Saturday, November 15, 2008

UFC 91 Main Event - Randy Couture vs. Brock Lesnar

More than one sports betting fan that follows MMA has called this the greatest fight of all time. Randy Couture vs. Brock Lesnar. Two of the biggest names in MMA take their games into the Octagon to battle it out for the championship!

What can any online betting fan say about Randy Couture that hasn’t already been said? The former 45 year old champion has a record of 16 and 8. He has fought Chuck Lidell three times and Tim Sylvia once. Couture is one of the old men of UFC having fought in the league since 1997. He will be an underdog in this fight but the experience edge cannot be discounted.

Experience edge? Why, yes. This will be only the fourth fight of Brock Lesnar’s brief UFC career. Lesnar is a former WWE champion who decided to go legit by fighting MMA. Even after three fights, Lesnar has shown the ability to be absolutely dominating. He’s a huge man, outweighing Couture by 50 pounds, and is much younger than the middle-aged Couture. In Lesnar’s first foray into the Octagon he took out a former champion, Frank Mir. That was a sign that this big boy knows how to fight.

Here are the BetUS Sportsbook online UFC betting odds for this fight:

Randy Couture - 105

Brock Lesnar - 125

So in the greatest UFC betting fight of all time which guy will end it with his arms up in the air? Brock Lesnar.

Before we get into that, let’s talk strategy. It’s obvious what Couture wants to do. He will need to find a way to stay on his feet and not get to the ground where Lesnar will be able to use his wrestling ability. Couture should circle right, like they teach you in boxing, so that he can avoid Lesnar’s incredibly powerful right hand. If Couture can do that, and not get to the ground, then he will be able to neutralize some of Lesnar’s superior skills, speed and power, in order to maybe use his experience to cause a submission.

Lesnar, on the other hand, can beat Couture by either getting him to the canvas, and staying away from a submission move by Couture, or simply knocking Couture out. It cannot be overstated that Couture is 45 years old. Lesnar is much younger, stronger and quicker and he outweighs Couture by 50 pounds!

As much as I would like to see Couture do well in this bout, I can’t readily pick him at – 105 in the BetUS online sportsbook.

I’ll be conservative in this match, put up the extra 20 bucks, and take Brock Lesnar. He’s too tough for the older Couture to handle. Yes, Couture has a huge experience edge and he and his team no doubt will try to goad Lesnar into making a few mistakes, but Brock Lesnar is a huge individual.

I see Lesnar possibly getting to Couture early. If he does, then forget it. Lesnar will squash the smaller man no matter how much more experience he has.

I’ll be making an online bet on Brock Lesnar to beat Randy Couture at the BetUS online sportsbook odds of – 125.

UFC - Brock Lesnar's Official Pay For UFC 91 Revealed

Brock Lesnar and Randy Couture are guaranteed $250,000 for tonight's bout. If Lesnar wins, he will get an additional $200,000, and if Couture wins, his guaranteed money would be doubled to $500,000.

At last night’s weigh-in Lesnar stepped on the scale at the heavyweight maximum 265 pounds, while Couture weighed 220.

Friday, November 14, 2008

West Chester fighter will kick off pay-per-view event

LAS VEGAS — Over the past couple of years, Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight Dustin Hazelett has become something of an underground sensation.

Despite six fights in the world's top MMA promotions, the 22-year-old West Chester Twp. resident has never appeared on a televised main card. Hardcore fans know the legend and rave about the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt's potential, but Hazelett remains a relative unknown to the masses.

However, at Saturday's "UFC 91: Couture vs. Lesnar" event, which takes place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Hazelett will finally make his long-awaited TV debut.

When Amir Sadollah was forced off the card with a leg infection earlier this week, UFC officials decided to promote a preliminary bout between Hazelett (11-4) and Tamdan McCrory (9-1) to UFC 91's televised main card.

UFC President Dana White predicts UFC 91, headlined by UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture vs. former WWE star Brock Lesnar, will garner a UFC record 1.2 million pay-per-view "buys." And Hazelett's fight with McCrory will kick off the 10 p.m. broadcast.

"I was sorry to hear about Amir, but it's obviously awesome for me," Hazelett said.

A training partner of former UFC champion Rich Franklin, Hazelett recently pushed his UFC record to 4-2 with a victory over Josh Burkman in June. Hazelett won the event's $20,000 SubmWission of the Night bonus and an additional $20,000 for the Fight of the Night.

