223-001 Champion vs. Champion bout between McGregor and UFC Lughtweight champion Rafael dos Anjos, more unfortunate news about an eventual title fight with McGregor comes forth. UFC on Fox and MMA Fighting insider Ariel Hielwani broke the news of a broken left foot that dos Anjos suffered last Friday during training. Much like UFC 189, UFC 197 had numerous questions hovering over it. However, much like UFC 189, UFC match maker found the perfect replacement for dos Anjos, keeping the March 5th main event in tact, proving that there are indeed blessings in curses.

Fifth ranked lightweight Nate Diaz has stepped up to the place in proxy of dos Anjos. GivenNate-Diaz-TUF-9-Sq the short amount of time to train and cut weight, both fighters will square off against each other at 170 pounds, which constitutes as McGregor’s Welterweight debut.

Anyone who knows these two are fully aware we’re in for a striking clinic, come the first Saturday night in March. In addition, there will be trash talk between these two that can’t be missed?

Who do I have in this one? It’s too early to say. Some serious deliberation must take place before I can make a final call. I will say this, Stockholm California’s own and my fellow Irishman will undoubtedly, rather it’s on the microphone or in the octagon, will everyone involved something to treasure. Buckle up!!!

Written by Antoine Hoffman

TNP’s SUPER BOWL 50: PREVIEW/PREDICTION

Newton-Manning-SuperBowl-50

The Super Bowl is perhaps the most celebrated extravaganza in the United States, and this year’s spectacle marks its 50th. So what a way to commemorate Super Bowl 50 with a match-up between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos. Arguably the best regular season quarterback in NFL history Peyton Manning (39) vs. the hottest young quarterback in the game today, cam Newton (26). The difference in age between the two is the greatest in Super Bowl history. Cam and company are the favorites to raise the Lombardi Trophy.

The last time these two quarterbacks faced each other was during the 2012 season atpeyton-manning Carolina. Peyton Manning threw for more than 300 yards, while his counterpart threw for two touchdowns and two picks. That Denver defense created havoc, sacking Newton seven times. Carolina’s run game was non-existent as they would rush for only 52 yards. The Broncos won that game 36-14.

The tide has changed significantly since then. Denver’s defense, believe it or not, got better. However, Manning is merely a fragment of what he was in 2012. During that season, Manning passed for over 300 yards nine times, something he’s only accomplished once this season. Newton, on the other hand, is making his case as the quarterback of the future with career numbers. Responsible for 45 combined touchdowns (35 passing, 10 rushing), Newton is expected to be the league’s MVP. In addition, Carolina has revamped its running game significantly from the last meeting.

Please allow me to break down both teams and give my prediction.

CAROLINA PANTHERS (Regular Season: 15-1)

The Panthers’ season started off with bad news concerning wide receiver Kelvinkelvin-benjamin1 Benjamin. He suffered a season ending knee injury during training camp. Carolina would have to rely on a stout defense, as well as healthy tight end in Greg Olsen. The offensive line, needing to operate out of solidity, did just that, allowing running back Jonathan Stewart to have a pro bowl year. The defense was true to form, but what really got Carolina over the hump was Cam Newton. As their captain, Newton had to manage his arm as well as his legs in order to play all 16 games. The Panthers finished the regular season with the NFL’s best record, number one scoring offense and sixth best defense.

This will be the first time Denver will face a quarterback like Newton this season. Newton’s ability to score by passing and rushing will create serious problems for that Broncos defense. Newton will not be intimidated by them even if they are the league’s best unit. If you don’t believe me, ask the Seattle Seahawks. That 31 point first half thrashing was something else. Ask the Arizona Cardinals if Cam Newton will be fazed by their defense? Newton performed well, in the postseason, against the second and fifth ranked defenses in the NFL. The way this offense is playing with Newton, how can they be stopped?

DENVER BRONCOS (Regular Season 12-4)

We know what Carolina’s quarterback Cam Newton has done this season. But letsNFL: AFC Championship-New England Patriots at Denver Broncos appreciate what the Broncos’ defense has accomplished. That defense has beaten Tom Brady and Phillip Rivers twice, Aaron Rogers, Matthew Stafford, Teddy Bridgewater, Joe Flacco and Jay Cutler. All dangerous quarterbacks! They defeated five teams that made the playoffs this season. That defense is only allowing 3.3 yards per rushing attempt.

There are all sorts of scenarios that will have one believe Carolina will win. They are the younger group, with more talent, and the league MVP in Newton. But the Broncos always seems to be in every game and most of the time, they win the close ones. They attack every quarterback they face.
Quarterbacks all year have been reluctant to throw to receivers covered by defensive cam-newton-nfl-nfc-championship-arizona-cardinals-carolina-panthers-7-850x560backs Aqib Talib and Chris Harris. They try to go at Bradley Roby as a consolation. Roby has proven to be a formidable back up who is often used as a safety. His tackling ability makes the defense dominant against the run.

WHO WILL WIN

Carolina seems poised enough to win. They have a sure thing in Cam Newton. The Panthers have it all with a strong running game that compliments the dual-threat quarterback and a top tier defense. Turnovers could decide this game; something that the Panthers forced masterfully during the playoffs. If they can do that in Super Bowl 50, I see the Panthers cruising to a 27-14 win over the Broncos.

Written by Keith S. Madyun

 

 

New Jersey Drive

Octagon-Lawler-Condit

As if the opening month of 2016 hasn’t already been ignited, UFC looks to close out January with a mixed bag of awe inspiring potential. Heavy hands, athleticism, wrestling grappling/submissions…you name it, UFC Fight Night in New Jersey will have it.

Fists will be driven into faces…bodies will be driven into mats…submissions will be applied in a way that drives victims into agonizing pain.

How will these scenarios apply to each bout?

Here’s fight night at the Prudential Center, as I see it…
“Super” Sage Northcutt vs. Bryan “Bam Bam” Barberena (Lightweight Division Bout)media.ufc_.tvUFN_Newarksage-vs-bryan-pic-0c7d2287436c83801241e10bec204d94ee1c69e1
With 80% of Barberena’s wins coming by way of knockout, many can fond comfort in him having a flare for putting guys to sleep. Such a practice can prove to be a daunting task for the knockout artist, facing one of the company’s most elusive, versatile and craftiest fighters. Northcutt, in his unblemished run, has yet to have a fight go to the judges’ table. If he doesn’t knock his opponents out, he’s either rendering them to begging for mercy or unconscious. If that isn’t enough, he averaged an astonishing 6.78 take downs per bout, batting 1.000 on them all. In the world where it pays to be multidimensional, look for “Super Sage” to outclass “bam Bam” winning the opening bout in the form of a submission.

