Urijah Faber is Tom Cruise
The similarities are almost eerie between these two. Tom Cruise has been at the top of the movie industry since Risky Business. Urijah Faber has been at the top of MMA world for years.He is in some ways responsible for the lighter weight classes being in the UFC. They are both extremely talented but also work really hard at their crafts. The two of them did not just work hard to get to the top but put the effort in to stay there. Also, they each took their talents and created a foundation for their futures.
Faber created Team Alpha Male and Cruise formed his own production company. Right now there is no hotter team in MMA and Cruise's company has been responsible for many of his biggest hits including the Mission Impossible franchise. It is rare to see the kind of success they have in one area but even rarer to see it translated to other industries. It is a testament to their hard work and ability to work with others that has lead to their successes.
Throughout his career Cruise has challenged himself by working with some of the best directors and actors in the business. He also takes on tough material like Magnolia. This is the same for Faber who has fought the best fighters in his weight classes. This fight with Iuri Alcantara is a perfect example of that take on all challengers mentality that he embodies. This was a tough fight and one that carried more risks for Faber than rewards. Still, there was no hesitation and he took the fight. He found himself in a war and weathered some difficult early moments to deliver another win.
They have both reached that level where their success is expected. People have also grown so used to them consistently being at the top. It gets to the point where people are resentful. Cruise has another box office hit and someone brings up War of the Worlds. Faber goes out and takes out another tough opponent in three rounds of dominance and people will bring up his record in title fights. People expect their successes and root for them to stumble. They're popular but they receive a lot of backlash. Often unfairly it seems, but then it makes sense. Almost every guy has heard their girlfriend, wife or boyfriend say how cute they are, and that eats them up inside. So there is a segment of frustrated fans just waiting to pounce on the slightest misstep. You could almost feel sorry for them and then you realize that they are doing pretty good for themselves.
Conor McGregor, Max Holloway, the Coen Brothers, The Big Lebowski and The Hudsucker Proxy
Conor McGregor was easily one of the most hyped fighters entering this fight coming off his electrifying first round KO of Marcus Brimage in his UFC debut. This was very similar to The Big Lebowski, one of the Coen Brothers most highly anticipated films coming off the award winning Fargo. People were expecting another Fargo and they got The Dude instead. The movie did not do well at the box office and was considered a disappointment. Much like this performance from McGregor who gutted out a tough win against an underrated opponent.
Then a strange thing happened to The Big Lebowski - it went to cable and video. There it was discovered by a new audience, a certain audience that could identify with The Dude, and became a cult classic. In fact, it sparked the Lebowski Fest which is or will be coming to a city near you. When people look back on this fight it will be viewed less of a disappointment and could even become a cult classic. "Dude do you remember the Holloway fight? Still the only guy to go the distance with McGregor." Even though he could not finish Holloway, McGregor gutted out a win battling his way through a knee injury. Holloway himself reminds me of another Coen brothers movie, The Hudsucker Proxy.
The movie is not the Coen Brothers' best movie but it has it's moments. There are several Tim Robbins scenes that are physical comedic brilliance. It also brought the term "She's a Muncie gal" into our household and the movie has Paul Newman. It has some flaws but it is still an unappreciated gem. Holloway is very similar as fighter. At the age of 21 he has just fought for the sixth time in the UFC going 3-3. He has good standup and is still growing and evolving as a fighter. He may not win a title in the UFC but he will continue to provide some special moments inside the octagon like his fight with Leonard Garcia. To put it simply - Holloway is a fighter. He took this fight on short notice and the list of people looking to fight McGregor in Boston on short notice is a very small one.
This may not be the most spectacular fight of McGregor's career. It may have the fewest highlight reel moments of his fights. It also was his first non-finish. Despite the flaws, as people re-watch this fight and look back on it the appreciation for his grittiness and heart will grow. Who knows, someday down the road a McGregor-Holloway fest maybe coming to a city near you. Get your red beards and pencil thin mustaches ready.
Alistair Overeem in his own personal Groundhog Day
Does Alistair Overeem hear Sonny and Cher's 'I Got You Babe' when he wakes up from being knocked out in the UFC? Overeem is the UFC HW version of Phil Connors. In the movie the jaded but talented weatherman Connors needed to learn some lessons to escape his own personal hell. The character is a talented TV personality with some charm and charisma that is cloaked in a smarminess. He is someone who has read one too many good things about themselves. Then, much like the ice sculpture he makes in the movie, little bits of jadedness are shaved away from him revealing the lovable Phil Connors waiting underneath.