The bout was so captivating — Hazelett masterfully transitioned from submission attempt to submission attempt — the UFC decided to offer it for free on its Web site the next day.

"I think a pretty good amount of people saw the fight because of that," Hazelett said. "It was pretty cool, and it worked out well. I got a lot of exposure for it."

Yet it could pale in comparison to the exposure he'd get with a win Saturday.

Gurgel, Brown on card

In addition to Hazelett, two other area fighters will compete at UFC 91 — both on the preliminary card.

Jorge Gurgel (12-4), who recently awarded Hazelett his black belt, returns from a shocking July loss to Cole Miller to meet veteran fighter Aaron Riley (26-10).

Gurgel is a world-renowned ground fighter, but Miller beat him at his own game.

"It was extremely difficult for me," said Gurgel, who was 12 seconds away from a decision when Miller locked him in a fight-ending triangle choke. "I never in my life — never in any circumstance — I've never been depressed ... But, I got to the point where I couldn't sleep after that fight."

Couture and Lesnar’s hits and misses

Despite huge differences in size, age and experience, Randy Couture and Brock Lesnar’s journeys aren’t as different as most would think. A breakdown of their hits and misses in wrestling, mixed martial arts, entertainment and even the court system.

Couture hit: A Hall of Fame career in mixed martial arts as the only man to capture five different major promotion world championships, including three title reigns past the age of 40 years old, a feat that might stand several lifetimes. Couture won his first championship in his fourth pro fight, winning the UFC heavyweight title from legendary kickboxer Maurice Smith on December 21, 1997 in Yokohama, Japan. His fifth reign came on March 3, 2007, when he won five straight rounds from 6-foot-8 giant, Tim Sylvia in Columbus, Ohio. He also captured the heavyweight title in 2000 when he defeated Kevin Randleman, and won light heavyweight titles in 2003 from Tito Ortiz and 2004 from Vitor Belfort.

Lesnar hit: Wrestling for the University of Minnesota, Lesnar captured the NCAA heavyweight championship on March 18, 2000, in St. Louis, winning a 3-2 tiebreaker over Iowa’s Wes Hand, the only man who had defeated him during the season. Lesnar scored three pinfalls in the tournament en route to a 31-1 senior year.

Couture miss: Wrestling for Oklahoma State University, failed to win an NCAA championship, placing second twice at 190 pounds. In 1991, he lost the finals to Paul Keysaw of Bakersfield State, 4-1. In 1992, he lost in the finals to future MMA star Mark Kerr of Syracuse, 12-4, when the tournament took place in front of his home fans in Oklahoma City.

Lesnar miss: Having destroyed everyone in the 1999 NCAA tournament, including a 22-second pinfall, he went into the finals with a 28-1 record against Bakersfield State’s Stephen Neal. With dual pressure, as the University of Minnesota needed a win in the final match of the tournament to take the national team championship, Lesnar missed on a late shot with seconds left, leaving Neal with a 3-2 win, and the University of Iowa with the national title.

Couture hit: Four-time U.S. national champion in Greco-Roman wrestling, winning in 1990 and 1993 at 198 pounds and 1997 and 1999 at 214. The last win, at the age of 36, came when he had already been a UFC champion, making him the only man to win a national wrestling championship after winning a major MMA championship.

Lesnar hit: Lesnar is expected to be the biggest pay-per-view draw from any sports or entertainment company in 2008. His first two pay-per-view matches, one against Frank Mir and the other against Heath Herring, did 1.2 million total buys. With this match with Couture, his year total could top 2 million. The only MMA fighter to top that mark was Tito Ortiz, headlining and drawing 2.25 million buys in 2006.

Couture miss: After winning their first meeting, he was knocked out twice by Chuck Liddell in light heavyweight championship matches in 2005 and 2006, losing the most famous championship trilogy in UFC history.

Lesnar miss: After dominating former UFC champion Frank Mir in his UFC debut on Feb. 2 in Las Vegas, including one knockdown and two hard takedowns, Lesnar made a rookie mistake and was caught with a kneebar only 90 seconds into the fight.

Couture hit: Outside the sports world, he starred in a movie, “The Scorpion King 2: The Akkadian,” opened a chain of Xtreme Couture gyms, founded a line of Xtreme Couture T-shirts the can be seen around any mall in North America, and was in a popular national ad for DirecTV.