Iuri “Marajo” Alcantara vs. Jimmie “El Terror” RIvera (Bantamweight Division Bout)
The key to victory in this 135 pound clash is fighting your fight. Alacantra is a grappler 036_Iuri_Alcantara_and_Jimmie_Rivera.0.0.jpgwho excels in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It would behoove him to close as much distance and keep this fight to the ground as much as possible. The latter could present issues as Rivera has successfully defended every take down that has been attempted on him. In addition, he lands 6.73 strikes a minute. In addition, no one has been able to land a take down on “El Terror”As tempting as it is to go with the Brazilian, I’ll pass and go with the New Jersey native. Rivera continues his impressive run of stuffed take downs, upsetting the 14th ranked “Majaro” in his homecoming bout.

Josh “The Warmaster” Barnett vs. Ben Rothwell (Heavyweight Division Bout, Co-Main Event)
Oh what fun it will be to see these big behemoths go at it. Neither fighter’s efforts can be Ben-Rothwell-Josh-Barnett-750x370-440x250questioned, as they leave it all in the octagon every time the cage closes. While both carry scud missiles for hands, Barnett’s arsenal moves at a quicker rate. Couple that with his wrestling skills and Barnett will prove to be too overwhelming of a foe for Rothwell. “The Warmaster” will render Rothwell motionless, knocking him out in the second round.

Anthony “Rumble” Johnson vs. Ryan “Darth” Bader (Light Heavyweight Division Bout, Main Event)
The similarities between these two are marveling. Both sit atop the division as far as fox1most powerful hands are concerned, both are exceptional wrestlers and both have approached the doorstep of the division title and are looking to return and surpass previous levels achieved. After struggles with maintaining weight at 170 and 185 pounds, Anthony Johnson has found a home in the 205 pound weight class. His only loss came at the hands of current division king Daniel “DC” Cormier for the vacated title at UFC 187. On three separate occasions, Bader has fought in bouts that could’ve catapulted him into a title shot, but he’s come up short all three times.
Now here comes a fourth attempt!

With all of their similarities, what separates them is the chin. Ryan Bader has shown his chin is susceptible to the right punch or kick. Johnson is Bader’s most powerful opponent to date. While Bader will be anything but a pushover, it looks like he will lose yet another fight that could warrant him a title shot, with the right result. “Rumble” knocks out Bader, by the third round, at best.

UFC Fight Night in New Jersey airs Saturday, January 30th at 8pm on Fox. Make sure you return here to TNP Sports for a full recap of this stacked main card.

Written by Antoine Hoffman

Super Bowl Eve’s Audible

CA45K_yWgAA_BtO

For those of you who are not necessarily familiar with how plays are called in the game xs-and-os.jpgof football, it goes something like this. A coordinator (offensive or defensive) calls a play; said play is given to the head coach for approval or disapproval, and from there, should the play at hand get approved, it’s then communicated to the unit captain on the field, who in turn communicates it to his teammate to be executed on the upcoming down. Some plays work, some do not, but what stands out in that scenario is everyone involved is in accordance with what’s about to take place.

Some formations or cadences that the coaches and coordinators may not see from the sidelines may spark concern with the team captain, who as a result, audibles out of the original play in to something that is conducive to countering what the opposing team is set to attempt.

Now, remember just a few short days ago, when it was reported that former heavyweight02_26142342_7681b0_2658134a champion Cain Velasquez was forced out of UFC 196’s main event against current champion Fabricio Werdum and second ranked title contender Stipe Miotic would step in to save the card? Well clearly there was a lack of communication between the champion and UFC’s front office because literally a day after Velasquez announced his withdrawal from the fight, Werdum followed suit, pretty much to a tee.

The champion announced Monday that he too would not be available to compete at UFC 196 due to a back injury of his own.

“I was already injured,” Werdum told MMAFighting.com. “I have a foot injury andwerdum333_vice_670 haven’t been able to throw kicks in training for two weeks. I would still fight Cain because I was injured the last time, but I also hurt my back last Friday. I went to the doctor, tried to continue training, but couldn’t spar as I should spar.
“I decided not to fight because I’m not 100 percent. If Cain was the opponent, I would go on. It’s not his fault. It’s nobody’s fault. Injuries happen. You can’t avoid them. I have no option. I made this decision because I’m not feeling 100 percent.”
So the champion would still fight with these injuries if Velasquez was available to fight, but he cannot defend his belt against a replacement to save a pay-per-view? I can understand wanting the rematch with Velasquez, considering the level of comfort established as a result of a dominant performance over the former champion in the first outing, but as a champion, are you not supposed to be ready to fight, knowing that cards are subjected to change?
As a result of Werdum’s decision, UFC 196, in a matter of three days, has transformed Hendricks-vs.-Thompsonfrom its original state of a Pay-Per-View event, to a Fox Sports 1 card, a Welterweight division clash between Johny “Bigg RIgg” Hendricks and Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.
At least UFC was able to come up with an alternative and the card will continue, albeit a different platform than originally booked. Plus, fighters booked for the Super Bowl Eve card will not lose out on a pay day and fight fans will get their annual pre-Super Bowl, MMA fix before the big game kicks off.
Can this revised card live up to the expectations of the original? Will anything further come from this series of alterations? Only time will tell!

Written by Antoine Hoffman

Down Goes Cain…Again

Cain+Velasquez+Portrait+Session+s3r5H2dP48ux

A few minutes before Sunday’s National Football Conference title game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers kicked off, a devastating blow took place that will at a minimum, have lingering effects for months down the line.FotorCreated-49-238x178

In what has unfortunately become common place for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, company president Dana White announced via Twitter that former heavyweight champion and current number one contender Cain Velasquez is out of his upcoming title fight with champion Fabricio Werdum at UFC 196, which was arguably the most anticipated rematch of the year.

After suffering an embarrassing, submission loss to Werdum seven months ago at UFCmaxresdefault 188, the former champion was on a serious road to redemption, designed by his fight camp, American Kickboxing Academy. The mission, equipping Velasquez with everything needed to secure a third title for AKA in less than a calendar year; joining Daniel Cormier (Light Heavyweight champion via UFC 187 Decision over Anthony Johnson) and Luke Rockhold (Middleweight Champion via UFC 194 TKO over Chris Weidman) among the camp’s championship combatants. Suffering a back injury while training has once again derailed the former champion’s plans and altered another UFC main event, just under two weeks before UFC -96 goes live.

One thing that is universal knowledge when it comes to Velasquez is he knows how to bounce back from adversity. Whether it’s defeat or injury, Velasquez has a knack for proving he is the best pure heavyweight UFC has on its roster and of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, despite his most recent loss to Werdum, which many believe Mexico’s altitude played a role in.

What Velasquez has yet to master is the ability to overcome injury. Having only foughtCain-Surgery-PNG.png three times in the last three years, as a result of significant injuries (including a torn mope issues and sprained MCL), the bigger questions are what causes these unfortunate incidents to continuously find residence with Velasquez and what, if anything can be done to prevent them. Is there something to Dana White’s claim that AKA goes too hard in its sparring/training? Is the camp’s medical staff not offering sufficient methods to prevent these habitual occurrences? Or, is there something within Velasquez, i.e. brittle bones and ligaments, that require elevated medical attention?