With Overeem he comes across more cocky and less smarmy. There is a certain smugness that comes through with him that leaves you shaking you head. When you look back at his career numbers, the thing that jumps out is that he has more wins via submission than TKO/KO. He also has not had a submission win since October of 2009. In the earlier stages of his career he would submit strikers and strike with grapplers. Lately he just strikes with everybody and in his last two fights he dropped his hands at some point and got TKO'd.
In this fight the lesson he needed to learn was how to defend the front kick. After he absorbed the battering from Overeem, Travis Browne threw eight front kicks before the ninth landed sending The Reem down. If his thinking after each one was, "This has to be the last front kick," then he was finally right on the last one. Maybe this will be the fight that spurs Overeem to push himself outside of his striking only mentality that seems to dominate his focus the last few years.
Michael McDonald and Brad Pickett in The Princess Bride
In this scene Brad Pickett is Inigo Montoya and Michael McDonald is The Man in Black. The first round was essentially the early part of the sword fight with McDonald clearly winning the round with his crisp standup. There were several moments where McDonald had Pickett in big trouble but could not finish him. He clearly dominated the round. Yet it is a confident Pickett who went back to his corner and smiled.
He knew that McDonald was a problem for him on his feet but he will take this fight to the ground for some wicked ground and pound. Which is exactly what he did but this did not rattle McDonald. He calmly minimized the damage from the blows and worked subtly for the submission. Then with a little more than two minutes in the round he shifted his hips up towards his head. This put his legs a little further up Pickett's torso. He simultaneously pinned the left arm against his body and pulled down on Pickett's head with his left hand. Pickett slipped out but you could see the submission coming.
After he absorbed some ground and pound over the next ten seconds, McDonald locked his hands together pinning Pickett's arm against his head. He then threw his legs up and locked in the triangle. He first went for an armbar and Pickett defended it. As he defended it the triangle choke was locked in deeper. Moments later Pickett was forced to tap.
Chael Sonnen is Kevin Cosnter and this was his 'A Perfect World'
Kevin Costner the actor and Chael Sonnen the fighter have many similarities in their careers. They both have their detractors and their passionate supporters. They have gone through ups and downs in their careers. Costner's strengths as an actor are generally not the subtle nuance of his performances but his enthusiastic high energy portrayals. You can say the same about Sonnen, his style is the takedown, suffocating pressure, ground and pound and endless cardio kind. My top five Costner movies would include - Tin Cup, Bull Druham, Silverado, and The Untouchables in which he displays many of those traits. The surprising performance is A Perfect World and that is what Sonnen did tonight.
The movie comes on the heels of The Bodyguard and is a surprising gem of a movie. It is directed by Clint Eastwood who also co-stars along with Laura Dern. Costner plays the bad guy that the audience has to like for the movie to work. His performance is nuanced and brilliant much like Sonnen's jumping guard for a guillotine choke win and SOTN bonus. This is the same man who once said, "Even if I thought I could get a submission I'm not laying underneath a grown man with my legs spread on worldwide TV." He apparently realized that taking a man down into his spread legs and laying on top really was not that much different. In fact, the sight of Sonnen pulling guard had to cause a number of spit takes around the country. If Sonnen decides to get serious about jiu jitsu and combine that with his dominate wrestling he will be an unstoppable beast.
The only things more surprising would be if Sonnen knocked out Wanderlei with a caperoria kick, Vitor with a spinning kick and Anderson with a front kick in his next three fights. For now, enjoy this little gem from The Bad Guy - you may never see this again. I am more excited for his next fight than I was before this one.
Six Degrees of Vitor Belfort
Even though he did not fight on the card and was not even in the arena, Vitor Belfort somehow was an early part of the press conference. Apparently he texted Dana White saying that he wanted to fight Sonnen. It makes perfect sense. White offered Vitor a fight against Tim Kennedy and Vitor said no. He said that he would only fight for the title at middleweight. He was then offered Rashad Evans at light heavyweight and said no. He refused a fight against Lyoto Machida and now countered with an offer to fight Sonnen; right after Sonnen beat Shogun Rua and called out Wanderlei Silva.
If Vitor is sitting at home watching the fights and wanting to fight the winner as Dana White suggested, what would happen if he watched a replay of one of his fights and then wanted to fight himself? Would Vitor try to clone himself so he could fight himself? Would Dana make that fight?