Lesnar hit: Given the World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment) championship from movie star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the original “Scorpion King,” on August 25, 2002, in Uniondale, N.Y. He also headlined “Wrestlemania 19” before 54,097 fans, selling at Safeco Field in Seattle, against Kurt Angle; and once sold out a soccer stadium in Melbourne, Australia with 56,732 fans. Had he not hated the travel and the lifestyle so much, he was destined for a Hall of Fame career in the entertainment sport.

Couture miss: Never won the national Greco-Roman championship during an Olympic year, ending up as an alternate in the 1988, 1992 and 1996 Games.

Lesnar miss: After walking away from a guaranteed $1 million-per-year pro wrestling contract, Lesnar, after not having played football since his junior year of high school, tried out for the Minnesota Vikings. Despite first round draft choice-like numbers on the speed and strength drills, his lack of football experience led to him being a late cut in camp. He was offered a spot in the developmental NFL Europe league, but having left wrestling because he hated travel, he turned the offer down.

Couture hit: While never winning an individual title like Lesnar, Couture did something Lesnar didn’t do, as he was part of the 1990 NCAA team wrestling champion Oklahoma State University Cowboys.

Lesnar hit: Under intense pressure (as it would have been difficult for the UFC to continue to promote him as a top star with a second straight loss) Lesnar, having had only two pro fights and less than three minutes of ring time, defeated borderline top ten heavyweight Heath Herring, with 41 fights all over the world under his belt at UFC 87 . This led to him earning a UFC heavyweight title fight, just like Couture did, in only his fourth pro fight.

Couture legal problems: After a dispute with UFC midway through a four-fight contract, Couture, the UFC heavyweight champion, quit the company. He claimed he was chasing his dream of fighting Fedor Emelianenko, considered the greatest MMA heavyweight of all-time. Negotiations between the UFC and Emelianenko for that fight had fallen apart at that time. Later, when he tried to negotiate for a fight with Emelianenko outside the UFC, he was sued by the company he made his name in. During his time off, he was never stripped of the championship, more as a way for UFC to strengthen its legal case. Couture vowed he would never fight again for UFC, even if it meant it would end his career. A year into a nasty court fight with no resolution in sight, Couture sent UFC president Dana White a message saying he was ready to come back. That settlement led to this fight.

Lesnar’s legal problems: Less than one year into a seven-year contract with WWE, Lesnar, citing he was chasing his childhood dream of playing in the NFL, quit the WWE in the spring of 2004. As part of a negotiated settlement, Lesnar signed a one-sided non-compete clause. He was allowed to play pro football, but he was not free to do anything else sports or sports entertainment related, even to the point of doing a role as an athlete in a movie or television show, anywhere in the world until the contract would have expired in the summer of 2010. In particular, WWE insisted he not compete as a pro wrestler or an MMA fighter. After being cut by the Vikings, Lesnar ignored the agreement he had signed, went to work for New Japan Pro Wrestling for $50,000 per match, and was sued by WWE. Unlike Couture, Lesnar won his legal fight, even to the point of changing the name of his trademark pro wrestling finisher, The F-5, to “The Verdict,” to rub it in his former employer’s face. Then Lesnar and New Japan had their own financial issues and Lesnar left the company, also as its champion. He then moved on to MMA.