Whatever the issue is, preventative measures must be implemented if Velasquez wants to live out a lengthy title run. If not, does “Brown Pride” consider retirement?

Until that eventual bridge is reached for crossing, what’s known is a replacement has been plugged into face Werdum for the heavyweight title on the eve of Super Bowl 50. Cleveland, Ohioan Stipe Miotic, looks to bring his city something it hasn’t seen since 1964, a championship. Can he?

Continue following Take No Prisoners Sports, as we will provide you with updates in reference to Cain Velasquez’s recovery, return to action, a preview and recap of UFC 196’s new main event.

Written by Antoine Hoffman

March On Boston

dillashawcruz

From a lightweight division staple who has a few major wins, but has been unable to be in title contention, however has served as a measuring stick for potentially rising stars; along with another veteran who is six years his opponent’s senior, that is currently on a four-fight winning streak who wants to be more than a middle of the pack contender…LET FURY RING!

From a heavyweight whose significant other’s career his literally transcended Ultimate Fighting Championship and Mixed Martial Arts as a whole, who aspires to championship success on his own. Paired with him is a former National Football League defensive lineman who has secured wins over lower tiered heavyweights, yet unable to gain wins over the upper brass of UFC big boys…LET FOCUS RING!

Two former lightweight champions; one, who was sliced through, losing his UFC lightweight title to current champion Rafael dos Anjos, the other, a transplant from UFC’s lead competitor, aiming to recapture the championship glory he once possessed with Bellator Fighting Championship…LET FRUSTRATION RING!

Finally, a former UFC bantamweight champion looking to capture the belt he never lost from a current champion, who still feels like his title reign isn’t getting the respect it deserves…LET VALIDATION RING!

On the eve of Dr. Martin Luther King’s day, UFC Fight Night in Boston, which emanates from TD Garden, will be anything but a meeting of the minds. If anything, the only that will be harmonious amongst these fighters is violence.

What kind of message will these combatants to the thousands in attendance and millions watching at home? Let’s find out…

Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson vs. Francisco “Massaranduba” Trinaldo (Lightweight Division (Bout)

The opener pits two veterans, one looking to build momentum, the other, to maintain it.Screen-Shot-2016-01-16-at-4.30.02-PM After going 3-3 in his last Pearson, including losses to major names such as Evan Dunham, Al Iaquinta and Diego Sanchez. Trinaldo is on a four fight winning streak, looking to gain a win over a household name in the 155 pound division. Pearson’s striking can cause cause problems for his opponent. He’s also one of the better grappling and submission counter artists with 76% 68% respectively against him defended. On the flipside, Pearson is a stand up fighter. You might get one takedown attempt from him, but that doesn’t happen every fight. He doesn’t even bother going for submissions, which to me, rings a tone of one-dimensional. Pearson has the striking edge and defends well, however he is susceptible to the knockout. Trinaldo, being a fighter who strikes, grapples and attempt submissions, should be able to implement a game plan that helps keep Pearson right where he wants him. Trinaldo defeats Pearson via Decision.

Travis “Hapa” Browne vs. Matt “Meathead” Mitrione (Heavyweight Division Bout)

There has to be pressure mounting on the shoulders of one Travis “Hapa” Browne. Think 3383453-Browne-vs-Mitrione.jpgabout it! In response to a knockout loss to Antonio “Big Foot” Silva back as UFC on Fox in October 2012, Browne went on roll, scoring consecutive knockout wins over a former UFC title contender Gabriel Gonzaga, and former Strikeforce heavyweight champions Alistair Overeem and Josh Barnett. Then along comes the much improved striker and Jiu Jitsu expert, Fabricio Werdum, who derailed Browne at UFC On Fox 11, on his way to his eventual and current title reign. After a win over Brandon Schaub, Browne’s title aspirations were once again cut off at the head by former training partner, former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski. The beau of former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey once again has a shot at redemption against former NFL defensive lineman Matt Mitrione. While Mitrione has respectable wins over the aforementioned Gonzaga and and Shawn Jordan. Much like Pearson before him, Mitrione is still looking to generate a win over a top tier heavyweight. With all the disappointment that Browne has faced in his quest for a title shot, all while watch his girlfriend insert herself into the discussion, “World’s Most Popular Athlete” how can he not feel any pressure. Couple that with Browne’s athleticism and “Hapa” should be able to get himself onto another winning track at “The Meathead’s” expense. What kind of nickname is that??? Browne defeats Mitrione via knockout.

Anthony “Showtime” Pettis vs. Eddie Alvarez (Lightweight Title Contention Bout, Co-Main Event)

One of the toughest things for a fighter, especially a former champion, to do is return to hqdefault.jpgaction from a loss. In the co-main event, Pettis steps into the octagon for the first time since his devastating, unanimous decision, title loss to dos Anjos. Pettis aims to return to action on a high note, ultimately positioning himself for a potential, two-time UFC title run. A serious problem awaits him in the form of two-time Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez. Why, you ask? For starters, Alvarez both attempts and lands more strikes per minute than Pettis (3-2). And then, there’s wrestling. Alvarez averages three takedowns per contest. What’s more, he’s in the upper echelon of takedown defense at 91%. What happens to Pettis when his one takedown average of one per contest is nullified by such a high counter rate? If you’ve seen the Pettis/dos Anjos fight, you know the key to the present champ’s upset victory was his wrestling and constant pressure. Thus, this bout, with the right amount of pressure and wrestling by Alvarez, will result in Pettis suffering the first losing streak of his career, at least in my eyes. Alvarez defeats Pettis via decision.

T.J. Dillashaw vs. Dominick “The Dominator” Cruz (Bantamweight Title Bout, Main Event)

First thing’s first; thank God these two are some of UFC’s pound-for-pound because if the marketing of this fight hinged on their trash talk alone, ratings could be an all-time low. Please stay away from the microphones and do what you do best gentlemen.

Dillashaw has done some things that no one from his former, star studded camp could do. 090915-UFC-dillashaw-and-cruz-split-ahn-PI.vadapt.620.high.85For Team Alpha Male is an organization comprised of some MMA’s most recognizable fighters. It’s stable includes top contenders Joseph Benavidez (flyweight-125 Lbs., once Bantamweight-135 Lbs.) Chad Mendes (Featherweight-145 Lbs.) and Former World Extreme Cage Fighting featherweight champion Urijah Faber, who shuffles between bantamweight and featherweight as a fighter. With the dominance these three have displayed in their respective divisions, they are a combined 0-8 in UFC title fights. Benavidez losing to current flyweight champion Demetrius Johnson twice, Chad Mendez losing to former featherweight king Jose Aldo twice and Conor McGregor once for the interim featherweight belt, and Faber losing to Cruz and in a bantamweight title bout and twice to former champion Renan Barao. Now, pay attention to the names Barao and Aldo! They are representatives of the famed Brazilian camp Nova Uniao. Going back to the shortcomings of Team Alpha Male, that camp is a combined 0-5 against Nova Uniao, if we include Faber’s loss to Jose Aldo back at WEC 48, which dates back to October 2010. Overall, since said date, including WEC, Alpha Male is a combined 0-9 in title fights.
Here’s where Dillashaw separates himself from his former camp. Being the least experienced amongst title contenders there, Dillashaw broke the mold by knocking out Barao to not only become Alpha Male’s first ever champion of a major promotion, but he retained his title but knocking out Barao at UFC 149 and 169 respectively. It was October 2015, three months after Dillashaw retained his title against Barao, when Dillashaw and former Alpha Male lead trainer Duane Ludwig permanently broke camp, trading in the sunny skies of California for the blistering cold of Colorado, for the sake of the champion being close to his family.

Now on to the fight! With Dillashaw’s ownership of Barao, he has cemented himself as a renan-barao-tj-dillashaw-mma-ufc-fight-night-barao-vs-dillashaw-2-850x560legit champion. Yet, there is still skepticism of his legitimacy. More than anything, I think it revolves around Dominick Cruz never losing a title he had to forfeit as a result of multiple injuries. Cruz has proven he can come back from injuries and this time will be no different. Dillashaw has buzz sawed his way through the 135 pound division, but he has never dealt with the elusiveness and mobility of Dominick Cruz. Dating back to the WEC, Cruz has only lost one title fight, which was to Faber at WEC 26 in 2007, but he was not the fighter he is today. His game has evolved tremendously and he’s on an 11-fight winning streak. Dillashaw’s rise to the top is an impressive one, but his train will be demoted and Cruz will regain the belt he never loss inside the octagon. Cruz defeats Dillashaw via Decision.

There’s my forecast for Sunday night’s battles in Beantown. Ring announcer Bruce Buffer welcomes everyone to what should be an amazing night of fights at 10pm on Fox Sports 1. Make sure you come back to TNP Sports for a full recap of MLK Day Eve’s card.

Written by Antoine Hoffman

 

 

Certain Uncertainty

griffin-cousins-cropped

The Washington Redskins opened their 2015 preseason campaign with a 20-17 road victory over the Cleveland Browns. In the wake of it, the lead discussion of is the performances of current starting quarterback Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins, who is looking to reclaim said position.

Griffin’s night entailed two drives where he went 4/8, 36 yards, 0 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. The team’s lone score imrs.phpunder Griffin’s watch came at the foot of kicker Kai Forbath, who booted a 33-yard field goal through the uprights with 0:34 remaining in the opening quarter. Although there were some passes Griffin would like to have back, he appeared more poised and decisive during his outing than what we’ve seen of him previously. Griffin was even robbed of what would’ve been a 67-yard touchdown to Pierre Garcon when the wide receiver was unable to corral a bomb that came his way 2:30 into the opening quarter. Still, this makes it four consecutive preseason games where Washington’s first team offense has not produced a touchdown.

Cousins, however, was under center for two quarters. In that, he went 12/14, 154 yards, no interceptions and635751032026211020-USATSI-8746052 scored a touchdown with his feet. In addition, Cousins led the offense on two scoring drives that included a 52-yard field goal from Forbath with 0:45 remaining before halftime and a 1-yard run from running back Trey Williams, resulting in a touchdown.

On the surface, Cousins had the better night of the two statistically. As a result, a majority of Washington Area media and its constituents appear to be of the belief that Cousins is the more productive signal caller of the two. Before leaning further in Cousins’ direction, the quarterback battle warrants being picked with a fine-toothed comb.

Cousins’ performance against Cleveland, while stellar, was done with more operating time, against second team defenders.imrs.php One can assume that Griffin played at a morsel of time to preserve him for the remainder of the preseason. This was a commendable move on coach Jay Gruden’s part, considering the injuries suffered by Niles Paul, Silas Redd and Matt Jones, along with Griffin’s history with injuries. Despite preventive measures, there has to be more balance of playing time between Griffin and Cousins in order to properly assess who is the best fit as this team’s starting quarterback.

Considering the mystification that comes with the current Redskins quarterback situation, it is anything but wise to prematurely anoint anyone as the sure-fire starter. Both signal callers are not without their share of mishaps. Is Griffin completely healed from previous, injury marred seasons? Has his overall pocket presence improved? When faced with adversity, can Cousins show the resolve needed to keep his team competitive?

I may be in the minority with the current structure of Washington’s quarterback carousel, but both Cousins and Griffin areimrs.php still in the process of securing their respective roles as the quarterback moving forward. For the moment, for various reasons, it’s a struggle to give either a ringing endorsement.

Hopefully a fair, equivalent competition is put in place to determine who leads this offense.

Until then, the only thing I know for certain regarding this matter is ONCE AGAIN, REDSKINS NATION IS IMMERSED IN A QUARTERBACK CONTROVERSY…BUCKLE UP!

Written by Antoine Hoffman

Degrees of Separation- A Take No Prisoners’ Perspective on the 2015 NBA Finals

 One possesses an uncanny ability to do what no other player is capable of, at his stature (6’8, 250 lbs). The other, who is Cavs-in-NBA-Finals-2015generating a buzz suggesting he’s the game’s greatest shooter to date, is arguably the most compelling player in the game to date.

With an appearance in the 2015 NBA Finals being his sixth, Lebron James is as close to being an immovable object in the Association’s largest stage as one can get when it comes to modern-day, championship play. Stephen Curry, on the other hand, whose explosiveness, ball handling skills and bulls-eye like shooting, has made him the game’s irresistible force.

Combining for a total of five NBA MVPs, Curry winning his first this season, the consensus is2015-06-03t195152z_222160140_nocid_rtrmadp_3_nba-playoffs-golden-state-warriors-practice for him and James to wow everyone in observance.

Both teams made amazing runs to the finals. Combined, the Warriors and Cavaliers have played 29 games to reach the finals, which are the fewest since 2003 when the San Antonio Spurs and New Jersey Nets journeyed to the finals in 32.

Given what both teams have accomplished to meet one another in the finals, something(s) must separate champion from runner-up.

While Cleveland (12.3) averages less turnovers per playoff outing than Golden State (14.5), and has been the betterNBA: Golden State Warriors at Phoenix Suns rebounding team of the two, Golden State, who averages 110.0 points per game thus far in the postseason, is a scoring a machine. In addition, the Warriors are equipped with a bench capable of maintaining momentum while starters are resting. Andrew Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Leandro Barbosa and Marreese Speights, who is returning from a calf injury, will provide offensive, defensive and fundamental sparks during relief play that Cleveland’s depth will have trouble matching.

As entertaining as this series will be, Cleveland’s fairy tale season, even with the return of Kyrie Irving, will not end withKyrie-Irving-to-have-MRI. Cavalier Nation living happily ever after, at least not for this season. I have a feeling it’ll take seven games to do it, but the Warriors will win their first championship since 1975, when they swept the then, Washington Bullets.