Couture hopes to stop Lesnar from repeating history in UFC title bid

Randy (The Natural) Couture won the UFC heavyweight title in just his fourth outing as a mixed martial arts pro, winning a decision over Maurice Smith in Yokohama, Japan.
Almost 11 years later, the 45-year-old Couture (16-8) looks to prevent Brock Lesnar (2-1) from doing the same as the two face off in the main event of UFC 91 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night (available on pay-per-view).
Couture, a five-time champion in the UFC with success in both the light-heavyweight and heavyweight ranks, is coming off a 15-month absence. He is giving up 14 years and 50 pounds to the brash Lesnar, who shows no signs of nerves in his title challenge despite his recent entry into the sport.
Couture, however, remembers how he felt for the Smith championship fight.
"The walkout (to the cage), I wouldn't say it felt comfortable yet but it certainly felt a lot better than the first time. I didn't feel like I was going to pee down my leg," Couture recalled Thursday at a pre-fight news conference held in the lobby of the MGM Grand.
Lesnar has made a meteoric rise in MMA. In fact, it was at Couture's last fight - a TKO win over Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 74 in August 2007 - that Lesnar and his management first talked to White about joining the UFC. Lesnar had one fight under his belt at the time, but wanted to test himself against the best in the sport.
"While I thought he was a lunatic, I respected him," said UFC president Dana White. "I said 'all right, we'll try to figure this thing out."'
Lesnar, a former WWE champion, took a pay cut to join the UFC, according to White, who did him no favours by matching him up with former heavyweight champion Frank Mir in his UFC debut at UFC 81 in February. Lesnar had Mir in trouble early but made a mistake and fell victim to a leg submission after 90 seconds.
Even Mir knew it was a narrow call.
"I was not winning that fight for the first minute and 20 seconds," Mir said with a chuckle that night.
Lesnar won next time out, dominating veteran Heath Herring en route to a three-round decision at UFC 87 in August.
White calls the UFC 91 main event a meeting of two "freaks" - Couture because he is champion at 45 and Lesnar because of his eye-popping size and speed.
"I guess we're both freaks in our own way," said a bemused Couture. "That's funny. I don't know. I don't feel like The Elephant Man."
The six-foot-two, 220-pound Couture is a former two-time alternate on the U.S. Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling team. Amazingly, 15 of his 18 UFC fights have been for the title.
"He's 45 years, still whupping on the young guys," said White. "Still in great physical condition and he's beaten a who's-who in the UFC."
The six-foot-three, 275-pound Lesnar is a former NCAA wrestling champion whose resume includes a tryout with the Minnesota Vikings.
"He is one of the most incredible athletes I have ever seen, one of the biggest human beings I've ever seen and obviously one of the most talented guys in sports," White said.
The UFC expects the clash of the big men to draw 1.2 million pay-per-view buys, a record for the organization. At C$44.99 a shot, that's some $54 million. Not bad considering White and the Fertitta brothers spent US$2 million to buy the ailing organization in 2001.
The UFC relished the atmosphere at Thursday's news conference, which drew a crowd in the MGM lobby. Couture remembered how at his first UFC fight - UFC 13 in May 1997 - the scale for the weigh-in was in a broom closet in the Holiday Inn.
"It's a remarkable transition and it's been an amazing ride," said Couture.
Couture was on the outs with the UFC during his second retirement, embroiled in a contract dispute. On Thursday, he talked about he missed the action, especially when cornering some of his own fighters from his Xtreme Couture gym - "in some ways feeling like a leper at some of those shows."
"At the same time, wanting to compete and feeling like I could still compete, every single time I went to corner one of my guys."
White also recalled days gone by, saying his first UFC news conference for a Tito Ortiz fight drew four people in New York and three of those - Spanish-language reporters - left when they found out Ortiz did not speak Spanish.
"I thought we were going out of business every weekend," White said of the early days.

The Case for Randy Couture: It's All About Instincts

Most expert opinion is moving in the way of Brock Lesnar now as the fight approaches. He's too big, too strong, too good of a wrestler, too athletic...and Randy is just too old.

There are so many key factors in this fight that it's impossible to address them all in one post, but I believe the deciding factor in this fight will be instincts. A great comparison is to look at how both followed up their knockdowns of Tim Sylvia and Heath Herring. Randy looked shocked at first, but immediately rushed in, landed several lefts, and took the back to try to get a choke. Brock Lesnar followed with...I don't know, a quarterback sack type maneuver. He ended up against the cage holding Herring in a headlock while he looked to his corner for advice and then figured out what to do.

The problem for Lesnar is his instincts aren't there. If Randy ends up on top in half guard, Lesnar is not going to be able to take 15 seconds, remember what to do in this situation, and then do it. He'll have to be ready to defend immediately, or he'll get pounded. I have no doubt Randy can recover and survive a bad shot, but for Brock, as soon as something goes wrong, I think it's over for him.

When Brock Lesnar trained for Frank Mir, he trained the escape to that leg submission thousands of times with great submission coaches. But in the heat of the moment, when Frank got it, Brock didn't even go for the most rudimentary of escapes. He felt the pain in his leg and just tapped. He panicked, and that is the kind of thing Randy Couture does not do.

If Randy Couture floors Brock and grabs his back, I have no doubt he'll easily grab a choke and finish, just because I don't think Brock will show the poise Tim showed that night. He will one day, but it's just too early. For Brock to win, he needs to finish early, or go a full 5 rounds without making a mistake. The latter is highly unlikely, so he needs to finish early.