Written By Antoine Hoffman

The Comforts Of Home

nfl-playoffs2

While home field advantage is something that is coveted among all postseason combatants, it has not always been a guarantee.

Many road teams have been able to step into hostile territory and walk away victorious.  I’m not too sure the same can be said about this crop of road warriors.  I’m taking a clean sweep of home victories in this opening weekend of postseason play. Why, you ask?

Here we go:

Colts over Chiefs- For Andy Reid to elevate Kansas from two wins a season ago to nine is remarkable to say the least.  Such an increase in the win column warrantsNFL: Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs “Coach of the Year” consideration at the very least.  But beyond every surface if an underlying truth.  In the case of the Chiefs, the ugly truth is a 1-5 record against teams with an above .500 win percentage. Coach Reid, your team’s accomplishments this season are nothing to be frowned upon, but until you can beat teams with winning records on a consistent basis, there’s an early exit in your team’s immediate playoff future.

Eagles over Saints- The return of Sean Peyton was warmly welcomed as he helped the Saints to an 11-5 record and a sixth seen in this season’s playoff bracket.nick-foles Unfortunately, New Orleans has become what Seattle used to be, an inept road team. Being 3-5 away from home does not bode well for any playoff team.  Unfortunately for the Saints, they won’t have a chance to redeem themselves until 2014. Philly does the unthinkable and sends New Orleans south for the winter.

Bengals over Chargers- The unsteady play of Andy Dalton has been alarming, to say29906170001_3002010711001_Screen-Shot-2014-01-02-at-9-48-35-AM the least. Some games, he’s solid. While in others, when he’s bad, he’s bad…and not bad as in good either.  No matter which Andy Dalton decides to show up, the red zone reliability of BenJarvis Green Ellis and Giovani Bernard, the receiving prowess of AJ Green and the Bengals’ defense will mask whatever deficiencies surface at the hands of Dalton, if any.  The Bengals will win what I think will be a thriller of a game.

Packers over 49ers- More shaky than the play of Andy Dalton has been that of Colin Kaepernick. While he hasn’t been as turnover prone, he’s still struggled to putAaron-Rodgers.playoffs.400 together a string of consistently solid games.  Much like Cincinnati, San Francisco compensates for Kaepernick’s shortcomings in the form of their running game and defense.  Still, I find Aaron Rodgers, who is just returning to action, to be better than this installment of Kaepernick.  It seems like the 49ers and Packers can’t stay away from each other in the postseason. I’ll take the Packers to separate themselves from their most formidable postseason foe to date.

That’s my forecast for what could be a wintry weekend of postseason games. Bundle up and enjoy the games. TNP Sports will be back at it for next week’s divisional round where the top two seed for each conference will come out to play.

By Antoine Hoffman

An Unfortunate Ending

1388296744000-USP-MMA-UFC-168-Weidman-vs-Silva-002
As I told it, UFC 168 was supposed to be a night of redemption for two former champions.  It was to be a night where a coronation times two took place for Miesha Tate and Anderson Silva.
Apparently I did not get the memo to defending champions Ronda Rousey and Chris Weidman because they had plans of their own and although they both were able to retain their respective titles, the fashions in which they were done were instances in which no one expected, especially the latter bout/main event.
There’s another unexpected occurrence that took place on this memorable evening, which forced me to miss the mark in three of the five bouts.  Thank God for the two forecasts that did go as expected.
Here’s a look back at an exciting card, that ended on a somber note:
Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier def. Diego “DB” Brandao via TKO-Punches (4:54 of Round One)
What I had as a display of wrestling and striking prowess at the hands of Brandao was the exact opposite.  Poirier showed everyone under observance that “Diamonds” are forever.  His abilityufc168_07_poirier_vs_brandao_017-jpg to counter strike Brandao and chip away at him with punches and leg kicks allowed Poirier to have his way with the Brazilian. The two takedowns Brandao landed proved meaningless as Poirier immediately returned to his feet and continued his onslaught. Poirier was able to force Brandao to the fence and land a takedown of his own. Brandao was allowed to return to his feet, only to receive a barrage of punches, forcing referee Mario Yamasaki to end the bout with six tickers left in the opening round.
Jim Miller def. Fabricio “Morango” Camoes via Armbar Submission (3:42 of Round One)
 Camoes opened with a swift kick inside the lead leg of Miller and from there engaged Miller into a clinch against the fence. Ultimately, Camoes placedjim-miller1 Miller into an area of familiarity, which eventually sealed his fate. Miller popped Camoes with a knee and followed with a stuff of Camoes’ takedown attempt.  From there, the two found themselves at the center of the octagon, where Miller would block a kick of Camoes and respond with an overhand left to Camoes’ head. Camoes responded with a flurry of punches. Camoes followed up with a kick, but Miller catches it and executes a takedown. From the ground position, Camoes was able to counter with take down of his own.  This only proved to be counterproductive for Camoes, as he left his arm open for the inevitable.  Miller, being the submission scholar he is, saw the dangling limb, locked onto it and forced Camoes to tap out to an armbar.
Travis “Hapa” Browne def. Josh “The Warmaster” Barnett via TKO- Elbows (1:00 of Round One) 
Browne opened immediately with a kick and left hook combination, which allowed him to get Barnett into a Thai Plum variation of the clinch.  In that clinch, Barnett was able to land a kneetravis-browne-ufc-1682 onto Browne, which brought about immediate separation.  Barnett tried to change levels to pull off a takedown, but found himself on the receiving end of a knee that cut him open, leading to his demise. The momentum carried the two to the cage and Browne saw an opening in the form of Barnett’s head, leading to a series of elbows that rendered Barnett motionless.  In microwave fashion, Browne secured a victory over a fighter who has not suffered a knockout loss since 2001.
“Rowdy Ronda Rousey def. Miesha “Cupcake” Tate via Armbar Submission (4:02 of Round Three, UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title Bout)
The logical strategy for Tate to reclaim championship glory was to punch Rousey relentlessly but maintaining distance at the same time.  Also, if therousey_tate_o-300x200 fight goes to the ground, protect her arm at all costs.  Unfortunately, Tate implemented an ill-advised strategy.  She relented on throwing punches and engaged Rousey in the clinch.  For Tate’s efforts, she was on the receiving end of a whopping six takedowns, in the form of Rousey’s judo tosses.  Anyone that knows Rousey knows the judo toss/throw is a personal segue to her bread and butter, the armbar.  What shocked many was Ronda was 0-4 in her first group of submission attempts.  Truthfully, with Rousey’s improved striking, she could’ve finished Tate with a knockout, but after the third takedown attempt, it was clear to me Rousey was out to prove that point and in the third round, she did just that.  With under a minute left in the round, Rousey was able to secure her go-to play, scoring a second armbar, submission over her bitter rival.
Chris “The All American” Weidman def. Anderson “The Spider” Silva via TKO/Stoppage (1:16 of Round Two, UFC Middleweight Title Bout)
After getting a feel of Silva’s range courtesy of an attempted punch and kick, Weidman was able to land a takedown on Silva, further exposing Silva’s vulnerability in takedown defense.ufc168_11_weidman_vs_silva_034-jpg  Weidman dominated the opening round with 4:24 of ground control.  The champion’s ground and pound, wrestling and positioning clearly took Silva out of his element. Silva was able to score some punches from the bottom, even forcing some blood to trickle from the champion’s nose, but Weidman was relentless with the punches and elbows he rained Silva from the top.  In the last :20 of the opening round, Weidman stood up and followed through with one final punch from the top as a warning to Silva that suggested “there more’s to come”.  The second round saw a bunch of fainting from Silva, but Weidman would not take the bait.  Weidman continues pushing the pace, forcing Silva into a back pedal. Weidman came forth with a kick to Silva’s midsection. Silva responded with a kick of his own, but Weidman was able to check the kick, which resulted in an unexpected turn. as Silva’s kick connected with Weidman’s shin, Silva’s shin broke in a way where his leg halfway wrapped around Weidman’s, resulting in him screaming in unbearable pain.  Having no other choice, referee Herb Dean was forced to call the fight, rendering Weidman successful in his first title defense.
Even if Anderson Silva did not suffer that freak injury, in the words of Take No Prisoners Sports’ Editor-In-Chief Keith Madyun, “I’m not so sure Anderson would’ve won this fight”. The dominance of Chris Weidman was too glaring. He fought the perfect fight and for a second time, the current, reigning UFC Middleweight Champion of the world cracked the code of one Anderson “The Spider” Silva.
This card will be remembered for a combination of the right reasons and that one melancholy reason.
We here at TNP Sports would like to congratulate Chris Weidman on proving his legitimacy as champion in this sport.  More importantly,we recognize the greatness that is Anderson Silva’s career. Most importantly, we wish him a speedy and successful recovery and well wishes with whatever he does moving forward.
Thank you fight fans for lending time to us…please come into the new year of 2014 safely.
By Antoine Hoffman

Road To Redemption

ufc-168-countdown-fpf_466926_FrontPageFeatureNarrow
To all the Take No Prisoners supporters that are Mixed Martial Arts fans and have been missing their fight fix courtesy of us, let me start with a sincere apology for dropping the ball in this regard. Instead of drawing a laundry list of excuses, I’ll just atone for my negligence to you all and work to assure you all never again suffer from further MMA famine, as long as I’m able to compose MMA entries.
Now that I’ve got that out-of-the-way, what better way for me to make up for my negligence than to give you a forecast of a five bout, fight card that includes a double main event featuring former champions looking to redeem themselves in the form of championship glory?
Without further ado, here are my shots at UFC 168’s main card:
Chris “The All American” Weidman (Champion) vs. Anderson “The Spider” Silva (Number One Contender)-UFC Middleweight Title Bout/Main EventUFC168_448499_SecondaryEventFeature
Like Chael Sonnen, Chris Weidman was able to pressure Anderson Silva with his wrestling and ground and pound.  Unlike Sonnen, Weidman did not unleash any wasted motions, which resulted in him doing the unthinkable, giving Silva his first ever UFC loss and dethroning MMA’s greatest fighter of all time. While Silva contributed to his loss with unnecessary showboating, no one can deny Weidman seizing and taking of an opportunity.
The biggest lesson I took from this fight, along with both matches with Sonnen, is as great as Silva is, he struggles in area of takedown defense. What was also learned is the right shot at the right time will send Silva to the mat. On the flip side, I learned Silva responds well to embarrassment. After being bullied in his first match against Sonnen for 23 minutes before securing an armbar to keep his title, Silva approached his rematch in assassin-like fashion, finishing him not even a full two minutes into the second round. WIth that in mind, I’m taking Silva to avenge his only UFC loss, but he must recapture assassin-like to reclaim his title. Any showboating like he did in his first meeting with Weidman and history will repeat itself.  I think a victory for Silva will come in the form of a knockout. At 10-0, Weidman’s chin has yet to be tested…Silva is the perfect guy to do just that.
“Rowdy” Ronda Rousey (Champion) vs. Miesha “Cupcake” Tate- UFC Women’s Bantamweight Title/Co-Main Event0243bff211cad41e5389edde8e84a2ac
I don’t know if there are two fighters out there now who despise each other more than these two do.  Apparently, the rivalry started back in their days of Strikeforce.  Ronda Rousey was looking to make for herself, so she took to Twitter to call out then champion Miesha Tate. After a few wins, Strikeforce’s matchmakers obliged Rousey with a shot at Tate’s title.  Rousey would go on to beat Tate, becoming Strikeforce’s last Women’s Bantamweight champion before the company was bought out by UFC and elevating the credibility of women’s MMA.
Fast forward to The Ultimate Fighter 18.  Rousey and Tate were assigned to captain teams of aspiring coed fighters. Unfortunately, Rousey’s personality outshined all the fighters looking to make a name for themselves. Her emotional instability caused fans to see Rousey’s true nature, ultimately turning many fans against her.
Now on to the fight!  Every Rousey victory in her brief, yet unblemished career has come by way of first round submission in the form of an armbar. While I understand the philosophy of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, Mixed Martial Arts is a sport where you can only be one-dimensional for so long. Rousey isn’t a fan of being punched in the face either. Already having experience against Rousey, Tate should know what it takes to avoid being vulnerable to another armbar. That along with constant pressure in the form of strikes and takedowns should help Tate secure her second title in mainstream MMA.
Josh “The Warmaster” Barnett vs. Travis “Hapa” Browne- UFC Heavyweight Division Bout20131226041731_5D3_4478
Josh Barnett carries a set of the heaviest hands in the heavyweight division. He’s also in the same discussion as Frank Mir and Stefan Struve when it comes to the best submission artists among the big boys.  The area where he’s lacking, which proves favorable for Browne is athleticism.  If Browne can use his athleticism to take down Barnett, land significant strikes, avoid the clinch, takedown and submission attempts should this match go to the ground, there’s no reason Browne can’t win this fight.  I’ll take Browne in a decision victory over Barnett.
Jim Miller vs. Fabricio “Morango” Camoes- UFC Lightweight Division Boutdownload
With only one submission loss in Jim Miller’s 26 fight career (22-4), he is almost foreign to the idea of being submitted.  However, four of Miller’s nine losses are by way of submission.  Did I mention 13 of Miller’s wins came in the form of submissions?  I suspect Miller will bang with Camoes for a bit until the perfect opening arrives for him to lock in to cement his 14th win via submission.
Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier vs. Diego “DB” Brandao- UFC Featherweight Division Boutdustin_poirier_head
Dustin Poirier is the type of fighter whose effort and heart can never be questioned.  He leaves it all in the octagon every time he scraps. I saw him live at the George Mason Patriot Center a year ago and in a losing effort to Chan Sung Jung, I was floored.
Fast forward to December 28, 2013!  Once again, Poirier will not be short of effort. Some of his other deficiencies, however, could come back to bite him. He’s facing a buzzsaw in Diego Brandao who strikes and take fighters down in ferocious manner. When it comes to takedowns, Poirier isn’t too strong in distributing or defending them.  I can’t help but think this pairing will set the bar as the opening fight of the card, but Brandao should take this one by way of unanimous decision.
UFC 168 will emanate live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena and is only available on Pay-Per-View.  Given that this is the inaugural event where the Pay-Per-View purchase rate has increased $59.95 (previously $49.95), UFC’s front office better pray for top-tier events moving forward.
Enjoy fight night everyone and we’ll be back with a full recap of what appears to be a stacked card.
By Antoine Hoffman

Can He Catch A Break?

hi-res-154120096_crop_north

For as long as Tony Romo has been a starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, he has been one on the receiving end of scrutiny and criticism.Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys vs Chicago Bears

With numerous turnovers in the most clutch of situations, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone that would suggest the criticism was not warranted.