I'm obviously not ruling out a Brock victory. If it turns into a pure wrestling match, it's Brock's fight. He could bust Randy's eye socket from the top and it will be over, he could catch Randy with a perfect punch...but the odds of Randy catching Brock with that punch are much higher.

In the end, Randy Couture is fighting a phenom, but the phenom is 2-1. He has never been punched in the face in a fight. He looked clueless in the clinch just 3 months ago. I believe Randy Couture will finish Brock Lesnar, and finish him early.

UFC 91 Picks & Predictions

If you like the UFC at all then this weekend you better clear your schedule on Saturday night, as one of the biggest fight cards the UFC has ever offered hits the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. UFC 91: Couture vs. Lesnar is going to be crazy, as the name says it all. The veteran Randy Couture will put his UFC Heavyweight title on the line vs. the up and coming Brock Lesnar. To get you ready for the event this Saturday, Jason Lowry is going to preview every fight on the main card.
Randy Couture (+110) vs. Brock Lesnar (-140) - If there is one event to get excited for, its this one, as the UFC will find out just how good Lesnar really is. Lesnar comes into this one still with little experience in the MMA, as he is just 2-1, but really looked impressive in his last fight against Heath Herring where he beat up on Herring pretty much the whole fight and took home the unanimous decision. Couture hasn’t fought in over a year, but if you look back to his last fight against Gabriel Gonzaga you have to think this guy still has it even though he all of 45 years old. Couture easily gave Gonzage his worst beating ever, as he knocked him out early in the 3rd round of UFC 74. We might be crazy, but we are picking the old man in this one, as Couture has always finds a way to beat the guys no one gives him a chance against. We think its worth the risk in this one, as Lesnar is just to fresh to the sport to come in the favorite over a 3 time UFC Heavyweight Champion. Prediction: Couture +110
Kenny Florian ( -185) vs. Joe Stevenson (+155) - Kenny Florian (12-1) comes into this one as the big favorite, and its hard to argue with that, as Florian has rolled off 5 straight wins in the UFC, with the most recent coming against Roger Huerta by unanimous decision just a few months ago at UFC 87. Stevenson (34-8) definitely has the advantage when it comes to experience, and for a guy that has won 5 of his last 6 fights in the UFC, with the only loss coming to BJ Penn earlier this year, has to make you think Stevenson has a legit shot in this one, but we agree with the oddsmakers on this one. Florian wins this one with his great jiu-jitsu, as we see him using a submission move late in this one. Prediction: Florian -185
Gabriel Gonzaga (-350) vs. Josh Hendricks (+275) - Gonzaga comes into this one at 9-3, and he finally got back on the winning track with a submission win over Justin McCully at UFC 86, as Gonzaga loss back to back fights by way of knock out to Randy Couture and Fabricio Werdum. For Hendricks its his first ever fight in the UFC, and the 32 year old will need a lot to go his way if he plans on coming in and pulling the huge upset this weekend. There is a reason Gonzaga is such a favorite in this one, we take the experienced UFC in this one. Prediction: Gonzaga -350
Nate Quarry (+190) vs. Demian Maia(-240) - Quarry might come into this one as a big dog, but we really think this fight is going to be a lot closer than the oddsmakers have it. Quarry is 16-2 in his MMA career and a solid 5-1 in the UFC with his only loss coming to Rish Franklin by knock out. Now Maia is a perfect 9-0 and could easily be one of the fast and rising stars in the UFC, as he has used the choke submission to win all 3 of his fights in the UFC, with the most recent coming against Jason MacDonald at UFC 87. Now yea we think this one is going to be one hell of a battle, but we pick Maia is going to walk away the winner in this one. Prediction: Maia -240
Dustin Hazelett (-180 vs. Tamdan McCrory+150) - This isn’t a bad fight to get things underway, as you get to watch to little guys most likely fly at each other for a full 3 rounds. Hazelett is 13-4 at a young 22 years old, and minus his beating from Josh Koscheck at UFC 82 this guy has been a force of late, inluding a win over Josh Burkman this summer. McCrory is also young at just 22 years old and is a real solid 11-1 in MMA fighting and 2-1 since joining the UFC, including a unanimous decision win over Luke Commo just a few months ago at UFC 87. We actually think McCrory is going to pull off the big upset in this one, as we feel his hidden strength is going to lead to a knockout in this one. Prediction McCrory +150