Unlike previous seasons, Tony Romo has been solid in key game situations.  Make no mistake about it, he’s still committed ill-advised moves that have resulted in turnovers, but they have not been in abundance in comparison to earlier seasons.  His usual snafus at the most inopportune moments have been nonexistent. Yet and still, every loss Dallas has suffered somehow results in Romo catching heat. Forget that Dallas’ defense, led by once defensive guru Monte Kiffin, is dead last in overall defense this season.  Even disregard the lack of balance in Dallas’s offensive attack.  When in doubt, blame Romo.

If this isn’t enough, just as Romo was looking to close out the month of December on a high note, Romo suffers a back injury in week 16 against the WashingtonCowboys_Redskins_Football-0e042 Redskins, which leaves his status for week 17’s Sunday night division clinching battle with the Philadelphia Eagles in uncertainty.

Being a Redskins fan, I can’t say I feel sorry for him, but I had to note that even when it’s not all Romo’s fault, the masses will suggest otherwise.

In comes Kyle Orton! Can he fill the void Romo left in a game managing fashion that’ll result in Dallas securing the NFC East Crown, which isn’t much to brag on this season?  Or will Orton force Dallas fans to appreciate what they have indal_a_korton_cr_200 Tony Romo?

Divisions much be clinched and playoff seeds must be established.  it’s the final week of the regular season…here we go:

Panthers over Falcons- Although Carolina have all but clinched the NFC South, they can ill afford to take Atlanta lightly and fall victim to a trap game.

Bengals over Ravens- Whether they want to admit it or not, the Ravens sorely miss Anquain Boldin.

Colts over Jaguars- Jacksonville been a scrappy under .500 team after its 0-for-whatever start, but Naptown wants to take the suggested Carolina route and avoid falling victim to a trap game at all costs.

Dolphins over Jets- Really NFL…this is how you are gonna make me end my season, with the two teams whose games I have not got right at all this season. They can beat each other into oblivion for all I care.

Vikings over Lions- Read my entry from last week!

Giants over Redskins- The G-Men are home and they have a few more wins than we do.

Steelers over Browns- The aroma of the postseason is too heavy for The Steel City not to take advantage of an opportunity being presented. Go get your wildcard seeding Steelers!

Titans over Texans- 2013 has been the beginning of Matt Schaub’s end as the Texans starting quarterback.

Cardinals over 49ers- Mark my words, Arizona is one of those playoff teams that no one will want to see this season.

Packers over Bears- They’ll inherit the opportunity that Dallas will blow…oh shoot, I spoiled it.  Ah well!

Patriots over Bills- Has Buffalo been in the playoffs since the Music City Miracle in 2000?

Saints over Buccaneers- With two straight losses, it’s only right for the N.O. to heal its wounds by playing bully to Tampa Bay.

Broncos over Raiders- 52, 53, 54, 55, 56 TOUCHDOWN PASSES…AH AH AH AH!

Chiefs over Chargers- At 6-1 outside of Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City can win on the road.  San Diego will make them work for this one, but the Chiefs should secure this win.

Seahawks over Rams- Seattle needs to secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs to live out its Super Bowl aspirations.  What better way to do that than in front of the “12th Man” at CenturyLink Field?

Eagles over Cowboys- There are going to be some gloomy people out there who support that unsavory blue star. Many amber alerts will be processed and milk box ad spaces will be purchased this weekend.

Last week, I went 9-7…can I close out the regular season on a double-digit win note?  That remains to be seen!

By Antoine Hoffman

Baby It’s Cold Outside

Minnesota Vikings v Detroit Lions

The month of December has not been kind to the Detroit Lions.  Since their Thanksgiving slaughtering of the Green Bay Packers, the Lions have collapsed from being NFC North leaders tohi-res-134042199-running-back-john-kuhn-of-the-green-bay-packers_crop_north merely having fingernails grip of the division crown.

Whether it’s the on and off play of Matthew Stafford, the instability of the defense or the so-so rushing game, Detroit, having “do-or-die” on its brain, welcomes the New York Giants.

Can the Lions get over their deficiencies in order to tighten its grip on the division lead?

Here’s how they and the other playoff hopeful teams will fare a week from season’s end. Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Detroit Lions

Here we go:

Dolphins over Bills– Out of spite towards me, Miami will lose this game. I don’t think I’ve got one of its games right this season.

Panthers over Saints– I’ll take Carolina’s physicality over “The N-O’s” finesse any day.

Redskins over Cowboys– Yeah I know, but I’m biased.

Rams over Buccaneers– These are not the teams of a decade ago. However, Jeff Fisher has this team closer to restoration Greg Schiano does.

Jets over Browns– My “inny minny miney moe” game of the week!

Colts over Chiefs– Kansas City will continue it “0-for” pattern against above .500 teams.

Bengals over Vikings– Minnesota is down to their bare minimum as far as skilled players are concerned, meanwhile “The Nati” is sniffing a division title.

Broncos over Texans– Will Peyton Manning break Tom Brady’s single season touchdown record?  In this game, it’s very likely!

Jaguars over Titans– This one is too close to call, but I’ll take J-Ville to scratch and claw its way to victory.

Seahawks over Cardinals– Now is the time for Seattle to prove its ability to win on the road against a quality division foe.

Lions over Giants– This season is prime for you to win it Detroit…don’t blow it!

Chargers over Raiders– Why not?

Packers over Steelers– This will be an all out scrap that’ll be decided by nothing more than a touchdown.

Ravens over Patriots– Truly I have no logic behind this.

Eagles over Bears– Philly seems to have found its stride.

Last week, 10-6…let’s see if i can match or exceed that mark this week.

By Antoine Hoffman

A Troubled Franchise

James-Dolan-Knicks

Fifteen!

That’s the number of games the New York Knicks have lost through the first 21 games of the 2013-2014 season. We’re talking about a team that won 54 games last season and claimed the17-1s050-vecsey-c-300x300 Eastern Conference’s two seed in the postseason. Incredible how a season can change things!

There’s plenty of blame to toss around regarding this early season debacle. Carmelo Anthony is jacking up three pointers like he’s Steve Kerr, yet he’s only shooting 32% (22% over the last 10 games) from the three-point strike. An “Amber Alert” should be sent out for JR Smith’s game, Amare Stoudemire isn’t even a shell of his old self, finally, the injuries to Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton are killers.

Those on-court issues along with the slow start has put head coach Mike Woodson on the chopping block, made Iman Shumpert a topic of trade rumors and created friction on the sidelines. Team owner James Dolan can’t be happy with what has transpired but the blame starts from the top. Think about it, the Knicks haven’t won 50 or more games since Pat Ewing was in his prime, yet you get rid of Glen Grunwald, who orchestrated a 54 win season, for current general manager Steve Mills, who’s resume is somewhat of a novice. Let Dolan tell it, he still considers himself as a top-notch owner. That’s laughable! A big payroll doesn’t always translate to success. The Knicks have paid luxury tax penalties every year and continue to have nothing to showJames-Dolan-Mike-Woodson for it.

How can a once storied franchise produce a winning formula when the owner is only concerned about “Glitz and Glamour” and not putting the proper pieces together to strengthen its brand? This franchise was a proud organization and now it’s the laughing stock of the NBA. Until Dolan remove the blinders, look in the mirror and take ownership of the downfall of what his team has become, they will continue to be mediocre at best!

The Saga continues!

By Keith Madyun

A Cancerous Coach

451980695-e1385480295899

Mike Shanahan is the worse thing to happen to the Washington Redskins to date. Had proper evaluation of him been done prior to his arrival here, the Redskins would not find themselves USATSI_7436547-001reaping the disastrous seeds he has sown.

Think about it, what coach gets fired from an organization after winning two super bowls for it? That in itself should have been a ringing endorsement or warning to “STAY AWAY”.

Why you may ask? For starters, in four seasons under Shanahan’s watch, the team at best, has been marginal in the areas of special teams (returns), offensive line (blocking), secondary (coverage), defensive fronts (pressure/sacks) and wide receivers (catching). How do these glaring issues remain in four years time?

Then there is his accountability, or lack thereof. Every time an issue surfaces, everybody else is to blame but Shanahan.  Mind you, Albert Haynesworth was cancerous to the team and yes Donovan McNabb was not the quarterback he was in Philadelphia, but this coach, who was supposed to change the culture of this team has a doctorate’s degree in double standards. He, like many other coaches advocate the message of keeping your dirty laundry in the locker room, yet it is okay for him to throw his players under the bus. All for the sake of making himself as incapable of error as possible.

Finally there is his pettiness! Fred Davis, who’s had his legal issues, is still one of the Redskins’ most productive skilled players when healthy, has been handcuffed from touching the fieldNFL: Chicago Bears at Washington Redskins because he fell asleep in one team meeting. I can’t claim to have a handle on proper team meeting etiquette, but Davis can’t be the only player to do so.  Alfred Morris, who has been the one constant in the midst of this messy season has, for whatever reason, been subjected to decreased time/carries on the field. Only God knows why this is the case.

With all this in mind, his decision to deactivate Robert Griffin III to “preserve his health moving forward” is utter bull.  What better way for a petty figure to humiliate his owner and quarterback and rebel against their relationship than to use Kirk Cousins and Rex Grossman as pawns to publicly humiliate this team?  Let’s not lose sight of the fact that Shanahan has no prior discussion with Griffin going into this announcement. To echo a point Clinton Portis made recently on NFL Network, if the health of skilled players were a priority, why not deactivate Pierre Garcon and Morris?  This without question, knowing his firing is inevitable, is Shanahan’s way of saying to Snyder and the city Washington, DC, “Eff you and your beloved quarterback…fire me already.”

This is the coach that wanted Griffin. He can deny that Griffin was Snyder’s pick, but the reality is Shanahan was given all control of player personnel decisions. This is the coach that wasimages supposed to change the culture of Washington Redskins football for the better.  Instead, he has contributed to making this once heralded organization the laughing-stock of the National Football League.  Of course the lack of execution on the field played a part in this team’s demise, but the one who was supposed to set an example on how a premier football team is ran, did anything but that.

The questions moving forward are “Who will want to coach in Washington” and “Can order be once again restored in the nation’s capital”?

One thing we do know for certain is Donovan McNabb has been vindicated.  He should not have been treated as a woman scorned.  Maybe Griffin should’ve lent an ear to McNabb’s words. Everything he said or wanted to say about Shanahan, has come to fruition.

Last week, I flirted with a double digit win week, but fell short at nine.  With three weeks left, declining is not an option.  With that in mind, here we go:

*Broncos over Chargers

*Falcons over Redskins

*49ers over Buccaneers

*Seahawks over Giants

*Bears over Browns

*Colts over Texans

*Jaguars over Bills

*Patriots over Dolphins

*Eagles over VIkings

*Chiefs over Raiders

*Panthers over Jets

*Cardinals over Titans

*Saints over Rams

*Cowboys over Packers

*Steelers over Bengals

*Lions over Ravens

We’re back at it in seven days!

By Antoine Hoffman

Le Gordon Bleu

Josh-Gordon
Whenever a discussion of the NFL’s best receivers come to mind, by default names like Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall and AJ Green come to surface.  Even tight ends like Robnfl_u_ajohncalvin_cr_576 Gronkowski (when healthy) and Jimmy Graham garner arguments in this category.
There’s a player who has forced his way into the discussion that many are over looking.  His name is Josh Gordon and he plays for the Cleveland Browns.
Despite a 4-8 record…despite a shuffles to the quarterback position as a result of injuries and marginal play, Gordon joins Johnson and Johnson (no cheap skin care plug here) as the only receivers to date to surpass the 1,200 receiving yards mark. While he only has seven touchdowns, his contributions in the yardage department have been thee silver lining in Cleveland’s dark cloud of a season.
If his front office is able to surround him with other skilled players, with Norv Turner as the mastermind of the offense, Cleveland could be a force on that side of the ball.11346746-large
For the immediate future, the Dawg Pound has New England (10th in total pass defense) as its next task. It remains to be seen how Gordon will fair against the Patriots’ pass offense, but going into this game, we know he has made his mark on 2013.
Speaking of marks, I made one in which I can live with…10-6 on Turkey Day weekend. The goal is to match or exceed this mark. With that said, here we go:
*Jaguars over Texans
*Bengals over Colts
*Patriots over Browns
*Raiders over Jets
*Lions over Eagles
*Steelers over Dolphins
*Buccaneers over Bills
*Chiefs over Redskins
*Ravens over Vikings
*Packers over Falcons
*Broncos over Titans
*Cardinals over Rams
*Giants over Chargers
*Seahawks over 49ers
*Panthers over Saints
*Cowboys over Bears
Season’s almost over, but until then, we’ll do it again in another 168 hours.
By Antoine Hoffman